Thursday, May 31, 2012

Saint Louey

Earlier this month I traveled to St Louis for a conference and had the pleasure of having the hubs by my side.  I absolutely fell in love with this city!  In part, it reminded me of where I grew up (Louisville, KY) so I felt very comfortable there, but beyond that the architecture and the attractions sucked me in.  Here's St Louey from my point of view.

We stayed downtown right next to the arch and every morning we could look out our window to see the massive structure towering above the river. 

A common trend among the buildings in the city was the use of the arch in the architecture.  Arched windows add a graceful element to an otherwise angular house. 

Arched doorways served as grand entrances in the hotel.  


One afternoon, we walked through a park in the middle of downtown where a number of unique sculptures and water features were on display.  I couldn't resist posing with the big white bunny!
Check out this smart use of old windows!  I spotted these in a restaurant that had an open, two story ceiling and an industrial vibe.  The windows served as art and as barrier between the kitchen and the dining portion of the restaurant.  So clever!  (Side note- I was so inspired by this that I've now lined up some 100 year old windows from a friend who was putting in new ones.  What a great way to re-purpose something that no longer functions as it was originally intended. Now to just figure out how I will put them to use...)

Even cooler was the light fixtures!  That's right, they are made of old milk cans, painted in vibrant colors.  This is my next project.

When we travel, we try to only eat and shop in local places unique to that city.  We stayed true to that goal while in St Louis and one night after dinner in LaFayette Square we stumbled upon what I now refer to as "our future home".  I love the idea of brownstones in the park, the ease of living within walking distance to hip hangouts and this home on Park Ave had it all!

Hubs and I walked for awhile just taking in the features of each house and making a list of pros and cons to moving there.  I spouted off all the ways I would decorate them and how each room would be used.  While we will remain in Lexington for the foreseeable future, maybe one day I'll get my Park Ave house.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Burlap Coozies....Ahmaaaazing!

Hold the phone!  I've said it 1,000 times- I'm obsessed with all things burlap!  So to come across this creation on Pinterest was like finding buried treasure for me.  The personalized monogramming is just icing on the cake!  Looks like the perfect summer accessory, whether at the lake or pool or backyard cookout.  Here's the Etsy store where you can buy them. 

Happy Memorial Day everybody!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tips for a Bedroom Oasis

For so long we used to focus solely on areas of the house that we use for entertaining- think kitchen, living room, dining room. Master bedrooms were just a place we would go for a few hours of sleep between our jam-packed workdays. It's no wonder that we don't feel rested. There is nothing restful or relaxing about spending time in a room that is in disarray, has a hodge podge of furniture and is painted a bland shade of beige.  Finally the bedroom takes center stage. It is becoming a priority over other ares of the home.  We crave a space we can go to when we want to shut out the rest of the world, unwind, and be ourselves. Here are a few ways we can achieve that on any budget:

-Create a focal wall at the head of the bed. Typically, I am against accent walls but not in this case. I think back to the last hotel I stayed in- the Marriott in Indianapolis- the entire wall that backed the headboards was covered in a gorgeous wallcovering. The wall created drama and made the beds the focal point of the room. That same concept applies to our personal bedrooms. We always make the bed the focal point with beautiful bedding, so let's take it a step further and compliment that bedding with a bold paint color or a stunning wallpaper. The goal is to say "wow" whenever you walk into the room. A focal wall can fit any budget.  The cost of primer and paint to cover just one wall is a minimal $50- $100. Wallcoverings vary in cost but only a small amount is needed so it's cost effective compared to covering a whole room and would likely run about $500 or less to complete.

- Incorporate a headboard with personality. Headboards allow for so much creativity. The options range from a beautiful stained wood to scrolling ironwork to a stately upholstered piece. The important thing to remember is that the headboard needs to make sense with your personal style and with the feel of the space. In bedrooms that can't spare the space a headboard requires, I've seen unique ideas like painting one on the wall (think trompe l'oeil) or taking an old door and attaching it to the wall above the bed. Both are great options since there's no extra space required to attach it to the bed frame. Depending on your skill level and your familiarity with Pinterest, you could make a headboard out of wood or fabric for $300-$500. If you are lucky enough to have an old door lying around that just needs a little paint makeover, your budget could be less than $100.

-Pillows! Shams and throw pillows are a major part of creating a luxurious bedroom. I recently took simple white shams and had them monogrammed with large black letters to dress up my bed. Layering those with smaller toss pillows from Home Goods and a custom covered bolster with a bold pattern on it completed the bed. Mixing custom pillows with inexpensive ones makes the project easy on the wallet and on the eyes.  The average cost of a project like this is $100.

- Have a foundation. There is nothing worse than hopping out of bed in the morning and landing on a cold floor. Brrrr! Be sure your new bedroom oasis includes a rug that feels good underfoot. Beyond the extra steps of warmth it affords you, it offers another layer to complete the room. The colors and pattern in the rug should serve as the foundation for the space. Make the right choice here and build everything else around it. The fiber content and size of the rug will typically dictate the price. Wool will be more costly than a man made fiber but it is worth the splurge. An average 8x10 costs $700-$900.

- Dress your windows. The most forgotten element of a room is window treatments. Walk into any house and look at the windows. Chances are they are stark naked! Don't let the same be said about your master bedroom. Much like a rug, fabric treatments on the windows are another way to incorporate color and pattern into the space.  The entire room should feel like it was well-thought out and put together with care. That said, well-thought out does not have to equal big bucks.  Many times drapery panels found at local home stores can serve your purpose. Be sure to take the panels from floor to ceiling to make the window and the room feel larger. This is especially helpful if you have crown molding because it draws the eye to that architectural detail. Most retailers offer varying lengths of panels so finding the right height for your window shouldn't be an issue. But if it is, you can add additional fabric to the bottom to lengthen the panel and it creates the color block look that is popular right now. Store bought treatments often cost $50 per panel. If the sky is the limit for your project, I recommend having motorized shades installed under your draperies. With one push of a button you can lower all the shades and block out light for a good night's (or day's) sleep. These treatments can run upwards of $700 per shade depending on the size of the windows in the bedroom.

-Veer away from matching sets. Resist your urge to pluck the entire bedroom suite off the showroom floor. Instead be more creative. Use small chests and interesting side tables in place of ordinary nightstands. Thrift stores can be your best friend for smaller furniture items with a unique twist for $200-$500 each.  Mix and match pieces with purpose. The key is to have elements of continuity among all the pieces whether that be wood tone, hand painted features, or coordinating drawer pulls.  If you are looking for a must-have piece, I suggest buying a dresser with a mirror that also houses your TV. Flat screens have done wonders for the modern world and now they offer a solution to the debate between husband and wife about the television sitting on the dresser. Simply slide the flat screen into the designated opening on the side of the mirror and with a click of a button allow the mirror to go transparent and the TV to be viewed. When the time comes you can click the button again and the reflective quality returns to the glass.  As you can imagine these dressers are not inexpensive and can cost $3000 or more depending on the furniture maker.

Any one of these changes can create an impact on their own, so certainly implementing all of them would completely transform a space. For smaller budgets, prioritize the changes you want to make and work your way through the list as money allows.

Excerpts from this post can be found in the May 2012 issue of Kentucky Living magazine

Monday, May 14, 2012

Guest Blogger Robin Allen: 8x10s are Postage Stamps!

 Robin Allen, a Lexington photographer has a great eye for how family photos can fit into the decor of a home.  Read on to discover her tips for selecting photos.

What would you guess is the most popular “big wall portrait” size among consumers.  Since the answer is in the title, I’ll assume you guessed right…. One of those big 8x10s!  I always have a little internal chuckle when a client of mine will say to me they’re planning on “getting a big one.”   In my experience, that word varies from person to person, so I ask them to define “big.”   She replies with the word ‘duh’ woven in to her tone, “8x10.”  The next popular response is 11x14, which isn’t much larger.

I in no way mean to take a jab at these clients, and all professional photographers have them.  It’s my job to help them see how different sizes can really make a great impact on the decor of their rooms.  I know exactly why we have a whole generation of people who gravitate to this tiny wall size.  But first – more jabs at the 8x10…

Think of a beautifully decorated house or hotel.  Picture in your mind what ‘beautiful’ looks like.  What do the window coverings look like? The furniture? The floors?  …Now what’s on the wall?  Every grand home and high-brow hotel has had a grand statement in wall art (no matter the particular style).  This could mean a large wall portrait or painting that fills the space in which it was displayed.  This could also mean eight small prints which resemble soldiers marching in line.  These eight, I must say, since they are dressed all alike (mats and frames and content) are together ONE piece of art.  They are in series.  The grand 60 inch art piece which stands alone is also one piece of art.  Never have I seen a lonely 8x10 on the wall. Matted (needing a larger frame) or not, the designers never have elected to employ the use of this postage stamp.

So then where do these tiny photographs belong?  The answer is
1)      on book shelves.  (The prints are delightful little ways to break up the repetition of the books.)
2)      on desks and table tops
3)      if their home MUST be the wall, then they should live only in series.  (A series is marked by its similar display characteristics:  A frame style is repeated and a print style is repeated. ( i.e. all photographs are black and white, or maybe the photographs are all very colorful and all have a fun subject matter.   ..but they are alike.)

Then WHY oh WHY are these small sizes so popular on the wall among the common consumer!?
I am a professional photographer and my concentration is the young, growing family.  I photograph maternity clients, then the newborns, then the baby as she grows in to her childhood.  One thing I can COUNT ON during an ordering appointment… mom wants every single shot I have taken.  For this reason I only let her see the best 40-ish, otherwise we’d be there all night!   The knee-jerk reaction to her feeling of being overwhelmed is to get a bunch of 8x10s and the rest in 5x7.  Maybe her favorite is promoted to a “big” 11x14. 

There are problems with this order and I don’t even have to know what her house looks like.  11x14s are RARELY large enough for any prominent wall, though usually that is where the ‘big one’ is placed.  Go ahead and measure the space over your mantle.  What would a professional designer assign for that location? Probably something in the 30-40 inch range.  Whatever size that will fill the space.  Then, what on earth happens to the 8x10s?!  Surely she doesn’t have room on her tables and shelves for ten 8x10s then 9 more 5x7s!  Sadly, after a handful would be framed and displayed in miscellaneous locations around the house, the rest would meet an early and unfortunate demise in a drawer, the photo drawer that is the graveyard of too many portraits.

Here’s what I help her with…
We find out BEFORE the session what she really wants.  Does she need a great piece for over the mantle?   Does she have a couple of large voids on the wall that she needs me to fill?  OR does she want a great book or wall series that showcases her children’s wild personalities?  What would she really enjoy every day?  What would she be so proud to show all of her friends?  That’s what we photograph for and that is what she ends up ordering!  I do NOT want buyer’s remorse ANYWHERE near my clients, so I really discourage the collection of drawer photos.  That’s a waste, and I know we can do better than that.  I know she will be happy with, and will be so proud to own works of art that are the right size for their space, and then when there are still too many photos left, she can rediscover her kids’ sweet pictures as she thumbs through a beautiful book or album.

At the end of the day, Say NO to the drawer full of postage stamps!!

You can reach Robin the following ways:
Robin Allen Photography
Located at 711 Millpond Road Lexington, KY 40514  (all sessions, appointments, and drop-ins are by appointment only)
 (859)685-8516   or

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Since Tuesday, my company- Polka Dots & Rosebuds Interiors- has been the featured deal on Living Social for the Lexington area. When I was first approached about participating, I was leery. I've worked very hard to construct a business model that doesn't include discounts or sales because I feel that attracts the wrong kind of attention. Attention from buyers who otherwise would never consider my services or products. My assumption about Living Social was that is exactly what they did- deeply discounted services and products to create a rush of business that cannot be sustained. After careful consideration and research into the Living Social brand and their subscribers, I changed my mind.  I rectified my misconceptions and came to understand the idea behind Living Social was to create an experience for their loyal followers and a strong customer base for their featured vendors. Now that, I loved.

Since there had been no interior decorating deals run through their company in this area before, it required much thought and discussion before coming up with an experience that suited. Luckily we had some pointers from other markets that had success with interior decorating offers. Ultimately, my goal was to create a situation where people who have been mulling over updating a space for months or even years could realize firsthand how helpful interior decorating services can be. Those people can purchase the deal and no longer dream about a new space, but instead watch it come to life with their input and my guidance. I can't tell you how many times I've heard from people that they were scared to hire someone to help design their space because they didn't know if the end product would reflect them. Others thought it would cost a fortune to call in a decorator for their project.  Once they went through the process with me, they realized their previous thoughts were merely misconceptions. My website and Facebook business page are littered with these types of testimonials. My hope is this Living Social experience will prompt others to call out their own misconceptions and try getting decorating help. 

If you are considering a makeover project to your home or office, take advantage of this deal while it's available. Would you share it with two friends, too? The experience won't be offered after today.

Keep in mind, while this offer covers consultation and custom furniture, we offer so much more. Here is the link to our website for all the information:

Monday, May 7, 2012

Derby 138 Fashion and Fun

Some days my life seems like it comes straight from a fairytale.  Saturday, May 5th was definitely one of those days.  It was my fifth time at the KY Derby but never had I experienced this way.  My husband and I along with two of our best friends had the pleasure of spending the day in a finish line suite as a guest of a sweet client who I have grown very close to over the past two years.  I couldn’t have asked for a cooler early birthday present!

If you know me, you know I am an avid people-watcher.  I love admiring others' clothing and watching the crazy shenanigans people get into at major events.  Kentucky Derby 138 did not disappoint!  The hats were big and beautiful and the people were entertaining.  We looked on as Aaron Rodgers, QB for the Green Bay Packers, was interviewed. 

Watched the UK basketball team get interviewed on the red carpet (and later come up to our floor of suites).  

My pal, Amber and I, were ecstatic to pick out big hats to don for the day.  We proudly wore them until the bus ride home.
Some of our favorite hats we saw on other people happened to be on the balcony right below ours.  The colors this year were gorgeous!  Coral, chartreuse, cobalt blue and deep purple.  

I was hoping for a Nick Lachey sighting, but no such luck.  Hubs and I had a great time and capped the day off by getting a photo with the twin spires that Churchill Downs is known for. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

My Personal Style

Once they discover what I do for a living, people always ask me,  "What's your personal style?".  I am very hesitant to answer this questions for two reasons:
1.It is a common misconception that the personal style of the decorator is forced upon the client.
2. I don't like labeling styles.

But today, I'm feeling forthcoming.  I ran across this photo on...drumroll, please.....Pinterest (big shocker) and fell in love. 

Everything about this space is me. If I could pluck it from my computer screen and place it in my house, I would.  Let me explain why.Starting from the bottom up:

-The carpet is hip and funky and uses a crisp shade of aqua.  The simple but interesting pattern keeps the space from appearing formal.

-The glass table provides an airy feel that keeps the room from feeling too heavy and allows the rug to be on display. Very few accessories are placed atop the table, but the ones that are there are large and unique.

-Texture.  The nailheads, smooth and round contrast with the slubby feel of the linen fabric covering the chairs and sofas.

-Clean lines.  No piece is too ornate.  All you see are soft curves and straight lines, keeping the room from being too visually stimulating.

-Grand chandelier in a subtle green glass.  Provides function and beauty without stealing the show.

-A final touch of funky adorns the ceiling.  Those tiles are far more interesting than a white dry-walled ceiling!

The whole space is serenity at it's finest for me.  Plenty of room for many to gather and chat. No clutter, just calming features that radiate beauty in my eyes.

As far as my reservations for sharing my personal style-

1. In my business I have a personal goal that no one could ever walk into a space, except my own home, and say "Liz did this".  There are no trademark designs or colors in my projects.  Each project is tailored to the client's lifestyle and needs. That's why I enjoy it so much- I get to play with other styles that I don't have in my own home.

2. I hardly ever use style names when describing my own or someone else's room.  I tend to ask my client's to use feeling words- what do they want their room to evoke?  How do they use the space?  Everyone like to use buzzwords like eclectic and contemporary but most have no idea what they actually mean, rendering them useless.

How would you describe your ideal space?