Saturday, October 29, 2011

Can't Find a Sconce You Like?--Make Your Own!!

For the past three weeks, I was working out of town and was lucky enough to stay at The Inn at the Mill in Springdale, AR.  This is a boutique hotel--small number of rooms, intimate setting, and the rooms are appointed with nice amenities.  I have managed to finagle my way into a few boutique hotels over the years.  This is not an easy thing to do on a government rate, but you never know until you ask.  The hotel was a mill back in the 1800's.  The property was turned into a hotel in 1991 and has undergone several renovations and updates over the years. 

As I was settling down in my room for the night, I noticed a wall sconce that was very cool.  Upon further inspection, I realized that it was a light.  I had never seen a sconce like this before.  I went downstairs to the front desk and asked the desk clerk about the sconce.  The story is that the owner of the hotel had the sconce made from a mold of his daughter's face.  She was a teenager at the time.  She is married to the owner/chef of James at the Mill and she works at the restaurant.  All of the rooms have this sconce and the restaurant has the sconces featured in the decor.

I would love to have a pair of these sconces in my dining room on either side of the mirror!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Color Courtesy of Mother Nature

I am working in Springdale, AR and right outside the location I am working is the most spectacular red maple tree.  This tree looks as if it is on fire.  This is why fall is my favorite time of the year.  Enjoy!

Quote of the Day!

I have a Twitter account and I follow several decorating Tweeters.  I saw this Tweet today from designer Bruce Norman Long posted by House Beautiful.  I think this quote best describes what I love about color:

"I like dark colors because they always make a room feel more decorated than it is."

I think this is so true.  On Saturday, I helped my neighbor Penny paint her dining room SW Coconut Husk (same color as my living room).  She loved the color when she saw it in my living room and wanted to paint her dining room this color.  Her dining room was red when she moved into her house 5 years ago and she never liked it from day one.  So, I schlepped across the street Saturday morning and we were done by noon.  The color change made a dramatic difference in the room.  This is the "after" photo.  I didn't get a chance to take a "before" photo.  Take my word for it--we did a dramatic color change.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How to Hang Artwork

In my previous post, I hope I got you inspired to buy new, big, and modern artwork for your home.  Once you get the artwork, you'll probably wonder how in the heck you are supposed to hang it?  One of my pet peeves (and I have many which I will share with you) is to see artwork that is improperly installed in a room.  I think I am going to put a small hammer in my purse so that I can undo all of the bad artwork installations I encounter.

Q:  How high should artwork be hung on a wall?
A:  It depends on the height of the wall.

Confused yet?  Here is my general rule for the proper height for hanging a single piece of artwork.  If your ceiling height is between 9 and 10 feet, try to hang the artwork between 70 to 75 inches up on the wall, assuming the hanging hardware is 5 to 6 inches below the top of the picture.  This is the point where the hooks should be inserted.  Why this measurement?  Artwork looks better if it is hung at a level where you can see it.  You should never look up to see artwork.  Also, if the artwork is hung too high, it will look as if it is floating in the room.  You want your artwork to ground the room, not get lost in the room.

If your artwork is hung over furniture (table or sofa), allow about 6 inches between the bottom of the artwork and the furniture piece.  This will keep the artwork from looking like it is floating over the furniture--not a good look.

For taller ceiling heights, 10 to 12 feet, you will need big art or groupings to fill in the larger spaces.  Try placing the hook 75 to 80 inches on the wall.  The thing to remember with taller ceiling heights is that you don't have to fill in the artwork to the ceiling line, unless you have a grouping that will be stacked.  It's okay to have empty space over artwork. 

This artpiece is hung in a breakfast nook of a house I decorated.  The ceiling height in the breakfast nook is 12 feet.  The artwork measures 4 ft by 3 ft.  The artwork is not floating in the room.

Big art, big impact!

Here is another one of my pet peeves:  Never hang your artwork taller than your door frame or window.  This is when you know your artwork is installed too high.

Look at the artwork in my living room.  My ceiling height in the living room is 9 ft/10 ft.  I have a trey ceiling that goes up to 10 feet, but the wall space measures 9 ft.  Notice the placement of the artwork:  it is hung below the door frames.

The artwork is not floating in the room, it has a relationship with the furniture.
Next, I want to show you the artwork in the living room of a realtor/interior decorator Cara Wilkerson.  She has a great blog called, "Live the Home Life".  Cara's blog can be found at

This is a great example of grouping artwork together.  Individually, the artwork is not that big, but hung together, the artwork makes a big impact.

Isn't this a great way to hang artwork?
Another example is shown in this photo from House Beautiful magazine.  Notice that this artwork is hung at the ceiling height, but it still grounds the room.

Take a look at the artwork in your home.  If it is hung too high, try lowering it and notice how this small change wil transform the room.  Get your hammers ready!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Artwork: Go Big or Go Home!

Artwork makes me happy.  I have artwork in every room in my home--including the bathrooms and laundry room!

Artwork in water closet in master bath--example of a big piece in a small space.

Artwork in master bath over both sides of vanity.

Artwork is personal.  What I like and what makes me happy may do nothing for you.  This is how people should respond to artwork.  If you see a piece of artwork in a store or gallery that you absolutely fall in love with it, you should purchase that art piece (if it's within your budget).  

I have grown very fond of abstract paintings.  I love a traditional room, but I don't mind my artwork being contemporary.  Since 2005, I've purchased 10 abstract paintings for my home.  I have replaced older prints and paintings with the abstract art.  I love the movement and color in abstract art.  I don't "see" anything in the artwork, but there's something about the colors and the flow of the painting that draws me in.

Here is my rule for artwork--Go Big or Go Home!  There is nothing sadder than a small picture or painting hanging on a large wall by itself.  Big art makes a big impact.  Whenever I have people in my home for the first time, the first thing they notice is the artwork.

I want you to see an example of how I replaced traditional artwork with an abstract painting.  The first picture is the before of the artwork in my breakfast nook.  I had a fruit theme going on in the kitchen and breakfast area.  I found two fruit prints that I hung stacked over the buffet server.  I liked the prints but there wasn't much color to them.  BTW, I still have these prints if someone is interested in them and the fruit pitchers on the buffet.

When using smaller pieces of artwork, try to group the pieces together.

This is how the breakfast nook looks with an abstract painting over the buffet.  Notice how the artwork pulls you into the room.

This painting was purchased at Bed, Bath, & Beyond--not expensive at all.
In my earlier post about painting, you learned that I have no wall space in my foyer for funiture or artwork.  To the right of my foyer, is my formal dining room and a wall that leads into the kitchen.  This wall is part of the hallway that runs from one side of the house to the other.  I consider this wall as part of the entry due to the proximity to the foyer.  You can see this wall from the foyer.  I can't place furniture there because it is the hallway.  So, my solution was to place artwork on that wall.    Red is a dominant color in my dining room, so these abstract pairs were a perfect fit.  Notice how well the art pieces fill in the space.

If you are redecorating a room(s) in your home, consider large artwork for the walls.  Be sure to check the big box stores in your area.  Most of these stores have a great selection of large prints and abstract art.  Also, I ran across this website which has a huge selection of abstract art at great prices:

You will be amazed at the impact large art will make! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pillows: Why Women Love Them and Men Hate Them

I think the argument over pillows between the sexes has been going on since the beginning of days.  I don't know any man that likes pillows.  Here is the basic difference of how women feel about pillows versus men:  For women, pillows make the bed more romantic.  It's like we're in a fairy-tale waiting on our Prince Charming to come and swoop us away.  Every woman wants a beautiful bed.  For men, pillows are just additional crap that has to be removed before going to bed.  Men, this is a losing battle.  Get used to the pillows because they're here to stay. I have accessory pillows in all of my rooms (with the exception of the kitchen and bathrooms).  Pillows add a little extra pop of color, especially in spaces where the decor is monochromatic or very neutral.

Let's talk about pillows on the bed.  As long as I can remember, I've always had pillows on my bed.  I can remember going to Dillard's Department Store and going to the Linen Department.  I always loved seeing the different bedding sets displayed.  What made these beds so beautiful was the pillows.  I think the biggest mistake many people make is too many pillows.  This is why men hate pillows.  I have seen beds with as many as 10 accessory pillows piled on top.  Usually the pillows are randomly and haphazardly displayed.  That's when you know there are too many pillows on the bed.  I have seen beds where the accessory pillows are piled on top of the pillow shams.  Accessory pillows should always be placed in front of the pillow shams or pillow cases, never piled on top of the pillow shams or cases.

Here is my basic rule for pillows on the bed.  I have a queen sized bed.  I use two European shams (You can use 3 Euro shams for king beds).  Euro shams are a must because they anchor the look.  You can buy the 24 inch pillows that go inside the shams at Garden Ridge or Bed, Bath & Beyond.  Don't use standard pillows--it doesn't look right.  Euro shams are placed next to the headboard.  I then place either my sleeping pillows or the pillow shams in front of the European shams.  If I have pretty pillow cases, I will place the pillow shams in front of the Euro shams, then the pillow cases.  Next, I place three accessory pillows in front.  The accessory pillows don't have to exactly match the comforter.  I think it's a more interesting mix to purchase accessory pillows with some of the colors of your comforter but a different pattern.  The picture below shows my bed as it is dressed for the fall and winter.  The accessory pillows did not come with the comforter set, but they match up with it pretty well.  When I'm ready for bed, I just removed the Euro shams, pillow shams, and accessory pillows. 

You may be able to get away with 5 accessory pillows, but you are pushing the limit.  I know someone whose husband doesn't understand the concept of Euro shams.  She had to remove them.  Her husband makes the bed up before he goes to work (he's the last one out in the mornings).  So, she had to give up her Euro shams because her husband didn't understand the need to have them.  Now that's really sad.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Where Michelle Likes to Shop

I live in Little Rock, AR.  Some of the stores I mention may be in your area if you live outside of Little Rock or out-of-state.  If you frequently visit my home, you will notice that I have a tendancy to change out my artwork and accessories.  I may love a piece of artwork when I first purchase it, but I tire of things pretty quick.  Over the years, my niece has gotten some pretty nice furniture and artwork from Aunt Michelle.  So, where do I like to shop in Little Rock for accessories?  Any place where I can get nice accessories for dirt cheap.

If you are looking for inexpensive accessories, artwork, and pillows, Garden Ridge located at Bowman Road and Chenal Parkway is by far the best place to go.  I knew about the accessories and artwork that Garden Ridge sells, but my neighbor Penny turned me on to the store's pillow selection.  Most of the pillows in the store are priced at $10.  Garden Ridge has thousands of pillows.  The store also has a great selection of artwork on canvas.  If you are into abstract art and don't want to spend a lot of money, Garden Ridge is the place to go.  Here is an abstract canvas art piece I purchased for $79!!.  It was described as an actual "oil on canvas" piece.

Hobby Lobby (located at Bowman Road & Markham St) is also a good place for accessories.  Check the Sunday paper for the sales items for the week.  I never pay full price at Hobby Lobby.

My neighbor Penny introduced me to Dreamweavers (located downtown at 11th & Spring St).  Dreamweavers sells rugs, pillows, and throws.  The items are unusual.  You won't find this merchandise at other stores in town.  The store also features accessories and limited artwork.  Dreamweavers is only opened the 2nd weekend of every month.  I purchased two rugs for my master bath and pillows for my living room from Dreamweavers.

The pillow is made out of neckties!

The rug is made out of old stockings & pantyhose!

Steinmart (Cantrell Rd and McCain Blvd) has a small accessory section in the store.  On occasion, I will drop in there to see what they have.

Burlington Coat Factory (Markham St & McCain Blvd) is also a good place to go.  The store has artwork and is a good place to go for glass work.

Just recently, I found a good place to purchase rugs--Aladdin Rugs & Home Decor located at 4529 JFK Blvd.  The store has a very good selection of rugs in different sizes.  I took my friend Marjorie there about two weeks ago and she purchased a wool rug for her study.  The rug measured 5' by 8' and cost $200.  For a wool rug, that is an excellent price.

Gordman's is another place to get great accessories at a good price.  Gordman's has great glass pieces.  If you are looking to fill in blank spaces in your bookshelf or end tables, this is your store.

I also like to shop at Bed, Bath, & Beyond and Kirkland's for artwork.  Both stores have canvas art.  Always use Bed, Bath, & Beyond's 20% off coupon.  Kirkland's has great sales and you can purchase a pretty large piece of art for under $100. 

Little Rock has several furniture and accessory boutique stores (Pazazz, Coming Home, Phoenix Interiors).  These stores are not the cheapest, but they have some really cool inventory.  Sometimes you can get a better price if you just ask.  Check out some of the boutique-style stores in your areas.  Sometimes you may find an accessory that is one of a kind and it may be worth the price you pay.  I purchased this glass piece at Phoenix Interiors.  It is a glass knot.  It wasn't cheap, but I treated myself for my birthday one year.  It looks really cool on a glass coffee table.

Consignment sales/stores are also a good choice.  In Little Rock, there is a lady who has a consignment business.  She gets really nice pieces of furniture.  My friend Marjorie was able to find the nightstands and an armoire that matched her bed and dresser.  She also purchased the artwork that is in her breakfast nook.  I'll share photos from her home on a later post.  The website for this business is:

Her inventory constantly changes.  Check it out.

If you are willing to hunt around town, you can get some pretty good deals on accessories for your home.  Happy Hunting!!  

The Allure of Color

The use of color frightens a lot of us, but it shouldn't.  Our lives are filled with color.   Yet when it comes to applying color to our walls, we can't seem to decide on a color so we do nothing.  Fall is my favorite season.  I guess that is why I am drawn to tans, browns, reds, oranges, yellows, and golds.  I gravitate more to darker colors.  For me, a room painted in a darker hue grounds the space.  As I am writing this, I am sitting in my living room which is painted SW Coconut Husk.

SW 6111 Coconut Husk
It is the darkest color on the color chart (#16).  I'll admit, I was a little hesitant to try this color.  Once I applied the first brush stroke, I immediately fell in love with the color.  The color is dark, but I consider it a neutral, just as taupe or tan is a neutral.  The richness of this color makes the other colors in the room pop.  Notice how my living room looks painted in its original color, SW Latte.  It's a warm, neutral color but it just says, "Blah" to me.  It's as if the wall color is competing with the colors in my furniture and artwork. 


Now notice how the room looks painted in SW Coconut Husk.  Notice how the artwork and the orange/rust pillow in the chair pops against the dark walls.

My advice to anyone who is thinking about painting a room:  You must love the color.  It has to make you happy every time you step into the room.  If it doesn't, then find a color that makes you happy. 

If you don't know how to paint, don't let this be an excuse for not changing the wall color in your home.  The first time I ever painted was back in the late 1970s while I was still in high school.  I wanted my bedroom painted dark blue.  I hired my neighbor's son to paint the room.  I thought that I would love the color, but I hated it.  In fact, the room depressed me.  So, I decided to repaint it myself and I painted the room peach--it was a happy color.  I loved the color and the walls remained peach until my mother's house sold in October 2005.

Painting a room is not the only way to add color to a space.  Placing accessories in your favorite colors can liven up a room.  Notice how the color orange pops in this room.  This is a very neutral room, but the room perks up through the orange pillows, rug, and drapes.

Find a color that you like and purchase pillows, vases, and artwork in that color.  This works well for a room that has neutral walls and furniture like the room in the picture above.  Adding your favorite color to a space adds instant happiness!  The beauty of adding color with accessories is that you can easily change the mood in a space by changing the accessories.  Or, if you decorate by the seasons, you can change out pillows and other accessories to match the season.  My sister-in-law, Sadie, is the queen of changing accessories.  She has several looks for her dining room based on the seasons.  For fall, she has an olive motif.

If your room needs a pick-me-up, color is the best therapy!   

Friday, October 7, 2011

My Evolving Living Room

In the 6 years I've lived in my house, I realized that my living room has under gone several transformations.  Most people purchase furniture and have it for life--not me.  In the past 25 years, I think I am on my third set of living room furniture!

In 1996, I had custom furniture made by a company called Norwalk.  I wanted furniture that nobody else would have, so I decided that custom furniture was the way to go.  I had a skirted sofa made with matching chairs.  I had a novel idea of having all three pieces covered in different, but coordinating fabric.  This started my love affair, at the time, with the color green.  The sofa fabric was a floral pattern that had sage green, burgundy, tan, and khaki colors running through it.  One chair was dark sage green with a tone-on-tone diamond pattern in the fabric.  The other chair was gold with green flecks of color in the fabric.  My niece Ashli is now the owner of this furniture. 

Here are a few photos of what the old furniture looked like.  I'm going to talk about the accessories in the room at a later post.

In 2006, I decided that I needed new furniture.  My living room is small (15 ft x 17ft).  After living with patterned furniture since 1996, I decided to go with something more neutral as a way to make the living room appear larger.  Since the walls were taupe, I wanted the furniture to blend into the walls.  So, after a trip to Ethan Allen, I had a tone-on-tone patterned sofa with a matching chair and ottoman custom made.  The second chair was covered in a paisley pattern with green being the dominant color.  Here is what I ended up with:

The new furniture was an improvement over the previous furniture, but I still didn't have the look I wanted.

If you note, everything in this room matches--furniture, walls, artwork = BORING!!!  Also, the scale of the accessories is all wrong.  The first thing I did was to change the artwork hanging over the sofa.  I liked the botanticals, but I developed a love of abstract art, so I purchased my first piece.  I think it definitely gave the living room a different look.

The next post will show the next wave of my design for my living room.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Making a Grand Entrance

I moved into my current home on October 21, 2005.  Like most new homes, the interior of my house was painted taupe, more specifically Sherwin Williams 6108 Latte.  I picked this color for the underlying warmth.  I immediately had the painters to come back in and paint my dining room SW 6110 Steady Brown.  This color is on the same color chart as Latte, so I knew it would work well with the Latte.  My study is painted SW 8380 Barn.  My study is to the left of my foyer from the entrance and I wanted a dramatic color for this room.  Nothing says dramatic like red!!  In the past 6 years, I have made several color changes to my walls.

Tip:  Painting is the cheapest form of decorating.  You can transform a room by simply changing the color.  I gravitate more to warm and dark colors.  I am a nester and these colors make me feel as if I am wrapped in a cocoon.

Most homes built within the past 20 years or so were built with a foyer or entrance hall.  The foyer is always the first space your guests will see as they enter your home.  I think the foyer sets the tone for the rest of the house.  My foyer has no wall space--I have 3 large entrances to my dining room, study, and living room in the foyer.  As a result, I have no place for any artwork, hall tables, chests, etc. in my foyer.  So, my only solution was to paint the limited wall space I have in the foyer.  Remember that my foyer was painted SW Latte.  So, I decided to use two colors already present in my home--SW 6110 Steady Brown and SW 6111 Coconut Husk.  I painted 12-inch vertical stripes and alternated the Steady Brown and Coconut Husk.  The result is fantastic!

Foyer before:

As you can see, this is pretty dull.  Now take a look at the foyer after:

By adding the stripes in the two colors, it made the foyer go from dull and boring to WOW!!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Story

Hello and welcome to my decorating blog!  My name is Michelle Mitchell.  I was born and raised in Little Rock, AR and lived out of state for 7 years.  I grew up in a single-parent household after my parents divorced when I was 8 or 9 years old.  I credit my mother for giving me my sense of style.  Thanks Mama!

When I was in my early teens, I remember going to the home of a class mate and I noticed right away how nice the home was decorated.  I don't recall ever being in a home that looked so lovely.  I didn't know then that I wanted to be a decorator, but I did know that I wanted to live in a home like the one I saw. 

When I was in high school and college, I would decorate my bedroom.  I remember when I got my first matching comforter and curtains--I was so excited!!  I had my very first apartment at the age of 25.  My decorating taste and style has changed over the past 25 years.  As I have aged, my design taste has evolved and gotten more expensive.  Ha-ha!! 

Each time I enter a new space, I immediately notice the decor.  I notice the furniture, accessories, lighting, artwork, rugs.  If I step into a space that is not very nice, I am thinking of ways that I can improve that space.  With this blog, I hope to share with you my decorating knowledge.  Hopefully the content of this blog will evolve over time.  Follow me on this adventure.