Wednesday, October 7, 2009

a closer look at faux finishes - no ragging here!

I love picking the brains of professional artists. They are a wealth of knowledge (and of course creative) and I always learn something when I beg them to answer my questions!

I recently met and have began working with Dee Cunningham, artist and owner of . Dee specializes in murals, faux finishes, decorative painting, trompe l'oeil and more. After brainstorming with her about my own kitchen cabinets and a client's dining room wall, I decided to ask her a few questions so I could share her with you!

(trompe l'oeil niche and the lower half is faux wood, by Deelite Designs)

1. When we met to discuss my kitchen I was happy to learn that you can faux paint metallic finishes and tiles (to simulate a tile back splash). What other treatments do you offer that most people may not know about/consider for a paint treatment?
When people think of "Faux" they usually think of sponge painting or ragging. Those techniques are a solid foundation for more interesting and complex finishes. There is a whole world out there of faux finishes, or as I like to call them "artistic finishes" because it’s more than just a sponge or rag. I do a lot of plasters, metallics, crackles, lime plasters, faux bois (woodgraining), faux marbe (marbling), as well as the staples: color washes, blended glazes and striae. Walls are only the beginning. In addition to walls, I've painted ceilings, floors, furniture, and will be learning a special (green) product that can go over existing counter tops. The product is super durable, and can achieve effects such as granite, onyx, and other natural stones.

(oak cabinets before)

(oak cabinets after, by Deelite Designs)

2. More on kitchens. You offer many custom treatments for cabinets. Explain how these treatments are better than/different me opening a can of latex paint and rolling it myself? And, what are the benefits of oil vs. latex paint on woodwork?
Cabinets in kitchens probably get more abuse than any other surface in the house besides counters. A homeowner can certainly paint their own cabinets, but may be disappointed if necessary preparation and quality products are not used. I follow a regimented set of steps in order to make sure the client's cabinet finishes don't fail. Latex enamel paint has come a long way and can be used on cabinets, but for a tough finish, I still use oil. Oil closes well and doesn't soften with humidity. Painting cabinets can be more cost effective than refacing and certainly replacing. Plus you can get custom colors (the entire paint deck!) to match your decor.

(mural, the girl is on canvas, by Deelite Designs)

3. Do you paint murals and what do people need think about when considering a mural and hiring an artist for that type of job?
Murals are my specialty! Murals don't have to be just for kids’ rooms. I have done "murals" that are more like a custom piece of art for the client. I also do decorative painting by adding accents or flourishes to walls, ceilings, etc. When considering a mural, think of placement, subject matter, size, and level of detail. When I paint murals, I ask a lot of questions. What is the budget? Why a mural? Do they have reference images? Can the mural be executed on canvas and installed? I like to do canvas murals because they allow me to work in my studio and not in the client's home for months. The canvas is married to the wall and is virtually undetectable unless you walk up close and feel the texture. The biggest bonus is the mural can be taken down if the client were to move or change the purpose of the space thus saving their investment.

(tree featured on HGTV's "My Big Amazing Renovation," by Deelite Design)

4. What is your favorite paint treatment and is there anything you won’t paint?
If it stays still, I can paint it! I have painted surfaces where I was very apprehensive about the paint sticking, and in such cases I make the client aware of this. I don't think I have had to say "no" yet to a client. The closest to "no" is, "I’ll try it out on myself first and let you know." I have painted walls, ceilings, floors, furniture, glass, tile, etc. It’s all about research, proper preparation and practice. I don't really have a favorite paint treatment. My favorite moments are when the work is complete and the client is happy. The whole picture comes into focus and the vision has been achieved.

(ceiling before)

(faux mahogany ceiling, after, by Deelite Designs)

5. What trends are you seeing now in paint finishes?

Trends right now are all over the place. I have seen modern treatments with graphic patterns, traditional and completely unique. I do think that the trends of faux finishes follow trends in interior design and fashion. I have seen less "old world" crumbly plasters and "Tuscan" interiors and more "Transitional" looks, cleaner lines and personalized interiors. Less browns and tans and more clearer colors. Faux finishes can be tailored to any interior design style. The possibilities are endless!

Happy faux finishing!


After such a wonderful post about the color GREEN from April, I couldn't pass up the lead in to talk about my passion for GREEN as in sustainability.

Think about these for a minute:

  • By 2015, it is estimated that we will spend $121.7 billion to refurbish our homes with new furniture pieces.
  • The U.S. EPA reported that furniture accounted for 8.8 million tons of our waste stream in 2005, quadruple the amount in 1960.
  • About 3 million tons of Styrofoam was produced in 2000. Of that amount, 2.3 million tons were thrown away. How much of that Styrofoam packaged household decor items?

One of the nice things about redesign is the positive impact it has on the planet. By reusing, re-purposing and restyling a homeowner's existing furniture, art and accessories, redesign keeps these items out of the municipal waste stream and landfills.

Last night, I had the opportunity to present the concept "Redesign is Green Design" to a group of about 25 individuals at the The 1.5 hour long presentation was well received by the group which included homeowners, interior designers, decorators and other professionals.

I know I'm preaching to the choir but I think it bears repeating: Redesign, by the very nature of the process, supports the three fundamentals of sustainability: reuse, renew and recycle.

With a bruised economy, people are naturally trending toward more sustainable lifestyles by reusing things they already own. But if the above estimates go unchanged, the damage to our planet will continue at an alarming rate. Redesign makes a lot of sense on numerous levels and should play a big part of your business marketing.

It's time to embrace a more sustainable, "green" lifestyle. We don't have a choice! Redesign isn't just about pretty.... it's about saving our planet.

Happy Green Decorating

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hot Tip Tuesday - Try it on for size

Photo courtesy of Shaw Floors

Just a quick decorating tip that I wanted to pass along. Did you know you could try a rug in your space before you buy it? No, that doesn't mean going to the store, buying it, trying it and then having to go back to return it if you don't like it. I just found that has a very cool application where you can upload a photo of your room and virtually "try on the floor". So cool! It has area rugs, hardwood, ceramic, etc. So, give it a whirl and try it on. It really helps to take out the guesswork, especially for those who need a visual.

This is another cool example of modern day technology at its finest. I love techies! Now, I just wish someone would come up with a virtual "Try On A Bathing Suit" application because that is one of my least favorite things to do in the world!!! (And I know I am not alone on that one!) Can any techies out there help me out??

Happy Tuesday,

~Marybeth Barrett

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all gifts are not created equal

I'm a sucker for beautiful fabrics and paint colors (which is good considering my life as an interior designer!), but I also love fine papers and beautifully packaged gifts.

We recently went to a wedding party that combined Eastern and Western cultures. The groom is American and the bride is Korean and they live in Japan. We received these lovely boxed gifts—so pretty I almost didn't want to open them!

It was no surprise that the contents of the box were just as lovely and well-presented as the exterior.

The white triangle cloth is a pouch filled with well-designed tea bags (even the tea bags looked like art!). Notice the detail in the purple label with the white tie. The typography is beautiful. I love how the cloth is folded into a triangle to compliment the tea pouch. It's lovely in its simplicity.

The orange-patterned cloth added a great pop of color to the package. It's a large piece of fabric that has many potential uses. You could use it as a scarf, a table cover or gift wrap, or you could framed it and hang it on your wall. And, lucky me, I have 2 different fabrics!

The kids also received a bag of great bag of Asian toys and this was the package's label. The pattern is fun and the colors are bold — perfect for children!

I often talk about finding inspiration for your rooms in a variety of places and I think this gift could be a great inspiration for a room's style, feeling or color pallet. What do you think?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Decorating: Knowing When To Stop

The October 2009 issue of Traditional Home magazine opened with this great quote in the letter from the editor:

"A designer knows he has acheived perfection not when there is nothing left to add but when there is nothing left to take away."

I love this one! So true, don't you agree?

Sometimes when I am "shopping" around the home of client, I find really pretty and meaningful treasures that they own but they are scattered about from room to room in no particular or logical order. How fun is it to gather up these things and put some order and sense to them!

Notice the similarity in color, theme and style in these white ironstone pitchers and delft blue plates. But they weren't together! Now they have visual impact.

You know how you have to take a step back and decide...should I add one more thing? Should I take one thing away? This can sometimes be a hard call to make. I am not sure there is a "golden rule" to guide you. For me, I just usually have a gut feeling about it.

Do you have a guideline that helps you know? Do share.

Beth Batke

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Visit To Country Living Magazine's Antiques Fair

Today was one of those days you dream about. The sky is bright blue. The morning is crisp but warms up as the afternoon sun falls on your face. You're with a friend who loves to decorate as much as you do.

And you're at Country Living magazine's annual antiques fair!

Diana Hudson of and I were lucky enough to spend today at this highly-regarded fair held at the historic Ohio Village in Columbus.

This fair appeared to be inside a glass bubble shielded from the economic downturn: the parking lots were jammed, the lines were long, the crowds were thick, and everyone was happy. The Fall decor was abundant. Isn't it amazing to see nature's perfect complimentary color selection when you look at the orange mums and pumpkins against the blue sky?

What I liked about this fair was the wide array of things for sale.....from fine antiques to retro fun to shabby, accessories, florals, crafts, food, paper and linen goodies. The vendors came from near and far. I loved from nearby Thornville, Ohio. I couldn't resist buying this great (and heavy) window from them for only $20 though I could barely carry it to the parking lot!

Worth the struggle, wouldn't you say? I love the rectangular shape and weathered finish.

Three women vendors from "The Village Barn" set out three days ago from IDAHO pulling their quirky treasures cross country in a trailer! Their stuff was just plain FUN.

These bright hand-painted canvasses pulled me right in. Don't you love how they are displayed in this antique bed?

Check out the paint job on these old guys. Now this got my wheels spinning since I have an antique child's desk just like this stuffed in my crawl space. It's time to take it out and dust it off!

Don't these photos look like they fell right out of the pages of well....Country Living?

What a glorious Friday. Sometimes decorator friends just have to take a day off and take advantage of the inspiration found right in their own back yard.

Beth Batke

Monday, September 14, 2009

design star - personality winner?

Congrats to Antonio Ballatore, the new winner.

Does anyone else out there think he won over Dan Vickery just because he has a unique personality? One we don't currently see on HGTV?

They were both good designers, so it was a tough call, but maybe it wasn't.

I'm just sayin'....

Happy decorating!

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Here in the Chicago area, we're starting to see the first signs of leaves turning. The goldenrod is in full bloom as my allergies are the first to let me know. Thistle and grasses have gone to seed ... a sure sign that snow will be flying before we're ready for it.

And although we've had what I think has been lackluster summer weather this year, September has helped to make up for it with almost picture perfect blue skies, moderate temps and low humidity. When the goldenrod starts blooming and the thistle goes to seed, I get in the mood for fall and probably my favorite time of year for seasonal home decor.

The wonderful thing about fall accents is that they blend very well with any design style. Even more wonderful is that these same fall touches transition easily over the next several months with just a few tweeks for the fall holidays. If you've started with fall leaves, dried grasses, harvested fruits and veggies as a base, it's nothing to add the appropriate accents to embellish them for Halloween and Thanksgiving.

I just finished throwing these fall florals together. As you can see, I like to craft floral arrangements with a certain formality that also look somewhat organic and haphazard. I try to mix colors and textures for visual interest. For inspiration, I imagine walking through an overgrown field this time of year collecting samples from all nature has to offer...then incorporating them into a single arrangement.

I hope these pictures get you in the mood to start your own fall floral fun. By adding seasonal accents, you can get a whole new look for your home without breaking a sweat.

Happy Fall Decorating!

Jeffery Rice
Decor Designs, Inc.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Decorator Caught "Loving Frank"

Have you read Loving Frank by Nancy Horan? It had been on my nightstand reading stack for awhile, but once I picked it up I could hardly put it down.

It is the story of Frank Lloyd Wright and the sizzling love affair he had with Mamah Borthwick Cheney from 1907-1914. What makes this story-worthy? For starters, both were married to others. Both were upstanding citizens of Oak Park, Illinois with respected spouses. Both had young children that they abandoned when they escaped to Europe to carry on their illicit affair. Imagine the scandal this stirred up in 1907! The lurid headlines exposing their affair sold a lot of newspapers across the country. Suffice it to say that even back then, the media knew that "sex sells".

If for no other reason, pick up this book because Frank Lloyd Wright is deemed the "creator" of American architecture as well as "organic" architecture, because of his obsession to meld nature into his building designs. The book gives insight to his brilliance and his vision. When Mamah asks Frank about why he entered his line of work he replies simply "I couldn't think of anything more noble than making a beautiful home". Swoon.

Frank designed and built their love nest in Spring Green, Wisconsin and named it "Taliesin". The two moved in and built a life together though they never married. To my delight, I have learned that Taliesin still exists, has a preservation society, and is open to the public. Quickly I added it to my "bucket list" of places to visit. One thing led to another and soon I was researching Wright's most famous home, "Fallingwater". Built on top of a waterfall in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania, Wright designed it for the Kaufmann family, well-known department store moguls. I can actually DRIVE to that one I decided. And wouldn't IT be the perfect field trip for The Society of Decorating Professionals 2010 annual conference? (Hint,'s only 90 miles from Pittsburgh).

Back to Frank and Mamah, I don't want to tell you how their love affair comes to an abrupt end in August of 1914. But I will tell you that it will simply shock you.

In all honesty, it has haunted my dreams of late.

Beth Batke

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Builders Boring White to Homeowners Cozy and Bright

I just ran across some photos from when we purchased our house almost 5 years ago. First, I couldn't get over my first born. He was so little. He is now 6 and so much bigger, but still a cute little bugger. Second, I couldn't get over the cold and boring builders white! Can you say YAWN! Talk about boring with a capital B!

So, here is the room now after my transformation. It feels a lot more cozy and inviting, don't you think?

Happy Thursday,
Bringing new life to your decor and more
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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Let Me Entertain You

In honor of Labor Day weekend, we did a lot of entertaining with friends, which is always a labor of love! Here are some creative ways to entertain and serve your guests inside or out.

This spread was created with clearance sale items and thrift store finds in typical fashion. I am thrilled to announce that I was just named a Contributing Writer on the website, so please check it out. It was created by , author, designer and frequent guest of the Today Show. The site is amazing and full of cream of the crop artists and designers. Prepare to be inspired! I am so giddy that I get to be a part of it. It challenges me to be creative, and get my "A Game" on. I love that. Again, consider yourself warned, you could spend a lot of time on this site because it is truly inspiring. But, it is truly a great resource for stagers and redesigners when we need to "use what we have" and work some magic. You will get so many creative ideas. I can promise you that!

This whole vignette was created around one of my recent fabulous finds. Don't you love this round, white, chippy table? And, don't hate me, it was only $5. A vision in white, wouldn't you say?

A handy tin makes for a great napkin and plate holder. I got it at Michael's on clearance.
The pie is displayed on a rummage sale find. Check out the vase used for bread sticks and flower pot for the pretzel bread.

I have collected a bunch of cigar boxes over the years. I have turned a lot of them into purses, but on this day I decided to serve my flat bread in it. A little different, right?

I also have a thing for metal and wire, which is kind of ironic. Growing up, I had braces TWICE! So the whole metal mouth just didn't jive with me. Well, at least I have straight choppers now! I digress. I used a metal basket to store some funky lemonade bottles. I loved the splash of yellow color. A good tip is to keep the packaging in mind when making your drink selections, every little splash of color helps to enhance your display.

I hope you all had a great holiday weekend. I sure did. There is nothing better than celebrating with friends.

I posted more photos on my if you want to surf on over, you can also sign up for my Decorating/DIY newsletter too.

Happy Entertaining,

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bedroom Ideas from a Hardware Store?

Sometimes we find inspiration in the least likely places.  I just picked up my latest sample copy of Lowe's home improvement store's magazine Lowe's Creative Ideas for Home and Garden (Sept/Oct 09) and loved their article entitled "".

Almost like the infamous "white room" challenge on  , Lowe's offers inexpensive and creative solutions starting with a plain white bedroom and bed and giving it several different personalities and pizazz.  Three different makeovers, Traditional, Contemporary and Casual give a whole new look to the space.

I got a kick out of the bamboo flooring headboard idea .  Might just have found a use for that leftover box down in the basement after all!  And don't miss the article "" on page 18 of the same issue with the creative use of over-sized, burgundy colored, ceramic planters and round wooden tops for side tables.  Love it!

Click on the links to read the articles and see all the pictures.  Sometimes inspiration comes when and from where you least expected it!

**Happy Decorating**

Jeffery Rice
Decor Designs, Inc.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Need Inspiration? Here is a great resource

I came across this amazing site on Twitter from . I just had to share. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning when I started surfing...holy inspiration! The picture above is from an interview with blogger . Such a great blog!

Check out this great inspirational resource: . Such creative talent. You can create your own ideabooks or just peruse the works of others. It is a great tool when trying to "create a picture" for clients.

I must apologize ahead of time, be prepared to be sucked in. I could spend hours on it!

Have fun surfing,


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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sweet September Nesting Instinct

Dear SDP Friends,

As I write this month's post on from my home office in San Diego, CA, I feel the smell of sweet September in the air! Does fall bring out your nesting instinct big time like it does mine?! My hubby Steve and I have recently completed a few around our home so I thought I'd share them with you.

I found these wonderful "patina green" metal letters at in La Jolla, CA. It's one of my favorite design stores as they carry a lot of Old World style decor. Be sure to check it out if you ever get to San Diego. As for the metal letters, which are very heavy, here's so they don't fall off the wall!

If your jewelry is a tangled mess, here's a dollarwise way to get it all organized so you can feel well put together when you get ready in the morning. I bought a bulletin board which my hubby hung in our walk-in bedroom closet. I give more . Of course, I could have made it even more "designer-ish" by covering the cork with a lovely fabric and painting the frame a nice color, but I elected to keep it simple.

We like our master bedroom and bathroom suite to feel like a Bed & Breakfast Inn because we stay in I found some lovely new white embellished pillows at Target, and a pretty new lilac-patterned quilt at Marshall's to freshen things up a bit. I also did some tweaks to our master bathroom. The "NEST" letters are in the bedroom corner.

I love nothing more than to have . We like our privacy out there, so I found these two metal folding screens which my hubby Steve painted and then he built a track for them to stand straight in and fastened them to the railing. Now we still get the sunshine, but we have privacy too.

Wishing you sweet September nesting!

Kathryn :)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Cha Ching for Going Green

Whether a business owner or home owner, we're all looking for ways to save a buck and save the planet at the same time.
I don't know about you, but I'm starting to amass a pretty good collection of used laptops, desktops and other small electronics.   Wouldn't it be nice to know that these items could be recycled and maybe get a little $$$ to spend on more decorating projects?

Well check out our friends at Costco.  They've partnered with to purchase and recycle used electronics including laptops, cell phones, LCD monitors, digital cameras, MP3 players, blu-ray players, gaming systems and more.... and you earn Costco Cash for your efforts.

One additional benefit, Gazelle also cleans all hard drives etc... of personal data using Dept. of Defense software in a secure, controlled environment to insure your privacy is protected.

I'm glad to see that big business is finally seeing the value in recycling and also compensating consumers to encourage a more planet friendly approach to disposing of these items.

If you know of any other local or national programs, I'd love to hear about them!

Jeffery Rice
Decor Designs, Inc.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It's All Bittersweet

This past weekend I said goodbye to my daughter on a sidewalk at The University of Kentucky. She is beginning a new life for herself as a college student and it's a life without me. After 18 years, it's a harsh and sudden realization and I would be lying if I said it was easy. But this is what we raise them to do, and through the sadness there is a happiness. It's bittersweet.

I got to thinking about the coming of Fall and the changes that it brings. I realized, for me anyway, the season that marks going back to school, or going away to school, brings with it the browns and the ochres and the oranges that range to rusty red. It's bittersweet.

Ralph Lauren Home
"Bittersweet Glaze"

Today I took out my silk bittersweet spray and arranged it in a black and cream diamond-patterned container on my entry table. The bright yellow silk tulips I had in there began to look silly on this late August day. The lazy days of summer are ending and soon the cicadas will go silent. It's bittersweet.

It's all bittersweet.

Beth Batke

Thursday, August 20, 2009

free decorating e-book

I had fun putting this together and I hope you find it useful! Of course all of you designers out there won't find anything new in here, but I hope it inspires a few others that are looking for decorating ideas!

(click on image to download the file)

Please share your favorite tip with me. And feel free to share the book with others.

happy decorating!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A word Caution when using Yellow Paint

I recently learned something kind of interesting. Did you know that as far as painting goes...yellow does not cover well? So, if you are painting with yellow, you will probably need some extra coats (which could mean extra money). Even if the color doesn't look like a true yellow but has a lot of yellow undertones, it will not cover your wall well. If you aren't sure, ask the paint store, they can tell you what is in the formula.

Good to know, right?

My tip is that when using a yellow tone, use a yellow tinted primer. The paint store can add the color to your primer. You will get better coverage.

Ah, the fun things you learn while hanging out in a paint store!

Happy Painting,,

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Proportion, proportion, proportion

I love men's dress clothes and the "science" behind putting the right suit, shirt and tie together. Even selecting the right color shirt to compliment your skin tone is a learned art.

There are the different suit jacket lapels and the number of buttons to consider. The variety of shirt collars can send your head spinning. The right tie knot with the right shirt makes the outfit and don't forget about mixing shirt and tie patterns (which I think is great fun).

I recently saw this page in the Lands' End catalog and believe it or not, it made me think about interior design.

Per the catalog, "new Varsity collar. This brings back the shorter collar shape of the first Original Oxford. (Its collar points became longer over the years, to be proportional to wider ties and lapels.) Now, with narrow ties back in favor, it's time for a collar that works in perfect sync with them."

How does this tie into design? (Pun intended.) Proportion, proportion, proportion.

If you have a large scale sofa and chairs in your living room you need a coffee table that has some weight so it fits the proportion of the furnishings. If you have a large wall you need large art. A small, narrow wall needs small art. A large seating area needs a large area rug. A big table can hold a large lamp base with a big shade, whereas a skinny lamp will get lost in that same space.

In any kind of design proportion is a big factor in making or breaking great design. Take a look around you today—at all types of design and see what you see.

Now I have to run to the Lands' End department in the Columbia mall and check out the new shirt collars!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fun Wall Art

A while back I had a decorating job for a young girl's bedroom. Actually it was a surprise room makeover for the girl as her 13th birthday gift from her parents. Initially I met with her mom and we discussed different ideas and I learned about her interests and hobbies. I learned she was an avid soccer player. I had in mind something fun and colorful for the wall that would be unexpected.

Months before that I had cut out an ad from the back of a magazine for and pinned it to my bulletin board. I thought it looked like something fun to try when the opportunity was right. It gives an Andy Warhol look to any photograph you care to submit. You can select the colors, size, and shape of the art. You can determine the number of the images you want to appear. They work up a proof and send it to you for approval via e-mail. The art is shipped shortly thereafter.

The finished product is not inexpensive, this 20x24 panel was about $250. But really, not so terrible for a one-of-a-kind piece of art that might just be unique enough to keep forever. How cute would it be to do your baby's face or your family's black lab?

I know that this young teen was delightfully surprised when she saw the colorful and modern rendition of herself kicking a soccer ball downfield.

Beth Batke