Monday, December 21, 2009

Where did we go?

You are probably wondering, "Where did they go?" Well actually, I'll tell you. Right Here!
Hop on over to our new blog site - Can't wait to see you there!


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Luxury of Recycled Materials

This is simply gorgeous. This bowl from Husque, is made of composite material from recycled Macadamia shells and polymer. Big enough to serve cold dishes, or nuts & berries, this is a simple home accessory that makes a big statement. It comes in a variety of colors, so you could purchase a few in your signature color and have both art and function. We found this courtesy of Designs Abroad ( in their housewares sections.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Luxury of Classic Architecture

Hello all, I hope your week is well - Just wanted to share this as when I saw the photo, it took my breath away. From our friends at Architectural Antiques (, this mantle detail shows you what many of today's reproductions miss. Look at the detail given to the acanthus leaf. From the mid-19Th century, this carrara marble mantel piece glows. It is no wonder that the great sculptors of the Renaissance chose to work with the material. When have you seen something so pristine white, glow with warmth, it is just amazing. Oh, that I had a fireplace to use this on. And if you need it before me, you can look at it here

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Luxury of a Beautiful Bed

Busy days! And good news for us as we have signed several new clients recently. As I am doing the nightly maintenance on the email account, I wanted to share with you these beautiful upholstered beds from Carriage House Furniture ( These two bed have so much style. The first, The Donna, evidently is the best seller for the south - not surprisingly. I love the height of the headboard and I love the ability to monogram the medallion is a wonderful touch. This would be perfect for a guest bedroom or a traditional girl's bedroom.

The second bed, Betsy, is much more tailored. Carriage House likens the design to a dancer, but it feels much more masculine to me. I really want to put a tweed or mini-herringbone fabric on this. I could see this perfectly in a loft or city apartment.

Take a look at the website, it is fun to read the stories behind the name for each of the pieces, a bit like reading wine labels. Enjoy, I'm off to have the luxury of a good night's rest.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Luxury of a Clean Desk

Well, my desk is not the most organized - especially if I'm mid-stream with a project. But every once in a while I like to rein it in. So in my tiding up today, I realize that I have a ton of inspiration tear sheets, another project for another day. But I couldn't resist, and just had to share this. This came from a past issue of Lucky Magazine ( and I was absolutely delighted with these wooden pop-up boxes.

From Lizzie Thomas, an artist in the UK, these are simple, elegant and refreshing. Check out her blog as she catalogs her visual inspiration. Enjoy!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Driving in Texas - The Luxury of Time

Since we are taking more road trips this year with our children, I've been navigating a new course for each trip, trying not to go the same way twice. Partly because we hope to purchase land soon and want to get a feel for all of the towns, and partly because I get bored very easily. On our way home from Austin this weekend, we drove through a few towns that we had not been through before and took a few pictures of some of the county courthouses.

County Courthouse in Lockhart the official "Barbeque Capital of Texas". They take it very seriously, really. There are four major BBQ restaurants in this small town and the stacks of wood sitting outside of each was impressive.

County Courthouse in Hallettsville, the city of "13". Hallettsville has 13 letters, at one time the population was 1300 and it had 13 churches and 13 saloons and 13 newspapers. The town made it into Ripley's Believe It or Not for that. Who knew?

One of the most interesting buildings/barns happens to be the home to Shiner Prairie Woodworks. The building came out of no where while we were driving on Hwy 90, but it was beautiful. I only wished they had a bigger picture on their website to share with you. You can check out their site,, if you like.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Luxury of the Moon

A few posts were fluttering around twitter yesterday regarding the moon. One was a beautiful shot of one from my friend @maybellinete of the moon over a body or water. It occurred to me that I had not seen the moon in a while. Not intentionally, just hadn't stop to notice. Then another post from @CatherineGrison comes along about the Full Moon (last night) with a vlog from a Feng Shui practitioner in San Francisco touting the Yin properties of the moon ( So I decided why not, I could use a bit more Yin. I went out early, around 9, and there was no moon to be seen. I thought that was strange. But it turns out the moon was not due to rise until 10pm. So I waited until 10:30 pm to go out and look for it. There was no doubt of it's location, as its glare forced its way through the trees. It turns out that the moon had a 97% illuminant last night (never knew they rated those things). I was absolutely beautiful, like a beacon and a mirror all at once. I had to stop and give thanks just for the beauty of it all. I watched it rise for quite a while, and yes even did the Feng Shui ritual. Why not? I was there, and like I said, felt like I could use some Yin. In case you missed it, here are some photos (and no, I'm not a professional, so excuse the lack of focus in a few) - Enjoy - ;)

Monday, July 6, 2009

How To Look For & Buy Furniture

This can seem to be the most frustrating aspect to decorating your own home. Furniture, the perfect chair, is it too big - will it fit through the door, stairway, elevator? No wonder so many people wind up purchasing the display room at the furniture store. Speaking of furniture stores, which one? Geez.

1. Please do not buy the display room at the furniture store. This is especially true of bedroom suite furniture. Just resist the urge. Often times, the composition is too large and too heavy for your room, can't tell you how many times I've seen a dresser and a tall boy right next to each other. The only time this makes the process easier is when you are selecting furniture. This choice limits you so much in the future.

2. Plan first - Keep it simple. Go get some graph paper and measure out your room. Be sure to draw in doors and windows. Next, how to you travel through the room? Draw the path on the plan, give it 36", if you can. (Remember, 1 square = 1 inch) . How much room do you have left? This is where your furniture should be.

3. Go 'Sit' Shopping. An exercise I do with my clients is to take them sitting. Often this is for my clients that can not articulate what they like in there furniture, they are the "I know it when I see it" group. You are not buying anything today, so let go of that pressure. Just sit. Do you feel comfortable or not? Then I look at what the client says they like about it, I look at the dimensions. Is it too soft (loose back) or too hard (tight back), too many pillows, not enough room to sit? Too low? Once we've sat in quite a few and taken the time to note the details of the piece - I can essentially say you like these details, this size, this seat depth & height.

This image is from the Denver Fabrics ( And really illustrates all the different variables to which you respond to when you like a piece of furniture.

4. Plan again. Draw everything into your floorplan, remember you need at least 18" between furniture, like a sofa and coffee table. Does it fit? We will generally determine what the most important piece in the room is, is it the bed, the sofa, a lounge chair? Plan in the must haves and then find pieces that work with it.

5. Fabrics. Don't be afraid to order your furniture with fabrics that coordinate together. There are many ways to pull them together. Do you prefer texture, pattern, neutrality? Your home will be more cohesive if you go with the "special order" route versus the off the floor. You will also have furniture that defines you, not that looks like your neighbors.

6. Accent furniture. This is where we like to have a bit more freedom with our interiors. A piece of accent furniture is where you can show your personality, your travels, your heritage. A coffee table is generally in the 18" range, a side table is generally around 30" (just make sure it makes sense with your arm heights of your chair & sofa). These tables from Cyan Design ( have an ethnic feel. They are a bit edgy and could help more traditional furniture feel more current.

7. Art & Accessories - While art that has a strong theme can create a beautiful display, sometimes the more subtle the relationship, the stronger the display. And please, resist the urge to buy all of your accessories from one place - again, you are decorating your home, not the showroom floor. Be willing to move things around and see how you like then. When we are installing, we might set up all the accessories and then let the room be. By walking by the room through the course of the install, I can adjust the placement as needed and let the room develop. It is like letting dough rise. You are still working with it, you just need to give it time.

Remember bringing luxury into your home is a process, but it is also a fun experience!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Beautiful Armoire

Browsing through the emails this morning and this lovely armoire caught my eye. From Redford House ( this is a elegant transitional piece for your bedroom or living room. The circles are definitely more modern, but the motif is framed with more traditional details, making this easily used in almost any home.

How do you use it? This is a piece that, with the proper visual support, really could carry your room. It would be perfect in a room with similar dark wood tones, but simple lined furniture. If you are just begining to create your interior, but you are on a budget, this is a piece well worth the investment!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Work In Progress

By Leslie Hassler, Allied ASID, AKBD

I haven't been very chatty with you lately, so I thought I'd share with you where my time has been going. We have been working on an update of a home in Bellaire, built in the 90's - when polished brass fixtures were king. As part of the update, we were updating the carpet throughout, updating the paint on the second and third floors, doing near complete change out of door hardware and plumbing hardware, updating of the master bath and the powder bath.

One of our new tools this year has been a 3D modeling software, that we have been using to help show our clients how the end product may appear. For this project, it was extremely helpful as we were able to play with modifications to the master tub surround and the floor in the master bath. We will be wrapping up the project this week and should be able to share the after photos soon. But for now, you can see the before pictures and the final version of the 3D model.

Stay tuned to find out how it looks!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Random Thoughts

After being out of the office with project work and travel, I have found my email in box to be busting at the seams. Here are some of the interesting things that have been filling it up!

A Cure For the Clogged Drain

Every once in a while, there is a product invention that just fits the bill and leaves you saying, "Why didn't I think of that?" The Permaflow by PF Waterworks ( is one such product. The pea trap which is available in clear and other colors offers the homeowner a way to clear a clog with out having to take apart the plumbing. By turning a knob, a internal paddle clears the clog. It seems that there is also an easy access to retrieve any jewelry or other items.

A Illuminating Fixture

There are several aspects to this fixture that I love. The overall design is simple and sophisticated. The metal work is detailed and refined. And I love the Art Deco - Golden Age of Hollywood feel to it. This is one of those fixtures that will really shine with simple surroundings. I tried to locate its name, but it is manufactured by Eurofase (

Exotic Stone

I think this actually was sent to me by mistake. There wasn't any text in the email, but the name of the granite, Red Dragon, intrigued me. This granite is more exotic than most people would venture to put in their homes, but it is beautiful. Imagine it with dark wood, almost black cabinets - perfect for a media room, or bar area. Individual elements like this have the ability to make your home stand out from others.

A Great Sign of the Times

As summer hits full swing here in Houston, so is the real estate market. As I drive around our neighborhood, "SOLD" signs are popping up like wild fires. Being in the Interior Design Market, our business is very similar to the real estate business and by monitoring it, we can get a glimpse of what our business may do. My neighbor has 4 active buyers, another friend has two closings this week - all good news. While the economist are predicting September for the rebound, I can see it on its way. Thank goodness for good news! What good news are you seeing?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Architectural Detail - The missing treasure

Some where around the middle of the 20th century, "modern homes" began being built without the same attention to detail that homes had received in the past. I think there was a concept that developed that in order for a home to be modern, it needed to be spartan and devoid of moulding ornamentation at all. So the white box construction began. Some times it came in the form of a ranch, Tudor, cape cod or colonial - but it all lacked the personality of the former styles.

When we talk about architectural detailing, we really are talking about so many subjects; including moulding, doors, windows, how the walls are transitioned. Several of these subjects overlap with past topics and even future topics. So you'll have to forgive me if I simplify somethings for this discussion. I've talked about moulding and trim in relation to the ceilings, and I whole heartedly believe in its use for both modern and traditional interiors. But I think one item I would like to focus on is built-ins. Don't really know why, but I love them. And the functional and visual impact on the interior is amazing. Let's look at this room, which is very typically of today's construction. Builders offer "Great Rooms" but really I think more often than not, they are not so great and create so many problems to balance. Let's look at this example.

Ok, I have to say it - Who in their right mind designs a wall with 5 openings, 4 of which are basically the same size and leaves this dinky space above the fireplace? Really! The opening at the top is 7' x 9'. Really? What exactly did the designer think people where going to do with that space? (Eye Roll)

Now we designed built-ins that utilized the trim detail around the fireplace to create weight on the bottom portion of the wall. Realize that the bottom openings are just as large and about 30" deep. You could hide a body in these things. What we are able to give the clients was a cohesive unit that gave them tons of storage for books, mementos and toys on one side and created a entertainment center on the other side. All the equipment is hidden behind speak cloth doors and the small center section hides the center channel speaker. We installed a basic CPU fan to circulate air in the speaker cloth and out a channel behind the TV. We also moved electrical to the countertops for any accent lamps that might be desired. Then end result...

Friday, May 22, 2009

For Fun Friday

Goodness, it has been a busy month! We have installed a new master bedroom for a client and have been working on pulling together a project for a home in Bellaire. I wanted to share a few things with you that we've seen today.

The first is bedding from Lee Wilder & Co ( Many of our clients are requesting machine washable bedding, which is hard to find that will wear well and last - plus look good. We put this bedding in our Master Bedroom Project and our client can not stop RAVING about it. We steamed it before the install and since then it has remained wrinkle free, much to the delight to our client. Lee Wilder is available through the trade, such as yours truly.

We actually only ordered the shams and duvet covers and then did custom accent pillows that focused on blue (there is a blue pin stripe that runs through this pattern). Take a look at the website, the colors are much better there.

An important designer tip: Find good basics and build from there - you do not need the entire suite or collection. The room will be better if you pull from several sources versus one.

Also, for those do-it-yourself style mavens, Macy's is having a really good sale on bedding right now. I picked up a king coverlet from the Hotel Collection for $100, and a queen set of 100% egyptian cotton for $77.00. You just can't beat that!

Have A Great Memorial Day Weekend! I'll be enjoying mine in San Antonio - can't wait to share the trip with you!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The 5th Wall: The Blessings of High Ceilings

Welcome and congratulations! The world is your oyster! Why? Because you have ceilings over 8' in height. Look up - what do your ceilings look like, plain with recessed lighting, maybe a ceiling fan or two? For shame - what a waste of opportunity.

Oh, wait you say there is something interesting up there? Kudos for you. When you have the blessing of higher ceilings, you truly have the blessing of so much more! You have flexiblity to build in architectural interest, you can be playful or serious. Instantly you can give your home character and age, although it maybe new construction.

With the exception of a homes where the ceilings have been wallpapered in palm frawns or banana leaves...(yes it does happen and in a narrow hallway too, I could not help to sing - "I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts...there they are all standing in a row...") There really few bad choices. Let's look at some great examples:

1. Contemporary Homes: While a plain flat ceiling can be appropriate, so can tounge & grove, or beadboard. Be careful of using a narrow beadboard, this can push the look country, cottage, beach or nautical in nature. This is a great photo from Interiors Magazine.
Look Inside >>
February/March 2009

The beadboard effect on the ceiling is very authentic to modern/contemporary homes and extremely versitale in its use.

2. Ethnic/Multi-cultural/Resort. Again from the Interiors Magazine -
Look Inside >>
February/March 2009

How do you create this for you? Easy, create the beam effect, either with beams, or trimmed out boxes and use a reed wallpaper to create the look of thatching. You won't have as much depth, as this example, but you will be amazed at the effect.

3. Traditional - A quick an easy way to spice up a ceiling with a traditional flare is through the use of beams. Beaming can be used to create long runs, hopefully with the shortest distance to visually push the room wider, or they can be used to create more intricate patterns. This example is from a Cristall Steel Windows ad ( published in the November 2002 issue of Architectural Digest ( The beam detail is intricate, but beautiful!

4. Ceilings - Faux Finish or wallpapers. Formal Traditional interiors really are defined by this technique. It can be done with restraint or with abandon and through multiple techniques. Although I don't have a picture to share, I worked on a library while with Michael J. Siller Interiors in Houston where we used anagalypta to wallpaper the ceiling and then had the faux finisher finish it like antique leather. The paper itself was very well priced, more of the cost was in the faux finishing. But it created a very unique look.

Brief definition here, there is anaglypta and lincrusta. Lincrusta was created first and is a more rigid material created from lineseed oil & wood pulp. The embossing tends to be deeper and more defined. Anaglypta is a trademark name and was created second, offering more flexibilty because it is composed of wood pulp and cotton. The embossing isn't as detailed and has the ability to collapse.

This example also from the November 2002 issue of Architectural Digest also shows how intricate you can work your ceilings. Of an interesting not, the intricacy of the trellis ceiling with the crown is balanced with the simplicity of the walls and furnishings.

5. Exotic Innovation. I love the veneer work on this ceiling. Again from Interiors Magazine ( this ceiling excudes luxury! While I have no doubt that this ceiling is likely actually real veneer, let's talk about how to recreate. First you could do it through wallpaper. Maya Romanoff ( or Phillip Jefferies ( Both have veneer wallpapers to choose from.

Another way to create this would be through the use of laminates such as those from Wilson Art (, Formica ( or Tree Frog Veneer( Granted your craftman/woman is going to have to love you or love the idea just as much as you do.

So five quick ideas on things that you can do with higher ceilings, either now or tomorrow. Did you notice how many ceilings were darker? The height and pitch of the ceilings enables the use of a darker ceiling as a way to balance and enhance the architecture. The same effect can be done with paint, but has to be done gingerly.

The 5th Wall: Ceilings

Ok - reposting this one because it filed by the wrong date!

The ceilings of a home can be one of the most neglected parts of the house. While we will refresh our walls, most people ignore the ceilings, or just leave it at "Ceiling White." I'm not even sure that is a true color name. Do you know that there are over 100 whites in the Benjamin Moore Color Library? Why does everyone use ceiling white? With modern construction, newer homes typically have 10' - 12' ceilings on the first floor and somewhere in the 9'-10' range on the second floor. When you have ceiling height, you have so many more choices as to what you can do - but you are more limited when you have an 8' ceiling. So of the easiest techniques can be through application of paint and trim.

There are a couple of concepts that create illusion of a higher ceiling, one is through the use of less contrast;and the other is through the use of a paint technique called "atmospheric perspective". Atmospheric perspective is a technique developed by Leonardo da Vinci to add depth to his masterpieces. It involves using progressively lighter values of a color from foreground to background, ultimately fading to a blue-grey color.

With that in mind, if you feel the need to raise your ceilings, try one of the following:
1. Paint the ceiling a percentage of the wall color - usually no more than 25%, but it will depend on the color of the walls. Because most people do not have direct or indirect light evenly illuminating their ceilings, any color placed on the ceiling is going to appear darker. By stepping it back considerably, you are countering this effect and creating distance at the same time. Painting the same color also lessens the contrast of the walls and ceilings, drawing less attention to them.

Every notice the contrast of dark walls to a ceiling white ceiling? Not that there are not times for it, but it can be stark. This photo shows the use of this concept, except with wall paper. We used a reed wallpaper on the walls and a coordinating rice paper on the ceiling. Having the 'luxury' of being under a staircase, this poor powder bath has 7' ceilings. The end affect raises the ceiling.

2. Paint the ceiling a grey or blue-grey based white. This creates a "haze" affect and is similar to the atmospheric perspective I mentioned earlier.

3. Paint out the trim to the wall color. This is not one of my favorite techniques, it seems to me to cancel out the architectural benefit of crown, but it is effective.

4. Utilize crown moulding creatively. One of my favorite techniques is to use Cove (upper portion) & Cradle (lower portion) moulding. The cove virtually lifts the ceiling. The cove portion can come in different heights, so make sure to choose the correct one for your room.

5. Create a "frieze" area on the ceiling. This has the effect of a tray ceiling, especially if you apply some of the techniques we mentioned above to paint the main section of ceiling. The trim piece applied to the ceiling does not need to be very large and should have a flat back, similar to that of the cradle. There are other things that can be done from a furnishings perspective to create height, but we will save those for another day.

Next time, fun with higher ceilings.

Friday, April 17, 2009

For Fun Friday

Here are some very fun things. We don't often get to do custom bedding for childrens' bedrooms, so we are always looking for ways to give "Hip" rooms at a price Mom and Dad love. Check out some fun ones. Plus, everyone asks for machine washable - no small feat! These two options are vibrant and have wonderful details and are machine washable.

The first three are from Anthropologie (ttp://, check out the "For Your Home" section.

These three selections are from Bliss Living Home ( This is a great line of bedding, pillows and accessories.