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I'm the Interior Designer behind Janelle Steinberg Interior Design. I'm also a wife, mother, social tennis player, candle connoisseur and an avid list maker. I like wine, pearls, rainy days, museums and houses. I craft and bake on the weekends in my college sweatshirt and yoga pants. During the week I balance my toddler's playdates, my businesses and working with my clients throughout the country, (not in said sweatshirt or yoga pants).

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Maison Classique
Maison Classique

Summer 2012 Wrap Up

· September 30, 2012

As another summer comes to an end, I am inclined to be utterly grateful. Summer in Texas is not the most enjoyable of seasons! We've survived our second summer in Dallas and I'm super excited to be ushering in cooler days, pumpkin everything, riding boots, cable knit and spicy jar candles.

But before I shut the door, (and lock it tight!), on summer- a proper Summer Wrap Up is in order. Its been a whirlwind of a year since our move to Texas last summer. So it was even more wonderful than normal to be able to escape for a month to our regular summer spots and spend priceless time with our family and close dear friends.


Every summer we go to the Lake Tahoe House with my side of the family. I've taken countless photos of everything in summers past- this summer was pretty sparse in the photo department. (Chasing after a toddler may have something to do with it!) Its just beyond gorgeous in Tahoe. The beach and the dock and the colors of the water- a Happy Place, indeed.

Then I headed back Home to Southern CA for 4th of July. Celebrated at my Grandparent's house like we've done every single year since forever. My favorite house in their neighborhood always hangs a huge flag from the portico. We took R.W. to the beach. We visited some of my old favorites- Susie Cakes, Mi Casa, Zov's and Kean. I wished we had more time to visit everything and everyone, but we had to make it off to our next destination...Vail, Colorado is our summer spot with my husband's side of the family. I have many (many!) photos of the natural beauty and the amazing view from the house- but those are also from summers past. I learned how to knit! We took lazy strolls through Vail Village and Lionshead, accompanied R.W. on shuttle bus rides around and around and around both villages, did some shopping and bidding at local fine art fairs and of course went to the Vail Farmers Market- my favorite, favorite, favorite farmers market of all time!  We also made a point to finally get out to Breckenridge- which we loved! So walkable and charming with the historic + revitalized victorians and adorable store-fronts. (Also, for those of you with young children- a play area in the middle of town!) Discovered a great cookie bakery and a neat art gallery for local landscape photography, (run by the artist, Steve Tohari! Love that!). Also had a great Corn Chowder at The Warming Hut- can only imagine how wonderful it would be after a morning of skiing! Its so close to Vail that we kicked ourselves for not checking it out sooner! Last stop before heading back to Dallas was in Denver- where I caught a serious cooking bug from my husband's amazingly talented Aunt. Poking around her kitchen and reading her copies of Donna Hay magazine sent me into inspiration mode! I came away with a new-found love for White Truffle Salt (get some- you'll thank me later!).And, lastly- the summer birthdays. My little heart-beat turned 2 and I turned 31, (and got a haircut from my regular stylist back home and went dark...again!). My mother said she thinks I was two when I was rocking the purple gingham and gold bunny necklace. As much as this child looks like his Daddy- he sure resembles me at this age! And that about wraps it up!

 Until next year...


More We J'adore Blog

· March 20, 2011

A new blog to know! Read it. Love it. Its authored by two of my favorite friends from design school at UCLA, one of them happens to be one of my "besties".

Find it at:

Tagged with: ian patrick, more we jadore

Art in March

· March 3, 2011

My friend Derek Gores, voted one of the 40 most important artists of the New Contemporary Movement, is coming to Think Space in Los Angeles on March 12! Mark your calendar! Its an absolute MUST for anyone who is able to drive, Metro Link, taxi, bike, run, walk, hop, skip, or crawl to the gallery to see and/or buy his art!

Here is a sample of his work:

Here is the information:

in case you missed it, here is an interview we did on {Maison Classique} in 2009.

Make arrangements! You can't miss his work!

Design Bloggers Conference

· February 28, 2011

This morning, I am here...

In a city I grew to love while at design school at UCLA, I so often saw this view when commuting form Orange County...but never with SNOW! (thanks to the coooold weather we have had these last few days!)...the view from my car on La Cienega, going towards Hollywood...

And I just listened to the fabulous Jan Showers speak...

And, this is my view from where I'm sitting...

Yep. This is how we designers do it...served champagne at 9:30 am between the keynote speaker Jan Showers, and an address from some of the most popular design bloggers including the authors of Coco+Kelley, Design Sponge, La Dolce Vita and more! never ceases to amaze me when I am gathered in a room full of designers (of any type, really)...we are a bunch of super stylish people!

More to come!

Tyler Candle Company

· February 25, 2011

Its a rainy day here in Southern California...perfect conditions for a candle post! {I have many candles just waiting to be blogged about! I'm so behind!}

I was shopping in charming Old Town Temecula last month when I was drawn to a lovely little display of Tyler Candles, (the namesake represents Tyler, Texas...where the candles are "glamorously" made in the USA). The adorable packaging caught my eye- leopard print and harlequin diamonds. So glam and a little bit French- an irresistible combo.

{Notice the happy bride in the photo behind the candle...that was my mom on her wedding day. They just celebrated 30 years! Isn't she beautiful?!}

The scent names are fun and girlie: "High Maintenance", "Hippy Chic", "Twentyfourseven Glam". I purchased based on scent, so I ended up with "Mediterranean Fig" {also my favorite Trapp Candles scent!}. But had I made a decision on name alone, I would have picked "Miss Priss"- my childhood cat's name!

I've now had this candle burning on the kitchen island for about forty minutes. Its so fragrant- I can smell it from upstairs! The entire top is a wax pool and the double wicks are burning evenly. With a lead-free wick, high fragrance content, high quality wax and a super-cute lid...I'm officially a fan!

Design Bloggers Conference

· January 21, 2011

Looking forward to attending the Design Bloggers Conference in LA at the Sofitel Feb. 28 - Mar 1!

Trade Pick: Alan Campbell via Quadrille

· January 19, 2011

LOVING this new graphic pattern, "Wavelength", by Alan Campbell for Quadrille. Kind of reminds me of a circular take on the classic Greek Key motif, or a stylized fingerprint! Also loving the orange {my favorite color!} and kelly green colorways! A bit of this statement maker is all you need...perfect for a bench or ottoman.

{Retail Pick} Outdoor Klismos Chairs!

· May 19, 2010

I just about DIED when I flipped through the Restoration Hardware Outdoor catalog the other day! FINALLY, a new + fresh option for outdoor furniture, (don't get me wrong, there are fantastic options out there, but they all start to look the same after a bit!)....a classic, iconic, elegant Klismos collection! For outdoors! Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous, (and so "classique"!). Its so pretty, you could put it indoors. Great job, Restoration Hardware!

The Klismos Collection from Restoration Hardware


The Klismos Side Chair from Restoration Hardware, $360



j. steinberg design Facebook Page

· May 18, 2010

I've been posting more photos of work in progress, custom furniture designs, and fabric palettes...check it out if you haven't visited our page in awhile. And, if you aren't a fan yet- click the facebook link to the left under the "Subscribe" header to get to our page. Would love to see you there!

{Retail Pick} French Kitchen Island

· May 12, 2010

It doesn't get more classic, easy or affordable than this!  Check out Crate and Barrel's new "French Kitchen Island". This piece is a very reasonable solution to either upgrade a "Builder Basic"* island or have a brand new island! I'm a sucker for open storage and anything Carrara Marble. I also adore the towel bars on each side.

Crate & Barrel "French Kitchen Island" $999


And, if you don't have room for an island (or the one you have is great already), consider the table. Would look great in a breakfast room or a Kitchen/Dining combo area (just don't use both of them together- it'll look too "matchy-matchy").

Create & Barrel "French Kitchen Table" $1,299


* "Builder Basic" is what I refer to as the standard finishes a builder may put into a home with no other design input from the client, designer or architect. Typically it follows convention and usually saves the builder money.  In this case, its an island created using the same cabinetry as the cabinets lining the walls in the kitchen, typically very narrow and not in proportion to the space available for an island.

Nursery Colors, Part I

· March 26, 2010

Check out Part I of my three part series on updated and fresh nursery color palettes. This month I wrote about and selected gender neutral colors. Visit this link at to read the full article and see chips of gorgeous Benjamin Moore paint colors.

Behind the Scenes: Photo Shoot

· March 5, 2010

Want some "behind the scenes" pics from our photo shoot yesterday? Visit the j. steinberg design FaceBook album, here.

Here's a sneak peek of the shoot....

Candles: C.Z. Guest

· March 2, 2010

First off, if you are unfamiliar with the iconic late C.Z. Guest, do a quick Google search or brush up on the cliffs-notes here. I purchased this candle at Annie's last summer in Vail, CO. Annie's is one of my favorite shops in the village, and regrettably, they do not have a website. If you are ever there for holiday, or just driving through, stop at Annie's! They have a selection of china, dishes, candles, bath and body products, and all sorts of wonderful things. I pop in every summer and I am never disappointed. Imagine my delight when I saw the C.Z. Guest candles.....on sale! You better bet I snatched one up! Truth be told, I would have purchased it had it not been on sale- but I guess it was my lucky day.

The genius thing about this candle is that it literally lives on. The jar is actually a handmade flower pot, and the candle box is packaged with a seed packet. Once the candle is spent, you plant the flowers and grow them in a delightful little pot! Perfect for a guest bath or the kitchen window ledge.

This scent is "Jardin de Roses". Rose is not my normal pick- but this one was nice and well balanced. I also liked the baby pink C.Z. "wax seal" against the white jar (each scent has a different color packaging). When you have this candle out just sitting there- you can smell it. The bad thing about this candle (and maybe it was just mine), is that it doesn't burn that well....the flame gets very low and is slow burning. I have had this happen in other candles where the fragrance oil content is very high, and certain oils will do this. Maybe rose is one of them. It does burn, just verrrry slowly.

Above all- I love how the packaging of this candle is so reminiscent of its namesake. The fretwork graphics, the wax seal with initials, the flower pot and very C.Z.

The Perfect White Paint

· February 24, 2010

Want to know the perfect white paint colors? The white paint colors I specify the most for my projects? I tell all here. Let me assure you, this is good information you want to have. Enjoy!

Candles: West Third

· February 22, 2010

I bring to you a candle company I am exited to spread the word about: West Third. I purchased this one at The Malibu Colony Company in December 2009. The candle names (all Los Angeles locations, the one pictured here is "Laurel Canyon") and peacock feather graphic drew me in. To my surprise, the scents were unique and desirable (often times you get one or the other...desirable yet common or unique and decidedly unpleasant). It was hard to choose which one I would purchase, test, then blog about- all the scents in this line were great!

Laurel Canyon by West Third is woodsy, but not too woodsy (the blend is sandalwood and vanilla...a combo that can easily become too strong from the sandalwood or too sweet from the vanilla). This candle burns well, smells great and looks pretty when lit. Once the candle is spent, the glass jar will look pretty with a single tea light- illuminating the peacock feather graphic. Its a keeper even after the original poured candle is gone.

Behind the Scenes: Project Binders for DIYers

· February 9, 2010

This post is a hybrid of Do It Yourself and Behind the Scenes topics. Anyone who is a DIY fan and/or interested in the inner-workings of interior designers.....this post is for you!

I just had a lovely conversation with a reader from New Jersey (psst...she contacted me because she loved this post). She, like so many others, she is at standstill with their house (she has a Mr. Wonderful of her own, as well as two wee ones). She knows what they like, she likes to and is able to do it just hasn't come together yet.

Often times, like this dear reader, homeowners inherit architectural elements that need to be changed to suit their tastes before they can move on to implement their ideal home, make purchases and "bring it all together" (think perfect cabinets in a less than desirable stain, a sturdy staircase in the wrong style, or counter tops in an undesirable material or color). When this happens, the project quickly becomes more involved- it shifts from a decorating project to a full on design project that requires gaining bids, hiring contractors,  sequencing, and making tough decisions about durability, style and the credibility of those to be hired. We chatted for a bit and I told her my best advice: Break it Down and Keep it Organized.

What do I mean by "break it down"? I mean- make a plan (as best you can....if you get stuck- you can always call a pro!). Measure your rooms, take inventory of what you wish to keep, measure items you wish to keep and start listing out everything you need to complete your project. Break it down to the bare elements. You will go nowhere, and probably waste a lot of money and time, if you don't know where you are going and what you need. You need a plan.

That's how we designers do it- we plan. We don't go around and spend frivolously. We have A LOT of things to keep organized, we have A LOT of things to buy for our clients and we have A LOT of responsibility to our clients. Not to mention, we need to be really efficient because clients pay a premium for our time and talent. Do like we do- break it down and make a plan. A good plan is like a road map- you will know what needs to get done and you will finish your project once you know what it takes to get from Point A (existing condition) to Point B (completed house).

Now comes the "keep it organized" part. This is not an option. It must be done. Once you set yourself up, keeping your project organized is a cinch. You need to make a binder. This topic has come up twice in my life the last three days (once with my dear New Jersey reader, once with a fellow ASID member)- its a sign that I should shed the light for everyone reading. This is what interior designers actually do to organize their projects (you are getting a sneak peek into actual practice here!). And, if you are doing your own project- you will need to keep a binder, as well.

What is "A Binder"? Simply put- its a folder with all your project info. Want to drive a designer mad? Take away one of their client binders and watch them get ready to throw themselves off a cliff. That's how essential "the binder" is to each and every project. We really can't do anything without it. Its used as a reference and "home base" for every project. If binders were to get lost, stolen, burned in a fire or ruined in any other natural disaster- a designer would be screwed. Binders are also referenced after the project has been "dead filed"- they are important for the present and the future. (See my shelf to the right: large projects get the big binders, smaller projects or new porject starts get small ones, and current consulting projects get manilla folders,  which are placed in the mag file)

I specialize in larger projects- whole houses or at least 3+ rooms, so I usually start my projects in a 2" black binder. It usually moves up to a 3" binder by projects mid-point. Its just a simple, durable black binder. I label the outside spine with the "Sidemark", (our shorthand is "S/M"). A sidemark is the project name and is referenced on all project documents, PO's, computer files, etc. I looks like this: "S/M Smith". If you are keeping your own binder, there is no need for a S/M, but I would label it "Smith Residence" for easy shelf reference.

What's inside? I use pocketed divider tabs. Each tab is then labeled (each room gets a section, as well as "estimates", "correspondence", etc). A designer's label tabs will differ from a do-it-yourselfers tabs. Just use common sense. Think of what you need to keep organized and give a divider section to each area you are working on (Living Room, Kitchen, Basement, etc.). You can add tabs as you need them. The key is to have one tab for each room, and a tab for quotes and estimates.

Keeping it organized: Once you have the system in place, you have to use it. Measure your spaces, take your inventory, take photos of items you are keeping- gather the essential information for each room. File each item in its appropriate divider section. File as you get or create information- don't let it pile up or float around. Just maintain the system and everything will be at your fingertips when you need it. Also, keeping everything together allows you to grab n' go, too. Take your binder on shopping trips and have it present at meetings. Reference and use the information.

When you get further in your project and you start to gather small odd and ends such as tiles (if you have a large tile or piece or stone, break the tile and keep a small piece or ask your fabricator/installer to make you a small stone sample), paint swatches, fabric swatches, etc.- place them in a durable bag. I keep one binder and one bag for each project. These items come with me to site meetings, design centers, shopping trips, and they sit near my desk for reference at all times.

If you are doing your own project, and you follow these guidelines- you will get a lot more accomplished, you will use your time wisely and efficiently and you'll complete your project faster. You will also make less purchasing mistakes because you can reference concrete information, rather than trying to guess or estimate or go off of memory. You will have that wall measurement for a piece of art you are interested in, you will have your sofa upholstery fabric swatch to reference when shopping for throw pillows, you will have your paint and tile samples to reference when selecting your counter tops, etc.

For all of you brave homeowners who are design savvy &  have the time, energy, and resources to attempt a design project on your own- good luck to you! I hope this helps!

Classic Interior Christmas Decor, Part III {Editorial}

· November 26, 2009

To read Part I of Classic Interior Christmas Decor, click here.

To read Part II of Classic Interior Christmas Decor, click here.

Classic Interior Christmas Decor, Part III

Now its time for the piece de resistance....the Christmas Tree! And, seeing as how its Thanksgiving Day, (Happy Thanksgiving, eveyone!),  its time to haul everything out and get ready to decorate! (The day after Thanksgiving is really the earliest you should start decorating!) I remember working as a design associate at my first interior design job. The tail-end of our client's full-service project overlapped with the holidays and I found myself, and the designer I then worked for, creating a winter wonderland for our client's estate that overlooked the Pacific Ocean. I remember being up on a ladder, with Carol of the Bells and Greensleeves being pumped through the sound system, our client baking cookies for us, her little ones smiling with joy as boxes and boxes of decor was brought in, their cherished ornaments pulled out and placed on their tall tree....I thought to myself, "I can't believe I'm getting paid to do this!". It was a fun few days (yes, DAYS) of Christmas installation, and it was so thrilling to see how happy and cozy we made their home for their holiday celebrations. I learned so much about Christmas decorating during those few days (its not rocket science, but wow- there are tons of tips and tricks to it! Hopefully I have given you some useful ones in this post series!). Although I have my own firm now, and I have less and less time to devote to Christmas decorating requests from clients, that particular memory is one of my favorites from working for that firm.

If you read Part I, you know I am a fan of real trees. So get a real one! But, if you insist on getting a fake tree (or must, for whatever reason), consider realistic fakes such as "TruTip" styles from Christmas Lights, Etc. or "True Needle" styles from Balsam Hill. When you invest in a fake tree (and I say invest because a truly good fake will cost you upwards of $500) be sure to buy a really good one. No sense in giving up all the benefits of a real tree (the smell!) if a fake one doesn't match up in the looks department.

I recommend two trees, if you have the room. One tree as the "Fancy Tree" that abides by your color palette and sits in an out-facing window of the house, and another tree that showcases eclectic ornaments for the children and/or from your childhood. This "Memory Tree" can be placed in a more casual and lived-in area of the house- the study, family room, morning room, upstairs landing or loft. I also like  hanging small/miniature frames by ribbon and placing family photos (vintage and current) and notes to one another in the frames to be placed on the Memory Tree. Its a lovely tradition that honors family, memories and heritage- for me, those are the best aspects of any holiday. The fancy tree should be placed in front of a window that shows to the outside of the house- the foyer, formal living room, or the dining room (depending on the layout and siting of your house). The look of  a glowing Christmas tree from the outside is so warm and welcoming. Typically these areas are removed from main living areas, that's why its nice to have multiple trees.

Lighting a Christmas Tree

When you light a Christmas Tree, there are a few things to keep in mind (other than fire hazards, please take your own sensible precautions on that!).

You need about 100 bulbs per one foot of tree (less if using LED, read on to find out why). If you have a 7' Christmas Tree, plan on 700 lights. Visually mark each foot on the tree and space your light placement accordingly, working from bottom to top (do this first, before anything else). As you place the lights, don't just place them in a simple ring on the in a zig-zag pattern, going to the trunk, out to the branches, and back to the trunk again to ensure you get ample coverage. The inner lights provide light balance and allow your tree to glow.

With all the LED lights out on the market, there is one thing you need to keep in mind (that no one seems to be pointing out)....LED lights are a lot brighter than the incandescent light strings. They also produce a different quality of light- they're very clear, crisp and strong compared to the warm glow of incandescent lights. Its easy to achieve light overkill when working with LED's, so keep that in mind. If you pay attention to the amount of light emitted from LED's, you will inevitably have larger gaps without lights- its just how it has to be until LED's are designed to perfection for Christmas tree lighting.  This is important because you don't want too much light from the tree- it will overpower the ornaments and almost act as an ambient light source, rather than a sparkly accent light source. So, beware of LED's. I'm not against them....but I'm not impressed by them, either. Love them for the exterior....but on the interior, they can be too powerful. Try using half the amount of lights recommended and add/subtract as you see fit.

Also, do yourself a favor and put your lights on a timer. Most people do this- but Im still surprised when someone has to go "plug in" their tree. Just have them go on and off by themselves....your back will thank you for it!

Decorating a Christmas Tree

Whatever palette you go with (see Part II for info on how to formulate a Christmas color palette), stock up on gobs and gobs (see guideline below) of solid glass ball ornaments. Get them in a few different sizes that are appropriate for the scale of your tree (no huge balls on small trees!). When you start decorating, start with these first. Group your small, med and large sizes. Divide your medium sized glass balls and place half in your large pile, and the other half in your small pile. Fill gaps and the interior of the tree with your large pile, placing more of them on the bottom half to two-thirds of the tree (depending on height). Then place your small pile outward on the branches and concentrate more of them on the top half to one-third of the tree. If you balance your ornament placement according to the height of the tree, you will achieve proper proportion and you may cause your tree to appear taller (in the same way the Greeks did by making the base of a column thicker at the bottom, and slightly tapering towards the top).

Let me tell you right now that you need far (far) more glass ball ornaments than you think. A good guideline is to take the height of your tree and add two zeros to it. I'm not kidding. It really takes that much. Once you have that figure, you can subtract about two-hundred and that is the quantity range you need. For instance, if you have a 7 foot tree, add two zeros to it to make 700. Subtract 200 to get 500. The final quantity range you need is 500-700 glass bulbs for a 7' tree.

When hanging, I prefer the green coated hooks. They just blend better and if you loose them, bend, or distort them, they are affordable to replace. Keep hooks and other attachment tools (green floral tape, twisty ties, etc. in one divided box so its always organized and at your fingertips).

For other decorative or themed ornaments, plan on about 10-15 per foot of tree. I refrain from placing bows at the tips of branches, because I feel they take up too much room and they are visually heavy (although I do like a big bow at the top of a tree!). Garland can stay or go, but if you use it- overbuy and drape your swags uniformly. If you under buy, your swags will be really shallow and they won't look good. There is no hard and fast rule for garland swag length, just use your best judgement. Before you put the lights up, you can do a mock-up with string. Pull the string out and measure it (this is especially important if you will be making your garland out of cranberries or popcorn, etc.- as you don't want to spend a lot of time making too much garland!).


Christmas Tree Sources on-line:

See Part I + Part II for decorative and fresh tree sources

Home Depot or Lowe's for nylon ties and other nifty attachment tools, extension cords, power strips, etc.

Balsam Hill and Christmas Lights, etc. for artificial trees (see links above)

Classic Interior Christmas Decorations, Part II {Editorial}

· November 25, 2009

To see Part I of Classic Interior Christmas Decor, click here.

Classic Interior Christmas Decor, Part II

How I do Christmas decor is very simple. Its about color and coordination (its NOT about being matchy-matchy). You start with a foundation of the season's bounty (click here for Part I), then build on that with a color palette. Any color palette! Yes, you read that correctly. Any color palette will long as its built on seasonal greenery. A foundation of fresh greens can make the most un-traditional Christmas palette look "Christmassy"  and classic. Personally, I like the look and feel of traditional colors such as green and red or white and gold; however, a fresh take on traditional colors such as fuchsia and lime green (a twist on red and green) or orange and cream (to change up white and gold) can be a really fun alternative.

Developing a Christmas color palette is simple. Choose two dominant colors, one accent and one "sparkle" color that you use even more sparingly than the accent color.

Examples of this color formula:

Navy + Light Blue as dominant colors, Gold or sliver as the accent, frosted white as the sparkle

Red + Green as dominant colors, Lime green as the accent, clear glass as the sparkle

Red + Rustic Brown as dominant colors, Orange or a shade of muted green as an accent, cream as the sparkle

Fuchsia and Lime green as dominant colors, light pink as an accent, opalescent white/clear as the sparkle

Pearl/Cream and White as dominant colors, gold as an accent, clear glass as a sparkle (this palette REALLY glows!)

Once you have your color palette....go to town buying up ornaments, tree skirts, ribbon for garland, stockings, etc. Don't worry about being "matchy matchy",  just coordinate everything. Once its spread out in the house, it won't matter that two shades of red aren't perfect together- your eye glosses over things like that when you see something as a whole. Don't stress- just have fun with it!

Once you choose a palette, stick to it for a set amount of time- say, five years or more (or, forever!). (I'm not sure if you've ever noticed this, but retailers do this. They choose a scheme and palette and they stick with it, changing it once every 5 years or so. ) Just like home decor, holiday decor is better when cultivated throughout the years. If you have a set palette, you can build on it every year and it will only get better. A really smart thing to do when you want to change things up, is to plan a palette change in advance. After Christmas you can buy up everything you need for next year's change at deep discounts.  You can change up your palette with minimal investment if you plan accordingly- it just takes some forethought.

The main thing to remember is you are planning a palette and overall scheme- NOT a theme. That is the most important thing to remember when creating a classic and elegant Christmas decor plan. Rather than using actual "Santa's Workshop" decorations....use the bright and playful colors associated with Santa's Workshop. Rather than using actual nautical Christmas decor- use a palette of blues, whites and gold to recall the colors of the ocean, (a theme tree is, however, totally acceptable because they are SO fun to do, people enjoy them and they are contained....just don't overdo it on the literal-theme type of decor in other places in the house. You know what Im talking about....figurines of Santa in swim trunks, life preserves that read "Merry Christmas", etc ). Remember this mantra: "Color, greens and overall scheme, not theme".

Gift Wrap

I know gift wrap is not integral to decorating, per se....but people often comment positively on my gift wrap. These are the guidelines I stick to:

Each year I choose a wrapping color and pattern palette  (are you surprised!). I get coordinating paper - one print and one solid, (brown or white blank shipping/crafting paper can be used as a solid coordinate to your colorful wrap for a very affordable option). Real ribbon (typically a 1" or 2" grosgrain and a spool of wire ribbon), really thin ribbon to attach gift tags, tulle in either white or off-white, and lots of gift boxes in various sizes. I don't use bags very often. I try to only use boxes, but I admit to putting some things in bags when need be. I stay away from curling ribbon and plastic stick-on bows. I also stay away from "commercial" looking paper with cartoony or licensed characters on them....that paper should only be used by Santa!

Where you would typically use curling ribbon, use real ribbon tied in a simple bow. Where you would use tissue paper, use tulle. I also use tulle as bows and banding on boxes. The print paper can also be used as an accent on your solid paper (do this with a band or cut the paper into thin strips to create a floppy or spiky "bow" to place atop a solid-wrapped gift). With these simple items- you can mix n' match and give each gift character, while at the same time coordinating them. I believe presents are better when wrapped ups the anticipation level (and also looks great sitting under the tree all month long!).

Stay tuned for Part III....the Christmas Tree!


Best sources for Orange County Christmas decor:

Stats in Seal Beach- Its a winter wonderland FULL of Christmas decor, and merchandised according to different styles.

Roger's Gardens in Corona del Mar

Front Gate- While not OC-based, they offer petty holiday decor that is available for retail purchase.

Sinoda- you have to go with a designer....but, wow- what a place! HUGE, full of all sorts of stuff....and, of course, a huge holiday decor selection for the season.

Target for mass-amounts of basic, solid color ball ornaments and an array of budget-priced lights for both interior and exterior.

Paper Source at South Coast Plaza (other locations, too!) for fun, interesting and luxe gift wrap, cards, and small gifts.

Etsy - Do a search for gift wrap, you will get some great results from small-scale, artisan vendors...everything from posh papers, neat attache cards and silky ribbon. Above photo is Erin Ruth on Etsy.


Classic Interior Christmas Decorations, Part I {Editorial}

· November 24, 2009

Remember last year's Classic Exterior Christmas Decorations post? Well, here comes Classic Interior Christmas Decorations! This is a lengthy and info-packed post series, but hang in there and you will learn some great tips, tricks and calculations (yes! calculations!), plus get my commentary and opinions along the way.

Classic Interior Christmas Decor, Part I

I am what I like to call a "Holiday Decor Purist". I prefer and recommend live plants for trimming the home for the holidays. There is something about real plants that just feels better. They are fresh, they smell amazing, the colors are true and, you don't have to worry about storage (a whole house of artificial holiday trimmings takes up a lot of room!) or cleaning them after the holidays (talk about dust magnets!). The tradition of using real plants and trees for your garland, wreaths, swags, table scapes, and Christmas trees just cannot be substituted by the fake stuff. I realize some people like artificial because they don't dry out and they don't have to repurchase all the trimmings every year (and maybe there are allergies to consider, which, in my opinion, is the only reason to go fake!)- but, really, it comes down to personal style and taste. The fake stuff, when done well, is still gorgeous...I'm not trying to rain on  anyone's parade here. Just try a real-plant may never go back!

Look for noble fir, douglas fir, evergreen, bay leaf, magnolia, holly or boxwood garland, swags and wreaths. Holly berries, cranberries, oranges, pears, pomegranates....all of the "winter" fruits, live or dried, are perfect for attaching to trimmings and/or using on the tablescape or mantlescape. Attach garland, wreaths, and swags to the banister with clear nylon cable ties for heavier items and/or anchor points, and use non-sticky green floral tape for less heavy items and/or intermediate swags. (I learned this from my mother....who, now I think about it, is mentioned quite often on {Maison Classique}! Hi Mom! I know you're reading!). If any of the nylon tie or floral tape shows, try to dress the greenery to cover it or tie a bow there. The green floral tape is also useful to attach ornaments, bows/ribbon, pine cones, lights and other do-dads to wreaths, swags and garland.

To measure for your garland around doorways, mantles and for staircases, do a mock-up with string or yarn. Keep in mind that your garland will be much thicker compared to the string, take this into consideration when doing your mock-up. After you have placed your string where you want it....take it down and measure it with a measure tape. Add about 5-10% to the total linear inches needed to cover for the bulk of the natural trimmings, shortages in the live product and/or slight errors in your measure. Plus, its always nice to have more than be short when you are decorating! Plus, you can use any extra trimmings for a wreath or centerpiece to give to a neighbor or take to a holiday event as a hostess gift.

Since you're measuring (and, if you do it right the first time, you won't ever have to measure again!), make a list of where you plan to place the garland and the linear amount needed for each feature you are trimming. At this time, you'll also want to walk through your house (don't forget the exterior! Gates, garage doors, front doors, etc!), and list how many wreaths, swags, centerpieces, etc. you need. Once you have your paperwork in order, add everything up then go shopping (either online or to your favorite holiday lot). Make a master copy of this information and reference it each year.

Candles in simple glass hurricanes are both classic and functional when sitting amongst live plants (you don't want them catching on fire!). I am a huge fan of candles (a really huge fan), so a table or mantle without candles feels sad to me. Snag some great glass hurricanes and nestle them in the garland and fruits of the season. For an alternative to hurricanes, check out these clever fruit converter candle holders from Wisteria. I love these! I plan on placing pomegranates in mine. If you aren't a fan of the shiny silver- you can easily repaint these to any color or metallic finish you desire (this is a really easy DIY project!). Just make sure your tapers sit high above the plants for fire considerations. Also, you can use these beyond the Christmas season, too!


Sources for trimming a home with natural greenery + live wreaths:

Christmas Farms. (Their "Classic Wreath" is pictured above)

Williams-Sonoma (FYI- they sell season-appropriate live and dried wreaths year-round). Mantle photograph, above, courtesy of Williams-Sonama.

Lynch Creek Farm

Wisteria for the convertible taper candle holders

Costco for wire ribbon (I just picked up a 50 yard spool for $7!)

Fine Artist, Keiko Tanabe

· November 19, 2009

Keiko Tanabe, an award-winning watercolor artist and California local, is doing an amazing series of San Diego landscapes- one hundred of them to be exact! She has titled it the "San Diego 100". She just posted No. 85. Its been pretty exciting to follow the landscapes she chooses....from daily life landscapes of traffic and residential streets, to the more quintessential San Diego locations such as Balboa Park (one of my favorite places! Spanish Baroque Revivial architecure everwhere you look!), the Del Mar Fairgrounds and Coronado. My favorite medium is admittingly not watercolor....but I really, truly admire the quality and overall style of Keiko's watercolors. She is my favorite contemporary watercolorist....and, whats even better- she is a genuine person who deeply loves what she does. Also, she is selling the originals! I am a fan of "real" just has more soul. It doesnt have to cost a million dollars, but it has to speak to you. That's what art is all about. Check out her San Diego won't be sorry! Ten of my personal favorites.....

To see more of Keiko Tanabe's work, or to contact the artist directly, go to any of these galleries or contact her here.

Hennessey + Ingalls SALE!

· November 13, 2009

I meant to post this earlier in the week....but work (and a power outage yesterday on the city block from 5 AM  to 2:30-ish PM!) got the best of me. You still have today and tomorrow to hit this sale, though! If you live in the LA area....a trip to Hennessy and Ingalls is worth it. So, so, so worth it! Enjoy! (And plan at least an hour to peruse their offerings!).

Filed in: miscellaneous
Tagged with: Hennessey and Ingalls

Hostess Gifts, A Simple Guide

· November 5, 2009

Gifts for the Hostess

I was just quoted as an "interior designer and etiquette expert" by writer Beth Engleman in an atricle on hostess gifts . Since its about to be the time of year when we celebrate with family and friends (nearly every weekend, it seems!)- I pulled together my go-to hostess gifts and created a layout with my favorites. Hostess gifts aren't meant to break the bank, but they should be tokens of thoughtful appreciation. When I say "thoughtful" appreciation- that means a selection should be made or personalized based on the host. Everyone has a favorite flower, color, varietal of wine, scent, etc. Simply take what you know about that person, (or what you can gather if you are the +1 who volunteered to bring a little something) and use that as your guide. As mentioned in the article- cash and/or gift cards are inappropriate and careless. Also, keep in mind that you were not invited because the host wants a gift from you- so don't go overboard. Just a little something to say "Thank You" will suffice. Its an extra layer of social grace that, when remembered, is never forgotten.

My Favorite Hostess Gifts

Scented Candles- okay, I admit it.  Candles are one of my favorite gifts in general. They are a nice and compact gift that the receiver can use just about anywhere. Also think about other items that go with candles, such as a Candle Snuffer. A snuffer is typically an item most people don't have- but once they have one, they love it.

You can never go wrong with a Bottle of Wine (unless, of course, the host and/or hostess do not partake in alcohol). Other items that go along with wine, such as a nice wine opener, a set of interesting wine stoppers, or a wine coaster and collar set would also make nice hostess gifts; however, not all at once (pick one!).

Flowers, glorious flowers. The only risk when bringing flowers is allergies- so please consider that. If there are no known allergies or you are willing to chance it- give away! I favor sending flowers before the event. This is a good way to do it so you, 1) don't forget, and, 2) don't have to risk possibly spilling water/pollen on yourself, in your car or in the taxi on the way. If you send them beforehand- you will definitely pleasantly surprise your host. Write a simple sentiment such as " Looking forward to dinner tomorrow". If its holiday time, you can may want to send a live wreath. Williams-Sonoma is my favorite source for live wreaths anytime of year.

My favorite type of dish to give is a platter. Go simple if you don't know the the host that well (think white porcelain) or find something really neat if you know the hostess's home style. My mom is a baker, and sometimes she will make what I like to call a "recipe kit". She will whip up a batch of her baked goodness (such as her signature petite lemon cakes with glaze.....yummm!), purchase a specific tool/pan that is needed in order to make the item and attach a handwritten recipe card. Its a hit- especially if you know the receiver loves your particular recipe for something. You could also put your signature item on a platter and attach the recipe card. My other favorite kitchen-related gift is an ice scoop. Its another item, like the candle snuffer, that people don't generally have, but love to use when they have one.

My last go-to item is a book. Everyone loves a book. It can be a "coffee table" book or a point of interest topic specific to the host (such as gardening, or vegetarian recipes, or a travel journal, etc.)

Lastly, keep a few sizes and colors of grosgrain ribbon, tulle, and sturdy boxes on hand, such as small hat boxes or quality gift boxes. You will never have to pick out wrapping paper or spend time trying to wrap an awkward shape. All you have to do is put a simple bow around your gift,  place your gift in a quality box with a simple ribbon around the box, or wrap your gift in tulle and tie a bow around the neck (works great with a bottle of wine). Stay away from curling ribbon, stick-on bows, generic gift bags and tissue paper. Keep it simple, yet elegant.



Retro Light Switches {Trade Pick}

· October 21, 2009

I am in L-O-V-E with hardware and fittings (door hinges and window hardware, even!). The latest thing I'm stuck on is retro-designed light switches. I have been researching Mid-Century Modern design for a project I am working on, and I discovered this quirky passion for hardware laying dormant. I like the push button varities, and I love the cool toggle designs from Forbes and Lomax. Using specially selected hardware puts that extra layer of design interest and integrity into a well-done interior.

Push button switches from Rejuvenation


Antique Bronze Push Button from Forbes & Lomax

Dimmer from Forbes & Lomax

Invisible toggle switch w/ acrylic backplate by Forbes & Lomax. LOVE it!

Also check out House of Antique Hardware if you are a hardware maven like I am. Make sure you look at the period home collections...heaven! Historic House Parts is also a fun site to peruse.

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Cozy Fall Colors {Editorial}

· October 21, 2009

I have a new article up on highlighting Cozy Fall Colors. For some fall color inspiration, check it out here.

De-solv-it {Retail Pick}

· October 14, 2009


This product, De-Solv-it, is one of my little designer tips (but, actually, I can't take credit for it- since my mom turned me onto it!). I primarily use it to take off pesky labels and stickers from products, (but it can do so much more). It smells great and its environment friendly. A bottle will last you a long time, even though you will use it far more than you think you will! Labels and stickers that would normally have to be soaked and scrubbed off can be removed very quickly with this lovely little potion. Great for removing "made in", price stickers, and logo stickers from accessories and home-goods. Love it! You can get it here.

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