addartworkAre you wishing for some color in your rooms without having to paint your walls?  Try one or more of these tips to add an instant punch to your room.

1. Add artwork
Many homes I visit have empty walls with no art, or artwork that is too small for their walls. Stores like Home Goods, Ross and Bed Bath and Beyond have affordable artwork in all sizes. Add a large canvas print in vibrant colors over your fireplace, or above the sofa, or in the dining room across from the china cabinet. If you have a mirror above your fireplace, replace it with some colorful artwork. is one of my favorite sites for framed art—the choices are endless!

2. Dress up your windows
Blinds, shutters and shades are terrific for blocking light and providing privacy. But sometimes windows can look a bit naked. Here is where fabric can come into play. Adding decorative curtain panels to each side of a large window, or a valance to a kitchen window can really dress up those areas and add a lot of color and personality. I recently completed a master bedroom project where the clients already had white wood blinds on their windows. The wood blinds were just fine, but the room seemed a bit bare. I suggested custom stationary panels in a pewter color to blend with the bedding and new pillows. Their walls were painted in a light gray, and the darker tone of the fabric added texture and softness, as well as visual weight to the space. It was the perfect finishing touch.

cratebarrelpillow3. Add pillows
Since most people buy furniture in neutral colors, a great way to add vibrant color is by adding throw pillows. Pick up the colors in your artwork, area rug, or other upholstered furniture and your room will instantly have more personality. I love to pick my own fabrics and create custom pillows for clients, but I look for ready-made pillows whenever possible. Try Pier One or Crate and Barrel for a great selection of colorful pillows.

4. Add a rug
Even if you have carpeting, a large area rug can do wonders for a room. In my own living room, I bought a large 9×12 cream-colored area rug and laid it over my brown wall-to-wall carpeting. Even though it is not a vibrant color, it immediately lightened up the room and gave it a more polished look. In another recent bedroom project, red was our accent color, so we used golden tan paint on the walls, a cream coverlet with a red, green and gold paisley duvet, and a large beautiful red area rug. Without the rug, the room was pretty; with the rug, the room is gorgeous!

5. Reupholster a chair or bench
Almost anything can be reupholstered. Dining chairs, a living room accent chair, an ottoman, a footstool, a headboard—you get the idea. Take the opportunity to add beautiful vibrant color to wake up the room. For myself and for clients, I sometimes purchase inexpensive benches and ottomans at Homegoods or from, then select my own fabric and have them reupholstered.

6. Paint some furniture
Do you have an old dresser, headboard, or end table that could use new life?  Paint them in a vibrant color like red, or cobalt, black, or anything that strikes your fancy. A friend of mine purchased a small chest of drawers at a thrift shop and painted it gray. She uses it as a nightstand in her room with a navy accent wall and blue and gray paisley bedding. It looks great! For best results, hire a professional painter to spray the furniture instead of painting it with a brush. It will Look better, and have a longer-lasting finish that way.

7. Paint the inside of a bookcase
You may have seen photos of this idea—instead of painting the whole bookcase, try painting just the back of it. The color provides a nice backdrop for the books and accessories that will go on the shelves. You can also use wallpaper instead of paint.

8. Dress up your bed
Purchase a white, cream or light gray coverlet, then embellish the bed with a colorful duvet or comforter folded at the end of the bed. Finish it off with coordinating throw pillows and pillow shams. This is a great solution for someone who likes to change their bedding frequently, as pillows and duvet covers can be easily traded out for the seasons.

lampsplus_green9. Choose colorful lamps
This is a huge design trend right now. Have you seen the lamp bases in all the beautiful colors? Try You can get lamps in dozens of colors, shapes and sizes, paired with solid color shades or patterned shades. Picture a dresser or console table, with a large mirror above it, and two matching lamps in a vibrant color like orange or turquoise. Instant fun!

10. Add accessories
By accessories, I mean vases, dishes, bowls, trays, photo frames, even books with colorful jackets. How about a collection of blue, turquoise and green glass bottles in your kitchen garden window? Or a family photo collage all in glossy red frames? Or kitchen canisters and mixing bowls in lime green? A client of mine has a neutral kitchen, with a lime green KitchenAid mixer on her counter, a green tray on the table (holding napkins, salt and pepper), and green, orange and blue patterned dishtowels. It’s adorable!

luxurious dining roomA few weeks ago, I answered questions about paint colors. For this article, let’s talk about lighting. These are some questions I get asked all the time.

How high should I hang my chandelier above the dining table?

In general, the bottom of the chandelier should be 30-36” above the dining table. This allows for great illumination of the space, without the chandelier being too low or too high.

What size should my chandelier be?

To size a chandelier for your dining room, measure the length and width of the room and add those figures together. The sum, converted to inches, will give you the diameter of an appropriately sized chandelier. For example—if your dining room is twelve feet wide by sixteen feet long, add 12+16, to get the sum of 28. Convert 28 to inches. So twenty-eight inches would be an appropriate diameter for your chandelier. That said, you can make a really interesting design statement by selecting an oversized chandelier, or by hanging several tiny pendants in a cluster or in a straight line above a dining table. Use this measurement as a guideline, and then feel free to deviate from it, as you feel comfortable.

And speaking of chandeliers, they are not just for dining rooms anymore! You’ll see them in living rooms, bedrooms, over kitchen islands, and even bathrooms. Why not replace the ordinary ceiling light in your bedroom with a beautiful chandelier?

What are some other ideas for bedside lighting?

I love hanging wall sconces above each nightstand, or swing-arm wall lamps. Or why not hang pendant lights? These can provide great lighting, and also look very attractive.

I want to hang wall lights in my bathroom—how high should they hang?

Wall sconces hanging on either side of the vanity mirror cast the best quality of light in a bathroom. Usually, they are hung so the junction box is 60-66” off the floor. This is a general rule of thumb—you can adjust a few inches up or down depending on the height and style of the fixture, and also the height of the people using the bathroom. If one partner is tall, and the other is short, aim for a spot in the middle of both heights. The important thing is to have the lighting be at face height. Choosing narrower and taller fixtures is a good idea if the people using the bathroom are different heights. Make sure to hold up the actual light fixtures and see what looks and functions the best before having your contractor cut holes for the junction boxes.

Where should I place recessed can lighting?

In a kitchen, place them strategically where you need light the most. Generally speaking, place them 12-18” in front of the refrigerator and pantry and in front of upper cabinets. You will also probably want one centered above the kitchen sink, and definitely inside a walk-in pantry. You’ll also want to illuminate walkways through the kitchen.

In a living room, try to avoid placing recessed cans directly above people’s heads as they sit on the sofa—this casts very unflattering shadows on your guests!  Place lights on each side of the sofa instead of right above the sofa. And use 18”-24” from the wall as a guideline for placement. You can adjust this number as needed for function and aesthetics.

If you have beautiful drapes, wallpaper or artwork you’d like to highlight, install directional recessed cans closer to the wall. Usually 12” is a good number to use.

Living Room With Wooden Staircase And BookcaseTake a good look at that bookcase in your living room. How are the items arranged on the shelves? Does the bookcase look attractive or does it need help?

One of the most common mistakes people make is crowding too many books and knickknacks on the shelves. Your living room can look instantly cluttered and unattractive if you let these shelves get out of control. Resist the urge to display any of the following items on your nice living room bookshelves: telephone books, photo albums (framed photos are great, but albums are best stored elsewhere), video tapes and DVDs (place them in baskets or good-looking storage boxes), loose papers, binders and notebooks. Try to find other locations for these items, such as in a home office or in a closed cabinet or closet.

During a recent redesign, my client had a gorgeous dark wood bookcase with elegant fluting and lighted glass shelves. It has been placed off center on the large living room wall, but my partner and I moved it front and center, so it became the focal point around which the furniture was arranged. We carefully edited her accessories, placing books on the bottom shelves and one large, striking item on each of the glass shelves. By only using one item per shelf, each piece gained importance and commanded more attention. My client was thrilled with the final result.

To arrange bookcases attractively, try to use a combination of books and accessories, and don’t be afraid to edit your accessories. To give the bookcase a more formal look, remove the dust jackets from hardback books, revealing linen book covers with gold lettering. Try to move trade paperbacks to another location in the home, as these books are not so attractive. If this is not possible, group all trade paperbacks together on their own shelves. Have some books stand upright and some books stacked lying down. A single photo or accessory can sit on the stack of books or act as a bookend. Varying the horizontal and vertical placement of books and accessories makes the arrangement more interesting.

Another option is to place taller books in the middle of a shelf, and shorter books (from tallest to shortest) on either side so that they create a pyramid shape. Use bookends to hold the books in place.

A small piece of art looks beautiful displayed on an easel, and silk greenery adds a nice touch to the arrangement.

Family photos are wonderful to use in bookcases, but it is easy to go overboard. Keep your favorites and intersperse them among the books. Place other framed photos on side tables, or create a large photo collage to hang on the wall. I impart this advice loosely, however, as I find it as difficult as all of you do to take down cute pictures of my kids. Luckily there is no “bookcase police” to come and tell you to remove them. If they make you happy, I won’t say a word about it.

Q. I just bought a new sofa with a floral pattern, and now I’m not sure what I should do with the chairs. Should they match the sofa? What about the drapes? Should they match the chairs, the sofa or should they be different? Help!fabric color samples

A. Many people find it challenging to mix different patterns. They feel more comfortable purchasing a matching sofa, loveseat and chair. Good for you for wanting to avoid that “matchy-matchy” look. Mixing colors and patterns makes a
room much more interesting, and it is not as difficult as it may seem.

As a general rule, vary the size of the patterns by including fabrics with small-, medium- and large-scale designs. Aim for at least three fabrics—one for the sofa, another for the chairs, and the third for the draperies. Additional patterned fabrics can be used for dining room chair cushions, accent pillows and ottomans. Since the floral fabric on your sofa is large-scale, so you’ll be looking for small- and medium-scale patterns for the other pieces.

Stripes and geometrics work very well with floral patterns. Using the colors from the floral– varying shades of aqua blue, rose, green and cream– look for a geometric design for your chairs that includes one or two or three of those colors. For example, look for a small-scale blue and green-colored diamond pattern or a raspberry and blue pin dot pattern. As an alternative, a medium-scale plaid or stripe in rose, blue and cream would also work.

The two chairs should match each other, but a third accent chair can be in a different but coordinating fabric. How about luxurious velvet in aqua blue or raspberry?  Although it is a solid color, the velvet provides a lovely texture. The two head dining chairs can be in the same fabric as the sofa, while the side chairs can be in the same blur or raspberry velvet.

Patterns should share the same collection of colors, but do not necessarily need to have the same number of colors. For instance, you can combine a floral pattern of five colors with a geometric or stripe that incorporates three of those colors, and a tone-on-tone stripe that’s just a single color.

Let’s talk about the drapes. Since the walls in your living room are painted a warm cream color you have some leeway here. Which of the colors from the floral sofa would you like to see more of–the rose, aqua blue, green or cream? For a quiet look in the room, choose a cream-colored fabric that blends into the walls. Don’t try to match the wall color exactly—instead choose a color that blends well. Going a little bit darker than the wall will add some richness without adding a lot of contrast.  Choosing a similar color for the drapes and the walls also helps make a room look more spacious. However if you like contrast and want the drapes to stand out more, choose rose or blue fabric for the drapes. Consider customizing your solid color drapes by adding some patterned fabric to the bottom or side hems. Tone-on-tone fabrics make lovely window treatments, as they provide pattern without looking too busy in the room. And striped fabrics are also a great choice for draperies.

Make some accent pillows out of the drapery fabric for the sofa or the chairs. And while you’re at it, make one or two additional accent pillows in the chair fabric for the sofa. Pillows are a great way to tie all the furniture pieces together. Add some texture to the pillows by trimming them with a variegated fringe that incorporates two or three colors in the room.

By selecting a variety of coordinated colors and patterns, your room will be unique and interesting.

Some of my clients live in large homes with soaring ceilings and plenty of space, but the majority live in average-size homes. A very common question my clients ask is: How can I make this room look bigger? Let me just start by saying that not all rooms need to feel as large as possible. Sometimes it is best not to fight a small space. Just make it as comfortable and beautiful as you can. Small rooms can be tiny jewel boxes, cozy and intimate, with dark colors and dramatic lighting.

On the other hand, for those of you who desire a more open, spacious look in your home, the following tips can help.

1. Choose light, cool paint colors for the walls. Cool colors recede, making them good choices for small rooms. Try icy blues and soft, pale greens. These restful colors are particularly good in bedrooms. Neutral tones like gray and taupe also
work well in small rooms. Keep ceilings and trim work painted white or in a lighter version of the wall color.

2. For flooring, use one type only, such as wall-to-wall carpeting or hardwood floors. If you must use an area rug, use one larger one instead of several smaller ones, and stick with a lighter, solid color or a subtle tone-on-tone pattern.Select Color Swatch To Paint Wall

3. Use a monochromatic color scheme for the room. Select one main color and run with it, using varying shades of the hue for walls, flooring and furnishings. Use tone-on-tone patterns in upholstery fabrics, but be sure to incorporate a mixture of textures to add interest to the space. For example, choose golden chenille for the sofa, creamy yellow for the walls and light oak wood flooring. Choosing upholstered pieces, such as sofas and chairs, in colors similar to the wall color will allow them to blend in and make the room seem more spacious. Avoid vibrant and busy fabric patterns.

4. Be careful when selecting furniture pieces. Using fewer, larger scale pieces can actually make a room seem larger than using many smaller pieces. For example, instead of a separate TV stand, stereo cabinet and DVD storage unit, house the
TV and all of the related components and accessories in one media cabinet. Also, keep in mind that some furniture pieces take up less visual space than others.  Armless chairs, glass top tables and low benches are some examples.

5. Minimize clutter. Too many tiny knick-knacks can make a room feel much smaller than it is. Instead opt for a minimalist look with fewer, larger accessories.  On the mantel, for example, replace any small, skinny candles with one or two
large-scale candlesticks. And over the sofa, use one large painting instead of a collage of smaller pictures.

6. Lighten up the window treatments. Replace dark, heavy draperies with filmy, gauzy fabrics that let in natural light. Select a neutral white or ivory, or a fabric color that blends with the wall color, and avoid busy patterns.

7. Add lighting. Dark rooms can seem smaller than they actually are. The best way to remedy this situation is to add lighting. I don’t mean to say bring in lots of table lamps. Doing this will simply add clutter, and will not adequately light your
space. Splurge a little and have an electrician add recessed lighting, a large center ceiling fixture, track lights or wall sconces. Money invested on lighting is always money well-spent.

With some careful planning and a few changes, your small rooms can look and feel more spacious.

Blue CurtainAre your window coverings in need of an update? Perhaps you notice a cold air entering or warm air escaping through your windows; perhaps your needs have changed and you would like to have a dark room in the morning so you can sleep in. Perhaps your current window treatments look outdated or worn out, or privacy is an issue. No matter what the issue is, there is always a solution. Here are some common scenarios and some options of how to treat the windows.

  1. You’ve installed a large new flat screen TV and would like to turn your family room into a full-blown media room. Anytime you need your room to be nice and dark for movie watching and sleeping in, a great option are room-darkening honeycomb shades, such as Hunter Douglas Duettes. They fit snugly inside your window casings, look sleek and modern, and block out almost all the light. They come in dozens of colors and pleat sizes and can even come motorized, which is a great option for those hard-to-reach high windows and for people who have a hard time with lift cords. Plus, remote control blinds and shades are just plain fun. To block even more light and add a decorative touch, operational drapes can be added to the windows. Duette Honeycomb shades are also the most energy efficient window treatments on the market today. They offer incredible insulative properties and UV protection.
  2. You have a home office and have trouble with glare on your computer monitor. A window treatment that offers you the ability to control the light would be a great choice. This means a product that allows you to open and close the louvers, such as a plantation shutter, or a wood or metal blind, or a vertical blind. The choices in louver size and color are numerous—there is something in every price range and for every decorating style.
  3. You have a lovely view out your windows and want to cover the windows but don’t want to sacrifice light or view. Two wonderful options are Hunter Douglas Silhouettes and Pirouettes. Both of these beautiful products offer privacy and still let soft, filtered light come in through the windows when the shades are fully closed, and when the vanes are open, the sheer fabric maintains the view. These lovely treatments look great on their own, and can also be dressed up with fabric valances and decorative curtain panels.
  4. You have a sliding glass door and don’t know what your options are. Luckily there are many options now for sliders. The most popular option is still vertical blinds. Many people think they hate vertical blinds because they remember the old style they used to have. I invite you to take another look at verticals, as there are many options available—woven fabrics, linen looks, attractive textured vinyls, and even wood verticals. These are still a very practical and affordable option. Other options include drapes, of course, Duette Vertiglides, which are vertical versions of Duette shades made specifically for sliding doors, Luminettes, which are in essence a sheer drapery and a vertical blind in one product, and gliding panel tracks, which are very contemporary looking and look terrific.
  5. You have windows that face the street and desire more privacy, but don’t want to block all the sunlight. To solve this problem, look for a product that offers a Top Down-Bottom Up option. Honeycomb shades offer this option, as do Roman shades and pleated shades. This feature allows you to lower the shade from the top of the window down, thereby offering privacy on the bottom, and light from the top. It’s perfect for street facing windows or windows that look right into your neighbor’s house.

With all the options available today, there is a solution for every window.


Say goodbye to last year’s Emerald green, and hello to Radiant Orchid, Pantone’s color of the year for 2014.

radiant orchidAccording to the Pantone Institute, Radiant Orchid is “an enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones” that “inspires confidence and emanates great joy, love and health.” As you spend time shopping this year, you will see clothing, jewelry and home décor in this color.

Purple is a great color for interior design, because it is a combination of red and blue, and can work in both warm and cool interiors. It can be elegant and rich, or playful and whimsical, depending on the furnishings and colors you use with it. Try pairing Orchid with greens ranging from olive to teal to Hunter, or use Orchid to perk up neutrals like gray, beige and taupe. Orchid will always look good with white and silver, and will also looks surprisingly with cream and brushed gold.  Orchid will also pair well with chocolate brown, charcoal gray, and other shades of purples like fuchsia and magenta.

Unless you are truly a lover of purple, using Orchid in small doses will probably work better for you. If you like to change your décor frequently, keep your large pieces (like carpeting, sofas and chairs) neutral, then play with accessories as the mood strikes you. Here are some photos of a few Orchid-colored items I found online that you might like to incorporate into your décor. These are all available through

orchid lampHow about adding an orchidcolored lamp to a guest room, home office or an entry table? You can use a patterned shade like this one, or keep it simple with a white shade.


orchid artwork




I love this artwork. It is a fun way to add pattern to a space and you can see how beautifully the orchid color works with the silver on the picture frames. Wouldn’t these look pretty in a bedroom or a bathroom?

orchid ottman



This cute ottoman shows how nice Orchid looks when combined with greens like teal and olive. Picture it in front of a plain beige sofa or chair. It will instantly liven up your room.


dark purple mirror

I know this mirror is darker than Orchid, but what a fun look for an entry, bathroom vanity, or above a console or dresser. Perhaps you already have a mirror or a picture frame you can paint yourself.



orchid throw pillows

An easy way to change the look of a room is with new throw pillows.  These would look great on a green, cream or beige sofa, or perhaps on your bed with a new cream-colored comforter. And while you’re at it, how about painting an Orchid accent wall behind your bed? The possibilities are endless!



Anna Jacoby is a local Certified Interior Designer.
Contact her at or 510-490-0379.