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


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


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 13, 2010

I Have a Crush…on a Range!

Posted in Decorating tagged , , , , , , , , , at 10:41 am by dotcomdecorator

I love to cook, bake, chop, puree, blend, experiment, concoct, serve…I simply enjoy being in the kitchen!  In fact, I have often considered pursuing a career as a restaurateur, baker, or caterer.   However, for now, I am interested in learning professional kitchen skills for self-gratifying reasons: I believe learning would be fun; better skills may reduce the number of self-inflicted kitchen injuries; having them would add to my enjoyment of the culinary craft; and, most truthfully, because then I would have more leverage for my need of a gourmet kitchen!

Omega Cabinetry kitchen

Omega Cabinetry kitchen

Over the past several years, upscale kitchens have become the norm in American homes. The average homeowner is aware of the basics:  granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances, prep and/or cook-top islands, task lighting, double ovens and built-in microwaves. For a little more style, a wine cooler, ability for guests to belly up to a bar/island area, and custom back splashes comprise the typical upscale kitchen, similar to the Omega Cabinetry kitchen pictured above.

Beyond the basic, and the moderately upscaled, we get into the elegant kitchen, such as this beautiful Wm Ohs kitchen pictured below.

Elegant Wm Ohs kitchen

Elegant Wm Ohs kitchen

Furniture-style cabinetry with custom finishes, hand scraped wood or Travertine tile floors, farmhouse sinks, 6-burner ranges with pot-filler, cabinets boasting pull out storage, elegant lighting for ambiance, at least one warming drawer, and walk-in pantry. These kitchens are stunning and I would love one of my own, but for me it still falls short of my dream kitchen!

For me, the central figure in my dream kitchen, the workhorse, the reason for all that is, is the range…and I have an obsession with ranges!  You know how a car-guy lights up at the sight of a classic car with a Hemi? I’m like that with ranges! I have a serious crush on a range, but before I introduce you to the object of my desire, I would like to explain where this all began.

From a self-analytical standpoint, this obsession can be directly traced to two incidents the year I went away to school. The first incident took place in my tiny galley kitchen with an outdated gas range, similar to this one.

Old gas stove

Old gas stove

Let’s just say the incident involved an inept roommate, a gas oven, a match and the smell of burning hair as I realized my eyebrows, eyelashes, and bangs were missing! The second incident was when I went home for Thanksgiving. As a student, I subsisted on a diet of canned green beans and McDonald’s, the thought of a home-cooked meal with roasted turkey and all the fixin’s was highly anticipated! Thanksgiving Day I woke up to sounds of my mom in the kitchen and I knew it was only a matter of time before the smells of “food day” began wafting into my room. Oh, it wasn’t so. What wafted in was the annoyed voice of my mother as she realized we had run out of propane–a major requirement for cooking with our gas-fueled appliances! What!? Are you kidding? Who runs out of propane on Thanksgiving? I was incredulous that we had not one, but two ovens, and would be eating Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant!  I think it was at that moment I began to fantasize about my dream kitchen and how I would have great appliances and never be without the ability to cook…especially on Thanksgiving Day!

As time marched on, reality set in. Our first home had a standard free-standing electric range…that was the extent of builder options. Our second, self-designed home, ended up with a single built-in cooktop/oven, so we could maximize the view, but also because we blew the bank on the build! Our third, and current home, does have two built-in ovens and a cook-top in the island. While it’s nice, I still have major “range envy”.

Many of my friends have 6-8 burner Viking or AGA ranges with either attached or built-in double ovens. Comparing my appliances to their’s is like parking a VW van next to a Corvette. Even worse, many of them confess to never cooking, or using their ovens to heat pizza–that’s like driving a Corvette 30mph everywhere you go. I am not in a position to make changes to my kitchen at this time, but it doesn’t stop me from being envious and dreaming of my “one day” kitchen!

To fit my design and cooking styles, a range with at least six burners and double ovens makes the most sense. However, that configuration limits the manufacturer and price-point options. Once I realized there is an option to have gas and electric burners and ovens in the same range, I cannot imagine anything less. Besides, talk about the ultimate in emotional soothing–there’s no way I would ever be without a means to prepare meals! Of course, with this options the brand selection again decreases and the price increases.  I also want a retro look–a solid, heavy, workhorse of a range, but something timeless and stylish, and not stainless! The options become fewer and fewer…and the price increases incrementally. These La Cornue ranges were my first flutter:

La Cornue chateau

While there are other amazing ranges on the market–Viking, Wolf, AGA, Falcon, Lacanche, Delaubrac, Molteni–and in reality I would relish the opportunity to own any of them, this is my dream date:

Wanders Piano 105

Wanders Piano 105

I love, love, love this vintage-style range by Wanders! I imagine owning this in the beautiful, deep Bordeaux color and know it would be the focal point of my dream kitchen. There are many other elements necessary to create this ideal kitchen, but today this is all about my crush–isn’t it simply fabulous!?

For now, I appreciate the hard-working appliances I have and enjoy preparing meals in my kitchen, even though it isn’t my ideal setup. However, sometimes living with the less-than-ideal allows us to identify what we consider to be ideal. I have definitely made some adjustments to my thinking over the years, and now I’m clear about what I want, and why I want it. Of course, to desire is no guarantee of having.  As with most crushes, I have to wonder if this one has staying-power or will a new model one day set my heart a’flutter? A girl can always dream!

Until next time,

Viva Con Gioia!

The DotComDecorator

November 8, 2010

Temporary Wallpaper

Posted in Decorating, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 11:23 am by dotcomdecorator

Some of the most innovative products ever developed-Velcro, zip ties, and Post-it products–are routinely used by interior decorating professionals.  I am a huge fan of the above-mentioned products and cannot imagine life without them! I admit, every time I use one of these products (almost daily) I find myself wishing I was the creative genius behind any of them.

Of the three products, I use zip-ties the least often, but they come in handy to secure swags to poles, create fabric poufs, or even as emergency picture hangers. I consider Velcro a business staple and use it often!  I use it to attach valances to mounting boards, as a replacement for zipper closures, and to keep display items in place.  Velcro is available in sew on, stick on, dots, strips, and straps; in different strengths, widths and colors; and even in removable stick-on hangers!  Velcro seems to be ever-evolving and new applications keep appearing. While I use an abundance of Post-it tabs and notes, I haven’t given this product much thought or found great use for it beyond the obvious: notes and flagging. Apparently, someone else has!

LolliProps, Inc., a small New York firm, has combined the look of decorative wall coverings with a Post-it type adhesive to create a temporary, repositionable (repositionable!) wall paper called Tempaper.  Again, I wish I had thought of that!

Tempaper pattern Edie Spanish Moss

Tempaper pattern Edie Spanish Moss

According to, “Twin sisters Jennifer and Julia Biancella designed the product with their aunt Kate Szilagyi, who works as a set decorator in the film industry.”  As set decorators in NYC, the trio was frustrated by the lack of sourcing for temporary repositionable wallpaper. Proof again that “necessity is the mother of invention”!

Tempaper pattern Damsel Black and White

Tempaper pattern Damsel Black and White

Several years ago, wallpaper fell out of favor with the masses; it is starting to once again find an audience. Products such as Tempaper will appeal to those who have no experience using wallpaper, as well as to those who have less-than-positive experiences with the application and/or removal of traditional papers. Just typing this, I have flashbacks of hours spent removing unsized paper and the subsequent wall repairs. Ugh!

Tempaper comes in limited patterns and colors, but the patterns range from modern to traditional to nursery prints and according to LolliProp’s website, “we will constantly be updating our patterns to satisfy the current trends of the design industry.” While college dorm dwellers may find the concept appealing, the cost of this product may be a bit of a reach. However, I believe  it is a cost-effective option for apartment or home dwellers, especially sans the installation costs associated with traditional wall coverings. As a decorator and home stager, I see great potential for this product in home staging, for special events, and even seasonal decor updates, or for someone like myself who loves a steady diet of change!

Tempaper pattern Tusk, in  Flamingo Pink

Tempaper pattern Tusk, in Flamingo Pink

I find the the idea of using temporary wallpaper in a nursery brilliant and the elephant print is beyond adorable!

What do you think about self-stick, repositionable wallpaper? Would you use it? Where would you use it? I’d love to hear what you have to say about this one!

Until next time,

Viva Con Gioia!

The DotComDecorator

September 24, 2010

How Do You Dress Your Home?

Posted in Decorating tagged , , , , , , at 8:04 am by dotcomdecorator

Many people are intimidated by the prospect of designing their interior living spaces. Regardless if the process is limited to selecting a new paint color or as comprehensive as a full-scale remodeling project, it can be a daunting challenge for many homeowners. If you are white-knuckling at the thought of making changes to your home, know that it does not have to be intimidating—and it can actually be fun!

I ensure my clients, if they can get dressed, they are capable of participating in the interior decorating of their home. That’s all you are doing—you are dressing your home.  Like getting dressed, interior decorating is done in layers, although getting dressed is a little more regimented…you don’t put on your shoes before your socks, but you could select fabrics before paint!

The basic structural integrity, purpose of space and traffic pattern, are akin to the “body”…these are what we work with when dressing a space. Begin dressing by selecting your foundation items–wall color and flooring. Like undergarments, they are often most notable in their absence! Neutrality equals longevity, but neutral does not have to be void of color or texture! On walls, varied hues of color on adjacent spaces, or faux finishing provide interest without being overwhelming. Think the difference between plain white cotton and alternative fabrics and colors…you may be the only one aware of and enjoying the choice!

The selection of large items such as sofas, chairs, cabinetry, appliances, and bedroom furniture make up the next layer–the basics. Consider them like a quality suit or favored jeans. What (or who) are you projecting–comfort and ease, trendy, artistic, vintage chic, or leadership? Your attire reflects your image, just like your furnishings will define the image of a space.

Soft goods, such as draperies, bedding, pillows, and rugs, along with hard goods such as counter tops, back splashes, and accent tables, add additional color, texture and visual interest.  What shirt or blouse will you wear with your trousers? These choices, when paired with your foundation and basic layers, build on the look you want to project. Imagine the following looks: Jeans with a tee-shirt;  jeans with a starched button-down shirt; a tailored suit with a turtle neck; a tailored suit with a dress shirt. While each option may or may not appeal to your sense of style, appreciate that each gives a unique voice to style.  Applying that to design, could you use an embroidered silk fabric in a space with concrete counter tops? Of course! If you are comfortable with the contrast. If not, use granite with silk, or linen with concrete…whatever is most comforting.

When considering lighting, think shoes! Most homeowner’s go for general lighting options—like a good pair of loafers. Integrating task-specific and/or ambient lighting adds a new dimension and completes your overall design. It’s like having your everyday loafer with an exciting weekend shoe!

The final touches and pops of color come from accessories.  Accessorizing is the equivalent of adding jewelry, makeup, hosiery, or a tie to your final outfit. Don’t be afraid to make a statement! Let your accessories bring in a pop of color, show your personality or showcase your hobbies and talents. However, do remember that sometimes “less is more”…be aware of the amount of tchotchke in the space…it’s the difference between the elegance of wearing one simple chain or the potential to look like the gold-chain-laden Mr. T!

When you dress–beyond the social requirement of having major body parts covered—you are dressing for yourself, expressing your likes and dislikes, your personality, your sense of style, all through your choice of attire; do the same in your home. Like your personal wardrobe, you want your home’s interior to be an extension of your personal taste and lifestyle.

How’s your house’s wardrobe looking these days? Do you need to refresh the look with a new item or two, or is a total makeover required? If you need help, ask! Store associates, friends, and professional decorators, like The DotComDecorator, can offer a different perspective and/or advice.  As always, I’m an advocate for decorating to be an enjoyable process. It’s more important that your space being right for you, than to adhere to hard and fast design rules. Glam it up a little, baby!

Until next time,

Viva Con Gioia!

The DotComDecorator

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

September 14, 2010

Favorite Things

Posted in Daily Favorites, Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 2:39 pm by dotcomdecorator

Do you know what makes a decorated house most appealing? It isn’t the model-home staging, it isn’t the designer sofa, and it isn’t the perfect accessory…it is the home’s inhabitants.  Interior decorating is about infusing a space with the personalities, lifestyles and likes of those who occupy it!

As a decorator, it is imperative that I ask the right questions of my clients to truly understand who they are and what the mood, style and function of their space should be. Unearthing a client’s story is like peeling layers of an onion. If I get just the quick version, their space may be attractive, but without substantial meaning or comfort to them. It is within the layers I find the best substance from which I design a space.  Honing in on dreams, cherished memories, and the favorite things in a client’s life allows me to include  those in their space.  This is what takes a space from pretty to charmed, from ornate to comfortably elegant, and from a showcase house to a beloved home.

No matter where you live or what your design style is, pay attention to what your favorite things are and incorporate them into your space.  While you could do this in a literal way, like hanging your Nascar flag on the wall, the more figurative approach may be a little more aesthetically pleasing for main living spaces! A couple alternate ways to embrace the race fan within could include sleek round chrome tables (to signify the wheels of a car), manly leather chairs (to replicate the driver’s seat), or your favorite driver’s colors represented in accessories. Obviously, not everyone is a Nascar fan (I’m sorry Nascar fans, it is true!) so we will move on from this example!

If you love music, interpret that in colors and shapes. For example, if you’re a beat-loving rocker, think bold, vibrant, energizing colors; angular shapes, trendy fabrics, and casual furniture. The music doesn’t have to be blaring to give a sense of a rocker-soul inhabiting the space. An opera aficionado appreciates subtleties and undertones, therefore their decor may consist of layers of neutral colors in fabrics, wall color and rugs, the use of traditional formal furnishings, lots of rich textures in fabrics, and soft curving shapes in accessories, lighting, and decorative molding.  Do you “see” how each preference can be interpreted?

If you look around your house and feel something is missing…maybe it’s the sense of self! How are you/your family represented in the space? If this is a shared space, does everyone have equal voice or is it overwhelmingly representative of one voice? Is your space designed for the way you live, for your likes and comfort, or is it plucked off a furniture showroom floor?

If you’re ready to infuse personality into your home, grab paper and pencil to create a list and follow these quick steps to get you started:

1.  Assess what the space is to be used for. If your family room is a space for watching tv, entertaining friends, paying bills, doing homework, and eating, then you either make accommodations for each of those activities, or find a new space for one/some of them.

2. Have each person who uses the space share what some of his/her favorite things are. Don’t limit this to physical objects–incorporate all the senses! What are favorite places, sights, sounds, smells, tastes, colors, activities, people, texture, period of history?  Each is rich with decorating potential!

3. Once you’ve compiled your list, a sense of  “mood” will be found in it.  For example, if there is a tendency for the favorite things to be related to the outdoors, the “mood” could be defined as earthy, woodsy, natural, open, light-filled, life-giving and comfortable. If the favorite things lean toward world travel, the mood may be interpreted as cosmopolitan, eclectic, adventurous, unencumbered, and global. If the favorite things are concerts and theme parks, the mood may indicate  adventure, excitement, and a zest for life.

4. After you’ve identified the mood, incorporate the colors that best convey the mood.  Remember, wall color is only one of the many surfaces you can use for color! Ceilings, flooring, molding, furniture, rugs, window treatments, art, lighting and accessories all provide additional color to a space.

5. With your space purpose, favorite things and mood identified, and with a color palette selected, next determine how to best incorporate some of each person’s favorite things through furniture, fabrics, accessories, art and other materials. Don’t over think this–but also don’t go overboard by literally bringing in dozens of colors/objects just so everyone feels he/she is equally represented! People who share spaces, share their lives; there is balance in the everyday and that is what your finished room should convey.

Even if you’re a solo-dweller, you have much to draw from…your social life, your career life, your family/friends, your tastes in music, food, clothes, cars, and the like. Peel back your layers and use them to bring personality to your space!

This morning I decided to share with my Facebook friends, on a regular basis, what some of my favorite things are. After more thought, I’ve decided to include a Daily Favorites category here and update it each day. I welcome your comments and sharing of your favorites as well!

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

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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