Residential Color and Style from a Certified True Color Expert.

Residential styling

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…

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

Are you CHASING the color or CHOOSING the color?


YES, we’ve been there.

The contractor is breathing down our neck, he needs the colors picked out.

He needs them ALL,  two weeks from today!

As we’ve talked about before, paint color should be the last thing that is chosen.

It should be the thing that pulls everything else in the room together.

But, sometimes that is not possible.

What are some good neutrals to use?

Where should there be an actual color?

Source: via Ellen on Pinterest

How should it all tie together so the home has color flow?

This is when you really, really need to call in a certified color consultant.

We know how some of the prettiest neutrals can “go pink” on some walls.

We know which neutral colors turn “apartment beige” in  which rooms.

We know how to pick out/rule out the tile for your bath and the counter for your kitchen.

We are trained in color flow throughout the house.

We know where to insist on oil-based paint, and where not ever to use high-gloss.

Many consultants are happy to schedule a couple of hours, one-time.

Not saying all of the above can be accomplished in two hours, but you’d be amazed what can.

Benjamin Moore Sandy Brown


I don’t work with those tiny chips you find at the paint store.

I work with large painted samples on boards.

There is now a big difference in this young man’s bedroom.

Above, the new paint color, Sandy Brown. A rich caramel beige.

Lots of depth and warmth, perfect for a cozy bedroom,

and gorgeous against the existing caramel color draperies.

Before, the color was Linen White.

With my large samples, we were easily able to narrow the color selection,

based on the undertones in the existing soft furnishings, to the clear winner.

Sandy Brown.

(If you want richness, depth, and warmth in a bedroom, Linen White is not your color.)

Linen White

Source: via Ellen on Pinterest

Sandy Brown

They never sit here together

Source: via Rivers on Pinterest

Source: via Jessi on Pinterest

Source: via Liz on Pinterest

Source: via Allyson on Pinterest

Source: via Laura on Pinterest

Source: via Anna on Pinterest

Source: via Anna on Pinterest


No, the couple have never sat together, here.

Not even once, well, maybe just that one time when they first arrived.

But, so what?

A pair of comfy chairs looks dynamite in the master bedroom.

What a nice secondary focal point to the bed.

It is nice to have a place to sit in the bedroom (besides the bed).

The perfect place to toss a robe before climbing into bed.

Comfortable enough for her five-minute morning check-in conversation with her best friend.

He likes to put his socks on here.

And, the teenage daughter always perches here, on the edge, just so,

to tell them that she is back by curfew.

A pair of chairs in the master.

Do you have room in yours for this wonderful style vignette?

Master Bath inspiration


I like the quiet elegance of this master bath.

There is a look and feel of quality. Not overdone.

Doors and gates of Charleston

A few days in Charleston is all you need to get hooked (for the fourth time or the fortieth).
Here are a few peeks from a random stroll down Church St.  All images by Color Calling.

Charleston courtyard

Typical Charleston courtyard

Charleston courtyard statu

Charleston courtyard, same as above, with close up of bronze child. She is on tippy-toes and still  just can’t quite reach the tree branch! How cute is she?

red door

red door in Charleston

living room

Now, this is what I call an outdoor room! 

close up of outdoor room

close up of outdoor room

black door

black door with freshly polished brass gleaming in the sun

Wooden door

Varnished Wooden door

side porch

side porch

black gate

black gate

silver gate

silver gate

Back from the Flu and a question about Instagram

I am back. I was flattened for about a week. 

That bronchial flu is not fun.

Then, playing catch up with my life.

SO, I have been looking at a lot of other blogs lately.

I made a sort-of discovery.

And, I am not ashamed to admit it.

I don’t “get” Instagram.

I spend a good bit of time trying to take somewhat decent pictures with my somewhat decent camera.

So, what is the deal with Instagram?  Am I missing something?

Why do people want to take/look at low-resolution/low quality pictures of anything?

I don’t like looking at someone else’s fuzzy shots. Do you?

I’ll be back with a décor post soon!

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?

Keep Calm


How cute is this? A friend dropped it off in my mailbox last night right before the start of Downton Abbey!

Christmas Mailbox

Do you live in a community where residents decorate their mailboxes? 

Image Color Calling

Image Color Calling

Just one more way to add a festive look to your house for the holidays!

Mantel progress!

A few weeks ago, I posted about the state of my family room mantel, here.

Today, I want to show you the finished mantel installation.

My wonderful carpenter and his crew did a beautiful job installing the hand-carved panels.


Image Color Calling

Mantel Greenery with a few leftover roses tucked in!  Image Color Calling

Remember the Before?

Image Color Calling

Mantel BEFORE, Image Color CallingImage Color CallingHand-carved fruit pilasters, each from a single piece of wood. 

There is a little touch up work to be done on the mantel’s wood finish,
which will happen after the holidays.
I am very pleased. It really gives some needed ornamentation to the fireplace.

Image Color Calling

Image Color Calling

Did you notice Mrs. Claus and Santa flanking the centerpiece?

Handmade Mr. and Mrs. Claus

Handmade Mr. and Mrs. Claus

Image Color Calling

Image Color Calling

Image Color Calling

Image Color Calling

They are handmade, and have such dear little faces and details.

They stand over two feet high!

Image Color Calling

Image Color Calling

I have a few more finishing decorating touches, so I’ll update on those later.

Readers, is anything hanging you up with your decorations, or are you finished? 

I would love to see and share your mantel masterpieces!

Please email to me:

The December Birthday Rule you should never break

Make sure the birthday is treated like a birthday!

That means giving the themes and colors of Christmas

a rest for the day. At least for the wrapping paper, cake,

and gift.

So, no angels, gingerbread men, pinecones, or snowmen.

And no red and green, either.



I have always felt for my friends and family with December birthdays.

There is always so much going on that they can feel lost in the shuffle.

But, treating the birthday like a birthday instead of just another part of the holidays,

seems to please them tremendously!

December-born Readers, do you agree with my December birthday rule?

Latest find

If you  follow this blog, you know how much I like chargers.

No, I don’t mean teenage daughters who want to go to Forever 21 with my credit card.

I am talking about the service plate kind of charger, as in dinnerware.


I just had to share my latest find, above, pictured with my Spode Christmas china.

Here it is:

I found this on sale at Bed Bath & Beyond (online).

Green-rimmed bone china chargers.

About 12 1/4″ in diameter.

$6.99 plus free shipping. Yes, $6.99. Whoo-hoo.

The best part of this, is, it looks good with my other china as well.

My Wedgwood Trentham (my grandmother’s china)

My Lenox Autumn 


My everyday Basket by Villeroy and Boch

And it even looks nice with my set of Hunt Scene china (not sure of the pattern name) by Royal Doulton:


I just had to share my good luck in finding this great deal!

I think the quality is amazing for the price (there was a $24.99 sticker underneath the label).

Clearly, this is a very versatile piece of dinnerware.

You can check it out here.  I received my charger plates within a week of ordering them!