Residential Color and Style from a Certified True Color Expert.

Residential styling

How to love your exterior color

Fifteen very different homes. Not a single white/black color scheme among them.
I think each one of them has the right color selection.

The color designer followed these rules:

     1) respect for the type of architecture
     2) consideration of fixed elements
     3) establish color harmony
     4) proper use of the color white
     5) proper use of color contrast

Trend Alert: The Very Latest in Countertops

Pure countertop

PURE countertop at Z-Tile, Santa Rosa Beach, FL

The new sushi restaurant in Rosemary Beach, Florida, sports “PURE” glass counters.

image via Facebook

image via Facebook

The PURE countertop type is so new that it isn’t to be found anywhere on Google.

And, the only fabricating company that I know of installing this product is

in northwest Florida.

A quick check to the staff at Aqua Sushi confirmed that they all “love it.”

It just looks so fresh and clean.  

I am going to say this new product is a keeper.

(A similar product that I have been keeping an eye on is called Nano,

but I am hearing that PURE is a better product).

Bossy granite is what I try to steer clients away from.

Bossy granite = lots of color and/or movement.

“Bossy” elements dictate every other design decision.

Even though granite was all the rage for the last 15 years (after the Corian trend played out),

More and more people are asking, “what can I use besides granite?”

Suzy, the owner of Z-Tile, where I first saw PURE, is Green-Certified. She says that PURE is

considered a very environmentally-friendly product.

I predict we’ll be seeing a lot more of PURE.


One chandelier or two?

If you have noticed that many shelter magazines are showing not one, but two,

chandeliers over a dining-room table, you are picking up on something.

And, that something is a trend.

Not just a trend, but a trendy-trend.

For a classic, timeless, look, stick with a single chandelier over your dining room table.

Save the pair for a long hall .

Trust me on this one.

This is a trend, it will not last, and in five years it  will announce:

“I decorated my dining room in 2013.”

Save the two chandelier/two lantern look for something like the above.

That is a timeless look that never goes out of style.

Color Calling

Alabama White Marble


Did you know that different types of marble have different densities?

The more dense the marble, the less porous it is.

Higher density means less staining.

Alabama White (quarried just a few miles from where I live) is one of the whitest, densest, most beautiful marble types.

It is considered equal to the famous Italian Carrara (frequently misspelled Carrera) marble.

Alabama White marble was used in the Washington Monument.


The bust of Abraham Lincoln at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda? Also, Alabama White.

(I believe this is the right one, there are several marble busts of Lincoln at the Capitol building)

The Lincoln Memorial?  My source says that the ceiling is Alabama White. Not sure you can see it, though!

U.S. Supreme Court Building?  Interiors are full of Alabama White.

Here is a marble top I just received in Alabama White.

To go on this antique French garden table.

It will be permanently outdoors. I consider it a little slice of history to have Alabama White.


Alabama White is prized for its crystalline structure. It will be fine outdoors.

The {movement} is lovely and not too overwhelming.

For a table-top or small counter, ask your fabricator if there is a scrap piece
which is large enough. You will get a much better price than  a slab price.

Alabama White. From my Sweet Home Alabama.
Color Calling

$12 of happiness


Daffodils $1.99 a bunch at my local Whole Foods.
Color Calling

You can ring my bell

That late 1970s/early 1980s disco song keeps rummaging

through my head.

You see, we just installed this darling marine bell at the beach home of a family member.

marine bell

ring my bell

We installed it to relate to the door, without being too close to interfere

with normal comings and goings.

It has the nicest, most welcoming cling-clang.

Solid brass.

Adorable anchor-motif backplate.

Genuine marine-grade rope pull.

So much more “beachy” than a regular electric doorbell.

You can ring my bell.
Color Calling

Do your toenails match your bath tile?

Well, if you are Suzy, they certainly do!

Suzy, the owner of a brand-new tile center in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida,

showed me that your toes can indeed match your bath tile:

Susie's toes

Suzy’s shimmery toes!!!

Suzy is hard at work selecting the tile for the upcoming Maison de Vie,

the showhome opening this summer at WaterColor resort in the Florida Panhandle.

Her company is the lead sponsor of the home:

She gave me a sneak preview of some of the hard surfaces she will be using.

Here is the floor tile she has selected for the master bath:



It feels incredibly smooth and cool underfoot. Perfect for a beach home.

She will be using this one in the home as well. Loving the soft beach colors:

wall tile

wall tile

Look at the same tile as above with dark gray grout, for a completely different look:

gray grout

gray grout

Another display in the showroom:

Q-tile vignette

Q-tile vignette

I fell in love with this gorgeous cross-cut marble piece:

crosscut marble

crosscut marble

Here are some other beauties:

This one looks like a coastal sunrise.  Subtle and shimmery.  And, very glamorous:



What about this subway tile with an opacity that sets it apart? Stunning.

opaque subway

opaque subway

Moorish Arch

moorish arch

moorish arch

And another Moorish arch in marble:

marble moorish arch

marble moorish arch

Here is a new product I saw in Suzy’s showroom, which is green-certified, and makes a great surface used as a bath or kitchen slab. Suzy told me that a local fabricator installed this product for her, called “Pure.” It is a glass product which looks like the whitest marble.

I have seen similar slabs called “Nano,” but was not familiar with the “Pure” brand. I will be keeping an eye on this as the next big thing, and  I would love to use this in a bath installation. It really looks like pure white marble:

Pure slab

Pure slab


Suzy, thank you for allowing me to take photos of  your beautiful new showroom!



Can’t wait to see the showhouse when I come to the beach this summer!

This is not a sponsored post, just thought you would enjoy seeing some of the latest trends in the high-end tile market.
Color Calling

A Spring Meeting and Diana Vreeland

set for tea

set for tea

We set out light refreshments at my ladies’ study club meetings. Yesterday was my turn to host.

We learned about Diana Vreeland.

Our topic this year has been “Legendary Ladies of Style.”

It was also our topic last year, we just loved it so much we kept going!

Babe Paley, Dorothy Draper, Gloria Vanderbilt, Marella Agnelli, Lee Radziwill to name a few.

Someone said, Ellen, you should take pictures of the table.

(There were a few tarts and berries already gone by this point.)

I thought you would enjoy these photos of the offerings:

berries with powdered sugar

chicken salad and pimiento cheese finger sandwiches

mini-cheesecake bites topped with fresh blackberries (top photo)

Mrs. Vreeland would have approved of the huge strawberries.

She absolutely adored the color red.

Fascinating life, fascinating woman.

She “discovered” Lauren Bacall. Now, that was a discovery!

Color Calling

Why your design professional should have a blog


when you need a chandelier, your designer spots this

chinoiserie chandelier for a song in a local antique store:


And knows that world famous designer Barbara Barry has it in her client’s Beverly Hills breakfast room, guaranteed for a lot more than a song:
Blogging keeps us current.
Color Calling

Style Watch



I am really loving the cleaner lines of a full-drop bedspread.

With mattress depths all over the yardstick: 9 to 22 inches deep,

a ready-made option will rarely work, with standard drop

[measurement from the seam to the floor] about 28″.

A good design professional can guide you through fabric and tailoring options.

What do you think?

Color Calling

Theme Overdose

Sometimes, but not everytime, a theme needs MORE.

MORE of the same to get the right look.

A theme overdose, says fellow blogger Tara Dillard.

Maybe Tara will weigh in as to whether a bunny overdose actually works!

Those bunnies are either a huge hit or a giant miss. Not quite sure.

I know that the interiors work.
Color Calling

One of a kind sofa table

Unlike the above example, most sofas are not designed to be

interesting and beautiful in the back.

Sometimes, a sofa table is perfect for adding needed interest and beauty.

Function, too. Think storage, display, or a pair of lamps.

Check out this top, below. A beautifully carved French top, perfect width. Just sitting there waiting.

It hasn’t been there for long. It was once part of a larger piece.

And it won’t last. Nope, not this one. Not at this price.


The sconces on top aren’t part of the piece, in case you are wondering.

It is going to be perfect for someone with a home in the French taste.

I see it going on top of a simple but sturdy wrought iron stand.

Custom made, just enough height to raise it to the exact sofa-table height. 

A tiny flip of iron at the foot. Just enough to say, “I honor your French heritage.

But, I won’t try to compete.”

Nothing more. Eyes only on the carving.


And, no pretense of trying to marry a modern leg, made to look old, on this old piece.

Perfect for a country French room, where the back of the sofa meets the eye.

So much more beautiful to hide a visible plain sofa’s back view when possible.

And much more beautiful when you do so with a one-of-a-kind piece, 

with room for a lovely pair of lamps. And even some storage space in the three bays.

What do you think?
Color Calling

End-of-Bed Bench: High Low

Mr. and Mrs. Howard for Sherrill Furniture

Mr. and Mrs. Howard for Sherrill Furniture

Color Calling

Perfect for Place

For those  blessed with a second home at the shore

(or even a nice outbuilding such as a pool house)

you know what fun it is to mix it up a little bit.

And, anyway, it’s always fun to dream!

Source: via Ellen on Pinterest

By that, I mean, you do something perhaps a little kooky, a little off-beat,

a little more colorful than you might select for your main house.

Because, in the main house, kooky can turn weird,  off-beat can hit a sour note,

and vibrant color can grow cold on you, if you are seeing it day in and day out, all the time.

I first think of the gorgeous homes in Palm Beach.

Many of the seasonal residents live part of the year in much colder climes,

so they embrace the tropical lifestyle, for part of the year, in all its colored splendor.

And it works, beautifully:



They wouldn’t dream of having the same sort of decor in their Park Avenue Apartment, though.

Lovely though it is, it  Just Wouldn’t Work.

What a treat it would be to open the front door of this little PB number

after a flight in from, say, snowy Boston:

Source: via Noir on Pinterest

Do you see what I mean by mixing it up a bit?

These are not rooms that you would have in a Buckhead home or anywhere else,

really, besides where they are.

There is a PLACE element that makes them totally wonderful for the location.

Perfect for Place.
This is a time that selected elements of whimsy can hit a home run rather than fall flat.

It means looking for unique elements that reflect both your taste and the PLACE.
A FEW totally charming ‘location’ pieces. With A Sense of PLACE:

An off-beat driftwood hanging light, perfect for this Beaufort-area beach home.

It says beach without screaming it.


Driftwood mirrors in a fun shape, Moravian star pendant. Perfect.

Source: via Ellen on Pinterest

Ship lap on the walls adds the sense of place here:

Source: via Ellen on Pinterest

Check out the green ceiling. And that quirky tobacco basket on the wall. Fabulous coastal casual.

Well, why not? This Australian beach cottage, below,  has a simply framed trio of swimsuits,

which clearly held sway for many a year on a beloved grandmother.

Eclectic Dining Room design by Brisbane Media And Blogs Beach Vintage

The fancier the house, the more it can take on a bit more:

via The Foo Dog Ate my Homework

via The Foo Dog Ate my Homework

via The Foo Dog Ate my Homework

via The Foo Dog Ate my Homework





Hope you’ve enjoyed the little getaway! Do you have a favorite?

Color Calling

How to calm a busy family room

Now, what if you have TOO MUCH going on in the room, and want to quiet it down to something calmer like the below:

These are a few of my tips for calming a busy room:

1) Evaluate

I find that often people have lived with things so long, that they have completely tuned out something that is not working.  A pair of fresh eyes can be invaluable in guiding your decisions.


Here is where using the right neutrals can make all the difference.

Replacing a wall color or multiple wall colors (i.e. accent wall) with the “right” neutral can really calm down a space. What is the right neutral?  The one with the correct undertone.

After  True Color Expert training with Maria Killam,  I can see an undertone clashing a mile away. Even if you don’t understand undertones, you will know, “for some reason, that is not really working.”


This is to reduce visual clutter.

First place to start: personal framed photographs. Select a few that are particularly meaningful to keep out and display. Place the others  in a beautiful archival leather photo album, and have it within reach on your family room coffee table. You will now be able to see ALL your photos.


Ask a friend with a great eye, or engage a design professional for two hours on a one-time basis. ASK what is worth keeping and what should go? Which also might include storing dated pieces, perking  them up with a coat of paint, giving them away, or repurposing them.

There is hardly a room in existence that doesn’t benefit from a bit of freshening at least every 5 to 7 years. And, if you have consistently selected trendy over traditional, be prepared for an even shorter shelf life.


This is just one example, and happens to be something on my mind for a project.

Crown moulding should “read” as one piece.
This is what you want, below, trimmed out in one paint color from top of crown to  bottom.

Generally should be semi-gloss, though sometimes I spec high gloss:


And, this is what you don’t want:

Layers of moulding, broken by  layer(s) of painted sheetrock:


mouldingtrey ceiling

If you don’t have crown, a good design professional or your architect can tell you what is appropriate for adding this feature to your house. It will really add the finishing interest and elegance to a room to have the right crown moulding, properly chosen and installed.


Holding on to a lumpy sofa? Or a poorly made leather one?

Nothing dates a room faster.

Sofas need replacing or reupholstering about every six to eight years.  Washable slipcovers can extend this.

If your family room sofa has been in its current state for 10 years (or more), it’s probably time. 

6) Scale

Is your furniture the right scale for the space? Or, are you crowding every thing you own into a space, just because you have it?

7) Brickwork

Brickwork can be very tricky because it can date a room very quickly.

I know that many people (men) are hesitant to paint


Especially around a fireplace,

soot can and will darken the paint.

This is usually easily wiped off, but you can always touch-up

paint again when/if it gets really noticeable.

Take a look at fellow Color Expert Kristie Barnett of Nashville’s amazing before and after.

You can click to supersize the before shot (if you dare):

photo: The Decorologist

before and after photos: courtesy Kristie Barnett,

belgian chic after


 Establish ONE main focal point in the room, with subsidiary focal points appropriate to the space. (Professional guidance can get you there. This is what we are trained to do.)

 9) Take it easy on the pattern

To look “today” instead of “yesterday,” it is important to know how to lighten up a space weighed down by TOO MUCH pattern. Slipcovers can be a beautiful, cost-effective way to lighten the look without emptying the wallet.

10) FLOW

Is the traffic pattern working? A  bad traffic pattern can “build up” over the years. Again, you may have lived with something so long that you don’t realize something is not working.

A pair of FRESH EYES can help you see things the way guests see them when they enter your home.

If you need help in calming down a busy family room, it is probably a good idea to seek professional advice.

This is always money well-spent to keep you from making the same mistakes again.

Color Calling

Anglophile or Francophile?

Do you want to take a fun little test?

eiffel tower

Do your design sensibilities lean toward France or toward England?


So, are you a Francophile or an Anglophile?

Answer a) or b) to the following short preference questions.

You can click on any image to supersize it.

Do you prefer:

1. In furniture

a) Chippendale

orChippendale cabinetrococo

b) Roccoco

2.  China



b) Sèvres

3. Pups

a) Retriever

or3sonsgerman shepherd

b) Shepherd

4. Furniture style

a)Barley twist legheg-dec-table

orlouis leg

b) straight and narrow with fluting

5. Afternoon snack




6. Sporting 

a) fox hunt


b) Stag hunt

7. Sweets



b) truffle

choc truffle

8. Literature Classic

a) William ShakespeareRomeo


b) Victor Hugoles miserables

9. Headwear

a)  fascinatorfascinator


b) chapeaux

10. Spy

a)James BondSean Connery as James Bond


b) Inspector Clouseauclousseau

11. Decorative arts

a) family portraitVictoria-family-Portrait


b) family crestcoat of arms

12. Appetizer

a) smoked salmonsalmon


b) smoked trouttrout

13. Cheese tray 

a) stilton


b) roquefort

14. Spice

a) curry


b) herbs de provence

15. Wood panels

a) quarter sawn oakoak


b) satin finish walnutArchitectural photography from Austin, TX.

16. Gardening

a)knot gardenknot garden


b) topiary gardentopiary garden

17. sporting activity



b) bicyclingBicycling

18. chef

a)Gordon RamseyRamsey


b)Jacques Pepinpepin

19. Palace

a) Buckinghambuck


b) VersaillesPalace Of Versailles Opens Doors For Night Time Art Show

20. Beauty

a)Catherine,  as in Duchesscatherine_middleton_duchess_o


b) Catherine, as in DenueveCatherineDeneuve

21. Artist

a) Gainsboroughgainsborough


b) Gaugingaugin

22. Gardens

a) Sissinghurstsissinghurst


b) Givernygiverny

23.Comfort food

a)Bangers and mashbangers


b) Cassouletcassoulet

24. Decorator

a) Mario Buattamario buatta green


b) Charles Faudreefaudree

25. Travel

a) Cotswoldscotswolds


b) Provenceprovence

26. apéritif

a) sherry


b) lillet

27.  Flower

a) foxglovefoxglove


b) sunflowersunflower

28. Morning caffeine :)

a) tea with lemontea


b) café au laitcoffee



Count your a’s and b’s.

( really, both #16 could be either French or English)

mostly A’s are Anglophiles

mostly B’s are Francophiles

Anglophile here, which are you?

Color Calling

Does anyone else confuse Charlotte Moss and Bunny Williams?

Color Calling
Well, I have done it.

I read an entire post on one of my favorite blogs, Cote De Texas.

And as I read it, I assumed I was reading about Bunny Williams.

Only the post was about Charlotte Moss.

Honestly, I have always confused the two.



Top pic, Charlotte Moss. Lower pic, Bunny Williams. (I think.)

When I read one of the reader comments on Cote de Texas blog, commenting that those two

have such similar design looks and books,

that they must be in competition,

I realized what I had done.

And to be honest, I really couldn’t see Bunny using a faux greenery accent wall in any of her projects.

With a porthole. 


It just didn’t jibe with my idea of Bunny’s design sensibilities.

Nothing against faux evergreenery, of course.

Nor faux portholes.

And, really, do you know anyone who has a better monogram for a bath towel than this? ;)

faux greenery

accent wall #1

faux greenery accent wall

accent wall #2

(above rooms decorated by Charlotte Moss)

I have heard them each speak at local lectures, and have several of Bunny’s books.

Why am I so confused as to which is which?

Am I the only one who gets these two mixed up in my head?

What is the Energy Level of your Room?

Rooms can have energy. By that I mean a sense of drama or punch. Some would say pop.

Can you feel it? Now, imagine the painting gone. See what I mean? There is the room’s energy.

Some of the quietest, lowest-key people I know have extremely vibrant rooms in their homes.

And, some of the most boisterous of my acquaintances have some of the most neutrally-decorated rooms.

With little memory of all those college-level psych courses I took, I can’t begin to tell you why that might be.

But I can help you infuse some energy…drama…pop….punch….into your existing space.

As a color designer, I respect the existing undertones of fixed elements which are not being changed.

And, I have tried to select examples with the same, where undertones are coordinating, or at least are non-clashing.

So, today, let’s look at some things that can rev-up a space if you want to give it more energy.

A dramatic focal point.

Traditional Dining Room

Traditional Entry design by Sroka Design, Inc.


Red, yellow, black and orange can be especially dramatic.
Do you see how this is otherwise an extremely neutral space? The eye goes STRAIGHT to the high visual energy in the large painting, below:

Something graphic.

And, even something as simple as vibrant toss pillows, one of the easiest ways to punch up an existing room:

Source: via Ellen on Pinterest

Do you have a place somewhere in your home for a little extra energy?

Next time, what to do when you want to quiet down a room….please stay tuned.

Color Calling

The rule of three

Mrs. Howard

Mrs. Howard

When you are styling areas of your home, try using three of something.

It gives your eye a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Very visually satisfying. Sometimes much more so than a pair.

Have you used the rule of three in your home?
Color Calling

Oprah Winfrey just said no to the Look-but-don’t-touch-Look

As smart a lady as Oprah Winfrey is, she made one of the classic mistakes in her own home.

She forgot to listen to the inner voice which says, “I want it to be pretty, but I also want to be comfortable here.”

She forgot that making your home a beautiful place to come home to, doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice comfort.

She forgot that she is allowed to say ‘no’ when her decorator/architect/stylist suggests something that she doesn’t think is true to herself and the way she lives.

You can have it both: Beauty and comfort.

So she is redoing her entire Santa Barbara (Montecito) home.

Rose Tarlow got the commission for the work, and I will be waiting to see the new look!

Color Calling
When I come to your home for a residential color-design consultation, we will talk about MUCH more than color.

We will talk about and establish your goals for a look and feel for your home.

And, that look and feel will reflect YOU.

And that is what is wrong with Oprah’s home.

It may be beautiful, but she readily admits that she can’t be herself in her own home.

It isn’t livable.

Her designer says, ” “One of the redo’s key goals is a living room that can actually be lived in.”

Oprah’s hilarious take: ‘It’s not easy to do an entire library that says, Do not touch the books. But somehow I managed.’

Here is Oprah’s Look but don’t touch Library:

Source: via Ellen on Pinterest

Does your home beautifully and comfortably reflect YOU and the way YOU actually live?

Sneak peek: Pardon our progress…

bath in progress
wallpaper gone

wallpaper gone

People, let me tell you, this is huge! The first step is always the hardest.

But, I am in motion. My wonderful wallpaper man is busy finishing stripping the existing paper as I type this.

Just look!

The rusty green wallpaper is au revoir!



I am so uplifted just walking in and looking at the bare SheetRock.

In all my color installations/demolitions, I have never seen a wallpaper absorb the light out of a room like

ol’ Rusty Green.

It is amazing, the difference.

Furthermore, my husband hates changing anything in our house. He loves everything to stay the same.

Bless his heart, he agreed to put up with the disruption entailed by this project.

So I will say again, this is huge!

Remember, this is just the bare SheetRock, not the new paint color. Obviously, still a work site!

making progress!

making progress!


above, BEFORE (Ol’ Rusty Green)


I know you probably don’t want to see contractor bags, you come here to look at the pretty pictures.

This is real life, though. And, it will look nice in no time.

It is a very cloudy gray day, but you’d never know it by what is going on in my house today.

I can’t wait to get my crew over from Atlanta to work on the travertine. It must be cleaned, re-honed and re-grouted, then we’ll be ready for the new paint.

Can you notice that the pink undertone in the travertine is looking much less pink, now that Rusty Green is gone?
Compare the before with the ‘during':

Cleaned up a bit to show you the difference:
bath in progress

Jewelry for your Wall

Nothing dresses up a wall like a beautiful painting flanked by a pair of sconces.

The branches of the sconce repeat the branches of the trees in the painting.

The pair of sconces frame the painting, and give the painting more importance.

photo by Ellen Rhett

photo by Ellen Rhett

Here is the before:



This lady’s electrician told her it couldn’t be done.

No way.

My electrical man says he always likes a challenge.

I have given him many, and he has always made it happen.

What a difference!



Identical Layout!

I almost fell out of my chair when I saw this bath.

And, not because of the textures, finishes, or colors used.

It is because the layout is EXACTLY. LIKE. MINE.

I mean, identical. Same placement of tub, shower, his sink, her sink and vanity. Same window.

Same opening to the closet area.

I have never seen this exact layout ever before in a photo.

Here is mine. I have wing walls instead of completely open cabinetry or a full-glass shower enclosure.

It hides everyday toiletries better. It hides the workings of the shower.

You know the family above keeps soap on the counter. And shampoo bottles in the shower.

So do I, you just can’t see it.

master bath

master bath

close-up wing wall

even the sconces are similar

And, yes, this is the same bath

from which I am removing all the existing wallpaper.

I can hardly wait! 

Then, it is going to be painted Shaker Beige, see the dollop.

Cabinets will be Ivory White.


Goodbye rusty green wallpaper!

Simple Perfection


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