October 27, 2011

Butterfly Garden Girl’s Room

Posted in Decorating tagged , , , at 8:58 am by dotcomdecorator

Well, talk about letting the dust settle before being able to see clearly! I have been busy wrapping a few projects, tackling a new business venture–actually two!–and trying to keep up with daily life. Unfortunately, the blog was one of the first victims of neglect. However, I’m back and want to share some photos of a six-year-old’s room I have done.

This was an amazingly fun project and one which allowed me to witness the big reveal! The client (the six-year-old) only said she wanted her yellow room to be pink. Initially her ideas included huge dots in green and purple on the walls. I humored her, while thinking “not happening on my watch!” My thoughts turned to a secret garden and I began working in that direction, without saying one word to client or mom. The strangest thing happened…I finished the garden design and was struggling to come up with another idea to present when I got a call from the mom. Mom says, “I just wanted to let you know that this morning Client said she might light flowers, like a garden.” Score!

I showed mom the plan and left with a deposit to order materials. Client was told I had started working on ideas, but it would most likely be a project that had to wait until after Christmas. Truth was we decided to do the room while the family was away for a long weekend as a surprise to Client! Suffice it to say, it was just like one of the decorating shows…tight time lines, last-minute decisions, and the big reveal!

Smiles, tears, oohs and aahs, and a little girl who proclaimed, “I love my room, it’s not scary any more!” This is the reason I love my job!

Enjoy the before and after photos! And thanks for coming back…I won’t leave you so long next time!

The DotComDecorator


August 4, 2011

Executive Decision!

Posted in Decorating at 8:17 am by dotcomdecorator

In today’s economy, many self-employed individuals are scrambling for business, maximizing every opportunity, utilizing websites, direct mail, and other means of getting the word out. I tried this, too. What I found is a) I have no true desire to grow my business–Transformation Interiors by Tina–at this point in my life; b) I don’t like all the extra work–it takes me away from the actual design work; and c) For all the expense and effort, I still get 100% of my business through referral. So, as I have done for the previous 23 years, I will rely on my satisfied clients to refer others to me! That said, beginning August 10th, I will no longer have a website. However, I will continue to blog!

I realized my true intention of having a website wasn’t to draw in more business, but to share my projects, answer questions, or provide inspiration. I can do that here! This is what I really enjoy…sharing with others who are interested in good interior design. I look forward to discussing topics of interest, sharing pictures of my projects, providing DIY project instructions, and  inspiring your inner decorator! Oh, and now that I don’t have website maintenance to distract me…perhaps I can post more regularly!

Looking forward to new opportunities to share with you!

Until next time,

Viva Con Gioia!

The DotComDecorator

May 27, 2011

Would You Ever…

Posted in Decorating tagged , , , , at 7:11 am by dotcomdecorator

Hello readers! Yes, I’m still alive and kicking, but have been consumed with client projects, as well as my own as we prepared for our daughter’s college graduation, company, and the arrival of spring. We enjoyed our company and the graduation, and are still awaiting spring! As my mind turned to the normal signs of spring–birds, flowers, butterflies–I came up with a design plan for a client’s six-year-old daughter. While some aspects of this design are commonplace, a few elements will be over sized and over the top, with a bit of Alice in Wonderland feel! That got me to thinking…

In a kid’s world, most of the furnishings in their home are adult-sized. Do they notice? Is the sofa a looming piece, ready to swallow them whole? Are shelves and bookcases calling them to climb and explore? Do they feel silly sitting in a big chair with their legs dangling? I try to think back to being a child, but nothing regarding furniture comes to me. However, I do remember my own children sitting on chairs, dangling their feet, daring the crocodiles (or snakes, or sharks, or monsters) to try to get them, or laying on my king-sized bed pretending to be afloat on a raft in the vast ocean. Fantasy to me, but oh-so-real to them!

A big factor in being a decorator is the ability to be creative and “see” things others cannot, so imagination comes easily for me. I naturally wonder what it would be like to feel like a kid again, to come into a house full of BIG furniture. How would I or other adults act, how would it affect attitudes and behaviors? I giggle thinking of it! Of course, unless I get a contract for a fun-house, I don’t believe I will have the opportunity to actually implement such a design! However, just for fun, I found some very silly, really large pieces to share with you!

Take a look, imagine having one, or more, of these pieces in your home! Let your mind go, share with me what you would do, how you would feel, what your friends and family would think. Would you ever consider having a huge piece like these in your home?! Just be a kid for a little while today!

Until next time,

Viva con Gioia!

The DotComDecorator

March 26, 2011

The Projects Come Fast and Furious!

Posted in Decorating tagged , , , , , , , , at 9:25 am by dotcomdecorator

Hello all! I am relishing a quiet (OMG, it IS quiet!) Saturday morning and thought I would visit my much-forsaken blog. Over the past few weeks, the new projects have been rolling in and I feel like a whirling dervish trying to keep up with all of them, but it’s great! I love the excitement, creative outlet, challenges and variety of decorating styles of each.

Since I last checked in here, I have buttoned up a kitchen remodel and will get photos posted after I revisit the client for staging the new kitchen and dining room! This was a fun, and in my opinion, relatively quick project–less than 90 days from concept to completion! Using the existing flooring and cabinets kept the time frame and budget manageable. Many changes, including granite counter tops, new sink, appliances, lighting, removal of wallpaper, addition of wainscoting in the dining area, updated wall color, addition of a subway tile back splash, and painting the existing cabinets, brought this kitchen up to speed.  However, my absolute favorite item is the transformed kitchen island!

The island is large for the space and initially had an oddly placed and never used bar sink. By removing the sink and dropping one end of the counter top, we were able to create a small desk area for the telephone, cellphone charging station, mail station, etc. In addition, decorative trim was applied to the base and then the island painted a gorgeous shade called Blueblood. It is a great focal point and anchor to this open-space floor plan.  Sorry no photos today, I seem to be having computer issues, aka “operator errors”. Ugh, technology!

In addition to the kitchen project, I was called back to a recent client’s home to transform their living and dining rooms. Designing a space that is hip and trendy, yet one that invites lingering meals and post-dinner conversation, while also fitting into their predominantly warm-toned space was the challenge. While not yet addressed, the foyer will become a main anchor/transition point for uniting the various spaces.

We decided on shades of blue, gray, and silver for the living room and dining room. The dining room walls are being done in a gray Lusterstone finish–for simplicity sake, think Venetian plaster with glimmer. On top of the wall finish, a funky starburst pattern will be stenciled in silver Lusterstone. The drapes are blue with large circles in two shades of silver, a gorgeous mirrored buffet, silver and black framed mirror, silver and crystal chandelier, chairs upholstered in a gray cut velvet will anchor both ends of the table, and lots of glass and silver accents will bring glam, sparkle, and a very inviting feel to the room!

The living room will be anchored with a soft blue suede sofa, large glass coffee table, and two graphite colored leather swivel chairs. At one end of the room a sofa table will serve as a workspace, and art work will consist of one graphic piece and a wall mounted fireplace. The addition of drapery panels in a blue/grey stripe and two table lamps and a few simple accessories will keep the space clean and trendy, yet inviting. Can’t wait to share photos with you!

In the midst of tackling the aforementioned projects, my washing machine croaked. What should have been a quick and simple replacement process turned into a full-blown project! The short version is that I now have a new front-load washer and it’s dryer mate; a new built-in folding table over the width of the two; refreshed paint in the utility room (oh brother was that a task, more about that another day!), and a few new decorative accessories. It’s harder than you’d think to create an attractive utility room that evokes a laundry center feel with relying on kitschy laundry-room specific wallpaper border!

Now to return to the other projects on my plate: design concepts for 7 rooms–yes, I’m a little overwhelmed by this one–and the beginnings of a two bedroom project. So much for a quiet Saturday!

Until next time,

Viva Con Gioia!

The DotComDecorator

February 21, 2011

Displaying Artwork

Posted in Decorating tagged , , , , , , , at 8:42 am by dotcomdecorator

The point of displaying artwork should be to create a focal point and enhance your space, not to simply cover a wall. Regardless if you have one favored piece, or an eclectic, extensive collection, the following are tips for displaying art in your space.

When hanging items on a wall, aim for roughly eye level, based on the primary residents/visitors to your space. Eye level for a 6’ tall person is considerably higher than for a 5’ tall one! As such, hang items in a children’s room slightly lower on the wall.  When hanging a picture above an item of furniture such as a piano or above a mantle, hang the picture comfortably in the space available.

Aim for consistent wall height between furniture and wall decor throughout a room. Stand in the center of the room and turn slowly.  If the eye has to move up and down to follow the varied heights along the wall, there is too much “movement” which disallows the artwork to be the focal point.

Create groupings; odd numbers work best.  This trick is a favorite of mine for incorporating a piece that may be different from a space’s overall style and helps creates cohesiveness. For example to display a Native American painting in a loft filled with modern furnishings and artwork, place the painting on the wall, then add two other elements near the base of the painting, i.e. on a table or use a tall vase, etc., thus creating a grouping of three elements. When selecting these complimentary pieces, try to incorporate colors or textures from the adjacent painting, as well as the overall design of the space.

To display a large piece in a small space, your options are to let the piece “own” the space, or to minimize its impact. If your intent is to minimize, consider leaning it against a wall instead of hanging it and let it serve as a backdrop to a seating area or table—allowing some obstruction of the full piece. If the piece is the focal point, keep accessories and furnishings simple to avoid competing for focus. Other options for display include the use of an easel, or to suspend the painting from the ceiling to create a room divider (you will need a way to camouflage the back if you do this).

I encounter many clients who hesitate when it comes to hanging or displaying artwork. I routinely apply a couple of tactics to help alleviate these fears. The first is to have the client express his or her feelings about their pieces: Do they absolutely love them? Do they clearly represent the client’s tastes? Do they feel compelled to hang pieces because of the sentimental or monetary investment? Once we are clear on this aspect, we move to the actual placement.

Often the fear of actually displaying artwork is in getting it wrong and/or putting holes in the wall. There are some easy, stress-alleviating options to work through this. One of my favorites is to use Posterboard and cut it into the size of the proposed artwork, then hang on the wall with double-sided tape. When possible, I prefer to purchase colored sheets that are similar to the colors of the artwork. Another option is to use newspaper, but you risk smudges on the wall! The use of painter’s tape to mask out the size, shape and location is also an option, but I find it a little discerning to simply look at bold border shapes. There are also templates one can purchase and these are great, especially if you are planning an installation with multiple pieces. Find what works for you and “try on” your placement before committing!

One final caveat…your  choice of artwork and its placement should ultimately be an expression of  you! If the above guidelines help, then use them; otherwise throw out the rules and do what feels best to you!

Until next time,

Viva Con Gioia!

The DotComDecorator

February 10, 2011

Wine Cellars

Posted in Decorating tagged , , , , , , at 7:30 am by dotcomdecorator

Man caves, basement rec rooms and home theaters have become the standard upgrade for many homeowners. Those wanting to take it to the next level include the installation of a private wine cellar. When considering the addition of a wine cellar/tasting room, the process needs to begin with the core-level: the proper storage of wine. Whether you want to store a dozen bottles in simple fashion, or showcase your 20,000-bottle collection in a climate controlled, limestone wine cave, there is a storage solution for you. 

First, assess your “wine collector status”.  Are you a serious collector—someone who has a substantial (numbering in the thousands of bottles) amount of wine for which you need long-term storage? Are you a tweener—someone who has a few cases of wine and the need for 18-24 month storage?  Are you a fledgling—someone who is learning an appreciation of wine and buys a few bottles to have on hand for consumption in the near to immediate future?

I am confident that anyone classified as a serious collector has already made a substantial investment in having a professional wine cellar constructed. Therefore, I am going to move on to options for tweeners and fledglings.

The top considerations to proper wine storage are temperature and humidity. To age properly, whether for months or decades, wine needs cool temperatures—around 55 degrees Fahrenheit—moderate humidity, low light, and little or no vibration or odor.  If not stored properly, wine will taste flat and lifeless. For small-scale storage needs, consider temperature-controlled units. For the fledgling, this can be a small countertop unit; for a tweener, a reach-in/walk-in unit big enough to hold several cases. Both of these options are affordable and can easily be incorporated into your existing living space.

If you prefer to construct an actual wine cellar/tasting room and have a home with a basement, this is the ideal place for your wine cellar. Ideally, a “passive” cellar—a non-lived-in space—with natural heating and cooling, and the addition of a humidifier, will provide an ideal wine storage environment.  However, most modern homes have lights, mechanical equipment, and artificially heated and cooled basements. In this case, if you are serious about proper wine storage, you should follow a few basic principles when considering your wine cellar.

  • Guard against extreme fluctuations in temperature. These are far worse for wine than a constant too-high or too-low temperature. Fluctuations can cause corks to expand, contract and loosen, causing spills or allowing oxygen into the bottle, which can result in spoilage. Invest in a quality cooling system, designed specifically for wine storage areas.

  • Humidity should also be fairly constant, around 60 to 75 percent. Too much humidity can cause mold growth and can cause labels to disintegrate. Too little can dry and shrink the corks, causing spills and oxidation.
  • Too much light can also harm wine, because ultraviolet rays can cause spoilage, and because light creates heat, which can ruin your efforts to maintain a constant temperature.

A perfect wine cellar is insulated and humidity-controlled by means of a vapor barrier (usually 6- to 8-millimeter plastic sheeting). If done properly, with the vapor barrier placed on the warm side—which is the exterior of the cellar/the interior of your living space—you will be able to maintain a proper environment. Without a vapor barrier, condensation can be a problem. The moisture in the air of your warmer living space will condense on the cooler walls of your wine cellar. Too much condensation can threaten the integrity of the cellar walls and make the cooling mechanism work harder to keep the air inside the cellar at the proper humidity level.

For a wine cellar, the insulation should be R-19. Many cellar design specialists prefer rigid foam insulation. The cellar walls can be regular sheet rock or plywood, though moisture-resistant dry wall, known as green board, provides extra protection against moisture related problems. Also, consider doors as part of the insulation picture; sturdy exterior-core or specially designed glass doors are recommended to keep the cold air in.

After insulation, humidity control and cooling, the rest is aesthetics.  Size, design, lighting, racking, and furnishing options are abundant! Will you select wood racking or French limestone? Do you want a traditional serving and tasting area, or simply a place to store your collection? How do you want to store and display your wines? Your pocketbook is the only limit!

If a custom-built wine cellar is in your future, assess your needs, do your research, then call on a quality builder to construct your ideal wine storage space!

Until next time,

Viva Con Gioia!

The DotComDecorator


January 25, 2011

A New Direction!

Posted in Decorating at 8:45 am by dotcomdecorator

Hello and Happy New Year! I’ve been busy and away from the blog for a while, but wanted to check in and update you.

When I started the blog, it was intended as a supplement to my online design service (www.dotcomdecor). Trying to maintain my actual design business, the blog, two websites, manage the holidays, and every day life has proven too much. My design business is thriving and I simply do not have the time to devote to an online design business, so I have eliminated it. However, I am going to continue blogging–now perhaps with more frequency!

Over the next few weeks I will integrate http://www.dotcomdecor into my regular site http://www.transformationinteriors.net and FINALLY get directions for some projects posted!

I hope you are each finding fun, creative outlets during these cold winter months! Now is an excellent time to think ahead to Spring and to get a jump-start on some decorating or craft projects. If you have outdoor furniture that needs refreshing, why not clean it up and make some new cushions and pillows? Purchase inexpensive terracotta pots and decorate them now for planting in the spring; create your spring to-do list and timeline, organize the supplies necessary for each project; or purchase some new fun fabrics and create some pillows to bring out when Spring springs! I have a few ideas rattling around my head and I’ll be sure to share my projects with you as I get to them.

Until next time,

Viva Con Gioia!

The DotComDecorator

December 29, 2010

Happy Year End to My Clients!

Posted in Decorating, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , at 5:04 pm by dotcomdecorator

As 2010 winds to a close, I want to pause and offer thanks to my WONDERFUL clients from 2010 and years’ past! I have enjoyed working with each and every one of you! Yes, even those who believe you were “challenging”. A good challenge fosters creativity and I have yet to shy away from either!

While this is a thank you to you, it is hard to express my gratitude without bringing myself into the equation, so please permit me this indulgence:

This year I have designed,  painted, sewn, shopped, moved furniture, installed window treatments, found creative solutions to some interesting problems, and even found myself making beds and hiding dirty laundry while answering the call of “emergency staging”! I have stressed (always) that my finished projects will meet your expectations; I have had goosebumps watching your tears of excitement and appreciation; I have felt part of your families; I have enjoyed interpreting your desires and needs to find your perfect design style; and I have certainly enjoyed the many glasses of wine, lunches, and other memorable moments shared between us!

Each project has afforded me the opportunity to stretch my abilities, work within new parameters, and bring my visions to life. I have reached the apex of frustration on more than one occasion, but have always reached the finish line. I have fallen off my step stool and ladder multiple times this year, tripped over a step and wrecked my shoulder, and even took a less-than-graceful spill down a staircase, yet I have (knock on wood!) avoided breaking anything–yours or mine! I have sat in my floor frantically trying to pull together your Design Boards; I have designed your projects in my head during long sleepless nights; and often find myself drifting from a conversation because I had a great idea for your home! I simply cannot shop just for myself–I have many (or all?) of you in the back of my mind and if I see just the perfect thing that would work in your space, I can’t wait to share that find with you! I often work alone, spend far more time on something than the average person would, and some days my body and mind are simply exhausted, yet I continue to love what I do, because of you!

This job of mine is in my blood…I can’t turn it off, nor would I want to! Yes, I know…I cannot manage to come into your home without “futzing” to correct furniture placement, align a window treatment or (cough, cough) take the throw pillows out of the closet and place them back on the sofa! Sorry, it’s just who I am.

When you hired me, you were looking for a decorator, faux finisher or custom drapery fabricator… I hope you found so much more than that; I know I have! I cannot think of any other career that allows me to have so much fun, constantly expand and express my creativity or meet and get to know such amazing, wonderful people! Thank you for allowing me into your homes and lives, it has been my pleasure!

Have a blessed year in 2011! Oooooohhhh, look at that sofa…

Until next time,

Viva Con Gioia!

The DotComDecorator

December 23, 2010

Where’s My Easy Button?

Posted in Decorating, Uncategorized tagged , , , at 8:54 am by dotcomdecorator

As Christmas draws nearer, I once again wonder why time suddenly seems to speed up, our to-do lists are so much larger than any other time of the year, and there is a palatable feeling of anxiety in the air.

Personally, I have known, for the past twenty-three years, that this is my busiest time of the year and while I mentally “gear up” for that, I also mentally hit the panic button before I need to! When I take a deeper look at the projects on my plate, I haven’t tripled, or even doubled my workload, the projects are not substantially bigger or more complex, but their deadlines, combined with all the “have to do’s” of the holiday season send me into a tizzy!

The other day I had a friend point this out to me. I don’t need reminding–I live it every moment of my day during this season. However, it was good to hear. Good to gain some perspective. Good to know that someone notices and doesn’t like the way it makes me crazy.  And most of all, good to have a friend who offers to step in and help, despite her own crazy life! Thank you…but, if you could just find my “Easy Button” I think I’ll be ok!

At two days from Christmas, my house is quiet, and I suddenly realized part of the hectic pace of this season is self-protection. If I keep busy, keep moving, and keep feeling engaged, it allows me to enjoy the hustle-bustle of the season.  Once I have finished my projects, done my shopping, and attended the parties, it gets quiet…too quiet. I miss friends and family members that have passed, I miss those who live away, and this year I will face my first Christmas without my children here on Christmas! We will celebrate, but it won’t be the same. That’s how life is.

Like all of you, I know I will face many challenges, opportunities, and changes in the upcoming year. One of my big adjustments will be seeing my daughter graduate college, which means my freedom from college expenses! While I don’t have a crystal ball, I am pretty certain this will also mean I will cut back and adopt a less frantic work pace. My goal for next year’s holiday season is to be in a different place–calm, cool, and collected. I will have one well-used “Easy Button” ready to pass on!

Peaceful Snow

No matter where you are, no matter how busy or stressed you are, let in the quiet–even for a few moments–and remember what the season is all about. Hold gratitude in your heart for all you do have–and we all have blessings to count, even when they look like burdens! My wish for you now and in 2011 is that love, peace, and joy are abundant in your life! Merry Christmas!


The DotComDecorator

December 8, 2010

The Christmas Decorating is Done!

Posted in Decorating tagged , , , , , , , , at 8:40 pm by dotcomdecorator

I am happy to report that I finally got my Christmas decorating done! I admit I was doubtful it would actually be accomplished; I spent days “assessing the situation” with little progress made. However, once I got started, things fell into place.

And, fulfilling my previously stated intention, I have embraced the season! I even changed up my usual decor and tried a few new things, including using a pink feather boa on a small tree in my powder room!

My kids are grown and while I seriously miss the excitement of children at Christmas time (even as twenty-somethings they seemed to bring the magic of Christmas to life around here!), I no longer feel obliged to decorate in the traditional way I did when they lived at home.

In addition to the pink boa, my Diva Tree is adorned with crystal-look ornaments (leftovers from the chandelier project!) and large pink glass ornaments. While I wanted to top it with a tiara, I opted for a little pink star burst, only because I couldn’t find a tiara ornament on short notice!

Further switching things up, I chose a black, white, and silver theme for my tree, and must say I LOVE it! It has sparkle, is elegant, and quite unexpected!

I paired the black ,white, and silver with red for the decorations in other areas. For the first time, I feel like the majority of the Christmas ornamentation compliments my decor rather than disrupting it!  Of course, I can’t use the dining room table without disassembling the tablescape, but until then, I’ll enjoy it!

Here are pictures of some of my efforts:


With the decorating behind me, I can now start thinking about all the other aspects of the Christmas season! Who knows, one of these years I might actually get ahead of the curve and not be blindsided by the holiday season…it’s not like it comes at a different time each year, right?


Hope you’re celebrating this season in your own special way!

Until next time,

Viva Con Gioia!
The DotComDecorator

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