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


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 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

November 15, 2010

Supporting My Habits

Posted in Decorating, DIY Projects, Uncategorized, Wine Cork Topiary tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:53 am by dotcomdecorator

Well folks, I’m back to the cork projects! This weekend I made two adorable little cork boards, some easy-as-pie napkin rings, and some kitschy push-pins. In all I used 528 corks!


Champagne cork napkin rings

Champagne cork napkin rings

Before you start wondering how I manage to make anything after drinking so much wine and/or champagne, let me assure you,  it’s my friends doing the drinking!  Ok, and me. Most often together.

As we open another bottle, I wonder:  Which habit am I supporting?  Have I started creating cork items because they’re fun and fit into my decor, and it is a great way to recycle; or have I amplified the habit of sharing a glass of wine with friends so I can have more corks? I worry about these things!


Cork board

However, it took only a moment to realize it was a silly question! Wine and friendship have been around for the ages, and if it weren’t for all those previously shared bottles (without any agenda other than to enjoy our friendships over wine), none of us would have amassed a collection of corks to complete these projects. So, pop a cork, raise your glass, and toast to good wine and great friends!  And, what are you going to do with that cork? Just asking…!

I will eventually have time to post project directions on my website, but if you are interested in learning how to make any of these items, or the wine cork topiary previously featured here, just drop me an email request at

Cork trivet/server

Cork trivet/server

I, and my friends, will continue to engage in the habit of enjoying the nectar of the Gods, satisfying our souls with friendship, our artistic muse with new projects for the corks, and our palettes with good wine! Try it, you’ll like it!

Until next time,

Viva Con Gioia!

The DotComDecorator

PS:  If you like the serving spoon in the above picture, check out for more information!

September 15, 2010

My Daily Favorites

Posted in Daily Favorites, Decorating tagged , , , , , , , at 4:33 pm by dotcomdecorator

As promised, I will post–hopefully daily–some of my favorite things here. Since my perspective of “home decorating” encompasses everything from color selection to space layout, from entertaining for special occasions to keeping your space neat and tidy, this is certain to be a random collection of favorites! I will do my best to relate each favorite to home decor, but at times it might be a stretch to make the connection.  I think the most feasible way to do this is to recycle this posting, with the most recent favorite posted at the top. I’m always open to suggestions, so let me know if you have a bet ter idea! Look for updates in the “My Daily Favorites” page.

My favorite…

Way to make a kitchen look larger and brighter is to simply clean the counters of clutter, countertop appliances, and knickknacks; remove dishes from the sink; replace lightbulbs with fluorescent or true-color bulbs; and add fresh-cut flowers or a bowl of green apples, limes or pears.

Special occasion wine is the 2006 Shafer Merlot. Wine Enthusiast awarded it with 95 points and had the following to say: “Easily Shafer’s greatest Merlot ever. Certainly its richest, with fabulously concentrated blackberry, cherry, licorice, chocolate and cinnamon spice flavors. All this is wrapped into extraordinarily sweet, refined tannins. Addictively drinkable, but not a long ager. Best now and through 2012.”  This is my “go to” wine for special occasions, gift giving, and most enjoyed with a great meal, great conversation and great friends! All-in-all, I think it makes a great addition to a beautifully set table or hors d’oeuvres arrangement.

Home decor, antique and accessory website is Here you will find everything from seasonal decor, to heirloom antiques, to tabletop settings, to unique pieces of furniture and some of the best lighting fixtures I’ve ever seen!  Happy browsing!

Today’s favorite is music by Ludovico Einaudi. While I have an appreciation for a vast range of music, I find the pureness of piano music soothing, inspiring, and balancing. It makes nice bookends for starting and finishing my day…a balance to the cacophony of tvs, radios, barking dogs, ringing telephones, and other sounds of my daily life! Enjoy…I Giorni by Ludvico Einaudi

Until next time,

Viva Con Gioia!

The DotComDecorator

July 2, 2010

I’m a Closet Case!

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 7:57 am by dotcomdecorator

Well, not really…my closet is the case. I have, by all accounts, a nice, rather large closet. But it’s one of those spaces in my home that during visitor tours, I quickly open the door, mutter, “This is the closet” and close the door just as my guests say, “It’s nice and big!” Yeah, yeah. Boring. I’m working on fixing that though!

So here’s the deal…one of these days, while my husband is away, I’m going to finish the bathroom face lift.  Shhhhh, don’t ruin the surprise! It’s a nice, large, and very white bathroom–white floor, shower and tub-surround tile, accented by the white cabinets, white laminate (shudder!) 10′ long countertop, white tub, sinks, toilet, and even faucets. Ok, I’ll stop…open your eyes now, please!

I did update the wall color to a warm golden tone, have changed out the vanity lighting, and brought in as much color as possible with window treatments and accessories. But, there is much more in store! The two 4′  base cabinets will remain, but get a facelift–a faux burled walnut finish and new hardware! The center cabinet and linen shelves will be removed and replaced with e a 5-drawer burled walnut cabinet, topped by an etagere for towels and accessories. Instead of the one lonnnnnnnng vanity top, I will have two granite tops  installed. New faucets for the sinks and whirlpool, framing out the existing mirrors with a nice decorative trim to match the cabinetry, and adding new rugs and towels will finish the space! I recently found a great device for adapting recessed lighting into pendant lights–considering those to install two nice pendants over the whirlpool for drama! When finished, the bathroom will feel more luxurious and coordinate nicely with our gender-neutral master bedroom. And why am I telling you about the bathroom when I said I wanted to talk about my closet? Because, you have to enter the closet through the bathroom, which you enter through the master bedroom, so I can’t consider one without the others. So back to the closet…

I’ve seen some awesome luxury closets and while I’d love that–a 20×20′ space with climate controlled fur vault (which would require I own fur), rotating shoe storage, a jewelry vault, and of course a personal valet–it’s not feasible in a 8×11 shared space, on a limited budget.  Especially when one of the people sharing the space is a closet hog! Really, who hangs up tee-shirts? Who has over 100 casual shirts and insists on hanging each and every one of them in OUR closet??  It’s a losing battle, so forget suggesting I toss the shirts, move them to a dresser, give him the guest room closet (he’s already taken over two other spaces!).  Instead of fighting a losing battle, I simply must conjure up a plan for beautifying the space! I envision an extension of the bathroom–soothing wall color, neat, orderly and more of a dressing room than cramped storage space. However…

The current reality is not quite as soothing! At present we have the wire shelving system–which fell off the wall completely one day because of the 100+ shirts! At that time I threw down the gauntlet and demanded he cull his shirts–I believe 4 were removed from the closet. *sigh*  I repaired the holes, and while at it, raised all the shelves to a reasonable level. I reinstalled the shelves, re-hung the clothes and piled all the junk back on top of the shelves. It was quite a task to tackle by myself, so once I finished, I was done thinking about the closet, until now.

Looking at the space objectively, the lighting was recently replaced with decorative fixtures, we also replaced the carpeting, and the walls are in good shape. In design-speak, it has “good bones”; in wife-speak it has too much (*#&!  But I am an interior decorator and home stager–I can figure this out!  I simply need to treat it as I would a client’s house–assess the current state of the space, look at each person’s ideal outcome,  present options that  marry form and function and meet the budget, then move the client in the right direction.

Let’s first look at hubby as client:  He is ok with it the way it is, don’t spend money. Done considering him; now onto me!  I want to reconfigure the closet with minimal expense (definitely will repurpose something!); want a quick solution; want a streamlined, but elegant space; want to feel the closet is an extension of the space instead of an afterthought; want enough space for everyday clothes and to only store the current season’s clothing–wait, do tee-shirts have a season? Oh one more thing, I need to create a look that will appeal to potential buyers when we go to sell, so I cannot personalize it too much.

I initially thought of utilizing a great two-piece cabinet currently taking space in my basement. Sadly, it’s too large and would overwhelm the closet, as well as require replacement when we sell. Next thought.  Ideally, I’d love to remove the wire shelving and replace it with wood built-ins, but that is too costly and not a weekend project I can tackle on my own. Next.  I’m now considering the following:  Leave the two short ends of wire shelving in tact, but reconfigure the long wall. When the center cabinet and linen shelves are removed from the 10′ vanity, those can be position in the center of the long closet wall. That will create a perfect place to store sweaters, purses, scarves, etc., thus eliminating some of the clutter from the top of the wire shelves.  I will remove the shelving from the long wall, cut to fit 1/2 on each side of the cabinet/tower, then reinstall. Adding matching baskets/storage containers for the top of the shelves, will coral the overflow and create a more visually cohesive space. Ideally, I want to incorporate a decorative rug and tufted storage ottoman (another good place for some of the tee shirts) in the center of the closet,  some artwork on the walls, and perhaps a wall-mounted ironing board.  I do believe I’m a woman with a plan! Now I just have to wait for the proper time to complete my mission…I will keep you informed!

What is your Closet Case? What is your ideal closet? I’d love to hear your stories or even suggestions for fixing my closet case!

Until next time,

Viva Con Gioia!

The DotComDecorator

May 6, 2010

Wine Cork Topiary

Posted in Decorating, DIY Projects, Uncategorized, Wine Cork Topiary tagged , , , , , , , , at 7:14 pm by dotcomdecorator

I’m getting a slow start with the blog, but please bear with me and before long I will have things whipped into shape around here! The website is progressing, also slowly, and I am anxious to finish the core content so I can get on with the FUN stuff–interacting with my newfound web audience!

As a start, I want to share with you one of my DIY projects–this cute little wine cork topiary!

I have seen many cork projects–cork boards, cork trivets, cork wreaths, cork place mats, cork magnets–but nothing ever “floated my cork!”.  That is, until I recently saw a wine cork topiary at one of my client’s homes and fell in love with it!  I decided to create  my own version…

I created a materials list and set off to purchase the required items.  I was fast realizing this was going to be one of my “I think it cost three times as much to make than to purchase” projects! However, in the end, many of the materials were bountiful enough to make additional topiaries, thereby spreading the costs. Whew!

After I purchased the required materials, I culled through my bag of wine corks, selecting the best of my natural corks.  I still don’t know what I’m going to do with the synthetic ones; perhaps I will make an all-synthetic cork one? Any suggestions? Anyway…through trial-and-error, I figured out the entire process and  ended up with this whimsical piece!

This particular little topiary went to my sister-in-law and I created another for myself, and now have orders for a few.  While I’m happy to take your orders (and money), I decided to post this as a DIY project on my website. Here’s the link

I believe the instructions are detailed enough, but if you have questions (or suggestions to improve the instructions/project) please let me know!

Until next time, Viva Con Gioia! (Live with joy!),


PS:  If you’re wondering about the candle holder in the background, that is one of my favorite and most versatile decorating items–I’m sure to write about it at some point! It is the Customizable Tea Light Holder from PartyLite. If you want one for yourself, visit to find your local rep.

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