Friday, October 9, 2009

Industrial Goes Glam

I just decorated and staged a house for the Parade of Homes in Winston Salem. The event runs this weekend and next. When I work with a client I like to pay tribute to the homeowners and family, the people who live in the space. In this case it is the builder. So, I incorporated a lot of unique industrial and hardware accessories throughout the home. This is my favorite.

Check out my napkin ring holders. Industrial goes glam. I love to decorate with the unexpected. So, this is one of my "shout outs" to the . He took a lot of time and effort into building the home so the least I could do was to acknowledge and recognize him in my design plan. What do you think??

I got these in the plumbing aisle at the Hardware store. You should have seen the look on the sales associates face when he asked "Can I help you?" They didn't have the vision and looked at me like I had 10 heads. Oh well. So, I was on my own, in search of the perfect napkin ring holder. I think this did the trick.

Check out my blog for more photo and inspiration on how to "decorate outside the box." Or as Joanne Lenart-Weary likes to say "I never would have thought of that!"

Happy Friday,

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009


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, October 6, 2009

HUEmor me: decorating with green

There's a lot of talk about green home products and green decorating.

This post, however, is about the color green -- an always fresh color that ranges from pale sage greens to vibrant, lime green.
Look around outside and you'll see every shade of green imaginable. The combination possibilities are unlimited and that's good because I'd hate to see you limit yourself!

The yellow green on the walls of this living room are balanced by the white wood work and furnishings and the beautiful wood floors and rug. Notice that they varied the value (lightness and darkness) of the green in the room by adding darker plants. The pops of orange keep the space interesting. Lovely! (Tuck the rug under the sofa and the room is complete.)

You don't have to paint your walls to bring color into your room. The lamp and accessories on this table are a great way to introduce a little bit of a color. Grouping the green items together provides a greater impact. Yellow, orange and brown pair nicely with the green.

This photo is from a spread from the June '09 issue of
Living magazine (it was also the cover image). It's been sitting on my desk for months just waiting for this green post! I pieced it together on the scanner, hence the seam down the middle. Why the love? The mix of greens against the wood paneled walls and white furnishings is striking. The green on the skateboard and the green view from outside complete the space. Notice the pillows on the sofa? Varying values of green! Large-scaled patterns on the pillows and a smaller-scale pattern on the rug help create a great mix all around—all without paint.

If this soft green kitchen doesn't make you want to cook, what would? The light hued cabinets, the herbs and plants and the green cafe curtains all bring peace and calm to this space. Green doesn't have to be bold to be inviting!

This bold, green bed frame is balanced nicely by the brown bed linens, lamp and rolled towels. The striped bench compliments the green and the bedding pattern. The soft green walls provide high contrast to the room, which adds visual interest. There are two things I would change in this room. I would hang larger art or more smaller art over the bed and add fabric window panels to the windows. These would complete this traditional room with a green twist!

Here's a room you won't soon forget! Like the room or not, the color values are right on and the pop of orange with the green and violet creates a lovely triad color combination. The walls and other details could use some finessing, but we'll focus on the color.

Are you seeing a pattern yet? Green with orange, brown and white/cream are popular with me! This room adds color through paint, but without painting the entire room. The paneling on the lower portion of the walls add architectural interest to the room. The varying wood textures are great and the art is a nice size. My only wish is that they painted the ceiling one shade lighter than the walls. A girl can dream, right?

A few of my favorite green color pairings
(aside from what's shown here)

Green & yellow * Light green & light blue * Green, white & black * Green & red (they are complimentary colors, keep the values similar and it'll look great) * Green & pink and brown

Ballard Designs' Devon lamp
Shiny, happy & green lamp with textured lamp shade

Are you green with envy? Don't be! Add some green to your rooms in a small way (a grouping of accessories, art or a lamp) or, in a big way (paint all walls & ceiling) and sit back and enjoy the view!

What are you favorite green pairings? Leave a comment. It'll make me happy!

Friday, October 2, 2009

TODAY-Blog Radio~"Refine Your Style"

One of our writers has her own . Here's what Rena has to say about the show airing today Oct 2 at 12:00 (EST).

Spend part of your lunch discovering how to "Refine Your Style". My guest will be Catharine Gaither of Freedom by Design. Catharine is a lifestyle decor specialist and a writer for The Society of Decorating Professionals. Catharine will offer inspirational and insightful ways you can create a space that is uniquely yours. You’ll be glad you tuned in to learn how to refine your style.

Can't wait to see you there. It's going to be a lot of fun.

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,
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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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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,


Bringing new life to your decor and more

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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 :)

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

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

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

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Waterbed Doesn't Have To Create Waves

This week on a job I "freshened up" a master bedroom. By that I mean I re-accessorized with things my client already owned and purchased a few new things to put in the mix.

My client is a delightful single mom who loves soft, restful colors in her bedroom and already had a shabby chic vibe established. She also has a waterbed which she LOVES and does not want to part with.

When I first saw the bedroom earlier this summer I suggested she might want to paint her natural pine bedroom set a creamy white and distress it a bit to help her shabby chic look along. This included the bed, 2 dressers and a large mirror. She hired a painter who did the priming and painting (smart lady) and then she got out her electric sander and did her own distressing. We also selected some clear glass knobs to add to the previously knob-less dresser drawers.

Her waterbed is the old-fashioned variety that sits very low to the ground. Add to that the room's high vaulted ceiling and the bed looked even lower. So, while "on the job" I ran out to HomeGoods and selected this large picture to add some height and visual interest to the bed.
I couldn't resist the "dream" pillow and snatched that up as well.

Have any of you experienced "waterbed issues" in a bedroom you have decorated? What have you done to help it fit in with the decor?

Beth Batke

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"Because I just felt like it"

There are a lot of interior design principles, theories, rules and guidelines. They come in handy to help make or explain decisions to clients.

There are times when those guidelines fail me and my ultimate reason for making a design decision is based on my eye and a gut feeling about what works. Try as I might, I can't always explain these things as well as I'd like.

Imagine my delight when I read an interview with interior designer Bunny Williams in the Aug. issue of House Beautiful.

(room by Bunny Williams as shown in Aug. '09 House Beautiful mag.)

The room shown was featured on the cover and was the topic of this discussion.

HB magazine: "That red chair throws it [the room] off, doesn't it?"

Bunny: "Somebody asked me why I put it there, and I said, 'Because I just felt like it'...."

(There was a bit more to her answer, including that "nothing matches, but it blends.")

I love that response because sometimes I feel the exact same way!

Do you love or hate the chair? Leave a comment and let me know. I love that she angled the mirror down so it reflects the room.

Now I have to catch up on the Sept. issue of the mag. and it's neat cover insert — a color card!

Happy decorating!