Residential Color and Style from a Certified True Color Expert.


High/low Great Lamps

One of my favorite recent projects has been helping my young adult daughter with her very first apartment.

I am loving these Chris-Spitz look-alikes from Overstock:


Can you tell which, above, is the

Christopher Spitzmiller Aurora Double Gourd Marbleized Lamp
$2,665.00 (EACH!!!)

and which is from ($144.99 per pair)?




High Style Chinoiserie for the powder room!

If you have a powder room in your home, there is nowhere more fun to indulge a passion

for beautiful chinoiserie (or other high style) wallpapers, fabrics, and finishes.

Because of the small scale, it is much more affordable to install that fancy wallpaper,

go for the silk roman shades, the marble counter, gorgeous pair of sconces, etc.

I like to advise my design/color clients to go all out with the colors, and/or high style they love

but might not like in larger doses for a big room.

My own powder room is teeny tiny. I would never go Plain Jane in a space this small. 

Here is a detail of my sconce and mirror.

Which set against a scenic chinoiserie toile paper, causes the eye to travel.

Style maven Diana Vreeland said it first, and it is so true: “The Eye Must Travel.

image Color Calling

Image Color Calling

Here is another powder room with similar scale to mine (basically a chest-of-drawers width


Although I would avoid grouted tile counter tops, which are dated, I truly love the lyrical

nature of the yellow and muted green scenic paper.

The touch of red is perfect, as are the golden koi decorations on the counter top. As for 

the red in the wallpaper, notice how your eye travels from the red to the red,

almost involuntarily?

Let’s look at some other fabulous chinoiserie powder rooms that may give you some ideas.

More scenic paper, see anything you like?

Style tip:  No offense to whom I am sure is a very talented designer, but the cabinetry, just below,

is a little “too-too” for me.
I personally find this mix of finishes jarring (i.e, the pewter basin + gilt mirror + shiny cabinet
+ heavily veined marble top.)
Remember the “decide what is most important” rule?
I would have underplayed/simplified the basin, countertop, and cabinetry to let the over-the-top
trio of fabulous wallpaper, gorgeous rock crystal sconces and ornate mirror take center stage.
Together, it just way too much ornateness.
That being said, “it is much easier to criticize than it is to create something from scratch.
And hopefully, this is taken as constructive feedback for my readers rather than criticism
to another design professional.

All is forgiven, though,  by use of  the handpainted Gracie silvered scenic, which is divine.



And here, below, see how the plain counter allows the ornateness of the mirror to shine?

Chinoiserie bedroom makeover for a young twenty-something


Design by Ellen Rhett

My young collegiate was anxious for an update to the room that had last been decorated when she was thirteen.

A college co-ed desires a sophisticated space to return to when she’s home.

Chic chinoiserie details pleased and surprised.


Pink dogwood linen fabric unifies the hot-pink wallpaper with the neutrals.

And repeats the Chinoiserie theme.

Existing strié wallpaper was kept.

Foo dog lamps add a youthful vibe and continue the Chinoiserie theme.


They also repeat the white in the dogwood fabric and bedding.

Remember, white is never a neutral in décor, even though it always is in fashion.

It must be repeated at least three times in a room.

White peonies, a favorite, are a natural in this room.


Design by Ellen Rhett

Custom padded headboard with expertly hand-applied nailheads (by my wonderful upholsterer)
Fun and funky and ultra-feminine light fixture, below, with plenty of sparkle and a dark finish.

Repeating the shape, movement, darkness, of the branches on the drapery and neckroll fabric.

Repeating the color of  the  lampshades as well.

And, a gorgeous on-trend sunburst accent mirror, handmade and all-wood. 


Design by Ellen Rhett

Both sourced online for a song.

If I told you from where, you wouldn’t believe it anyway.

But, I know you, reader.

I know what you really want.

You want the before.

I’ll show you the before.

Get ready.

A little embarrassing so I’ll make this quick. 

Here you are:



And,  one more time, the AFTER:


All Images Color Calling

Fabric Sources

Neckroll: Clark and Clark “Dogwood” (trade only)
Draperies: same as above. 
Headboard fabric: Clark and Clark “Chinese Square” (trade only)
Bedspread, shams, comforter: Macy’s

Chinoiserie Saint Francis

When I saw this finely carved “ivoryesque” figurine at a church thrift store for a song, I couldn’t resist.

He is a Chinoiserie version of Saint Francis. See the little birds he is holding?

He looks right at home in my Chinoiserie powder room.

The wallpaper also has birds on it, do you see those storks to the left of the figurine?  
This little illustration shows one of my favorite decorating secrets, which I happily share:

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

It is visually and artistically pleasing to use repetition.

The eye will pick up on repetition as it processes what it sees in a room.

Sometimes the conscious mind does not recognize the repetition, but the subconscious mind has processed it as pleasing.

So, in the above vignette, the Chinoiserie St. Francis repeats several things from the wallpaper:

the antique cream color, the Chinoiserie style, the birds,  the figural images, and even the cross-hatching in his hat is also in the wallpaper.

Take another peek and you will see these things that perhaps you didn’t notice before they were pointed out.

Now, let’s look at some elements in another room, images below.

Notice the repetitive geometric motif, diamond shapes, which I have broken down individually.

Diamond shapes are repeated throughout the room. You probably wouldn’t even notice.

Image ©Color Calling

Cut velvet upholstery, Image ©Color Calling

And here

Drapery trim Image ©Color Calling

Subtle, very subtle.

Powerful, very powerful when used together.

Because of the repetition.

Repetition, one of the best ideas in any good design professional’s bag of tricks.

Are you using repetition effectively to please the eye in the rooms in your home?

My Top Ten Rules for Gorgeous Powder Rooms

I love to decorate Powder Rooms.  Here are my Top Ten rules for a beautiful powder room:



Select the design element that you want to have stand out. Then low-key most of the other elements so that the end result is pleasing.

So, if you are using a killer tile, scale back on the other accents, and don’t go with a too-busy-anything-else.

If you have a mirror that is extremely decorative, don’t kill it with everything else being extremely decorative.

If you like wallpaper, this is the place for that wonderful statement wallpaper. High-end designer wallpaper that would be too-too much in a regular sized room can be perfect in a powder room.

Decide what is going to become  your most important design element, so you don’t get carried away with too many other  decorative finishes.

A good residential stylist can keep you on track if you are prone to going over the top.

ABOVE, both photos:  This gorgeous chinoiserie wallpaper is the most dramatic element in each of the above powder rooms, with proper restraint used everywhere else. 


Don’t mix your metals/finishes in a Powder Room.

Try to keep the same finishes in the tiny space for a more harmonious look, below.

ABOVE: The color white is repeated several times. The nickel hardware is repeated several times. The airy mirror almost goes away and lets other elements take center stage.

BELOW: The Pewter color is repeated even in the wallpaper, and the all-pewter gives the powder room a harmonious look.


Don’t use dinky mirrors

ABOVE: Even a very tall person can see his reflection in this nicely-sized mirror.


Use sconces in addition to overhead lighting.

Over-mirror lighting can throw odd shadows and is to be avoided.



If you must use a vessel sink, be sure that it has enough depth to minimize

splashing.  However, I try to avoid them altogether.


Use Chinoiserie for Color and Drama


Keep your undertones similar.

ABOVE: The gray undertones of the marble work stunningly with the swoop of gray in the wallpaper. The green
accents pick up the main color of the wallpaper. Just enough drama without going over the top.

BELOW:  Undertone Perfection.


Use antique, repurposed, or vintage pieces if doing a furniture-look built-in.

Otherwise, use nice built-in cabinetry. A brand-new piece of furniture for your sink almost never works .


Use creamy whites with brown, and whiter whites with black.


Quality over quantity. Don’t over-accessorize, and do use the nicest soaps and linens you can possibly afford.

What do you think? Do you agree with my Ten Rules for Beautiful Powder Rooms?

Summer Chinoiserie

Sometimes a dash of light-or-white Chinoiserie is the perfect punch for summer living, whether in a summer getaway,

or in a room in your home that is more frequently used in the summer. Here, some summer inspiration:

Chinoiserie in the home

For some reason, I am completely and utterly smitten with Chinoiserie. Have been for years. I am lately drawn to a particular fabric, for which I am just waiting for the right client to use. Watch out, dearest, it will be soon. Mind you,  it has to be exactly the right place in exactly the right room. As a specimen plant in a garden, such as the perfect single Japanese maple tree, so this will be as well. Here is the object of my affection:

Complete and total Chinoiserie perfection.  Stay tuned.

How do you hang a mirror?

There are a number of places to effectively hang a mirror. Over a dressing table, it is positively expected. Make it count with a beautiful shape or a gorgeous finish.

Hang your mirror to relate to what it is hanging over. For a mirror over your dressing table, for example, hang it so that you can actually use it while seated. For a mirror over a console, make sure you hang so that it relates to the console and not to the ceiling.

Wherever you use a mirror, allow it to double your view of something beautiful that you love!

Above: A hand-carved water gilt mirror, hung at dressing table height

Below: An ornate mirror reflects Chinoiserie wallpaper

All Photographs ©Color Calling