Book Review: House Proud | Louisiana Style

With Louisiana just a couple of hours away where I lived in Southeast Texas, there’s an unmistakable air of the Bayou lifestyle; from the food to the Cajun slang. What you don’t see though is the French-inspired architecture and homes that speak of unique stories like the ones you see in New Orleans. I am a big NOLA fan! I clearly had the best Rum bread pudding here and they make the best hurricane drinks as well; but most of all, I’m in love with the cobblestone walkways where you can catch a ghost tour anytime of the week, the quaint stores in the Garden District and the lovely homes, from palatial French-inspired to Grand Victorians, Greek-revivals to shotgun houses. All that and more is featured in the book by Interior Designer Valorie Hart, House Proud | Unique Home Design Louisiana.

House Proud louisiana style

I did have preconceived notions about this book. I thought it was going to be a collection of glorious and even grandiose homes that is absolutely out-of-reach for us common people. I was definitely pleasantly surprised. Valorie took me inside homes where you won’t feel an air of pretense, where color is in abundance and where you’ll find furnishings that don’t seem to go together and yet they amazingly do {and so beautiful at that}. It does give hope to all of us, showing that it doesn’t matter where you live; big or small, luxurious or modest; great design can happen anywhere!

blue living room

Blue walls, green ceilings.

eclectic french living room

Eclectic French with rustic feel {deer head} & a skeleton, why not?

eclectic sunroom

A  cozy sun room.

The book is full of ideas and inspiration. According to the designer, Valorie, “The people of Lousiana makes their homes welcoming, whether it’s at a humble farm table or at a fancy Chippendale dining table under a glittering chandelier. Here, decorating is a way of life.” Her words are spot on! We can learn so much from the pages of this book.

From House Proud: Unique Home Design/Louisiana by Valorie Hart, © 2013, published by Glitterati Incorporated Check out Valorie’s blog here.

Interior Design in Austin | E-Design everywhere. Contact me.

Handmade for HGTV | Chair Feathers

The change to the cooler season always signal having a few more textures. Fur,velvet, cashmere and yes feathers! Warm hued feathers for the Fall, black ones for Halloween and gold, white or silver for winter and the holidays. So, you can make feather wreaths, spruce up vases with hints of feathers or why not dress up a chair’s derierre with feathers? We outfitted this vanity chair with ruffle feathers for the Handmade for HGTV series. Check out the how-to and see how easy it is to make this.


feathers-piano-chair So, yes, we liked it so much, we thought dining chairs & piano chairs should have feathers. I couldn’t make these projects possible without these people: my super amazing assistant, Rachel and this wonderful and talented photog who pretty much dabbles in everything, James. This is his lovely home by the way!

How about a DIY weekend making some feather chairs. The link is here and check out our other Handmade for HGTV projects.

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7 Rules of Bookcase Decorating

I’m sure many people will argue that bookcases are meant for books only, but most decorators and designers may respectfully disagree. The truth is, you can use any type of furnishings however you want to as long as it’s functional, but function plus aesthetics? That’s much better! Which leads me to one of our bookcases at Casa Stevens. This is a World Market find by the way and super affordable. Mind you, I was hunting for the perfect brass bookcase but I can’t seem to commit to buying one that’s worth two grand {yes, they are super expensive!}. Solution? Just paint this one in glossy black & spray paint the brackets and other hardware in brass.

bookcase decorating

And here folks are my 7 Rules for bookcase decorating:

1. Mix up accessories & books. Now, I love books. But books with accessories that means something me? That makes it double functional!

2. “His” and “Hers” books go together. So, yes, I adore fancy decorative and designer coffee table books but I also love my husband and although his poker books are not as pretty as mine, they deserve to be in the bookcase at our living room.

3. Add something vintage…for character, most definitely!

4. Put personal mementos, yes personal pictures in gorgeous frames are awesome.

5. Dress up the top…that’s kinda it’s crowning glory.

6. Display objet trouves from travels…for nostalgia.

7. And last but not the least, read your books! Yes, we’ve read all books that’s in our bookcase; and the ones we have at our bedside table will soon be added here as soon as we get done with them.

bookcase styling

How is your bookcase looking everybody? Happy Wednesday!

Interior Design in Austin | E-Design everywhere. Contact me.

Bachelor Pads for the Modern Man

From most of my social media postings, my style has been dubbed by some people as feminine. I have been dying to style and design a bachelor pad {thanks to a few people that’s giving me a chance!you know who you are}. It may be true that the “sterile” and “cold” are never in my design vocabulary. But masculine, lived in and curated are not…. these are the words that a bachelor pad or space should speak about.

The term “bachelor pad” conjures up images of uncomfortable minimalism on the one hand, or disorganized slovenly chaos on the other. Creating a bachelor pad that is stylish, comfortable (and clean) however, is easy with a few key items and a small amount of interior design skill.
The Kitchen:
Piles of pots and moulding dishes are nobody’s idea of classy; if any room requires a minimalist theme, the kitchen is it. If washing up isn’t high on your to-do list, invest in a dishwasher. Even the smallest kitchen spaces can accommodate a slim-line washer, and being able to simply rinse and stack should take care of unsightly and unhygienic washing up. For small spaces with limited cabinet space, chrome rails with hooks are great for storing pots and pans. Make a feature of your lack of storage. If a new kitchen is within your budget, look into kitchens with inbuilt gadgets and features for a slick and stylish finish. The buzz words for a bachelor pad kitchen are ‘clean’ and ‘functional’.

The Living Room:
The living room is likely to be your main entertaining space. Leather sofas are stylish and easy to clean. It is likely that the television will be the focal point of the room, either for watching movies or playing video games, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore other features. Make your seating area the center piece of the room; if your room is large enough, create a sofa arrangement in the center of the room to create an illusion of extra space and to draw attention in to the ‘entertainment’ area.
For a stylish room that isn’t stark, opt for woods instead of plastic and metal finishes; wood can still be sleek with clean lines if you keep to one type, and it is complemented perfectly with soft leather furnishings. Lamps instead of overhead lights help with creating a homely atmosphere. Opt for high tech lamps such as the Poplight – accessories should be cool but stylish. If you must embrace your inner geek, consider aesthetics as well; a lamp shaped like a storm trooper head might seem like a great idea, but it is unlikely to win you points with the ladies.


The Bedroom:

Piles of laundry and damp towels are not sexy. If you are congenitally incapable of folding or hanging, make sure that your wardrobe has space for your laundry basket – hiding the evidence of your slovenly habits is a step above displaying dirty underwear for the world to see.
Invest in a good quality bed – leather is a great option for style and comfort; a leather sleigh bed like these oh-so masculine ones from Indigo Furniture are perfect, and with one of these in the room your need for extra accessorizing is minimal. Keep linens to good quality cottons and block colours and, once again, use lamps for low level lighting as opposed to over-head lights that are harsh and brighter than is ideal.

Follow my Pinterest board on all things masculine!

Interior Design in Austin | E-Design everywhere. Contact me.

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Abstract Art in the Bedroom

I am in the process of choosing an accessory or wall decor on top of a client’s bed. This task is tough! The bedroom is a person’s oasis and cocoon for rejuvenation, so it just follows that it’s focal point {usually the bed and top of the bed} should make the room jive together. Make it alive yet in a calm way. I know, ironic. So, I’m tempted to do the usual starburst mirror. But ekkk, so done already! Or framed seafans in seafoam {playing tongue twister here} but that’s been done so many times as well. Although, I am big sea fan fan; I’ve had mine for four years. They are classic and never go out of style.  Now, I’m tempted to do just abstract art. Mind you, it has to be the right one. The hues should be perfect, the business toned down and seamless enough that it almost coalesces with the walls and the bed. Here are some inspiration…

Thoughts, suggestions, comments? I’m open and yes, still on the look out for the perfect one!

Interior Design in Austin | E-Design everywhere. Contact me.

Images: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

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Happy Friday + More on Small Spaces

Can you believe it’s Friday again? Ahhh, the week has flown by. All work and just about 10% fun for me this week. I’ve been trying to knock out projects and deadlines and although I love what I do, it can be exhausting, no? How about you what have you been up to?

Since this weekend is the smarter Spaces Tour here in Austin {Did you get your tix yet? Get it here} and I posted about tiny space decorating; I thought of ending the week with a few more small space decorating ideas. Oh, like the image up top. So many seating possibilities in such a small space! The trick? Do not go with bulky and matchy-matchy furniture. And below, of course, storage ottomans as coffee table. I know you got this already but having more visuals help, right?

So, I bid all of you a Happy Friday and a Happy weekend. Hope it’s all fun!

Images: House to Home

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Great Design for Tiny Spaces

Even in Texas, where everything is big, people are opting more and more for right-sized spaces which may be too tiny for some. The dilemma of small space design and decorating has always been a challenge for some people.  Today, we have a Chicago-based interior designer share with us some secrets of the art of great design in tiny spaces.

Although the times have changed and the economy have forced a lot of people to downsize, cities like New York and San Francisco are still charging prime for their real estate. As a result, the houses are getting smaller as many people are found living in apartments. If you live in an apartment, especially in New York City, where the average size of a studio is 400 square feet, you must know how to master the art of space saving. If you are struggling on how to fit all your belongings in such a small space while keeping everything looking pretty, the following tips are just for you:

1. Bye-bye Clutter:  Since space is an issue, you should keep your place to a minimal by reducing the amount of unnecessary items. Everything that is broken beyond repair should be tossed and everything that hasn’t been used or worn in more than a year should leave the house too (consider selling or donating). Go paperless on as many bills as possible.
2. Think Vertical:  When living in a small space you should always think vertical by incorporating bookshelves or storage systems that allow you to expand up to the ceiling (for a cleaner look seek storage with doors).  Remember, more vertical storage you get, less claustrophobic your space will feel.

3. Embrace Color  & Think about Scale: It is true that certain colors can make your room looks bigger or small. However, what a lot of people forget is the scale of their furnishings. You don’t have to live in a completely white apartment to feel the largeness of the room. What you need to consider when designing for a small space is the proportion of the furnishings and how they are connected to each other. If your entire wall unit is white (and has doors), your sofa and chairs are also white, and you are using clear materials for your accent tables for example, you can (and you should) go bold on your walls. A medium to dark shade of grey will make your furniture to stand out and you can easily change the feeling of the room by using different colors on pillows and throws.

4. Bring Light In: From bringing down your energy bill monthly to improving your health, the benefits of day light are endless.  If you live in a very tiny home, the probability you have a very limited amount of windows is pretty high. However, you can create the illusion of having more windows by installing mirrors at strategic walls that would reflect the day light throughout your home.

5. Make most of your bed : When living in a place where every inch counts, having an underneath bed storage is a must. Although I prefer beds that are designed to provide storage underneath, if you don’t like them or if you can’t afford them, you should look for a bed lift to raise it just enough for you to slide few bins under the bed. Pottery Barn and West Elm have great options for bed with underneath storage.
6. Buy Strategic Furniture :Start thinking outside the box and consider buying double duty furniture. In the bedroom, replace your nightstands with a dresser on each side of the bed. In the living room, a sofa bed instead of a traditional one; and have a storage ottoman for extra linens as a coffee table.

7. Decorate with Shelves: In the bathroom, instead of hanging artwork opt for installing shelves for extra storage.   If you have a specific area you use for your home-office, don’t limit yourself to traditional bookshelves. Do better by installing shelves above the desk for a cleaner, more organized look.

No matter how small your space is whether it is an apartment rental, loft, or small home, if you start feeling lost or overwhelmed, consult an interior designer. A good interior design professional will find a very unique design solution to address your needs.

VK Sustainable Concepts’ Principal Andrea Vollf, LEED AP ID+C, is a registered interior designer and sustainability professional with over fifteen years of experience in the interior design and marketing industries. Ms. Vollf is an active member of the U.S. Green Building Council – Illinois Chapter, with in‐depth knowledge of all aspects of Sustainability – Social, Environmental and Economic.

Images: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Interior Design in Austin | E-Design everywhere. Contact me.

Tom Schereer Decorates

If you don’t know it yet, all interior designers, stylists and decorators can’t have enough of, well, design books. Heck, we have shelter mags and design magazines overflowing in every console, cabinet, and even the floor of the house. What more, hardbound, thick books with gorgeous covers? Coffee table books should go into rotation is a new styling tip I’m brewing. Last week, I received this book, Tom Scheerer Decorates by Vendome Press, with gorgeous photos by Francesco Lagnese and  written by Mimi Read; the book not only inspires but educates at the same time.

Mimi was spot on about the decorating style of Tom Scheerer, when she stated “it’s a more restrained brand of chic.” It’s old-fashioned and classic yet modern and well-edited at the same time. It’s unpretentious, the kind that you admire but know that it’s also approachable. It’s never screaming out loud, yet it catches your attention.

See for yourself and read some of my takeaways from this glorious design book:

1. You can repeat a pattern in wallcovering and furniture. Here, he paired cane-inspired wallpaper with a cane-inspired secretary.

Tom schereer bathroom design

2. Cobalt Blue looks amazing in a traditional dining room.

blue dining room Tom Scheerer

3. Spaces should be perfectly imperfect. Here, a staircase landing {or a foyer area?} is functional, yet beautiful and full of character.

Interiors of Tom Scheerer for Book

4. Floor to Ceiling Pastel Color Paint is dramatic.

Tom Scheerer Interiors

5. Whitewashed walls and floors paired with organic and earthy hues brings depth to a space.

interiors tom schereer

6. Do not be afraid to mix several styles that seemingly don’t go together. Here, the classic is mixed with the global and modern and contemporary.

tom schereer decorates book

There are more styling, design and decorating tips to gather from this amazing book of course! What interested me the most is the background behind Tom Schereer’s design philosophy. He said he is turned off by decorating that’s all about superficiality and frivolity. That design should be “about being able to balance symmetry, asymmetry, deliberation and improvisation, harmony and dissonance.” Very well said, design & decorating is not “trivial” as other people may perceive it to be. It’s creating spaces, rooms and homes that speaks, that’s full of life!

Interior Design in Austin | E-Design everywhere. Contact me.

Austin Smarter Spaces Tour 2013

In Austin, the Modern Homes Tour has a cousin and it’s name is the Smarter Spaces Tour. The tour will be in it’s second year this September 7th and I urge you to check out what it’s all about. It shouldn’t be in the 100’s anymore {let’s hope, right?} and a great time to soak in what’s “smart” in home living from our fellow Austinites.

From the visionaries behind Launch787, founders, Matt Swinney and James Leasure believes that a “smart” space is all about “right” sized living. I had the chance to interview Matt Swinney on how this tour came about.

1. What was the catalyst for you to launch a Smarter Spaces Tour?

Actually, this tour was conceived from our own personal experience. We have a 1950 1600 square foot home in Central Austin. It’s a 3 bedroom and we have 2 kids. We started looking for bigger homes, but found we really couldn’t afford to move up significantly and stay in Central Austin. Location was more important to us than space, so instead we worked with a designer (Thoughtcrib and then you Maureen!) to edit our layout some. We ended up shrinking our master bedroom and adding a second living space. Our home is exactly what we wanted and we didn’t expand our footprint at all — all for about $10,000.

During the process, we talked to lots of friends in similar situations and we found out we weren’t alone in our thinking. A smaller, more intimate home in the location you want is a common trend in Austin (and throughout the US). The idea of the “American Dream” being a suburban home with 4000 square feet, 5 bedrooms, a game room and 2 dining areas isn’t what most Austinites are wanting today. We wanted to create a home tour that showed how to take the average square footage (2500) and smaller in Central Austin and create uniquely designed homes that are both “smart” and incredibly beautiful.

smarter spaces tour austin


Alan K. Barley


2. What do you think are the Top 3 things that makes a home smarter?

First and foremost is the way space is used. We’ve all been in large homes that feel small and small homes that feel large. Square footage is just a number. How the home is laid out for a family’s needs is significantly more important than numerically how big it is. “Smart” to me is how one can take a vintage home and re-design it within the same footprint but to fit our modern lifestyle.

Technology is also key. And I don’t necessarily mean that an iPad controls everything in your home. I mean things that save space like adding tankless water heaters in older homes — that almost always gains a closet without expanding footprint. And while it’s not space-saving, adding things like a Nest to your home so you can control your HVAC from a smart phone is almost no-brainer. It’s low entry cost and pays for itself in probably a year. It’s money-saving but also environmentally more conscious.

Finally, I always advocate for using a designer once your space has been created {Can I just say a big YES to this?} In the U.S., we tend to buy really big furniture and more times than not, it just clogs up space and doesn’t really add to one’s lifestyle. Designers can help space-plan in a way the layperson can’t. Some people are great at it, but having that third party pay attention to how you live can give a unique perspective and help that small home feel larger than it actually is.

smarter spaces tour austin
Alan K. Barley

3. The Modern Home Tours has grown leaps and bounds in the past few years; is your vision for the Smarter Home Tours the same as the MHT? Go national or even global?

I’m not sure. The Modern Home Tours have gone so well nationally and even internationally that we’re really focusing the out-of-Austin growth on that. That said, it’s clear that the trend in America is for smaller, uniquely designed residential spaces. Since it’s a popular tour here in Austin, we’d be crazy to not at least consider trying to grow it in other cities as well.

smarter spaces tour austin


D. Crain


Thank you so much Matt!

So what do you think everyone? I hope to see you there. Get your tickets here!

Interior Design in Austin | E-Design everywhere. Contact me.

A French Style and Mint Design Board

Happy Wednesday folks! It’s kinda nice staying put in Austin for a while and having time to do some blog posts. I’ve been driving around town and really admiring how this city has so many home design styles to offer. As you know, I will ooohhh and ahhhh at modern and minimalist homes but old styles are still the ones that capture my heart.

I made a design board for a lovely couple a few months back. They have a gorgeous colonial home in the heart of Hyde Park. There’s a path that looks like it’s going to a secret garden and courtyards abound. I am in love. I made this design board for the foyer area for them:

french style foyer

I was going for neutral walls with splashes of mint green and gold, Louis chairs, architectural mirror and French Country textures. It will be functional yet beautiful. Just when I thought I have listened intently to my design client, I think I took her words quite literally or zoned in only to a few things she mentioned. I did not prod enough or studied her words and image choices enough. It’s something I need to work on and have since made my design questionnaire as thorough as possible. I am also taking more time to know the client. At times, I think I already know their vision but then I realize, I don’t. You see, the design process is that, a process. The “getting to know each other” phase may be fast for some but slow for others. To steer that process is all up to me.

Hmmm, this week is turning out to be a week of introspection for me it seems like. On a lighter note, isn’t that colonial home above with a  lime green door just gorgeous? I always love the classics with a twist of the unexpected!




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