April Showers Bring … Bathrooms?

This month of April Showers got us thinking about bathroom showers. That got us thinking about bathrooms. Bathrooms in turn got us thinking about the many bathrooms we have done over the past year or so.

Typically, homeowners have adhered to the original footprint of their existing bathroom. A bathroom is one of those spaces where bigger isn’t always better. More space doesn’t always equal a better space – a well designed and well-appointed bathroom is far superior.

We’ve come up with some common threads that run through the master bathrooms we’ve designed.

1. In most cases, the tub has come out of the master bathroom and been replaced with a larger shower. This always assumes that there is another bathroom in the home with a tub.

Shower with bench

2. As long as space permits, two person vanities/sinks are an absolute must.

Two person Master Vanity

3. Timeless tile on the floor and in the shower is where most of our bathrooms begin. We have been using equal amounts of natural stone and porcelain tile depending upon the clients’ preferences.

4. Creating efficient storage in the master bathroom is crucial to bathroom design. We go into great detail to determine what will be stored and the best way to store it. Vanities have become storage specific. Where space permits we have included closets and storage cabinets. Vanity towers provide vertical storage when square footage is lacking.

Vanity - storage

5. Plumbing fixtures are selected with style and functionality in mind. In most cases we do both a fixed showerhead as well as a handheld showerhead in the shower. Aside from the benefits of the handheld for the shower experience, it becomes a must for the process of cleaning the shower.


6. Clients are opting for shower benches and these take on many tasks, from leg shaving to storing shower products.

7. Niches are being used quite often as both a practical and decorative features in the shower. This shower niche is compliments of soutstyle.ca.

shower niche

8. We have been using different types of lighting in the bathroom for functionality and ambiance. Dimmers are a must when 5 am rolls around and you and your eyes are easing into the day.

9. Accessories are a way for the client to show their personality in the space. Whether it is artwork, shelves, mirrors, trinkets, photos, towels, bathmats, or soap holders (to name just a few) – these are the items that show your uniqueness in the bathroom. These bath accessories are by Kassatex Vizcaya.

Kassatex Vizcaya Bath Accessories

10. Walls are often overlooked, but we won’t let them be! A great paint color that ties everything in the room together may be all that is needed. We’ve also done accent walls with floor to ceiling tile, wallcovering to add texture or color, and decorative painting in options that are limitless for a unique custom finish. This shows a decorative paint finish we used in a traditional bathroom. The finish was done by Billet-Collins Studio, a local decorative painting firm.

Decorative Painting

Sofa Series: Three Things to Look for When Purchasing a Sofa

Purchasing a new sofa? Do you know what to look for? How do you know you’re getting a quality piece of furniture? Let us break it down for you.


Overall, there are three major things to look for when purchasing a new sofa:

A quality sofa will have a frame made of a kiln-dried hardwood such as oak, poplar or maple. Kiln-dried wood will keep the sofa from creaking when you sit on it. The frame should be screwed and glued together at the joints. A good sofa frame is solid and will not wiggle when the sofa is picked up by a corner.

A sofa’s suspension system is very important in determining the quality of a sofa as well. The industry hallmark is the eight-way hand-tied steel-coil system. A sofa will take many years of use (and sometimes abuse), and the suspension system is one of the things that give sofas their support and ability to “bounce back”. Generally speaking, a closely spaced spring system is what to look for in a quality sofa.

Seat cushions are what separate you from the suspension system. There are many types of cushions on the market, usually made of down or foam or a combination of the two. It is key to make sure the cushions are filled properly and that they are comfortable for you. A foam cushion should spring back into shape when you are done sitting on it. Note that down does not spring back and will need to be fluffed on a regular basis.

Often times sofas move from family room to basement to offspring’s first apartment. A quality sofa can be reupholstered to look like new when the frame, suspension system and cushions are in good shape. Just keep in mind that a sofa is one of the most used pieces of furniture in your home!

Red, Hot, and Sexy Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day seems to bring to mind words like RED, HOT, and SEXY. Since we are an Interior Design firm, we wanted to share our interpretation of these words through VISUALS.

RED. Yes, bright, attention-getting red. It is the color of energy, passion and action. Did you know pink is actually the color of love?

red bedding

What woman wouldn’t want a pair of these for Valentine’s Day, or any day? These Manolo Blahnik Crystal BB – Red pumps can be yours for a cool $1685.00.

Manolo Blahnik Crystal BB - Red

But let’s not forget the men on this Valentine’s Day. It’s cold out there, and wouldn’t he look red, hot and sexy in this Red Blaze Jacket by The North Face?

Red Blaze - The North Face

Let’s move on to HOT. A recent design project has us thinking about hot in a whole new way. As a result, we naturally thought of this gas fireplace by Swiss manufacturer Attika Feuer. With all of the cold weather we’ve had lately, who wouldn’t love this fireplace?

Attika Feuer gas fireplace

SEXY. Of course, this is a family-friendly website, so we naturally thought of the iconic Bocca “Marilyn” Lip sofa, designed by Studio 65 in 1971. Hey, it’s also RED!

Lip sofa

But let’s not forget the “real” meaning of Valentine’s Day (or our interpretation of it anyway!).

That would be LOVE and CHOCOLATES!

Love can be sent to anyone, anywhere at anytime using these LOVE stamps available through the U.S. Postal Service.

love stamps

And why not surprise your sweetheart with the Moonstruck Valentine Chocolates Collection? They’re almost too pretty to eat. Almost.



2014… New Year… New Kitchen – This MD/VA/DC Interior Designer is Cooking Things Up in the Kitchen

There is something very satisfying about completing a major project in one’s own home. As an Interior Designer, I am involved daily in creating and completing finished projects. As a result, I probably ignore some of the things that need to be finished for myself. My kitchen has been that long ignored project, and I finally took the plunge. I had a very good idea of what I wanted as an end result. Ultimately, I collaborated with Jan Goldman of Kitchen Elements.

Together we came up with a floor plan that met all of my needs. I was then able to choose all the finishes for this well laid out space. I selected Showplace Cabinets in a custom paint finish. The color reminds me of a light-colored mushroom. The door style is a modified shaker – so it has a small trim piece on the inside frame.

mystery white quartziteNext, I visited my go to granite resource and selected Mystery White Quarzite, a natural granite that looks like one of my favorite food groups, sugar. I wanted the sink area to be maintenance free (or as maintenance free as possible) so I used the quartzite as my sink backsplash as well.

I wanted to create a bit of “ooo and ahhh” (technical designer term) in the cooking area so I went with a glass tile that reminds me of smooth and crushed ice cubes. I had them installed vertically which gives the room a more contemporary look. The range hood is by Zephyr and I love that it almost looks like a metal sculpture. There are no upper cabinets in the range area of my kitchen. This helps to create an open and airy feeling.


glass tileWhat I have found is that even though I lost storage above the range area, I gained plenty elsewhere. My spices are in a drawer alongside the range and I finally have an accessible place for trays and cooking sheets on the other side of the range. I know why clients get very excited over simple and practical storage solutions! The pantry cabinet with pullout shelves prevents the loss of important items that were formerly housed in a closet! A space-saver microwave tucks neatly into one of the other two pantry cabinets. These cabinets are wonderful – storage goes up to the ceiling and because the cabinets are the perfect depth, storage is extremely practical. I even have my telephone and sound system hidden inside the tall cabinets over the microwave.

My old kitchen had a round table and chairs that took up so much space. I love the new seating arrangement in my new kitchen. I called up my friends at Grothouse Lumber to make an umber walnut table top with a racetrack side that is cantilevered between the two tall cabinets and supported with a single satin nickel elipse leg for support. In a very light-colored, neutral kitchen, this dark table top is a presence that makes a statement. Even though the wood is dark, the single leg helps to add a lightness to the large piece of wood. That is exactly what I wanted. Four chairs fit comfortably around the table and in a pinch we could fit in a few more.

The floors are a 3-1/2″ quarter-sawn white oak stained in a cherry finish. They are not too light and not too dark – this mid-tone finish provides just the right amount of contrast to the other finishes in the room.



eating area

This is the same area after demolition. I feel like the wall grew, but it remained the same size. The opening to the foyer was drywalled in.

post demolition

Finishing details include a racetrack pendant fixture above the table that has a white linen inner shade and an organza fabric outer shade.


Four Globus chairs from Design Within Reach are slim-lined, stackable, and visually interesting.


The artwork between the pantries is by Jennifer Ardoline of Florida. It really makes an impact in a very neutral kitchen.

2013-04-03_12-32-39_93The cabinets above the sink have frosted pin dot glass inserts. This small detail opens up the space and makes it feel less heavy than if there were regular doors there.


The same wall is shown here right after demo…


This renovation gave me the opportunity to see a project through a client’s eyes. The top five things I learned as the client are:

1. A temporary “kitchen” setup in crucial to a smooth renovation.
2. Make selection decisions and move on.
3. A good kitchen plan is key to a kitchen renovation.
4. Referrals are the best source for good contractors.
5. Be patient – good things really do take time – but they’re worth the wait!

I’ll leave you with one final picture…

kitchen design

We’ve Got You Covered: This MD, VA, DC Interior Designer Explores Bedding Options

We’re not sure if it’s because yesterday’s temperatures reached record-breaking lows, or because it seems like a good idea on these winter mornings to stay in bed with a good book and a hot beverage of choice, but we got to thinking about bedding.

Specifically, we got to thinking about all of the different types of bed coverings that are now available. It can be confusing! In fact, there are so many different types of bed covers to keep us warm at night that we think a little review of some of the options is in order.

BEDSPREAD: Also known as a spread, a bedspread is a bed cover with sides that go to the floor. Bedspreads do not require a bed skirt.

Bedspread by Horchow Collection

Bedspread by Horchow Collection

COMFORTER: A thick, quilted bedcover filled with feathers, down or other natural or man-made fibers.

Comforters come in solids, stripes, florals, geometrics and many other patterns. Common fabrics for comforters are cotton and linen.

Comforter by Ralph Lauren Home

Comforter by Ralph Lauren Home

DUVET COVER: A sack-like fabric covering with three closed sides and one open side that fits over a duvet to give it a new look.

Duvet covers are quite popular because they allow for changing the look in a bedroom while only having to change the cover and not the duvet. Our workroom makes duvet covers to our custom specifications.

Duvet cover by Pottery Barn

Duvet cover by Pottery Barn

Pine Cone Hill damask duvet cover

Pine Cone Hill damask duvet cover

Duvet covers don’t have to be patterned. Sometimes a crisp white duvet cover with embroidery can make a statement in a room.

John Robshaw duvet cover with embroidery

John Robshaw applique duvet cover

COVERLET: Traditionally a lightweight, woven spread used on the top of the bedding. It can be big enough to hang down the sides of a bed or just cover the top of the mattress so that the bed skirt or bed frame is exposed.

Coverlets provide an excellent way to add texture to a bed.

Matelasse coverlet by Peacock Alley

Matelasse coverlet by Peacock Alley

Textured coverlet by Eileen Fisher

Textured coverlet by Eileen Fisher

QUILT: A bed cover made up of three layers: a top, the batting (usually cotton or polyester fiber fill) and a backing. The layers are held together with stitching through all three layers. The top layer is usually artfully patterned; the bottom layer can either match the top or offer a contrasting look.

We all have seen traditional pieced quilts, but today’s more contemporary quilts are made from a solid piece of fabric on the front.

Charcoal quilt by Bandhini Homewear Design

Charcoal quilt by Bandhini Homewear Design

Quilt by Garnet Hill

Quilt by Garnet Hill

Solid quilt by Garnet Hill

Solid quilt by Garnet Hill

BLANKET: a large piece material used as a bed covering or other covering for warmth.

Blankets can also be made of cotton, wool, fleece, bamboo, etc.

Horchow Home Treasures Italian wool blanket

Horchow Home Treasures Italian wool blanket

THROW: a medium sized-blanket, usually about 3 by 5 feet (0.91 by 1.52 m). They can, however, vary in size. This blanket is distinguishable from other blankets because it is edged sometimes with fringe, making it one of the more decorative blankets you can use in home decor.

throw, bedding, John Robshaw, alpalca

John Robshaw baby alpaca throw

Horchow faux fur throw

Horchow faux fur throw

The layering of different bed covers and the combination of color, pattern and texture can give your bed a look that is warm and welcoming. For example, this bedding ensemble by Scalamandre uses a combination of crisp white lightly trimmed with black and paired with color and pattern. The bed is layered with both a duvet cover and a throw (oh, and a dog).


Don’t think you are limited to what you see in the stores and online – we can design custom bedding that will give your bedroom a look that is uniquely you. For example this duvet cover was custom-made for one of our clients. The back side is reversible to the same patterned fabric with a white background and the same styled flowers in the darker color. We can design pillows and shams to coordinate as well. The options are endless!

custom duvet cover