listen. inspire. create.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring party tablescapes to inspire you

Spring is here and this time of the year there is much to celebrate, Easter, graduations, bridal showers and the list goes on. We are often busy attending and/or hosting these occasions. Personally, what I enjoy most about hosting parties is decorating the tables.  I am a firm believer that a beautiful table inspires conversation and brings even greater taste to our favorite dishes.

Last week, the Arlington Design Center, hosted a spring tablescape event.  There were many great ideas that I would like to share with you.  Hopefully, you will find an idea or two that inspires you.
A favorite table at the event was designed by my colleague, Tara Gruber, of TGI Interiors.  She juxtaposed the glitz of rhinestones and candles with driftwood, moss spheres and placemats, making this table my favorite at the event!
The driftwood centerpiece accented with rhinestone trim included roses, cala lillies and orchids mixed throughout.  The candles are wrapped in ribbons and rhinestones. . .so pretty.

Another favorite table from the event is featured above (by Linda Navara).  The use of the grasses and apple green color mixed with a little jungle surprise was very fresh and pleasing.  A touch of animal print works in our homes and it works in this tablescape too.

Candy chosen for its color palette fills jars embellished with ribbons and floral accents.  So easy and they become part of the decor. 

Whether you understand hockey or not, if you live in Chicago you simply must be a Blackhawks fan. The speaker for the spring event, Vanessa Nunley, showcased her favorite table ideas.  Anyone hosting a hockey party? Maybe you have a Blackhawk fan with a birthday coming up - this table is loaded with ideas that would be perfect for a birthday party.

In this presentation the flowers are showcased uniquely on the corners of the table. Often corners seem "unfinished" and this is a perfect solution, it also leaves more space on your table for your serving dishes.

Party favors. . . another favorite part of my planning when I am hosting.  I want my guests to know how much I appreciated their attending and it sends a remembrance of the party home with them. 

This table says "spring is here" and would be perfect for an Easter brunch.  The different textures are so appealing. The white ceramic artichokes, moss bunnies, white washed jackrabbit and crystal mixes beautifully.

There are a few key elements to keep in mind when decorating your tables.  First, elevate so that you have your decorative pieces displayed at different heights on your table.  Second, mixing textures will make your table more interesting. We say this all the time when we are planning fabrics and furnishings in your home, it holds true here as well. Third, themes provide inspiration and make the planning easier with the end result the most pleasing.

The tablescape showcase is just one example of the special events that are held at the Arlington Design Center (ADC) regularly.  Why don't you consider joining us next week, Wednesday, April 11th, for a Designer Panel Q & A. Over a year ago I began meeting with four other interior designers with established, growing businesses to develop best practices, share our expertises and encourage one another. Our group, 5forDesign, will be panelists and we will be sharing our answers to questions on the design process, what to expect when you hire a designer and other insights into successful design projects. To rsvp just click the link below and register  If you plan to attend just send us an email and we will make sure you have a front row seat!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Beautiful mantel ideas for the holidays

 Mantels are very prominent in our holiday decorating.  We wanted to provide you with a few photos of our favorite mantels this season. Maybe you will find an idea to bring into your home.

This is one of our favorites this year.  The evergreens and grapevines are such a nice mix of textures.  Of course, the use of traditional Christmas colors is timeless and so appealing.  A wreath placed over a mirror always looks great, don't you think?

Magnolia leaves are an excellent addition to traditional evergreens.  This mantel caught our eye with the sparkling trees in varying heights. 

The large pine cones and pine needle garlands are a perfect choice for the den or study mantel.  This room says - "come  in, curl up and read your Kindle".

If you want to bring in as much greenery as possible, look to this photo for inspiration.  The greens are placed on top of the mantel as well as swagged, reaching to the floor. Love all the ornaments and ribbons. So pretty! 

If just a touch of green is more to your taste - take your queues from this mantel decor.  The mercury glass urns, pine cones, magnolia leaves and white stockings look so peaceful on the white fireplace.

Simplicity. . .quietly brings in the season.

(most photos courtesy of Traditional Home)

We hope you enjoy spending time in your home with your family and friends over the holiday season.

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's time to bring the holiday spirit into our homes

It seems we no sooner rest our forks after enjoying Thanksgiving favorites than our thoughts turn to the upcoming holidays and decorating our homes. If you are like us you are continually keeping an eye open for inspiring new ways to add the holiday spirit to your home.  We would like to help you with that this year by sharing a few of our favorite photos. 
How beautiful is this?  We loved the idea of adding fresh evergreens and pinecones around the vessel sink in the powder room.  The intertwined lights add so much to the ambiance.  If you are having a party this year don't forget to decorate your powder room.

How many of us have great memories of sledding or ice skating as a child?  Maybe you are fortunate and even still have your sled or skates stores away.  If so, now is the time to bring them out and create a welcoming holiday statement for your front door or service door.  To us this just exudes warmth and comfort.

White porcelain accent pieces are being shown everywhere and they work wonderfully at the holidays too.  The greens, pinecones and white porcelain. . .simple and elegant.
(Photo courtesy of Elle Decor, photography by Anthony Masterson)

 We all love candles and why not dress them festively. Simply place your candle on a glass pedestal plate and surround it with walnuts, berries or candies -- whatever speaks to you.
(Photo courtesy of sweethomesavannah blog)

Tobi Fairley shared a tree she decorated for her daughter.  The colors are so vibrant and fun.  Maybe you want to decorate a tree for your child's room this year.  Look at the next picture for a fun surprise.

Sock monkeys!  So much fun.  Your children or grandchildren will be full of the holiday wonderment for a few short years, now is the time to make great memories.   Don't you think any child would remember the thrill of beautiful tree decorated just for them.  We loved this tree!
(previous two photos courtesy of Tobi Fairley)

We hope these photos inspired you and maybe you'll decorate a space in your home that you hadn't planned to previously.  If you are doing something new this year or have a unique decorating tradition please share it with us - we'd love to hear from you.

We will feature mantel decorating ideas in our next post!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Designing Your Peaceful Retreat

Why is design so important in our lives?  We often get so busy (our excuse for not blogging this summer) that we don't notice our surroundings until they don't serve our needs or provide a peaceful place to come home. It seems more than any other time of the year, the fall is when we take assessment of the environment we live in.

As an interior designer, one of my greatest joys is helping you discover your style and having you say how much you love your new space because you feel warm, comfortable and happy.

Interior design can be an afterthought for the chronically busy and priority-driven way we live today.  When you really think about how important it is to your well-being, it becomes more of a priority.

When you come home from work or from a busy day with the kids, stop for a moment and really think about how you feel when you walk in the door.  Do you feel an instant sense of calm and relaxation?  Do you feel happy and energized?

The bedroom shown above lacks any thought, personality or warmth - a room that would not improve my mood after a long day.  What about yours? Contrast this with the bedroom, below, where time has been taken to create a peaceful space, a place to renew.

Take an hour or so and walk around your home and really reflect and sense the space around you.  Do you have a place to retreat and rejuvenate after an especially trying day?

Does your home function well when you entertain?  Do you feel like an accomplished host or hostess, or do you feel slightly uneasy that some things just don't seem to work when you have more than your family around.  How does that make you feel?  Does your home reflect your personality, or is it a blend of ideas and parts and pieces that just don't seem to work together?

It's my job as a designer to help you create that perfect space that works for you in every single situation.  With today's stresses, your home should refresh you the minute you walk in the door.  Does yours? The following photos are rooms that do just that. . .they offer the right balance, they're welcoming and nurturing to the people that live in them.  Your home needs to do this for you and your family.


We'd love to share the latest trends and ideas for creating the perfect home retreat for you.  If you would like your transformations to be complete by the holidays you must call us soon.  We will do all we can to manage the timelines to make that happen for you.  Call us at 847.705.9569 or email

Friday, May 13, 2011

It is time to expand our living spaces to include the outdoors

Summertime is almost here in Chicago, truly it just has to be! Soon we will be able to use our patios and backyards for barbeques, entertaining and relaxing in the warm temperatures.  Is your outdoor living space ready to enjoy with your family or friends? 

Today, there are many choices available to create inviting outdoor family rooms. Take a look at a what a few of our favorite vendors are showing this year.

Harbor Breeze
Pillows  in the new all weather fabrics are a wonderful addition to our outdoor seating areas.  Today, there are many prints, geometrics and solids in all color ways.  The fabrics are soft to the touch just like your indoor fabrics.  Notice the addition of brush trims and cords designed for this use.  The lush greenery is the "perfect" accessory,  don't you agree?
(photo courtesy of Lane Venture - Harbor Breeze Collection)

Camino Real
 Area rugs are big for exterior rooms.  The rugs define your seating areas just like they do indoors.  We have a line of all weather rugs that provide many choices which we will show you in our next blog.  Again, the ferns are a great addition to the space. Wicker and rattan furniture is just timeless.
(Lane Venture -  Camino Real Outdoor Living Collection)

Very peaceful, I can just imagine sitting outside, sipping lemonade (okay, maybe a mojito instead) and visiting with a friend or two.  Details that make the interiors of our homes so inviting are used outside - a throw (in all weather fabric) on the sofa, area rug, decorative grasses and candles.  Back to the throw, think about how nice it would be to toss over your shoulders when the temperature drops a few degrees but you aren't quite ready to go back inside.

Bold prints in pool blue and grass green look fabulous made up on this outdoor sofa!  Yes, these are all weather fabrics.
(photo courtesy of Duralee Fabrics)

Isn't this sweet?  I love how the pinks and greys work together.  So many of the flowers we enjoy in the summer come in beautiful shades of pink, a pot of  bright pink geraniums would be perfect beside the chaise.
(photo courtesy of Duralee Fabrics)

Dress up your simple wooden folding chairs with outdoor fabrics and trims.  How simple is this and it takes the dining area to another level.
(photo courtesy of Duralee Fabrics)

Above and below are geometrics which are great as a companion fabric or used together as shown above and below. 
(both photos courtesty of Duralee Fabrics)

If bold prints and bright colors are more your style, below are a few of our favorites from Duralee.

(photos courtesy of Duralee Fabrics)

Are you inspired to start thinking "outdoor living"?  We are!  Let us know if we can help you create another living space, outside the walls of your home. Reach us at 847.705.9569.

In our next blog we will bring you more outdoor inspiration featuring Kravet's indoor/outdoor fabrics and furniture.  All weather area rugs and greenery/floral planting ideas from two of our vendor partners.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Luxury Linens, Spring Time and Giving to Others

Springtime is here. . . the time of year when we are thinking about warmer temperatures and using our outdoor spaces again (more to come on that subject in our next blog)!  Spring also is a time when we are ready to change our bed linens from the warmer, heavier bedding that was so comforting in the winter to lighter, airy blankets and comforters that are suited for summer nights. 
Seven Layers of Bliss - a third of our life is spent in bed.  How you feel during the day depends, in a great part, on how you sleep at night.  The mattress covers, featherbeds, pillows, sheeting, blankets, comforters and duvet covers make a wonderful sleeping experience.  Let us help you improve the quality of your sleep.

Our luxury linen line partner, Private Quarters, is providing an opportunity for us to give back to others when we purchase our new linens in the month of April. There are great summer weight items within the line.  Below we have listed a few of our favorites, but first, read about the "give back",  you will want to be a part of this! 

"Share The Comfort"  is April's give back program that provides Private Quarter's high quality products  to battered women's shelters.  For every dollar of your purchases, up to 15%, an equal amount of merchandise will be provided to Wings and Shelter, Inc. in our local community.  Just imagine the women and children living in the shelters being given cozy robes, fluffy towels and their beds being made in high quality linens.

A few of our favorites for you:

Our favorite sheets are the 600 thread count egyptian cotton for all year long.  They are a luxurious, crisp sheeting that will fit your bed perfectly.  Another option in sheeting material is the bamboo sheets.  They are softer and more relaxed than the cotton sheet. Think of a combination of cotton and silk and that is the feel of bamboo sheeting.  A very durable, summer weight sheet!

The bamboo blanket is a key to a perfect summer nights sleep.  They are soft, breathe well and provide that "just right" amount of warmth for the upcoming months.  The colors are beautiful and make a great top treatment,  your comforter can be folded neatly at the foot of your bed. 

Speaking of comforters, there are two levels of warmth available,  many people like to use the lighter option in the summer.  Changing the comforters (duvet inserts) seasonally extends the life while keeping you sleeping most comfortably all year around.

Our pillows are a big contributor to how we sleep - they break down over time, carry allergens, etc.  In short they should be replaced more frequently than we do.  If your pillows have been on your bed longer than you to care to admit, this would be an excellent time to replace them. In doing so, you would be helping to replace pillows at a shelter as well as on your bed.  Also, a note about "dust mites and other allergens" - when replacing your pillows and mattresses think about investing just a few more dollars with allergen barrier covers.  This will extend the life of your new purchases.  Studies are showing that many people with sleep disorders are actually experiencing allergy issues caused by dust mites, the covers eliminate these nasty little pests.

There are extensive towel collections offering a selection for everyone at affordable price points!    They are generously sized, incredibly absorbent and just so soft.  Bamboo is resistent to bacteria and a green product.  Tip: don't wash your towels with fabric softner, this is true for bamboo or cotton towels.  The fabric softner reduces the towel absorbency. 

 As you browse through the online catalog you will notice there are a number of decorative bedding ensembles offered.  Maybe you have a lake house or cottage bedroom that you will be visiting more frequently now that summer is almost here.  The quality is excellent making these purchases a real value.

 What a great way to give back - improve your own sleep experience and help someone else at the same time.  Go to  then select "events and registries" this will take you to the online shopping link.  If you have any questions please let us know and we can assist you. 

Also, if you are thinking about updating your bedroom please contact us, 847.705.9569.  We would like the opportunity to work together to create a space that truly reflects you.  Visit our new website at

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 The link below is an informational video on the difference the merchandise that Private Quarters has given to the shelters has made in the lives of their guests -