Entryway Essentials: A Design Guide for Your Home’s First Impression


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ImageSince we spend so much time in our homes, creating a home that supports, uplifts and nurtures our souls is tantamount to creating a balanced healthy and happy life. Our careers, relationships, and mental health are all effected by what surrounds our lives. Some people just have “an eye” for creating a pleasing home, regardless of their budget. Others get panicky at the mere thought of having to make decisions about their interior space.

If you’re the latter, finding a designer that “gets you” will be essential in drawing out those things you love. I’ve seen firsthand the mental benefits that my clients  gain, and it is one of the best investments you can make.

Ironically though, I have found that the first time clients spend money on this area of their life they feel very unsettled. They want an instantaneous result instead of letting the process of designer-led interior decorating guide them through emotional growth as well as their home’s physical improvement.

When looking for a designer it is critical that they spend time shopping with you, going through magazines, having you make a “wish board” or encouraging you to begin a Pinterest board where you can collect pictures of spaces you love.

A good designer is part designer, part detective, part anaylist and should feel like a friend who truly cares about what you want. If you’re designer doesn’t spend time finding out who you are, then you’ll end up with a space that speaks her design preferences and not yours. Even if you don’t think you have a design preference, you’d be surprised to discover what you gravitate towards when given the opportunity.
Where to Begin? 
The best place to begin is at the front door! This area is the transition where we come in from the outer to your inner world. You want to make it “entrancing”. You may have heard it said that “first impressions are made within 3 seconds” and this also relates to your entry. Creating a positive first impression allows us and our guests to pause and reflect and gives them inspiration and insight into what is beyond as they enter.
Common Entry Way Problem Areas
1) Does your entry have a pile of coats, shoes and sports equipment dropped in the entry? 
Find a way to conceal and organize these items. Perhaps you could have place a chest on the front porch, if it’s covered, where the equipment can be thrown. Maybe an antique armoire would fit in your entry where  coats could be hung out of sight. The foyer is considered the most public area of our home, so it should be inviting- not overwhelming.2) Do you have an entryway focal point?
Blank space isn’t best either. Instead, when guests arrive you want to meet their eye-line with your most lovely artwork and perhaps a graceful table or chest beneath it, which could give you a space to put keys or dog leash. Arrange ornamental objects that are pleasing on it; maybe even a tray or bowl that you could place your phone in as you enter.
3) Do you have a space-challenged foyer? 
If you don’t have room for any furniture, hang a shallow shelf on the wall and arrange ornamental objects on it. It is best to keep this area free of your most personal items, such as family photo’s because it is your most public area. Save the personal items for your family room.
However, be sure the style and feel (even the color palette) of your home is reflected in your artwork and display items. Above all, focus on functionality, be sure the door can be fully opened without encumbrances from your displayed items.Check back often for the next installment of how to create a home that speaks to who you are. Up next: The Living Room.
By Design,
Sue Marie

Decorating as a Duo: How Hiring a Designer Can Help Couples Agree


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I believe that as a designer your first goal when establishing a direction for a duo is to define and embrace each of the couples “design sensibilities”. More often than not I have found that the reason a couple’s current home is lackluster or too cluttered is because either the couple lacks the ability to agree on one direction or has given up on trying to sensor each others tastes.

That’s where a designer comes in. Or in other words, a home design mediator.

There is nothing more invaluable than an “idea referee” when beginning a project that has the potential to ruffle up the family feathers.

Here are a few questions that I like to ask my clients separately and collectively to help build that conceptual bridge between personal taste to a combined style.

1. What’s Your Personal Design History?

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It may seem strange to ask someone what their personal design history is,  especially if they hired a designer because they claim to not have any at all. But more often than not, I find that the homes where people were raised play a HUGE role in how they see design. If their childhood home was one full of comfort and not a lot of fluff- they usually have a hard time choosing items that look good over those that seem more basic. If they lived in an artistic environment where beauty and music were paramount, they tend to gravitate towards eclectic things that don’t serve a lot of purpose but enhance aesthetic. Getting to the bottom of these “roots” is highly relevant and helpful when helping each person in the relationship understand their unique design choices a little better and in turn helping them understand each other a little more.

2. What Are Your Hobbies?

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Not every home needs a trophy room or a ping pong table- in fact, most rooms in my opinion, don’t. However, hobbies in this sense are important when blending two different types of interests into one space. If one person in the relationship loves modern art and the other has a love for sports, I want to create a space that can help make both of these passions sing under the same roof. One way to do this would be to be sure the TV was hung in a prime spot for viewing, but that there was a TV cover option that inspired the art lover in the home when March Madness wasn’t taking center stage.

3. What Elements Are You Willing to Concede On?

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Compromise is the biggest elephant in the room when consulting with couples. Both know in theory that they must give up something, but neither of them can usually agree on that out of the gate. I help to reinterpret things for both parties so that while they may be “giving something up” it feels more like gaining something new. For instance a recent client was having a hard time giving up his tattered lazy boy for the sake of the space. That chair had been a contention point for many years between the couple- instead of “throwing him out” of the room we picked out a new recliner together that had the same comfort level but a fabric pattern that pleased the Mrs.

4. What Designs Do You Both Agree On?

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Not everything has to be about a clash of design styles- in fact, many couples that I work with are in agreement on big ticket items like cabinet style or granite colors. It is always best to create a list of things that both people enjoy, and then build the rest of the room around the foundation of approval to get the rest of the details to fall into place.

No matter who you are, there will be design disagreements. When they do happen your designer shouldn’t be another hat in the ring adding to the tug-of-war. Instead, a designer should be the voice in the room that can help each person hear each other clearer with the intentionality of collaboration.

I love being a home design mediator- it’s the best form of couples therapy I have seen yet!

By Design,

Sue Marie

How to Design a Space that Says “You”


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When you stage a home for re-sale, a typical phrase you’ll hear is to “de-personalize your home”. But this is not so when you’re designing a space you live in. Not only should your home space speak volumes about who you think you are, but when someone enters your home it should tell them the same story.

The goal of decorating your home shouldn’t be to simply show that someone LIVES THERE, but it should say exactly WHO that person is.  This is accomplished through accessories, color and the overall design influences.  Here are some great spaces that tell a story about who lives there. I don’t know these people personally, but here is what I would read into the spaces if I came for a visit…


French-Inspired Ingenue

This person may or may not have spent time traveling through France, but the soft lines and feminine touches of its Old World appeal say that they have always dreamed of doing so. A romantic at heart, this homeowner probably has a few Jane Austen novels on the nightstand, but doesn’t patter around the house in curlers, sipping tea. Instead, the modern lines of the hot pink chair and disco ball offset the rustic French influence by saying that this person is fun and flirty, but most of all acutely aware of the power of modern design. As someone who appreciates the arts and culture, this design proves that they still have an affinity for their own modernity while protecting their love of all things traditionally beautiful.


Eclectic Editorial

Whimsical and worldly, this individual loves mixing and matching textures and styles in their home and in their life. Never one to shy away from something unconventional, this type of homeowner appreciates talent found in unusual places and loves rescuing pieces from flea markets and garage sales to re purpose them among their high-end items. Never one to judge, they love to entertain all sorts of folks and get the most satisfaction out of life when learning how others have fashioned theirs. Drawing inspiration from the unexpected, this individual is a fan of bright and cheery elements, but always grounds them with an unexpected depth. The elegant clashing of old and new proves this person is an old soul who grabs life by the horns.


Island Exotica

Whether this view is really outside your window or this is the place you see in your mind most often, this island-inspired space belongs to someone who is well-traveled, well-spoken, and multicultural. Choosing furnishings from across Asia and beyond showcases that this person adores pieces that hold meaning. Whether the coffee table represents a memorable trip to Beijing or they have family roots that reach beyond borderlines, this person’s passport is well worn and heavily stamped. The warmth of spicy tapestries, Malaysian textiles, and crisp linen give away this person’s adventurous spirit and zest for life.


Garden Variety

This place feels like a breath of fresh air, which is precisely the personality the owner has. Optimistic, yet earthy– this homeowner loves bringing the colors that nature invented indoors. Mixing and matching surfaces like brick and rattan reveals that this person is proud of her ability to work well with her hands. The plush fabrics and flowy curtains show that this person also has a softness about them that is best showcased when she is hosting a Sunday brunch with children or grandchildren. Easy to get along with and a host at heart, you can tell that this room’s design was made for guests and a good time.


Easy, Breezy, Beautiful

This home belongs by the sea, but even if you don’t have waves breaking nearby this indoor space is an elegant twist on surf and sand- which says a lot about the owner’s personality. Peaceful and calm, this person wants their home to be a sanctuary from the storms of life. A kind person with a quiet wisdom, this homeowner may be the type of person who loves to curl up in their socks and simply be. Not afraid of quiet, this space is the one where people go to reboot their overworked systems. The pops of orange do show that there is a fun side to this person’s search for inner calm- I imagine mimosas and effervescent laughter happening quite often.

Color Cues: How to Evoke an Emotional Response Through Color Combinations


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You love green. Wait, you love orange. On second thought, yellow is your true love. While narrowing down our favorite palettes can be challenging, the worst mistake to make is simply throwing paint at the wall and try to include all of them in one room. Instead, you may be surprised to find that the right colors if used in a masterful blend, can actually empower people, allow them to open up, or simply put them in a good mood.


I would love to introduce you to the color basics and how colors work together to encourage emotion. Creating a harmonious color palette is a science (and while I was never good at science in school), I have found in design that there are some rules you need to follow and some you need to break. The first step is to decide how you want your room to feel, from that point you can easily choose the right color combinations to create the mood in any space.

Cool & Warm: Different Tones Create Different Atmospheres

It may seem counter intuitive, but cool colors create a calm space and warm colors inspire activity. If you want your living room to be a place where your children are free to play and family gathers to share stories then you should choose a warm palette. Gooey yellows, cinnamon, and deep reds can actually play with guests emotions. Unbeknownst to them these colors will inspire them to interact, seek out fun, and feel at ease.


If you want to feel enveloped by your space, cozy up on your bed and read a great book then slates, crisp whites, and lavender are the colors for you. Cool hues can actually break down emotional walls. However, no matter what mood you are trying to evoke, be sure you don’t use too much of any one color. What could be considered calming, if used in the wrong context, can become sterile if overpowering.


Color Codes: What Each Color Does to the Psyche

Here is quick list of what some popular colors can actually do to the mind:

Orange, Tangerine, Burnt Clementine: No matter the variation of orange, this color creates coziness. If you live in a cool place and want people to feel warmth when they enter your home, orange is the hue that can have them shedding their overcoats and enjoying your inviting place in no time.


Red, Candy Apple, Fire Engine: Red is adventurous and can increase an appetite. So you wouldn’t want to paint a bedroom red, in the chance that your guests feel the need to arise at midnight for a snack. Instead, this color should be reserved for dining rooms and kitchens. It stimulates appetite and infers a feeling of intimacy. Perfect for a small dinner party.

Green, Olive, Peridot: Green invigorates and can add balance to any room. For a zen-inspired place, green can bring a restful energy into your home. If you live a hectic life, this color is the perfect way to unwind.


Remember, the 60-30-10 Rule

Be sure to not over-do it with any of these colors. Institute the 60-30-10 rule whenever using any color in a space. 60 percent of the room should be the dominate color, the remaining 30 percent of the room should be an adjacent accent color, and the last 10 percent should be a pop for added variety.

Happy painting!


‘I’ll Have Another’ – Equestrian Decor Ideas That Aren’t Horsing Around


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From riding boots to vintage trophies, equestrian inspired digs are taking center stage in design. As we all know, art imitates life– and such is the case with this finish-line phenomenon. Horse racing is considered one of the oldest and truest forms of gentlemen (and gentle-lady) sporting. But the new colt on the block, ‘I’ll Have Another’ is stirring up some much needed dust in a sport that has seen its fare share of sleepers.

This unlikely hero-of-a-horse has just won the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown by winning the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore. The next step is the 3rd Jewel of the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes in New York. The horse racing world hasn’t this much excitement in it’s stalls since Seabiscuit (or the unseated 1978 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew for the avid follower).

With all of this horsing around taking place, here are few equestrian infused ideas to let your imagination run wild.

Black and White Equestrian Drama for the Neutral Palette Lover

“Brand” your room with a few monogrammed pillows and some distressed “saddle-inspired” elements.

For the office, consider lining shelves with trophies, riding ribbons, a riding hat, horse statues, and riding gear. This allows you to have a lively palette with an equestrian flair.

My #1 favorite way to bring warmth and charm to a room is to use old leather bound books. But if you add some vintage trophies? You get a real barn burner.

This free-standing horse portrait makes the room feel modern, even with the rustic textural touches of natural wood and hand-stamped pillows.

Whatever your horse sense tells you, this trend is certainly one to hang your hat on. Giddy up!

Academy Awards Inspiration: Simple Ways to Make Your Home Hollywood Haute


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The 2012 Oscar Nominations are in! But if you are anything like me, you may be more concerned with making your home Oscar-party ready instead of dwelling on who made the cut. Either way, here are some inspiring ways to turn your home into a Hollywood Glam getaway just in time to watch those red carpet evening gowns grace the silver screen.

“My Week With Marilyn” –  Michelle Williams Inspired Idea

Marilyn Monroe was the epitome of beauty. Her curvy figure and bold lipstick choices can all be ways to infuse your room with her spirit. Begin with a zebra print rug, layered with a mirrored table and finish it off with a shock of pink throw pillows or paint. This works best in a neutral space that has a need for some personality. It wouldn’t hurt to leave a Marilyn Monroe coffee table book next to the popcorn either.

“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” – Rooney Mara Inspired Idea

Gothic glamour isn’t as scary as it sounds. The main goal in having a room inspired by this dark tale is to use high drama accessories. Fill a large glass hurricane with twisting tree branches and light every candle in the house before showtime. Dark furniture and dark wood are excellent additions to a white wall with or without the eerie embellishments.

“The Help” – Viola Davis Inspired Idea

This novel turned film was one of my favorites. Not only was the story moving, but the 60’s were a wonderful time for decor. Today, many of our textiles and color schemes are derived from this era. To give your home a little touch of the Sixties why not try your hand at creating your own Sunburst mirror for over your entryway table or fireplace? Find step-by-step instructions here If DIY isn’t your style, then scour antique shops or local flea markets for authentic mid-century decor that can add a little “help” (pun intended) to your living room.

“The Iron Lady” – Meryl Streep Inspired Idea

Take a cue from British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, and try your hand at Classic English inspired interior. Simply stunning in the right room, English decor is proper and altogether pretty. From simple floral prints to elegant furnishings and 19th-century neoclassic details, the trick to pulling off this look is to stick to muted tones. You won’t find neon green or turquoise in this room, but you will find symmetry and oodles of  charm. Either way, have a spot of tea brewed and ready.

“Albert Nobbs” – Glenn Close Inspired Idea

Masculine textures and decor are wildly popular in today’s homes. Tweed, herringbone, and plaid can all add a much needed anchor to a room. A room with clean lines, a near colorless palette, and a smorgasbord of manly textures can actually feel surprisingly warm. Much like a woman wearing a man’s suit jacket and crisp white shirt can be more sexy than a black dress, take a cue from fashion and invite masculinity to be your muse.

Quiz Corner: Discover Your Design Personality in Under 2 Minutes

You are a complex person. So is your design personality. Just like wine tasting, it takes several different textures, colors, and tastes to discover what your favorite blend is. The only problem? Communicating that design style in a way that speaks for itself.  One person’s classic is another person’s modern; as is one person’s French Colonial another’s shabby chic.

Design industry buzz words have muddled our tastes. It has left us grappling for accurate design terms that truly describe who we are. Just as the color green isn’t enough to encompass what shade of green you love, you need a design compass to help you navigate your way through a maze of interior styles.

I love using this design personality tool with my clients. So I wanted to share it with my website followers as well. Sproost has an excellent design style quiz for you to take. Some quizzes online fall flat or miss-categorize folks, but this one has a really high accuracy rate. Take the quiz to discover your own personal design style and then email me to make that a reality in your home!