Design Tips

Inspirations from Mansion in May

Every two years or so the Women’s Association for Morristown Medical Center (WAMMC) presents Mansion in May, a beautifully decorated historic home that celebrates the history of art and architecture of the Morristown area. The proceeds from touring Mansion in May benefits The Center for Nursing Innovation and Research at Morristown Medical Center. MMC has been a Magnet Award winner for Clinical Excellence each year since 2001 and is in the top one percent of nursing divisions internationally. Anyone that has spent any time in the hospital knows how compassionate the nurses are and how dedicated they are to ensuring all patients have a positive experience.      










The 2017 Mansion in May is being held at Alnwick Hall, The Abbey. I lived in a Morristown for a few years and was always mesmerized by the architecture of The Abbey, so I was very excited to see what the designers came up with. The Abby was designed and built between 1903 and 1904. Named for Alnwick Castles in Northumberland, England, this elegant mansion remains largely unaltered. 

Some of my favorite rooms embodied the 2017 design trends I mentioned in my last blog. After leaving the foyer where I spotted this very cool chair, you enter ‘The Living Room’. The designer for this space wanted the room to pay homage to the past with easy living, yet opulent look. I loved this glamorous sectional reminiscent of my favorite design era and a current trend–art deco. 

The ‘Gilded Blues Gathering Room’ was boldly painted in Ben Moore’s Starry Night Blue in a high gloss finish on the elaborate ceiling. The walls are upholstered in a gorgeous rich blue and gold velvet and adorned with mirrors and modern art. The ‘circle’ trend I mentioned in my last blog was also prevalent in the space, with clear globe chandeliers, gold ball accent tables, and circular accessories. Cobalt and gold fabrics on the soft furnishings and window treatments completed the look.   










Blue was also seen in the floral wallpaper in the dining room, the walls of the “twins’” nursery, and the ‘Aegean Dreams’ bedroom. This calming bedroom was inspired with comfort and relaxation in mind. And the art deco trend can be seen again in the eglomise cocktail cabinet, which is a very fun addition to any master bedroom suite! 

More design trends were noted in in ‘The Hideaway,’ 
including the organic luxe hair on hide chair, teal blue walls, and a Hoop Etagere. 

My favorite room was ‘L’Abbey en Rose,’ a stunningly feminine bedroom. What did I love about the room?  Pretty much everything.  The wallpaper was a dramatic backdrop for funky lighting and accessories.  The bed was beautifully adorned with fine linens in ivory, gold, and blush. A Lucite desk adorned with flowers was nestled in the bay window along with a fluffy pink ottoman.  At the window, sheer roman shades and top tacked grommet pleats added a lovely softness to the space. 

If you’ve never been to Mansion in May, I highly recommend it! The designers have done an exceptional job this year, and while supporting a great cause, you just might be inspired. And I can show you how to incorporate these beautiful design trends into your home – just give me a call!

Design Trends for Spring 2017

Here’s my take on what’s trending for 2017 based on what I’ve been seeing in the shelter magazines and reviews of Spring High Point Market.Design trends 2017

Art Deco seems to be upstaging the industrial look that’s been so popular the last few years. To that end, the glamour of the 20’s and 30’s is influencing furniture design in a big way. Art Deco just happens to be one of my favorite styles – the combination of geometric forms, rich colors and expensive materials is so very chic. This gorgeous bar cabinet by Michelle Workman is just such a piece. Designed for French Heritage, the Astaire Bar Cabinet from the Facet Collection is featured in Midnight Lacquer with brass trim and hardware. It has a lighted mirrored interior, as well as a center pullout for drink preparation, which adds to its functionality. I think it’s a showstopper!

Design trends 2017From the runway to the interior, fashion design brand Badgley Mischka introduced a gorgeous line of furniture for every room. Very “Hollywood” glam, I am IN LOVE with this chair. And the rest of their collection is just as fabulous! 

Organic Luxe is another interesting trend that moves me. Furniture designers are using natural shapes juxtaposed and contrasted with rich metallic finishes. Fossilized shells and petrified woods have a real, down-to-earth feel but are augmented with bronze, gold, and silver giving them an Design trends 2017 springelegant edge. This stunning Handley Drive Twig Cocktail Table has real branches, leaves and buds cast in solid brass and artistically arranged to create a large dramatic and purposeful cocktail table that will fit into a multitude of design styles. 

Circles and curves can be seen everywhere! From consoles to wallpaper, to kidney-shaped sofas, feminine curves continue to dominate furniture design. The Sloan 






Bench from Theodore Alexander would be a fun addition to any room. Similar to the circle on the Astaire Bar Cabinet, this beautiful console from Bernhardt’s new Domaine Blanc collection has these stunning nickel circles. Actually, I love the entire suite of neo-traditional furniture in this collection. The pieces have a Dove White finish on sandblasted oak veneers embellished with tarnished nickel and white quartz. 

Many companies are offering new introductions with white and cream finishes—but not lacquered, cerused or limed finishes, which are very on-trend. A cerused finish highlights the contrast between the grain and the rest of the surface—an organic feel, but in a classic style.

In contrast to white, blue is a top selling color this season. Bradington Young has this gorgeous peacock blue leather shown here on a sofa. From calming azure to deep navy, you’ll find varying shades of blue upholstery, window fashions, rugs, wallpaper and more. Of course, blush pink is still very popular. This fabulous bench by Tobi Fairley for CR Laine was from two markets ago but would be at home in any current décor.

I’d love to show you how to incorporate these trends into your spaces. Please call to find out how we can create your cozy home!

The Art of Accessorizing

AccessorizingI love accessories. Just like jewelry completes an outfit, accessories complete a space. A beautiful room appeals visually, physically and most of all, emotionally. From floor to ceiling, each step of the process builds on one another. Beginning with the personality of the room and ending with the perfect placement of art and accessories, every room needs careful attention. When selecting art, consider the style of the home, the “feel” you want to create and the areas of the room you want to highlight. The key is to use art and accessories that feel personal and reflect your story. Here are things to consider:

  1. Don’t buy because it is “in.” Trends come and go. Love whatever you hang or place in your space.
  2. Take time to really look at what you have. Do you still love it, or is it time to refresh your space?
  3. Eye level, what does that really mean? Well, it really depends if you’re mostly sitting (a family room) or mostly standing (a foyer). In a room where you are typically seated, hang art at 54″ from floor to center. In a room where you are typically standing, place art 60″ from floor to center.
  4. When hanging over an anchor piece, such as a mantel or furniture, allow 4-6″ between the anchor and art.
  5. Create balance by filling about 2/3 of the space horizontally. interior design nj
  6. Odd numbers always create more pleasing compositions on tables and shelves. Notice the candle groupings in the photo above – a group of three candles on the table, a candelabra with five candles and single candles give the room a restful, cozy feel.
  7. Keep a grouping cohesive by finding it’s commonality. They can be connected by all or any of the following: color, subject matter, shape, or size.   
  8. Use complementary colors (opposite on the color wheel) to energize a space and add a pop of color. These tangerine pillows are the perfect accent for the soft blue chairs.
  9. Avoid placing a mirror over a mantel, as it typically reflects the ceiling when seated. For example in the picture to the right, I love the multitude of candlesticks on the mantel, but all you see in the mirror is the ceiling and the high hat.    
  10. Art and Accessories don’t have to come from a home decorating store. Find the beauty in unique things to display such as old windows, ironwork, textiles, etc.                                                   

Need some help deciding what looks best? Would you like some great resources for new accessories? Give me a call!

6 Tips for Outdoor Decorating

As we move from April to May and the days get warmer and longer, consider making your backyard an extension of your family room and kitchen. For a few months each year, you can expand your living space while enjoying the great outdoors. Here are 6 tips for easy outdoor decorating.  

Start with some cozy seating to facilitate conversation. For inspiration, check out the lovely seating options that Kannoa has to offer.  This arrangement seats six. Doesn’t that look comfy? 

2. Placing your seating on an outdoor carpet defines the space and makes it feel more like a room.  Surya outdoor carpets are just as stylish as their indoor collection and extra durable. 

3. Have a basket with a few throws for chilly nights and add some fire. You can purchase a beautiful fire pit, or if your budget allows, build an outdoor fireplace. 

2 3

4. Outdoor lighting can enhance the ambiance in your new living area.   Dangle a chandelier to define your dining area or hang some sparkling little orbs for a romantic starry look. Kichler has a lovely collection of outdoor lighting.  Both functional and decorative, pathway lights can help you find your way and cast playful shadows. Don’t forget up lights to make trees and shrubs look like artwork.       


5. And let’s not forget about my favorite thing… dining al fresco!  Give your meals a European flavor without ever leaving your yard.  This  Lloyd Flanders dining set just transports you to Tuscany! Whether it’s an outdoor kitchen replete with fridge and sink or just a cooler and BBQ grill, enjoy a meal outside with family and friends. Bring the colors of the outdoors to your table…add some flowers from the garden and a garage sale mix and match dishware.  Keep the meal simple, or better yet, just get take out. I guarantee it will taste better on the patio than in the kitchen.

6. And for those steamy summer nights, relieve the heat with some cooling water. Whether its ocean waves, a gentle rain or a splashing fountain, there is nothing more relaxing than the sound of water. Enhance your outdoor space with a water feature.  You can build an inexpensive pond and install a pump or purchase a beautiful fountain. As long as you have an outlet, you’re good to go.     

Not sure where to start? Want to know more about these collections? Give me a call and let’s get started on your summer oasis.   


Give Your Home a Fresh Look

It’s your home. You made it yours by adding touches that are distinctly you—the colors, window treatments, furniture, and accessories. These are a reflection of you, your family and your lifestyle. But over the years your family grows and your lifestyle changes. The things you liked or found important in your 20s are most likely not what you prefer now. And just as you might switch out your wardrobe every season, it makes perfect sense to spruce up your home. At the minimum, this should be done once per year, and spring is a great time to give your home a fresh look. You don’t need a big budget to make a huge difference!

Here are a few ways to update the look of your home and chase away the winter blues in the process. I promise you’ll feel so much better! First, pick a day to spend solely on your home, and no matter what, stick to it.

Do you have too many accessories?

For a cleaner look (and a lot less to dust!), rotate your favorite pieces by putting out a select few for special occasions or seasons. Every time I change out my seasonal decor I find a little treasure I had forgotten about. It’s almost like shopping, but a lot less expensive. And you won’t tire of your collection this way.

Take a second look.

Just as a well-accessorized outfit makes you look and feel good, a beautifully accented home will give you the same feeling. Reevaluate your accessories and decor. Do you still like them? Maybe that vase you got on vacation doesn’t really go with your current decor. Donate it or pack it away.

Make Use of Photos. 

Add or rotate photos that you display on the wall or mantel. Or keep the same photos in new frames! 

Is your home on trend?

Do you have a color that screams the 1980s? A fresh coat of paint makes a world of difference. If you’re not willing to paint every few years, choose neutral colors that won’t go out of style.

Add a pop of new color.

The fastest way to add color to the room is by adding throw pillows. If you already use them, switch them out for a new color. Go for more (or less) and a variety of shapes and sizes. A new area rug can garnish the same result.

Update your Lighting.

There are many levels of light available and a simple change of your light bulbs can make a huge difference to the look of your room. Consider each light source and its purpose. For reading and tasks, you’ll want a brighter light. For ambiance, something a little softer. In a kitchen or other high traffic area where your family spends a great deal of time, consider the bright white that mimics daylight. Not only will it make your home bright, but it’s known to enhance mood.

Add Live Plants and Flowers.

Every home seems to come alive with flowers. Nowadays you can purchase beautiful mixed bouquets at the grocery or big box stores. And don’t you just love the scent of spring flowers? Large green plants can make a statement in any room while also cleaning the air you breathe. 

Sometimes even the smallest thing can make a big difference. Enjoy!

Go Green with Window Treatments

Without window treatments, much of a home’s heating and cooling energy can be lost through its windows. The fact is, heat is attracted to cold. Indoor heating moves toward and escapes through windows in the winter. The opposite occurs in the summer when solar heat enters our air conditioned homes. 

Save up to 50% on your energy costs each year with these tips:

  • Look for quality. When energy efficient Window Treatments tipspurchasing window coverings buy the best you can afford.  Start with a quality shade or blind that will stand the test of time. Add soft treatments like draperies and valances when your budget allows. Window fashions can be a sizeable investment so consider purchasing them in stages.
  •  Keep your cool. Close your shades or blinds during the heat of the day to keep your house cool. Select window treatments with a light colored backing to reflect the sun’s heat. Consider motorized blinds that are timed to close at peak sun exposure.   
  • Turn off the lights. Daylighting is the practice of lighting rooms with natural light rather than using electricity.  Certain shades let you control how much light comes into a room, while some shades diffuse light to protect your furnishings from harmful  UV rays.  Products with louvers, slats and vanes enable you to direct incoming light to where it’s needed most.
  • Get cozy. In the winter months consider layering. Start with a cellular shade, layer interlined side panels and a top treatment to maximize insulation. Capture the sun’s warmth when possible by raising your shades.
  • Go natural. Pick draperies made from environmentally sound and renewable natural fibers like cotton, wool, silk, linen, and hemp. There is a range of organic materials that can be used for your shades such as, paper, reeds, bamboo, and wood.  Look for the Greenguard certification to ensure your window treatments are environmentally friendly. 

My Top Five Colors for 2017

Although gray seems to be as popular as ever, it’s not the gray we’re used to seeing. Because most companies determine their Color of the Year (COY) by looking at major global developments including social and design trends, lifestyle preferences and a variety of demographics I think this year’s colors reflect the need for warmth and cocooning. After they did all their work, I chose my top five by considering what the color experts have come up with and then discussing those colors with other local designers and my clients for a more ‘regional’ approach. So A&J’s top five colors of the year are (insert drum roll here):

#1 Benjamin Moore’s Shadow

Benjamin Moore’s Shadow is my top pick (because I LOVE purple). This deep aubergine color is a complete 180 from Ben Moore’s 2016 color – Simply White. Shadow is smoky and sexy, and it goes from charcoal to amethyst depending on the light and time of day. I can absolutely see this color in a powder room (I’m putting it in mine) but these dark colors are also fine for larger spaces. Clark and Kensington’s COY, Chiffon Black (show in the living room below), is also a dramatic color, similar to Ben Moore’s Charcoal that I used in a recent project, a formal dining room.

2017 Color of the year






#2 Pittsburgh Paints’ Violet Verbena

Are you seeing a purple theme here? Violet Verbena is a mix of blue, gray and violet and is practically a neutral. It looks fabulous as a backdrop to this sleek black dining table, but also looks lovely in this feminine living room. 






#3 Sherwin Williams Poised Taupe

Sherwin Williams took a little gray, mixed with a little brown and came up with my number 3, Poised Taupe. After a half decade of cool grays, Poised Taupe is like a nice warm hug. “It’s like gray and brown had a baby,” said SW’s Sue Wadden. Personally, I think it has a vintage quality and works with either stained or painted wood furniture. It creates such a cozy sanctuary in this bedroom.

#4 HGTV’s Useful Grey

Coming in at number 4, HGTV’s Useful Grey, which doesn’t have the all the brown undertones like Poised Taupe, but it does have warm undertones that work equally well with the chrome and marble in this bath or the wood tones in this hallway. 






#5 Dunn Edwards’ Honey Glow

My final pick is Dunn Edwards’ Honey Glow because it makes me happy! I can see this in a bright and sunny kitchen, an office, or as an accent color with any of the other Colors of the Year! 

So that’s my take on this year’s colors. What about you? I’d love to hear your comments on these colors or your own favorites!

How Motorized Blinds Work in Home Automation

You’re considering getting home automation, but you’re just not sure how it all works and who you should trust. As a window fashion expert, I have a solid understanding of how motorized blinds work (and by default,How Motorized Blinds Work how motorization works in home automation). Every motorized shade (or appliance) needs A) a power source, B) a motor of some sort and C) some way to control everything. If you understand these three components, home automation is a breeze. In this article, I’ll focus on window blinds, but the principle is the same for anything you want to automate. 


Every motor needs a power source and basically, there are three ways to provide power to a motor: 

  1. Batteries – Most companies offer a reloadable battery tube that allows the end user to purchase and replace batteries themselves, which saves time and money.  The shade’s size and weight, along with the frequency of use, will have an impact on battery life. The heavier and more often they are used, the faster the batteries will drain. 
  2. Plug-n-play – Here you’ve got two types of current – AC (alternating current), and DC (direct current).  AC motors plug directly into a standard electrical outlet in the wall. DC motors convert AC to DC via a transformer, which also plugs into a standard electrical outlet in the wall. You really don’t need to worry about whether you have AC or DC, your window treatment specialist will be able to guide you through the proper option based on your design. 
  3. Wired (AC or DC) –  Also known as hard-wired, this type of installation may require an electrician. The motor is wired directly to a junction box or regulated transformer/power supply.  Because the wires are snaked behind the wall, this application is best done during construction or renovation.  If added after the walls are sealed, you’ll need to have them patched and repainted.   


In window blinds, each function (raising and lowering, opening and closing) requires a different type of motor. This information is interesting, but as a consumer, it doesn’t really enter into your design decision. You select the window blinds and then the experts determine which motor to use. But if you really want to know about motors, here you go: to raise and lower a shade or blind, or to open and close vanes in a privacy sheer like the Hunter Douglas Silhouette, a tubular motor is used.  Shaft drive motors facilitate the opening and closing (or tilt) of slats in wood and metal blinds.  Draperies can be drawn open or closed using either a direct drive motor with a belt or a cord driven motor that pulls a cord through a series of drive wheels.  Exciting stuff, right? 


Here is where you can have some fun as there are a number of ways to control your window fashions.  You can use infrared (IR) or radio communication.  I prefer radio frequency for a number of reasons.  First of all, with IR, you need a line of sight so you can’t put a valance or top treatment over the IR eye.  You can’t go through walls with IR so you can’t program an entire floor of window coverings either.  I always specify radio frequency when I can.  

You can get a hand-held remote, a wall-mount remote, or both.  Again, I like having both, because it’s nice to be able to walk into a room and push a button to control the shades but it’s also nice to sit in your chair and lower them when you want to watch a show.

You can use timers (including solar) to control your motorized blinds and set scenes for different times of the day.  You can also program shades as a group so they all raise and lower at the same time or individually.  And your window fashions can be integrated into your home automation.  For example, you can hit a button to lower your room darkening shades and theater screen while dimming the lights and lighting the fireplace.


Not only does window covering motorization offer comfort, convenience and control, it also provides solutions to everyday problems like:

  • adjusting hard-to-reach window coverings
  • managing glare 
  • protecting furnishings 
  • creating privacy 
  • reducing energy costs 
  • increasing security

Call today to find out how motorization can create a cozy home for your family.

5 Reasons You Should Automate Window Fashions

5 Reasons Automate Window FashionsI confess – I’ve always been a bit of a science fiction nerd – one of my favorite TV shows growing up was The Jetsons.

I just thought the idea of pushing a button to get things done was so cool! Fast forward to today’s automated homes and it’s not science fiction anymore. Today’s smart home features ovens that can start dinner while you’re at work, lights that turn on magically as you pull in the driveway, TV’s that learn what you like to watch and offer you programming and even window coverings that raise and lower without touching a cord! As a window covering expert, I can show you intelligent window treatments that can be integrated into your home automation system so you can synchronize your blinds or draperies to the time of day, your thermostat, even the movement of the sun!

Here are my top five reasons why you should automate your window fashions.


I love that today’s homes have beautiful, expansive windows…but who wants to raise and lower that many shades every day? With the push of a button you can control every shade in your home, even those pesky two story windows! And using ‘presets’, you can program your shades to raise and lower to your desired setting – halfway, three-quarters, all the way up – you choose once and your shade will go to that exact setting every time!

Energy efficiency

Are you paying a fortune to keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer? Are your energy bills out of control? I like to call this “Naked Window Syndrome”, or NWS. Uncovered windows are not just unsightly, they let warm air escape in the winter and allow heat in during the summer. If you’re suffering from NWS, motorized window coverings provide you with a quick and convenient way to save energy and money, all while creating a cozy and inviting space. And if you get a solar sensor or a timer, you can automate your blinds to do this all for you, so you don’t even have to think about it. Solar sensors can determine the amount of sun shining into a room and can close the coverings when the sunlight reaches a specified level, eliminating heat gain and protecting valuable furnishings from damaging UV rays.


The cords used to operate traditional blinds, shades, and draperies can be a serious threat to young children and pets as they are strangulation hazards. As a window coverings expert, I always consider cord safety, especially when there are young children or pets in the home. I always recommend cordless window coverings and motorized window fashions are by far, the safest alternative.


Just like stopping your mail or asking a neighbor to pick up your paper when you leave town, automating your window coverings allows for additional security when you travel. One of my female clients travels frequently for work so she programs her shades to open and close at different times throughout the day to give the appearance that someone is always home.


Daily tugging or pulling on window fashions can fray the fabric and wear the cords. Motorization eliminates those problems. When you combine increased longevity with energy savings, automated window coverings are more economical than most people think.

Motorization is not futuristic anymore. It’s now, and I’d love to show you how you can add fashionable, convenient motorized blinds to your home.

Castle Overlooking the Manhattan Skyline Makeover

Picture this: a castle overlooking the Manhattan skyline with a ballroom complete with tall coffered ceilings, marble floors, and an unobstructed view of the Manhattan skyline. Now picture call the castle home. One of my favorite clients can. And while she loves her home, she didn’t quite know what to do with such an expansive space, so she enlisted me to help with the design makeover.

Before Makeover:

ballroom way before 1


We decided to cover the other windows in the room with Hunter Douglas Silhouette shades to gently filter the light and provide privacy when necessary.  She wanted to keep everything neutral and muted to not detract from the view or beautiful architectural details.




ballroomway before

My client fell in love with a beautiful area rug, which provided a wonderful foundation for us to build the rest of the room around. She had several older pieces, some with sentimental value, but none that would fit the scale of the room. We found a lovely (and appropriately scaled) Hancock and Moore sofa and covered it in a lush velvet. We also pulled a deeper color from the rug to anchor the space. We decided on neutral colors for reupholstering several other pieces, but decided on a lovely shade of salmon from the rug to use to cover two unique chairs in a cut velvet. We then placed the chairs in a corner by the window to draw your eyes to the beautiful view.



Once the furniture was in place, the final step to pull the room together was to add window treatments.  Although the room looked lovely with just the Silhouette shades, the windows looked naked without dressing! My client’s biggest concern was figuring out how to dress two different types of windows (the wall of sliders and 5 single windows) cohesively. The previous owner had two different styles of window treatments and she didn’t like that look. She also knew she wanted something timeless and neutral that would fit in her budget – we had a lot of windows to dress!


Design_NJ_box pleat

After selecting a reasonably priced yet lovely striped fabric, I created several renderings for her.  Right away she knew she didn’t like the look of a long rod across the entire slider wall, she didn’t like the look of shorter rods either.  The simple, yet elegant box pleat over stationary panels was the perfect choice.  They were tailored and sleek, and to make the treatments more interesting, we railroaded the fabric for the box pleats so the stripe is horizontal.



fireplace wall boxpleat revised

The final results of the makeover were spectacular! So spectacular that Design NJ magazine decided to feature the room in the Winners at the Window segment in the April/May issue. Be sure to pick up your copy today!


After Makeover: