Candlewood Suites Goes Back to School for Suite Designs

Candlewood Suites, IHG's midscale extended-stay hotel brand, is taking a creative design approach for its next generation of standardized room décor packages. The brand has partnered with a graduate-level interior design class at the Savannah College of Art and Design to create fresh, modern designs to be implemented in public spaces and guest suites at existing and new Candlewood Suites hotels.

This project follows the highly successful redesign of the Staybridge Suites standardized room décor by SCAD students in 2009. The Staybridge Suites designs were unveiled to franchisees in late 2009 and are currently available for implementation at new Staybridge Suites locations across the U.S.

"The outcome of the Staybridge Suites project proved to us that pushing the conventional boundaries really can work in our hotels," said Robert Radomski, vice president, Global Brand Management, Extended-Stay Brands, IHG. "Bringing in students from outside our industry gives us the freedom to rethink the traditional theories of hotel design. It's especially important as an extended-stay brand that we come up with concepts for Candlewood Suites that echo the elements seen in current residential design, as our properties are the next best thing to home for our guests, who often stay with us for weeks at a time."

As part of the coursework, the group of seven students were challenged to truly understand the Candlewood Suites brand culture. The students toured the Candlewood Suites at the Savannah airport, researched the brand's history and studied current and previous design schemes. They will attend the 2010 Hospitality Design Expo, the industry's largest design show, on May 19-21 in Las Vegas, to learn about current trends in hospitality design. While in Las Vegas, the students will stay at the largest Candlewood Suites in the system, where they will interview hotel teams and guests. The students are also actively engaged with the IHG design and Candlewood Suites brand management teams, as well as a group of current Candlewood Suites owners, all to ensure that the proposed designs are the right fit for the brand.

The class is led by Professor Margo Jones, who has more than 25 years of experience in corporate design, including time with Gensler, a leading global architecture and interior design firm known for its hospitality design work.

"The projects with IHG have been a hallmark of SCAD's interior design program in the last two years," she said. "The interactive sessions between the students and the IHG team are collaborative learning at its best, and the benefit to each individual student is exceptional career preparation."

SCAD offers one of the largest and most professionally-engaged interior design programs in the U.S. Students benefit from the expertise of full-time faculty who hold terminal degrees in the field and who share a common belief that a holistic educational framework guides future professional development and inspires lifelong learning. The interior design program challenges students to become innovative designers who are capable of critical thinking and effective communication. Professional ethics and values are stressed within the context of social, environmental and global design practice.

Coursework for the Candlewood Suites project began in early April of this year, and in late May, the students will present their final design concepts. IHG's Plan Review Department together with the Candlewood Suites brand team will bring the designs to life, with model rooms expected to begin construction this fall.

Courtesy of Hotel News Resource

Luxury Denver Condo at SPIRE or $1 Million Cash Prize Up for Grabs in Colorado Charity Home Raffle

A chance to own a home on the 41st floor of SPIRE, Downtown Denver's newest urban high-rise, for just $100? It could happen for one lucky ticket holder in the Rocky Mountain Raffle, a home raffle benefiting Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver and other Colorado Boys & Girls Clubs. The grand prize winner will get their choice of the home or up to $1 million cash, and more than 100 other prizes will be awarded.

Would-be homeowners looking for hip, urban dwelling at one of Denver’s newest luxury condos, SPIRE, or $1 million cash, can win either in the Rocky Mountain Raffle, a home raffle ( to benefit Boys & Girls Club of Metro Denver and other Colorado Boys & Girls Clubs. Now through September, tickets can be purchased for $100 (discounts for multiples) online at ( or by calling 877-892-2999. The Grand Prize will be announced on September 24. Raffle hopefuls can check out their potential new home at SPIRE, located at the corner of 14th and Champa, on Saturday, May 22, from noon to 2 p.m.

More than 100 total raffle prizes will be awarded and no more than 30,000 tickets may be sold, giving participants a one in 300 (or better) chance of winning a prize of at least $200 in value. The grand prize winner will have their choice of a $1 million cash prize or a two or three-bedroom home on the 41st floor of SPIRE ( Situated in the heart of Denver’s Theatre District, in walking distance to sports, restaurants, galleries and shopping, SPIRE homes feature incredible views of the Front Range and the best of contemporary city living -- 10-foot ceilings, granite countertops and superior finishes. Amenities include a fitness center, box office, pools and private lounges.

“Boys & Girls Clubs is a community-supported organization with a mission of serving the young people who need us most,” says Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver President and CEO John Arigoni. “In times like these, we are challenged with finding innovative ways to raise the funds needed to provide our programs, and the Rocky Mountain Raffle is a unique way for caring individuals to help us continue to support some of Colorado’s most vulnerable families.”

Raffle proceeds benefit Boys & Girls Club of Metro Denver ( and other Colorado Boys & Girls Clubs ( At Boys & Girls Clubs, children and teens have access to homework help, arts activities, health programs, leadership programs, supervised games and activities, college prep assistance, sports and fitness activities, and guidance from trained, caring adult professionals. Boys & Girls Clubs also support Colorado families by keeping membership fees low and providing all youth, regardless of family income, with access to life-changing programs.

Participants can win multiple prizes by purchasing early, as all entrants will be eligible for all Early Bird Drawings (, as well as the Grand Prize of the SPIRE condo or $1 million cash. Players who purchase 3-packs of tickets (save $25) or 10-packs of tickets (save $200) not only have a greater chance of winning in all drawings, but will be entered into a bonus $5,000 drawing ( open only to multiple ticket holders. Additionally, each time a supporter refers a friend who also enters, both parties are entered into a bonus drawing ( with a prize of $5,000 to share.

To purchase tickets or get more information about the Rocky Mountain Raffle or Boys & Girls Clubs, visit or call 877-892-2999.

Contact Info
Loren Faye

Rule {6} Communications

Designers to Recreate the Hotel Design Experience

Two Australian design firms will create the interiors of two hotel rooms from idea to fruition while visitors watch at the inaugural Hotel, Hospitality + Design 2010 (HH+D) exhibition.

The Dulux Refurbishment Stage will be divided into two sections - one half will be a 5 star hotel room refurbishment and the other a 3-4 star hotel room makeover.

Jodi Foster and Elizabeth Tam have been chosen to apply their skills in turning the rooms into examples of cutting edge interior design based on cost restraints and guest expectations.

Elizabeth Tam from Elizabeth Tam Design Company is an interior designer in the hotel industry, specialising in innovative design concepts of new and refurbished international hotels. She has over 25 years experience and has completed 36 hotel projects.

Tam will be creating the 5 star hotel room on the Dulux Refurbishment Stage at HH+D 2010.

Jodi Foster from Foster and Associates has over 20 years experience and commenced her journey into international interiors in 1993 in Europe and Asia working for retail, hospitality and commercial corporations.

She has expertise in the translation of corporate or individual identities into branded environments – particularly within the hospitality sector.

Foster will be creating the 3-4 star hotel room on the Dulux Refurbishment Stage and will be aided by her colleague Penny Ward, who has 17 years experience as a professional designer with her specialty being the leisure, hotel and hospitality sector.

Facilitating the designers will be John Eussen, who specialises in innovative design concepts, new interior decorating practices and sustainable lifestyle trends.

The Dulux Refurbishment Stage will take place at HH+D 2010 three times daily.

The Hotel, Hospitality + Design 2010 show will be held May 24-26 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Courtesy of Architecture and Design

Designer, Decorator, Staging or Redesign: Explaining What you Do to Your Clients

Interior Design vs Interior Decorating vs Home Staging vs Interior Redesign – What’s the Difference?

The other day a real estate agent whose listings I stage for sale introduced me to someone as a “designer”. I didn’t want to take the time to correct him, but I thought to myself, “This isn’t the first time I’ve heard people use ‘designer’ erroneously. It’s often used to label someone who’s an interior decorator. So, why does everyone lump us all in one category, when we all clearly do something different?”

To put the differences succinctly:

Interior Design involves, among many other things, the preparation of documents often by a licensed professional for the construction of an interior space such as plans and elevations, and details and specifications, including lighting, power and communication locations, materials and finishes, and furniture layouts. Interior Decorating involves the adornment of surfaces in the interior space, such as fabrics, wall coverings, furniture, decorative accessories, flooring, light fixtures etc., and takes into account the lifestyle, taste, needs and preferences of the user of the space. While interior designers may decorate, interior decorators don’t design. Home Staging is preparing the home for sale through updates and “decorating” so that it appeals to the broadest range of buyers for the market that the home is in. Interior Redesign is often done by home stagers for homeowners not currently selling because it employs many of the same principles that home stagers use, such as primarily using what furniture and decorative accessories the homeowner already has, with an eye towards the future sale of the home.

Now, let’s explore each one more in-depth.

Interior Design

According to the National Council for Interior Design Qualifications (NCIDQ):

Interior design is a multi-faceted profession in which creative and technical solutions are applied within a structure to achieve a built interior environment. These solutions are functional, enhance the quality of life and culture of the occupants and are aesthetically attractive. Designs are created in response to and coordinated with thebuilding shell and acknowledge the physical location and social context of the project. Designs must adhere to code and regulatory requirements, and encourage the principles of environmental sustainability. The interior design process follows a systematic and coordinated methodology, including research, analysis and integration of knowledge into the creative process, whereby the needs and resources of the client are satisfied to produce an interior space that fulfills the project goals.

The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) is the leading organization for interior design professionals. Certain levels of its members must meet certain education, work experience and examination requirements administered by the NCIDQ. Further, some states have licensing requirements for interior designers which include the passage of this exam. ASID also has continuing education requirements for its members.

Interior Decorating

No wonder people often confuse Interior Decorating with Interior Design. Even I had trouble finding a definition for Interior Decorating. Often it said “see interior design”.

Perhaps its best to understand interior decorating as it exists in contrast to interior design:

An interior decorator would select floor coverings based upon the tastes and lifestyle of the client, whereas the interior designer would take it a step further and look at usage, sound transference, flammability, etc. An interior decorator would select lighting fixtures, whereas the interior designer would plan for the location of lighting and ensure that it is in compliance with building and safety codes. An interior decorator does not need to have any formal education and/or work experience, testing or licensing, whereas an interior designer does.

Home Staging

Home staging is the art and science of preparing a home for sale so that it appeals to the broadest range of buyers in order to sell quickly and for top dollar. The objective is to make the potential buyer fall in love with the home, envision themselves living there and aspire to the lifestyle the home portrays.

According to the Real Estate Staging Association’s Consumer’s Guide to Home Staging, it is a “systematic and coordinated methodology in which knowledge of real estate, home renovations and creative design principles are applied to attract a buyer.”

Home staging involves any or all of the following:

Evaluating what furniture and decorative accessories (throw pillows, artwork, decorative objects, lamps, knickknacks, etc.) the owner has, and:

- eliminating some of the furniture and/or decorative accessories, otherwise known as decluttering as well as depersonalizing (removal of family photos, trophies, collections etc. so the buyer can envision living there)

- arranging the furniture and accessories for optimal placement to enhance flow (the ability to walk freely through the room), focal point enhancement (e.g., emphasizing a fireplace or a beautiful view), balance (are there too many or too large pieces in the bookcase or on only one side of the room?) and the positive aspects of the home while downplaying the negatives

Carefully selecting for purchase or rent, if necessary, the appropriate furniture and accessories for the style of the home and it’s market. Recommending, implementing and/or arranging for enhancements, updates and repairs such as painting, flooring, sink fixtures, lighting fixtures, window treatments, landscaping, etc.

Interior Redesign

As stated above, interior redesign is like home staging, however it enhances the home for the homeowners rather than for potential buyers. And it does so with an eye towards its future sale. It is like home staging in that it primarily uses the client’s existing furniture and decorative accessories to transform the space, and may also involve the purchase of additional furniture and accessories as well as updates to the wall colors, window treatments, lighting fixtures etc.


To summarize the differences:

Interior Design involves the planning of all aspects of interior space often by a licensed professional. Interior Decorating involves the adornment of surfaces in the interior space. Interior designers may decorate, but interior decorators don’t design. Home Staging is preparing the home for sale through updates and showcasing so that it appeals to the broadest range of buyers for the market that the home is in. Interior Redesign employs many of the same principles that home stagers use, such as primarily using what furniture and decorative accessories the homeowner already has, with an eye towards the future sale of the home.

Courtesy of  Promua/

Tom Brokaw's Painter Can't Sue Designer

(CN) - A painter who fell while working on Tom Brokaw's house cannot personally sue the owner of the interior design group that hired his company, a New York appeals court ruled.

Anatoliy Segal fell off a scaffold while working on the home of Tom and Meredith Brokaw. Segal worked for Arete Group, which was hired by interior design group Kitty Hawks Inc.

The design company's owner and namesake, Kitty Hawks, filed a motion to be dismissed from the lawsuit. She argued that she was working for her company as an employee and had nothing to do with Segal's accident.

The trial court refused to dismiss Hawks from the case, but the justices of the Brooklyn-based Second Appellate Division reversed.

"There were no allegations personally implicating her in the accident, or accusing her of perpetrating a wrong or injustice against the plaintiff such that a court of equity will intervene to pierce the corporate veil and impose personal liability upon her," they wrote.

Courtesy of JEFF GORMAN/Courthouse News

PFISTER Custom Faucet Solutions Helps Designers

PFISTER Custom Faucet Solutions Helps Designers Create Differentiated Unique Faucets and Fixtures for a Truly One of a Kind Experience

The PFISTER Industrial Design Team leverages the Price Pfister 100-year heritage to transform inspiration and deliver never-before-seen designs at HD Expo. PFISTER Custom Faucet Solutions gives interior designers the unique opportunity to create one-of-a-kind, beautiful, high-quality pieces to differentiate them from the competition, at an unbeatable price and with minimal turnaround time.

Las Vegas, Nevada (PRWEB) May 19, 2010 -- PFISTER Custom Faucet Solutions (, a custom fixture design program from Price Pfister created primarily for the benefit of the hospitality industry, is on display this week at Hospitality Design Conference & Exposition (HD Expo) in Las Vegas. PFISTER Custom Faucet Solutions gives interior designers the unique opportunity to partner and work one-on-one with the PFISTER Industrial Design Team ( who are disciplined in traditional applied art while integrating state-of-the-art technology, to develop never-before-seen faucets and fixtures in as little as eight weeks.

"In the hospitality industry, exclusivity is something to strive for, but in today's economy, businesses are also working to keep their budgets lean," said Nick Kruse, marketing director, PFISTER. "PFISTER Custom Faucet Solutions enables clients on a budget to create one-of-a-kind, beautiful, high-quality pieces to differentiate them from the competition, at an unbeatable price and with minimal turnaround time."

Four-Step Design Process

Through a collaborative and proven four-step design process, the PFISTER Industrial Design Team transforms inspiration to deliver a precise manifestation of design intent every time.

"We're celebrating our 100th anniversary at Price Pfister this year, and we're very proud of our long-standing industry leadership and heritage of delivering beautiful, quality designs. Our talented designers are the backbone of this success and it's a thrill for them to be able to closely collaborate with fellow interior artists to bring unique visions to life," said Kruse.

The following outlines the four-step process of the design team:

1. Intent ( - Collaboration begins by reviewing architectural details of the project, renderings of guest rooms, or even rough paper sketches to define design intent.

2. Design ( - From sketch to digital renderings, the design team uses state-of-the-art equipment to develop the shape and form of the design. Based on original intent, the team will provide 10-12 faucet designs for review.

3. Engineer ( - From three selected design renderings, the engineering team will develop 3-D models integrating PFISTER quality valve technology to establish functionality. Ensuring the design intent is maintained throughout the entire process is the teams' top priority.

4. Produce ( - Using cutting-edge 3-D printers, rapid prototypes are developed to confirm the scale and proportionality for final design selection. Once the final design is approved, the team converts the chosen design into working samples for mock-up rooms as needed, at no extra charge.

Custom Platforms and Options

Clients partnering with the PFISTER Industrial Design Team, can not only create custom faucets and fittings, they also can create exclusive shower systems and showerheads, as well as bath accessories and hardware, for a fully-integrated and unique guest bath experience. PFISTER offers one of the largest selection of finishes in the industry with nearly 20 available. Whether a client wants to create 200 or over 1,000 guest rooms also is entirely their choice. PFISTER Custom Faucet Solutions aims to provide virtually limitless design possibilities to any designer, decorator or architect with a flair for personalization.

For those wanting a custom design but needing additional inspiration, PFISTER also offers clients an off-the-shelf catalog of modern and contemporary stock designs. Customers can order directly from the catalog or use it as inspiration for a new personalized design.

PFISTER Custom Faucet Solutions is on display May 19 - 21 at HD Expo in Las Vegas, booth No. 4966. For more information, please visit, or call 1-888-6PFCUSTOM (673-2878).

Environmental Sustainability

PFISTER believes faucets should function as beautifully on the inside as they are on the outside. As one of the first faucet companies to be certified by the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) WaterSense™ program, it almost goes without saying that custom fixtures can also be high-efficiency, low-flow, EPA WaterSense certified and/or meet new low-lead regulations. For more information on WaterSense faucets and environmental sustainability programs, click here (


PFISTER Custom Faucet Solutions is a part of Price Pfister Inc., a Stanley Black & Decker company based in Lake Forest, Calif. that has been a leading manufacturer of residential kitchen and bath fixtures for 100 years. In March of 2010, the Petaluma Two-Handle Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet by Price Pfister was honored with the Consumers Digest Best Buy distinction in the kitchen faucet category. PFISTER and Price Pfister products are differentiated by excellent quality and backed by a lifetime warranty, which covers finish and function for the life of the product. For more information on the entire suite of PFISTER or Price Pfister products, call 1-800-Pfaucet (1-800-732-8238) or visit

From NASCAR Pioneer to Design Maven, Shawna Robinson is Rewriting History Once Again

Shawna Robinson paved the way for women in NASCAR as the second and last woman ever to start and finish the Daytona 500. Now, as she turns her focus to design, her trailblazing Happy Chairs are poised to transform the world of interior design.

As the second and last female of all time to start and finish the Daytona 500, ex-NASCAR driver Shawna Robinson is no stranger to the annals of NASCAR history. Having spent nearly twenty years battling for position on the track, Robinson emerged as a true leader, paving the way for future female greats such as the now-notorious Danica Patrick. Yet, after a long and successful racing career, Robinson has switched gears and is leading the field once again through her ground-breaking chair design company, Happy Chair. ( (

When Robinson retired from NASCAR in 2005 to spend more time with her children, she began exploring her love and extreme talent for interior decorating. Throughout the next several years as word of her talent quickly spread, Robinson found herself decorating the homes and race shops of many NASCAR notables including Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne, Michael Waltrip and Martin Truex Jr., and rapidly emerged as one of North Carolina’s most sought-after interior designers. “After years of trailblazing success on the race track, I wanted to make a statement with this next chapter in my life as well,” states Robinson.

Yet one day while perusing for furnishings in a national furniture chain, Robinson found herself ogling over a display chair that was covered in an eclectic patchwork of fabric. “I looked at that chair and the light switch inside of me flipped on. I looked it and knew that not only could I replicate it, but that I could make one that was even better. At that moment I knew that I had found my second calling in life,” exclaims Robinson.

From that day forward, Robinson has parlayed her knack for interior design and leadership into a line of trendsetting chair designs that are taking the design world by storm, with one online magazine calling them “one of our favorite things ever.” As one happy customer states, “Shawna’s designs are truly breathtaking. I am an interior decorator myself and have never seen designs so transformational and awe-inspiring. A Happy Chair is the very first item that I purchase for each of my jobs and, without fail, every one of my customers thanks me endlessly for bringing it into their home. They are legendary!”

Robinson begins the process by searching for older chairs that may look ratty and beat up on the outside but that have great structure and architectural design on the inside. She then tears them down to their bare bones and begins the process or rebuilding them, one arm, one leg and one piece of fabric at a time. Using her uncanny ability to piece together unique pattern, color and texture combinations, Robinson literally creates a work of art with every chair. “My mind constantly races with ideas, colors and shapes. I want each chair to have a life of its own; to be the perfect combination of elegant, funky and fun so that it will truly make you happy every time you look at it or sit in it.”

By combining designs such as human-sized fabric cut outs of trees and flowers with fabrics such as faux fur, polka dots, stripes, and feathers, each chair is a true masterpiece and the centerpiece of any home. Says one happy customer, “Shawna’s Happy Chairs are absolutely gorgeous and famously fun. There is not a day that goes by when I don’t look at my own and thank the heavens that I found Shawna. Her chairs are truly and amazing and I can’t wait to watch her as she conquers the design world!”

“People love color and fun, but aren’t always sure how to bring it into their homes. That is what I’m here for; to make your home beautiful while also making you smile,” says Robinson. (

Fix & Flip Network Launches New Website

New Site Features Thousands of Home Improvement Videos and Enhanced Interactive Map System to Help Homeowners & Home Buyers Find Local Resources.

Milwaukee, WI (Vocus) --National Fix and Flip Network, the leading online information resource for homebuyers, homeowners, suppliers, and real estate investors, launched its new website ( today making it even easier for users to access, find, and share a wealth of home improvement tips and information.

“The site has grown tremendously over the past year, and our new design reflects and supports that continued trend. ” notes Vice President, National Fix & Flip Network, Eric Dale. “The new website allows us to provide a broad range of interactive content to anyone interested in buying, selling, or fixing real estate. Our site now includes discussion forums as well as links to our communities on popular social networks such as; Facebook (, Twitter (, and YouTube (, where our audience can interact, share articles, discuss ideas, and meet other homeowners or suppliers. ”

Some of the exciting new features and information now available at include:

• Thousands of how-to and home improvement tips videos including the “HOMEwork” ( Show

• Interactive map and search system to help users find homes for sale, foreclosure listings, rental properties, mortgage lenders, real estate agents, or contractors within 1 mile of desired location

• Daily tips and articles on do-it-yourself improvements, repairs, decorating, financing, and more

• Targeted directory listings available to contractors and suppliers that put their message and service in front of hundreds of thousands of site members

• Newsletter full of articles, tips, and advice

• “Fix-it” forums and discussion boards including a classified ad section for members

• Contests – including Fix & Flip’s $150,000 “Fix for Free” Giveaway and the $50,000 “Fix My Ugly Room” Contest, many others are added regularly
The new website also includes discounts, coupons, and special offers for anything related to home buying, investing, or improvement. There is also a section featuring entertaining online games.

About National Fix & Flip Network

National Fix and Flip Network is the leading information resource for homebuyers, homeowners, suppliers, and real estate investors. The website features instant access to real estate news, home improvement tips, articles, how-to guides, discounts, contests, sweepstakes, success stories, and thousands of do-it-yourself videos. Homeowners, Real Estate Agents, and service providers can easily search our nationwide listings of agents, classifieds, building suppliers, available properties, mortgage lenders, events, and more. The National Fix & Flip Network is a "one-stop" shop that helps you "do your homework" and buy like the pros! For more information visit:

Celebrity Designer Tessa Prieto-Valdes Designs HP Luxry Condos

Up Close and Personal with Tessa

CELEBRITY socialite Tessa Prieto-Valdes does not have one single favorite color. “I love all the colors of the rainbow!” she declared gleefully when she came to visit Davao last week with the world’s largest technology company, Hewlett Packard (HP), to promote the brand’s current HP Twice as Many Prints promo.

Tessa will be the Official Interior Designer of the grand prize of HP’s promo: two condominium units at the exclusive Forbeswood Parklane Luxury Residences in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. Each condo is worth P3.5 million. Customers get the chance to win by purchasing original HP ink cartridges and by registering at HP’s website. She will be unleashing her creative designs to the condo units using one of HP’s innovative large-format Scitex printers that can print on just about any rigid surface—whether big door or a small vase.

Seeing Tessa walk in the room in her bright paisley-accented dress, donning a gigantic headdress with a giant turquoise ribbon decorated with sequins and feathers sticking out to anyone who might get in her way, would give you the impression that she’s a die-hard fashionista. But she’s more than that.

She’s a licensed interior designer by profession (the brains behind the designs of offices, hotels and Belo clinics), a mom, a wife, a philanthropist, a poker-enthusiast, a writer, and a bubbly people person—all in one. She was also the host of a TV show about urban living called House Life in QTV 11.

The epitome of fun, modern, and creative urban living gets up close and personal with the Times. Here, she talks about designing, her design inspirations, and why her bedroom’s red. Really.

When designing, how do you deal with and balance the customers’ wants and your personal ‘professional’ preferences?

I come in as an architect-designer, wherein I make sure that the proportion is right. I get all the information and design details from customers, because I believe that design is highly personalized. I want to make it more of them … but of course I have to incorporate my own.

I love space planning. I’m really challenged with small, compact spaces. I think the biggest challenge is [designing] the bedroom, because [I] can never know who’s the master: the wife or the husband. I sometimes find myself as a psychiatrist and a marriage counselor because I have to act neutral. *laughs*

Which part of the house do you like to design and fiddle with the most?

The living room! Because I really love to entertain. All my parties are in there, so love decorating my living room and changing it to a theme. Over Christmas, [my living room’s theme] was under the sea! I had these balls, shells and giant starfish all over. I really love the living room because that’s where all my friends and family really hang out.

Which part of the house do like to hang out in and lounge the most?

Of course the bedroom, with the kids.

What’s your bedroom like?

My bedroom’s red!


Yes! In fact, it’s not supposed to be [according to Feng Shui]. But I really love red, because for me, red is passion.

Do you get to fiddle with your bedroom also?

Yes. I change [the insides of] my bedroom a lot—maybe quarterly, because I try to get rid of stuff. I like to change the paintings, the pillows and the bed sheets and covers, and I just donate na lang to the *pauses* whoever. *laughs*

Why is harmony in design or in ones home important?

Harmony is very important, especially when it comes to colors. In Feng Shui, which I am also into, it’s really necessary that you are in harmony with your space. You can tell if you’re not when you have restless sleep.

So I really recommend that you don’t have a TV or a computer in your bedroom because you’re changing the energy, you’re creating some sort of a heat energy. Enclose your TV in a sliding door or separate yourself from it [when you want to sleep]. If you think about it, if you have a TV [in your bedroom] you won’t talk with your husband or sleep—you’ll just watch TV!

It’s also very important today now that space is already a luxury.

What’s your fantasy home? Have you been some place else which you’d like to, in the near future, call your own?

Before, what I wanted was a beach house. Now I want a resort in Machu Pichu or something like that. I’m so into these exotic locations now. I want to go more and more and see the world.

But I’m also discovering the Philippines more. I recently went my first ever trip to Siargao, and I discovered super beautiful resorts [like Pansukian Tropical Resort] there!

Where do you get your inspiration for your designs?

Well, I was recently in South America—and I’m so in love with Buenos Aires. I get my inspiration from my travels and from magazines, reading people’s travel experiences. I’m constantly looking. My dreams and inspirations constantly change!

Design is not just a hobby. It’s something that people need to live with—tastefully. Y’know, if you have a home, you can really make it more personalized. Good designs lead up to good energy and harmony flow. They also show that you are doing proper space planning, where all the elements are covered.

What is your advice to those who want to design or plan their own space?

You gotta be creative. You have to keep your mind always open. You have to constantly want to explore and to get creative and to just get inspiration. Inspiration is everywhere. If you stop being inspired, then you stop designing. Keep getting inspired. *laughs*

Courtesy of  Boga , Jessy / Mindanao

Choice Hotels Redesigns Brands

Choice Hotels International has announced a redesign of its Sleep Inn brand that promotes a good night's rest. Five design themes will be available at all new-build hotels: Sky, Sprout, Terra Cotta, Summer, and Grove, each of which were designed to reflect the variety of landscapes and regions across the country. A cost-effective renovation program for existing hotels is also available to franchisees.

Highlights of the new design include:

•New lobby designs with warm, natural finishes; unique lighting features; and graphic accent walls

•Guestrooms redesigned with accent walls, new media boards with flatscreen TVs, sleek new furniture lines, leaning mirrors, zebra-patterned wood finishes, innovative bedding coverlets plus bedscarfs, and collages of black and white photography

•Spa-like baths that feature freestanding vanities, modern wall sconces, accent walls, frameless glass showers, and bamboo-like tiles

•Redesigned exterior with natural stone finishes, feature lighting, an enhanced tower feature, low roof profile, and broad overhangs

Three Sleep Inn hotels have already implemented the new look.

Courtesy of Hospitality Design

Christina Aguilera Makes Over Ozzie's Mansion

Singer Christina Aguilera and family liked the Osbourne mansion so much...they put a bid on it, and won. For over a year, the former "Genie in a Bottle," along with her husband (music producer Jordan Beatman) and son Max have enjoyed living in the 11,000 sqft mansion once owned by the Osbourne clan. In a recent interview with Telegraph UK , Aguilera opens up about the transition into their new home. "We kept certain elements, because there was also a homage-paying factor that was really fun."

But, do not be fooled. While Aguilera enjoys the history of the former rocker's home, she had to put her own touch on things. Hiring interior designers, "Project Pop Royalty: was in full effect brightening up the interiors with brillant colors, and posh chandeliers. Though the master bedroom still maintains a bordello flare, the rest of the house boasts glamour and vibrance. This is an uplifting change from the once beige mansion.

We want you to be the judge. What do you think about Christina's makeover of the Osbourne mansion?

Courtesy of The Fabulous Tanvier Lee/The Examiner

Eco-Entrepreneur Robin Wilson on Green Design at 7 W NY

NEW YORK, NY - Robin Wilson, interior designer and owner of Robin Wilson Home, will headline 7 W's next Designer Day in 7 W New York's Event Suite on Tuesday, June 15th at 11:30 AM.

The eco-entrepreneur will discuss the ins and outs of green design and will offer insight into how to create an eco - healthy home. Discussing everything from the "foundation to the furniture," Wilson will offer her expertise on the green aspect of residential and commercial design. She will also sign copies of her new book, Kennedy Green House, which details her recently cmpleted work on Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s private residence. The book offers a sneak peek into the Kennedy abode and features the latest tips and trends on creating an environmentally responsible home.

For complete and updated information about 7 W New York and to register for the Design Day Event, visit

Courtesy of Gifts and Tablewares

Designer of 7 Star Hotel on His Minimalist Digs

I design 7-star hotels full of gold, but prefer my minimalist pad

He's famed for his Dubai palaces, but John Elliott is planning a new life in France...

He has designed and planned the world's most expensive hotels. But inside John Elliott's £2.25 million home on the edge of Putney Heath there are no crystal chandeliers, marble and gold bathrooms or any other signs of the opulence he is normally associated with.

John was architect of the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi, estimated to have cost £2 billion when it opened in 2004. But while dedicating his career to designing seven-star hotels that fetch £8,000 a night from the world's richest guests, he insists he has been equally satisfied restoring and extending the simpler, cleaner lines of his Thirties West London house.

When John, 73, first laid eyes on the home he named Moonside, it was in dire need of repair, but he leapt at the chance to rescue this early example of modern design.

Modern man: John Elliott's house, Moonside, was built in 1935 by Thomas Wallis, an architect who designed the Tate Gallery

The property was built in 1935 by Thomas Wallis, an architect who designed the Tate Gallery and the Hoover factory, just as the Modern Movement began to influence residential UK architecture.

Now, after 18 years, John, with his wife Erica, 56, and daughters Kelsey, a 26-year-old interior designer, and Yolande, 25, a fashion model, is selling up to move to France.

He retired earlier this year from his role as senior vice-president of Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo (WATG), one of the world's largest hotel design groups, although he is still in high demand working freelance in the United Arab Emirates and Africa.

'I loved the responsibility of improving this house while at the same time preserving the original vision,' says John.

'We have lived here for 18 years and the location, next to acres of open heath, is terrific. But now my daughters are old enough to do their own thing and, because my work is worldwide, I can live anywhere.'

He and his wife plan to buy a house in the South of France.

In his long career, John has been responsible for designing the exclusive hotel accommodation at Jumeirah Beach Residence in Dubai and a palace for the Sultan of Brunei.

Before Moonside, John lived in Hong Kong for seven years, but in 1991 he was invited to open a London branch of WATG so he moved back to this country and a five-bedroom house in Poole, Dorset.

Unable to sell his Poole house for 18 months when the previous property recession kicked in, John quickly tired of the long commute to London and began looking for a home in the capital. A friend in Putney Heath alerted him to a house being sold under probate in a cul-de-sac filled with similar flat-roofed and white-rendered Thirties homes.

'I bought it for a bargain £235,000,' says John, 'but the roof leaked, the bathrooms needed replacing and the whole house needed rewiring and replumbing.

'I also felt the kitchen was in the wrong place and the integral garage was a waste, so there was a lot to do.'

He spent an estimated £400,000, adding a rear dining area and a fourth bedroom above it, both looking on to a moderate-size garden.

Then at the front he added a flat-roofed porch and a new single-storey double garage, planting exotic ferns and palm trees behind restored boundary walls.

The integrated garage was converted into a downstairs annexe, with a bedroom, bathroom and kitchenette, and John moved the main kitchen to the other side of the house to utilise the inviting French windows for the perfect informal dining space.

Upstairs, he created a small study and utility room as well as a stunning en suite bathroom for the master bedroom.

'The Modern Movement was about making everything clean and simple,' says John.

'They loved flat roofs and cantilevered lintels so they could make windows go round corners, but everything was very geometric and that's the brief I had to adhere to.'

Everywhere you look there are signs of good design, especially in hidden full-length wall cupboards offering a cunningly concealed downstairs toilet and storage to compensate for the lack of loft.

The kitchen may be from IKEA and the floors Amtico, but the Brazilian granite worktop and careful selection of floor patterns show John's careful approach.

The most striking feature of the house is the centrepiece staircase at the end of the long hallway. The spiral steel steps have a glass-block exterior wall following their curves and fill the room with light.

'In the Thirties they might have tried building a staircase like this in concrete because they had just discovered the speed the medium offered,' says John. 'But that would have blocked out most of the light and it's far better to have open gaps between each step.'

John initially intended to retire eight years ago, but WATG was busier than ever at the start of the last decade so he stayed.


•Price: £2.25 million.
•Bedrooms: Five, one in a downstairs annexe.
•Bathrooms: Three, one en suite, and one cloakroom.
•Reception rooms: Kitchen/diner, open-plan lounge/diner.
•Outside: Front and back gardens, double garage.
Agent: Hamptons, 020 8780 0077.

'There hasn't been a slow-down in all areas of UAE and I am working on a 2,000-key hotel project,' he says. 'I'm not stopping, I've just scaled back a bit.'

Alistair Shaw, of Hamptons' Putney branch, says prices in Putney have recovered to 2007 pre-crash levels. The growth has been fuelled by shortage of supply - the first quarter saw demand up by 79 per cent compared with this time last year, but supply was down 30 per cent.

'Most are cash buyers who realise they have to pull out every stop to secure the property they want,' says Shaw.

'This house is unusual because most of Putney is Victorian and the only other houses like this are in that same cul-de-sac, so that attracts a price premium.'

Courtesy of Author Mark Anstead/ The Daily Mail; Photos Courtesy of  David Poole

David Kensington: Balancing Comfort and Sophistication

David Kensington started out as an architect, and today he also owns a construction company, but he is perhaps best known for designing high-end residential interiors. Since launching Kensington & Associates ( 10 years ago, he has amassed an impressive list of clients with homes in some of San Francisco's toniest neighborhoods, as well as the Peninsula, Monterey and the Wine Country.

His most recent project is the living room of the San Francisco Decorator Showcase, which is open to the public through the end of the month. The classically designed space - with its soothing palette of cream, green and apricot - is a perfect balance of comfort (a pair of tufted sofas) and sophistication (antiques and modern art).

Although Kensington enjoys participating in the event in large part because it benefits the scholarship program at University High School, it's also "an opportunity to design in a fun, fast-paced environment," he said. Major renovations and new construction are the norm for his firm, which means most jobs last three to five years. "This is just straight decorating, which we usually don't get to do until the end of a project." (

One of Kensington's favorite aspects of the design process is the interaction with clients. "It's nice to guide them down the path, educate them about what great architecture looks like, take their ideas and expand on them or make them better than they can express," he said.

The Kensington Cheat Sheet

On good design: "Create a home that is true to the architectural tradition it represents. Whether classical or modern, all good design must suit both the architecture of the house and the lifestyle of those who inhabit it."

Local talent: "Aedicule Fine Framemaking provided extraordinary finish details at the 2010 Showcase. The owners, Peter Werkhoven and Mark Guthrie, are contributing columnists to several publications and offer consultations to the retail and accessories industry. They also conduct seminars, encompassing the history of frames and elements of the frame-making craft. Peter attained the skills of master framemaker in his native Amsterdam. Mark has been a notable resource in the industry since 1978." (

The Paris review: "I frequent Paris several times a year and when on highly focused buying trips, seek out the rare Art Deco collections to be found at Anne Sophie Duval. Located on the Left Bank off the Boulevard St. Germain, she features the best of Art Deco and Art Nouveau - including the work of Jean-Michel Frank. The noted French interior designer was known for minimalist interiors decorated with plain-lined but sumptuous furniture made of luxury materials, such as shagreen, mica and intricate straw marquetry." (

Essential architectural principle: "Enfilade is the idea of creating a visual journey that draws you further into a space and ends with a completion - a kind of visual reward. This is a highly effective way of creating a compelling design experience to move you through spaces that are evocative of different moods and invite different gatherings. I employ this principle as a rule, to further highlight the architectural purity of a space."

Courtesy of  Anh-Minh Le/SFGate

Read more:

Floss Barber: Designs on the Money

Casino Companies Have Come to Rely on One Designer to Help Keep Customers on Their Properties

PHILADELPHIA - Floss Barber goes through a mental ritual before creating one of her signature casino restaurants. It's a process that served her well when she set out to design dining spaces at the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pa., and the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh.

"You must psych a city," said the Philadelphia interior designer, CEO of Floss Barber Inc. "You must feel the pulse of it."

Last year, Barber "psyched" the City of Brotherly Love, where she is currently designing the SugarHouse Casino, including all of its food and beverage venues and its gaming floor.

Her assessment: "Philadelphia is a blue-collar, gritty city," she said. "You have to do something quirky - something it can call its own.

"If the brand, marketing goal and vision are not in sync, you send a mixed message to the customer, and it's wasted energy. You end up needing more signs and staffing to overcome the disconnect."

Her methodical approach and uncompromising attention to detail have put Barber in high demand in an industry in transition.

These days, casinos in resort towns such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City, N.J., are promoting their restaurants, shopping malls and hotel rooms more than ever to draw business as increased competition eats into their overall gambling revenue.

Last year, nongambling attractions accounted for almost 62 percent of total revenue for the Las Vegas Strip's 38 casinos, the Nevada Gaming Control Board said. Ten years ago, that figure was 54 percent.The paradigm is shifting in Atlantic City, too, although not as quickly. Nongambling attractions now account for about 15 percent of total revenue, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission said. In 2000, 8.4 percent came from those sources.

In Columbus, casino developer Penn National says it plans to include a buffet, steakhouse and entertainment lounge at its West Side location, on the site of the former Delphi plant. Eric Schippers, senior vice president of Penn, said the company is "still working on the master plan" for the casino, expected to open in late 2012, but that its amenities should be similar to those at Penn's Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg, Ind., a short drive from Cincinnati.

Schippers said Penn's Final Cut steakhouse brand "has been very successful for us. This upscale dining option is an important amenity for us and another way to compete with gaming facilities in neighboring jurisdictions."

Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, whose name is on the two restaurants at the Sands Casino Casino Resort in Bethlehem, and Barber hit it off immediately when they were introduced by casino president Robert DeSalvio two years ago. Barber worked with DeSalvio in the mid-1990s, when he was vice president of marketing at the Sands Hotel Casino in Atlantic City.

Barber landed both gigs: Chop House, a midpriced steakhouse, and Burgers and More, a bright burger joint.

"Her team really hit it out of the park," Lagasse said. "She understood the vibe we were going for."

The customer wants to eat, be entertained, gamble, and be able to buy something, Barber said. "The name of the game is to keep them on the property - whichever way you can."

"You're designing for the traveling public," Barber said. "It's more showbiz and theater."

Credit: Suzette Parmley/The Philadelphia Inquirer

Thom Filicia Designs Pieces Named After NY Landmarks

Familiar Furniture: CNY native Thom Filicia designs pieces named after local landmarks

Celebrity designer Thom Filicia's house may scream Skaneateles lakefront, but his table says Eastwood and his bed is all Mattydale.

Filicia, the former "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" interior designer who now hosts "Dress my Nest" on the Style Network, recently launched a 69-piece furniture collection. Every piece in the collection is named after a Central New York spot, said Filicia, a Syracuse University graduate who was born and raised in Syracuse and bought a vacation house in Skaneateles last year.

"I have cousins who live on Robineau Road," he said, explaining why he named two mirrors in his collection after the Syracuse street. "The Slocum Hall side table looks like it was designed by architects and Slocum Hall is where the (SU) School of Architecture is. The Solvay table is made out of metal and Solvay has the metal (Crucible) plant."

When determining the names of his pieces, he said, "I would look at the piece and see what came to mind."

Some of the namesakes are inside jokes with his friends, he said. Some pieces, perhaps, reminded him of a friend's grandmother's house, he said.

Filicia said he started designing the collection about two years ago. For years, he said, he's designed custom furniture for his clients and many of the pieces are mass-production-adapted versions of pieces he's built over the years. The furniture is produced by Vanguard, a company in North Carolina.

Filicia debuted his collection about six months ago and a few stores in Los Angeles and Florida just began carrying the line. Otherwise, the furniture is not yet available to the public.

He's in negotiations with Stickley, Audi & Co. and others, he said.

"It's definitely coming to Syracuse," he said. "We're just waiting to see who wants to carry us."

One spot where the furniture will be, Filicia said, is his Skaneateles Lake house. Filicia bought the house last year and has been slowly renovating it since. The renovation is about three months from completion, he said.

The pieces cost between $600 and several thousand dollars, he said. Individual piece prices are available by calling Vanguard. Central New Yorkers who want to buy pieces can order them online at

What parts of CNY would you name your furniture after?

Thom Filicia named a chest after the Wellington House in Fayetteville and chair after the Century Club in Syracuse. If you were a furniture designer creating pieces named after CNY spots, what would you make? E-mail your ideas to The most creative (or funniest) entry will receive a free copy of Filicia's book, "Style." Please write "Filicia" in the e-mail's subject line.

Credit: Pam Lundborg/
Photography Credit: The Post Standard

Q & A with Interior Designer Kay Lang, Designer of Mandarin Oriental Residences

Careful orchestration helps create spatial serenity at Mandarin Oriental


Designer Kay Lang's best work fits like a favorite pair of jeans: It's something that you want to be in again and again because it's so comfortable and feels so good.

Lang heads a self-named 10-year-old, Los Angeles-based design practice specializing in hospitality, commercial and high-end residential interiors. Her spaces are serene and uplifting, subtly detailed and smartly appointed.

Lang created the interiors department for Nadel Architects, an award-winning global architecture practice, before launching her own firm in 2000. She has created interiors for Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale's, Saks Fifth Avenue, the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, Calif., the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, Calif., and Chicago's Le Méridian. Lang's projects extend from Vancouver, British Columbia, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to Greece and China. She now adds Las Vegas to her résumé of global accomplishments.

Lang recently finished the common areas and interiors for Mandarin Oriental's 227 residences at CityCenter. The one-, two- and three-bedroom residences range in size from 1,110 square feet up to 4,000 square feet, with fully furnished home packages available. Asian-inspired interiors consist of light-filled, organic spaces that reflect a deep connection with nature. Lang deftly brings the outdoors inside through carefully orchestrated touches such as diffuse lighting and floating wall dividers; verdant plant-life and objects found in nature are used as ornamentation while shapes and patterns reflect the elements. A feng shui consultant made certain that the building maintained a positive energy flow.

Lang is a protégée of Tosh Yamashita. In 2006, she was inducted into the "Platinum Circle for Lifetime Achievement" by Hospitality Design magazine. Las Vegas Business Press recently spoke with Lang about her CityCenter experience and thoughts about the future of Southern Nevada design.

Question: What was the concept for your design?

Answer: We designed this project with a sense of place to match the Mandarin Oriental's philosophy of service and style. The residential component had to tie into that. We wanted to create an Asian-inspired feel with minimalist lines that would serve as a retreat from the craziness of Las Vegas. It's designed to be quiet. Since the shape of the building is open and flowing, we also tried to forge a basic connection with the surrounding desert and mountain range; it served as an inspiration for our palette. We didn't want to be trendy. We wanted to give each resident a unique experience with luxurious finishes in a contemporary context.

Question: What do you want a visitor to take away from being in one of your spaces?

Answer: I want them to feel that they are in a special place. As the first nongaming property on the Strip, it was important to have a sophisticated setting. We want visitors to feel tranquil and comfortable. We want to transport them to a private retreat where they can close the door and leave the noise behind. With 24-hour room and concierge service, they never have to leave home.

Question: In a city like Las Vegas that constantly reinvents itself, how do you create a timeless design?

Answer: CityCenter will survive the test of time because it's elegantly conceived; it's not trendy or themed. It has a sophisticated design that feels very urban, with Aria as a crowning jewel. It proves that gaming can be designed in a new milieu. It's the newest in classic elegance, serving as a distinctive addition to the Las Vegas skyline.

Question: Will this project attract a different type of visitor to Las Vegas?

Answer: The person that purchases a unit inside Mandarin Oriental is a special kind of individual. They have traveled around the world and seen a lot of properties. They expect a certain level of service and the newest in technology. It also has unobstructed, expansive views from all the units, which is something you don't typically find in most properties.

Question: Do you think CityCenter will influence future resort and entertainment design in Las Vegas?

Answer: CityCenter took more of an urban approach toward design that the world will look at. Its success will occur over the next few years, as people decide whether that vocabulary of architecture works or not. Who would have thought that all those different architectures could mesh together so seamlessly while still maintaining their uniqueness? It's very interesting. I think it will influence the future of design.

Courtesy of journalist Tony Illia
Contact reporter Tony Illia at or 702-303-5699.

Diane von Furstenberg and Claridge's Collaborate on Series of Rooms and Suites

Diane von Furstenberg and Claridge's Collaborate on Series of Rooms and Suites

May 4, 2010 - New York, New York

Iconic fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg is taking her signature style across the pond with her first-ever interior design project, a series of rooms and suites at Claridge's, one of London's most legendary hotels.

As a loyal returning guest of Claridge's since the 1970s, von Furstenberg's iconic prints and bold colors feel right at home in the ultra-luxe hotel. “One of my fondest memories was when I was in London as a young, independent businesswoman and stayed at Claridge’s. I knew I had made it. To me, Claridge’s is the most glamorous hotel in the world; I regard it as my home away from home,” remarks von Furstenberg. “I am honored to become part of the hotel’s legacy and rich design history.”

“For more than a century, Claridge’s has stood as an emblem of timeless glamour,” says Maybourne Hotel Group CEO Stephen Alden. “Our collaboration with the talented Diane von Furstenberg is the latest storyline within our history of forward-thinking design. Diane’s personal love and passion for Claridge’s provides a unique perspective which she will draw upon in executing her creative vision.”

Visit to find out more.

Courtesy of our fabulous friends at Elite Traveler Magazine: The Private Jet Lifestyle Magazine

Designer Barry Dixon Offers Free Decor Advice

Designer Barry Dixon Offers Decor Advice at Grosse Pointe Farms Show

As a child, Barry Dixon moved often with his parents, living in exotic locales such as India, Korea, South Africa and French Polynesia.

Today, as a renowned interior designer, many of the influences he absorbed as a global nomad are reflected in his work, which blends classical architecture and traditional inspirations with elements of modern design.

The result is a warm, elegant style that has been showcased in leading shelter magazines such as Metropolitan Home and House Beautiful, where he has been ranked among America's top designers six times. He's also featured in the May-June issue of Veranda, on newsstands now.

Dixon once designed a suite for ABC news anchor Diane Sawyer in a Traditional Home magazine show house and has appeared several times on TV, including a week on "Good Morning America," decorating a living room.

On June 4, Dixon will be guest speaker at the 26th Christ Church Grosse Pointe Antiques Show in Grosse Pointe Farms, and will sign copies of his book, "Barry Dixon Interiors," by Brian D. Coleman (Gibbs Smith, $40).

Dixon, 51, paused this week from his busy schedule -- he recently designed a home in Beijing for a Russian billionaire -- to talk to Homestyle about design.

You're a master of mixing old and new in fresh combinations. What's the trick?

Find something in common and use that as a link, something that connects the aesthetic dots. Maybe all these things you're collecting are carved wood with fluid organic forms, so you take carved Victorian pieces and mix them with clean modern elements. They'll work together because they have a relationship stylistically.

Or, you find something that plays against the style on purpose. If one thing is modern -- simple, minimal, angular and blocky -- then put something effusive, carved and curvilinear next to it. Such juxtaposition highlights diversity, sort of like masculine and feminine. In a strange way, you're showing off every nuance of each piece -- you see all of its qualities. At the same time, you create an interesting balance. It's almost like a good marriage -- often people pick a mate who's everything they're not and together they're successful.

The thing you can't do is mindlessly throw things together and call it "eclectic." That's often a catchall phrase when things are paired without reason or purpose.

Describe your color philosophy.

It's all about the psychology of a room -- what you want that room to be. If it's a chill-out room, you want colors that are calming: pale greens, grays, quiet blues -- serene tones that you see in a spa. If you need to be awakened, in a kitchen, maybe you need orange and yellow, or red and white checks.

What inspires your palette?

I'm inspired by the colors of nature, and I love to bring the outside in -- whatever I see through the window of a home. If I'm in the Caribbean, I'm seeing turquoise water and chartreuse banana leaves. In Manhattan, I'd use gray, black and silver in a penthouse, but I wouldn't use those colors in my Virginia farmhouse.

Just as eyes are a window to the soul, you have to look through the eyes of the house, the windows, to ... make it feel like it has an honest connection to the world. They'll unite interior space to exterior and almost make the inside bigger. It really does happen -- any time you blur a boundary you open a space.

Any tips to transition a home from winter to spring?

I just do furniture arrangement -- a little less fireplace-centric, and a little more view. Put the big sofa so that it looks out at the view, angle the chairs so they look out at the flowers.

Bring fresh flowers inside to remind us of the season -- don't use spring daffodils and tulips in winter.

What one change gives the most bang for the buck?

Bring color to your life. Color changes everything. Change the color behind you on the wall, bring in some bright pillows. It's always the quickest fix and people can do it themselves.

What's a typical mistake and how can we avoid it?

People buy gigantic sets of things that all match; the entire room has such a specific look that it's boring. You wouldn't wear all denim. You've got to break it up and mix: mix the high and low, the old and new, the formal and informal and you've got something that feels modern. It's the mixing of things that makes it personal -- that's how you put the "you" in your home.

Pick a chair from Pottery Barn and an antique console from the antiques show and mix them together. The expensive piece brings up the inexpensive piece, and the common piece makes the rarefied piece approachable. If everything in the living room is all treasured things, it feels stilted and on display, not relaxed. Mixing knocks it off the "don't touch me" pedestal and makes it hospitable and approachable.

Are some of us hopeless?

I don't think anyone is hopeless. You just need to look at everything with an open eye. Some people get too hung up on the way things have always been. Designers come in with a fresh eye -- we're not married to the fact that the buffet has to go in the dining room because it came with the table 20 years ago. Move the buffet to the big foyer in your big new house. Change the fabric on the two arm chairs and move them to the living room fireplace. Find a beautiful pair of antique chairs and use those in the dining room instead.

You've not only broken up the set, you've united three separate rooms -- there's a unifying aesthetic. People will think you got all new furniture and everything feels fresh.

More expert tips from Barry Dixon :

Keep the sun shining year-round by using textiles inspired by light: tangerine, lemon, orange, red, gold.

Don't be afraid to downplay a serious antique with an amusing accent to keep it from becoming too formal and unapproachable.

A lowered ceiling instantly makes a dining room more intimate.

Use warm, stimulating colors for conversation areas -- fire-glow reds, ember oranges and golds.

Travel mementos, especially handcrafted and ethnic pieces, make striking accents and mix well with modern design.

Extend draperies above a window to make the window seem taller.

Antiques are environmentally conscious, green decorating -- no new trees are cut down.

Don't shortchange children -- give them a beautiful room they can enjoy and they will grow up with an appreciation of good design.

Hang a collection of framed art tightly together like a windowpane to give it more power and impact.

Upholster the walls of a noisy room to absorb sound.

Visually expand or camouflage the perimeter of a square room with a circular carpet.

Use repetition of basic geometric shapes -- circles, squares and diamonds -- as a tool to link different elements in a room.

Color shy? Introduce a bold color in areas not in daily use -- a formal dining, living room or guestroom.

Hang a lamp over a desk to give more tabletop space and keep the surface uncluttered.

If you live in the city bring urban materials back inside with glass, iron, stone and brick.

Mirrored furniture disappears and appears to take up less space in tight quarters.

Mix masculine and feminine elements in a master bedroom so both partners feel at home -- for example, masculine, natural woods combine well with pretty French toiles.

Let your imagination run wild in a small powder room and cover it from top to bottom with shells, fabric or an arresting mural.

A small room with low ceilings seems larger when walls and ceiling are painted one enveloping color..

Modern elements can be successfully incorporated in period interiors when linked by colors or patterns.

Courtesy of Susan R. Pollack/The Detroit News
Detroit News Design Writer"> (313) 222-2665