The Devil is in the Details

A shift in the season evokes the decorator in all of us. Fall brings on the color show by Mother Nature and the promise of cooler days ahead. A return to indoors makes many of us want to spruce up our living areas.

The devil is in the details. We have heard that expression many times in all aspects of our lives, but never is it more true than when it comes to design. A room can be perfectly balanced, the furniture comfortable — and yet the room is missing something. That something takes a room from ordinary to special. It makes it memorable and sets it apart from the house next door.

Architecture, color, fabrics, art and accessories are all elements that can add the detail to a room. Let’s look at a few of the ways to add oomph!


Is your room lacking architectural detail? It is possible today to add features to a room that were once cost-prohibitive. A fireplace immediately creates an inviting seating area. Gas and electric fireplaces are far more affordable and attractive than years ago. They can be traditional with a mantel or can be just placed in the wall for a more contemporary look. Whatever your choice it can be a transformational change. Adding crown molding and painted paneling to a room can be achieved by using applied moldings to the dry wall. When painted it looks as if you have used solid wood. It gives the room depth, warmth and adds so much interest to a plain wall.


Paint is an easy and inexpensive way to change a room’s persona. You can choose to paint all of the room a new color or just add an accent wall to give more definition. I often use a neutral color on the walls and put a surprise dash of color on the ceiling. This can be fun and effective. It is important when selecting your paint palette to make sure it flows from room to room. Tonal differences, although subtle, can draw you from space to space. A contrast with the wall and woodwork is also a detail that I recommend.


Many of my clients would be the first to tell you that my No. 1 detail, that I add to every room that I can, is pillows. I am absolutely mad for pillows. They can be the “pièce de résistance” that brings just the right sense of style to any area. They can be solid with an interesting trim, monogrammed, a fabulous print — the possibilities are limitless.

I like 22- or 24-inch down-filled pillows. I often have to convince my trusting clients that they are not too large. Husbands seek me out at social gatherings to discuss my pillow fetish! I stand by my conviction that they are absolutely essential.

There are many details to achieving the perfect pillows. Trims of all types are available, from cording to tassels to flat braided ribbons. There are square, lumbar, continental, euro and on and on.

The corners and pleats of pillows are often another discussion point. Pillow making is an art, an art that I am always perfecting! This is another area where a designer’s eye is often an invaluable asset.


Are you tired of the one overhead light in your kitchen? One way to kick it up is to add recessed lighting to an area.

Canned lighting can come in a variety of sizes. It can be put on a rheostat and provide lighting from dim to bright. It can create a mood and totally update a space.

Table lamps provide a huge opportunity to provide a new and current look to a tired room. Lamp styles and shades are always changing. You have an opportunity to try out a new lampshade on an existing lamp — a new shape from bell to drum, pleated or not. Lampshades can also be custom painted.

Many of the homes I visit can be made so much more current with a change of lamps. Color, size and shape all are details that contribute a “wow” factor.

Art and accessories

My daughter is an artist, and whenever she wants an update to a room she paints a new canvas! It totally can change the mood of her interior. She adds a new color to the art and then weaves this through her home.

A lesson can be learned from this: Keep a fresh eye in your home. Change your art around, move it to a new location. Mix some of your art to create a new vignette. One idea I have used is to frame scarves. Carleton Varney has several wonderful scarves that I have framed and put up the stairs in my son’s home. It brings a little of West Virginia to his home in New Jersey.

Accessories are a designer’s best tool. Keeping current and keeping clutter down are details that are not to be missed. I am constantly updating my own home and those of my clients. I spend much of my market time looking for the fresh and new. Keep redefining your taste by looking at rooms you love. Pay attention to the things that add up to the total look of the room. Do not be afraid to edit. A beautiful home is a happy lifetime pursuit. Embrace the journey.

Happy homes!

Color is Back!

pink ceiling

Excerpt from Charleston Gazette article on February 22:

“My favorite color since the third grade is chartreuse. Even when it wasn’t the color of the hour, it was always my color! I cannot conceal the joy it gives me to walk through my front door and see it on a pillow, a lamp or a fabric. Your favorite color can tell a story throughout your home, a pleasant refrain that carries you room to room.

Upon returning from recent market visits, one thing is very apparent: Color is back.

Warmer, brighter days are just around the corner, and there is a palpable shift in the way people are seeing their homes.

But even with the move toward fresh and new, many people find it difficult to pull their vision together without a little help. You may like the idea of a color, but where to begin?

Paint is a good choice. It is relatively inexpensive, and if you make a mistake you can change with a paintbrush.

Ceilings can be a perfect place for a surprise burst of color. The accompanying photograph shows a hot-pink ceiling in a traditional kitchen.

As the client commented, ‘When I thought of a pink kitchen, I immediately thought four walls would be too much. The ceiling was so unexpected and so right.’ “

Turn Crisis into Comfort


Many of us have been spending more time at home because of the water crisis here in West Virginia. Restaurants, theaters and the like have all been closed. Never a better time to appreciate how a warm, inviting home can be such a safe haven.

Happy New Year!


A new year for all of us to embrace! Holidays were joyous, but with all the memories packed away with Christmas decorations I am on to 2014. Cold weather to be sure, but I love the coziness of winter and sitting by a fire. A winter house is warm and inviting and is a showcase for great interiors.

Rainy days

We are having many gray days and it is so helpful if your interiors are more colorful. Color has a way of igniting our creative juices. Your colors can be in accessories and things that require a smaller commitment. Leslie is in the middle of a basement re- do. We will show you this stage before the layering process begins. Of course pink is center stage!!!