How to make modern silhouette art

In my design school days I often used silhouette art as inspiration for my projects. I was drawn to its graphic detailed quality that held it’s nostalgic charm. Silhouette art was introduced sometime between the 17th and 18th century in the Victorian Era. I have found through some research that it began in Europe and eventually became exceedingly popular in the 18th century in America, where artist were employed as a way to capture dignified portraits of American aristocrats, politicians, and common folk alike.

As a mother I thought I would love to have one of these for my self. However, as a designer I thought how can I make it work for my home? I needed to update this Victorian Granny into the Hip Modern Mother that I am. Plus, I also don’t have a lot of time as working mom and wanted something I could do in a day or so. By the way, once I got all my materials in order this project took me about an hour!

First I want to show you some examples of this traditional artistry. While it may be an oldie it is still very much a goodie!

Then: Antiques found on-line:

Now: The Viceroy Hotel Santa Monica

Designer: Kelly Wearstler

The Hip Modern Way of making Silhouette Art

First, with your point and shoot camera take a profile picture of your subject. It’s best to do this up against a blank wall.  If you wanted to take this into to Photoshop and could do a really cool digital version. I’m just more of a traditionalist and like to work with my hands. Plus, let’s face it I’m not all that great with Photoshop.

Once you have selected your frame measure it in order to get an idea of the size enlargement you will need.  I found this oval frame at a nearby hobby store and knew it would be perfect! I asked the copy center to make a 16 x 20 size photo enlargement on in black and white on regular bond paper. Ask for regular bond so they don’t over charge you.

My next stop was back to the hobby store where I need to select the two colors of artist paper for the silhouette. This is where you can get creative and choose whatever color combination you would like to use. I selected one that would work well on the wall I knew I was going to place it on. Remember you don’t have to stick to the standard black and white. Think color, or even a patterned background would work! That is what make’s this more up to date I think. * Please note the paper used for this was colored on both sides!

Now, take some double-sided tape and place your photo copy on tope of the artist paper you choose for the silhouette. You should have two layers of paper at this point. The photo on top and the artist paper for the silhouette on the bottom.

Begin cutting along the outline of your subject and be sure to get as detailed as you want.

Remove the copy

Place it, attach it with more tape or you may glue it.

And Done!


5 interior design styles inspired by the Cinema

A lot of clients ask me: what are the most common design styles? Or, they wonder how they can come up with their own personal style.

Start by asking your self this question: If you could design a room; what movie or TV show would you use to stylistically inspire your space?

For as long as I can remember I have always looked at the background settings of movie and television shows for ideas and inspiration. Especially movies filmed in a specific time period. I often take notice of the styling, color combinations, and materials. I always look to see what they have displayed on tables and other surfaces to give more insight into the character’s personality.

Listed below are some of the common answers I got when asking my own clients in order to find their personal design style.

Modern | Mid-Century 50’s thru 70’s

Madmen, 2007

 (I so want the Saarinen tulip table in far left corner!)


Twilight, 2008

(My husband’s pick the house not so much the movie)

Design Elements:

    • Form follows function
    • Rectilinear lines long and low to the ground
    • Organic and asymmetrical shapes
    • Little or no ornamentation
    • Color and texture plays a very important role
    • Details of craftsmanship
    • High-gloss lacquer finishes, exotic wood veneers, and stainless steel accents

Coastal Transitional

Something’s Gotta Give, 2003

It’s Complicated, 2009

(One of my picks)

Design Elements:

  • Relaxed sophistication with an eclectic blend of Old World European furnishings with dark finishes
  • Comfortable fabrics
  • Weather or painted finishes
  • Light added mix of blues, greens, and whites or vibrant tropical with reds, oranges, and yellows
  • Natural fibers such as cotton, jute and sisal
  • Seashell encrusted mirrors and tables and coral-form accessories and prints

Traditional / Period

Marie Antoinette, 2006

Breakfast At Tiffany’s, 1961

Design Elements:

  • Symmetrical and formal
  • Traditional wood finishes are typically dark, cherry and mahogany
  • Fabrics that work well on traditional furnishings include chintz, jacquard, damask and brocade.
  • Leather in rich brown tones
  • Crown moldings
  • Raised panel doors in kitchens
  • Columns with ornaments
  • Hardwood flooring
  • Rich materials such as tumbled marble

Futuristic and Sleek

Tron: Legacy, 2010


Ugly Betty, 2006-2010

Design Elements:

  • Ambient neon lighting
  • Whites, black, blues, grays, with pops of bright colors
  • Smooth-lined furniture
  • Steel and glass-like surfaces
  • Atypical shapes and forms


The Royal Tenenbaums, 2001

(On of my best gal pal’s picks)

500 Days of Summer, 2009

(I totally loved the chalk board wall thing)

Design Elements:

  • Neutral background color palettes
  • Antiques used in moderation
  • Collections and sets of similar pieces
  • One of a kind item’s
  • Global pieces from around the world
  • Contrast in color or finish
  • Traditional and modern elements together
  • Rough fabrics mixed with elegant textiles
  • Worn surfaces combined with refined surfaces
What movie or television show would you choose? Let me know I love to hear it!

Links and Sources:

Modern | Mid Century

Coastal Transitional

Traditional | Period

Futuristic and Sleek



Miami Style, the new 80’s trend!

Over the year I have noticed a trend that is on the rise; if not in full swing. It ‘s that the 80’s are back!  Get your leg warmer’s, Ray Bans and member’s only jacket and let’s get physical people. Recently, I was working on design concept board for my uncle’s 40th birthday bash with an 80’s theme. Then, I began to notice the trend of 80’s re-makes such as Dallas and Footloose. In the fashion magazine I have seen an increase in use of neon colors, accentuated shoulders’, Cuban fedora hat’s and cropped pleated trousers that screams Sixteen Candles to me.

Which has sparked a question for this week’s post, how I can bring a little bit of South Beach into my home? Nothing says more 80’s glam than South Beach Miami, Florida. I have to say that I have never been to Miami personally, but I am a huge FAN ever since I saw one of my all time favorite movies The Bird Cage  with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane.  UHHH I can‘t stand it; “Come on Gloria” FYI that’s one of the quotes from the movie said by Hank Azaria’s character Agador Spartacus.

Okay enough goofing around and let me get to my point!

The Miami architecture and interior style is a topical modern 80’s funk vibe that keeps me coming back to it again and again or inspiration.

Most of the buildings are done the Art Deco Streamline Modern style that takes after the industrial machine inspired forms.  It was buttressed by the belief that times would get better and was infused with the optimistic futurism extolled at America’s Worlds Fairs of the 1930s. Stripped Classic or Depression Modern was a sub-style often used for governmental buildings, the U.S. Post Office being the best example in Miami Beach. Miami Beach architects used local imagery to create what we now call Tropical Deco. These buildings feature relief ornamentation featuring whimsical flora, fauna and ocean-liner motifs to reinforce the image of Miami Beach as a seaside resort. ( , June 28, 2012)

The most commonly used architectural styles found in the Art Deco District are:

 Art Deco

Mediterranean Revival

Miami Modern aka (MiMo)

I won’t bore you with a full history lesson however; you can check out the Miami Design Preservation League and learn more about it, or see about taking a tour the next time you are in town.

For me the 4 main design elements that gives this style its punch is color, geometric shapes and bring the outdoors in that makes Miami’s  coastal, modern, deco funk so eye-catching.

Color:  Coral, turquoise, yellow, electric blues, hot pinks, and shades of lime green with black and white backdrops.

Geometry: Cabana stripes, hexagons, circles, amebas, kidney, star bursts, and shell-like shapes.


Bring the Outdoors in

Pieces to bring home

Items selected by the designers from the Elle Decor Miami Showhouse

One more thing that is so 80’s deco funk the comeback of the Splatter Paint!



Designer’s Tip and Tricks for Rent Dweller’s

For the last 13.5 years and counting to my beloved husband who is in the U.S. Navy I have lived in a house or two or three, or maybe four heck, I have lost count! Through the years I have come up with different ways in my making my temporary houses feel more like home in doing some of the following things that always seem to work no matter where we go.

1.   Paint: If you’re allowed to paint this is the easiest  most cost-effective way to get big impact for your money. If the palette is neutral enough this could be considered a tenant improvement and you may ask about how to get a credit toward your next rent. I would avoid using really saturated colors because they take a lot of work to cover up that you will have to take care of in the end.

2.     Upholstered Walls: This is nothing new. They have been doing this since the Greek and Roman ages with tapestries then it became popular in the Baroque – French Neo Classic period where the walls, windows and bedding where all done in the same fabric. However, I got this idea from my Aunt Rosie circa 1987 when she rented her little house in Deer Park Texas. Thanks Tia!

Designer note: I would use upholstery tacks rather than liquid starch. That just seems like way too much work and a lot of mess. If you’re feeling frisky you could even do a design with the tacks. They leave tiny holes and are easy to fill when you go. Also, on a budget tip. I have used patterned flat sheets for a hallway in my last house. I shopped at a discount department store and I was able to cover the entire hall for $75.

3.     Large Scale Re-stick-able Murals:  Now, I have not used this technique myself YET! I am planning to do this for my guest bathroom, but this is a really good way to get big impact without any damage to the walls. Also, this particular vendor allows you to upload your own image. (high-resolution is best) I have seen a lot of really good photography lately that would be great for this application. Check out the vendor at for more information

Designer Note: Back in the late 90’s when I was newly married and had little money to decorate the house with. When I worked at Abercrombie and Fitch we were allowed to take home the large-scale black and white photo displays. I hung these up in my home when paint was not an option. It really made the space fell like a NY loft even though I was renting a town home in Norfolk, VA with 3 other roommates!!!! That’s a story for another time way to much drama MTV really missed out. Okay, back to the topic at hand…

4.     Carpet Tiles: Should you inherit unattractive floors this could an ideal solution.  Best if used on stone, tile, linoleum and low pile carpets. These are great because they come in a variety of patterns, and sizes to create custom rugs, or wall-to-wall carpeting. Plus it’s ideal for households with kids and pets because they make for easy replacement if they get stained.

5.     Size Matters: If your like me and have to move every 2-3 years you never know where you’re going land, or what size home you will be able to get into. That’s why it’s best to keep your furnishing to a clean, small, mid range scale. Meaning stick with a queen size bed, “for-go” the large over stuffed rolled arm sofa they take up a lot of real estate. Dining tables: the best shapes are round and a small-scale rectangle. When working with a round table you can squeeze in more people for dinner parties and when it’s not in use you could stash it away in corner or use it as a side table.  However, for the small-scaled rectangle table you can use it as dual workspace in a small apartment.

6.     Light Fixtures: Changing out dated fixtures to a fabulous vintage chandelier or a cool mod orbit style pendent can really make a difference. Yes, it may call for an electrician or mechanically inclined friend to make the “switch” lol…get it? Switch? I know I get a little corny sometimes I can’t help myself. My point is, it can really make a space feel special and the best thing is that you can take it with you when you go. Just be sure to safely store the other light in a cool dry place.

7.     Drapes: I can tell you right now that I have a least 4 pairs of store-bought drapes in the hall closet. Why, because every house it different and the ceiling heights vary. My suggestion… Buy the longest lengths you can.  The most common length in the store is 108”.  I believe Ikea has some that are longer. The average ceiling heights are 8’, 10’ and 12’. As a designer it’s best to hang your drapes at the highest point of the ceiling to make the window look taller. To adjust the drapes you can take them to your local dry cleaner and ask them to do a light baste stitch hem, or you can do this yourself with a sewing machine.  A baste stitch is a long length stitch that can me easily removed with a seam ripper. Just be careful not to snag the fabric.

Also, trick number two is if you stick with a solid or neutral fabrics you can easily make you store-bought drapes into custom lengths by adding a contrasting band of fabric to the bottom. Not to mention that this trick makes your store-bought drapes now look custom.  Drapes are like the eyebrows to your face.  That’s how important they are so “don’t not do it”, because they frame and soften the room.

Images Sources:

Happy home making!

Why Design Matters

A few months ago while reading my girlfriends design blog Behind the Design by Ashley. She had posted this article about the importance of design. It came to me at a time when I really needed to hear it, while getting rejected from one employer after another in this tough economy. She managed to keep very upbeat and supportive for the both of us even though she was going through a much harder time then me and I want to “thank” her for the love and support over the last year. Since then we have both found employment and are making our way as emerging designers. I am re-posting it in hopes that it will help someone else who my need to hear it. So read it and take it in for all it’s worth.

1. You are a combination of engineer and artist. Not only do you take into account safety and economy when designing a space, but you also create an aesthetic that can comfort and inspire.

2. Your work improves the lives of others. You design for the homebody and the worker bee, in addition to the aged, handicapped, and infirm. Whether you add light to a dark interior or design a beautiful and healthy working space, you make a difference in the lives of others.

3. You are continually learning and seeking answers. You take CEUs, discuss problems with your peers and research materials. You know that the profession is evolving, and you’re evolving with it.

4. You don’t settle for the tried and true. You push boundaries and discover new and better ways of doing things.

5. You provide a service. You work with clients who typically have little to no experience in design, and you find a way to turn their ideas into a tangible reality.

6. You pay attention to details. Whether you’re picking which carpet to use in a hotel hallway or what color to paint a hospital wall, you make each seemingly small decision count for the client’s health and happiness.

7. You explore what sustainable design can mean in the home and workplace. You’re debunking myths and testing new products, and you’re saving clients money along the way.

8. You’re a problem solver. Each project you work on is a new puzzle with a new set of challenges. As the designer, you’re in charge of making it work.

9. You’re collaborators. You’ve learned the value and benefits of teamwork, and how to process and connect disparate ideas into a working whole. Even if you work alone, you’re never really working alone. You have a network of peers that you turn to for advice and support along the way.

10. You work to change the public perception of Interior Designer vs. Interior Decorator. You refrain from sighing when your colleague’s friend learns you are an Interior Designer and asks you to suggest paint colors for her son’s room, and instead patiently explain qualifications, certifications and scope of experience. You are more than just a reality TV design star.

Now it’s your turn. Why do you, the designer, matter?

I believe that design matters because it’s a need vs. a want. It’s a tool in which we work, eat, recover, relax, educate and live, etc. Good design is a renaissance attitude that combines technology, cognitive science, human need, and beauty to produce something that the world didn’t know it was missing.

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Images from: Interior Design Magazine, Candice Olson, and Sarha Richardson,

Trending now: Black and White

TRENDING: Black and white color scheme is on the rise. This however is a timeless classic way to design within your space especially for those color phobic’s out there, or if your like me and live in the crayon box and can never get enough of color! By keeping a black and white theme you are basically sticking to neutral base and then you can bring in your favorite pops of color. What is nice about this is the flexibility. It gives you the option to change things up every once in a while by just changing out a few accessories from season to season. I found this video from one of my most favorite designers Sarah Richardson and Tommy Symthe talking about how to work for your space. I hope you enjoy!

The fool-proof way to hang pictures

In the last few years I have had some clients ask me about the best way to hang art work. Heck, I’ve even had one client hire to go over her house and do exactly what I am about to tell you.

I have noticed that some of the television shows make it seem so easy by telling you to lay out your composition on the floor first, and then put up on the wall. But, what they don’t tell you is that you will lose you spacing by moving the frame from one place to another and wind up with a mess.

What I have found that works best is using templates. While this can be a bit time-consuming it is a fool-proof way of getting the look you want without having a few unwanted holes and pencil everywhere by trying to “eyeball it”.

Note: the example images are from my personal clients who I have helped with on-line guidance from me Pink Door Designs

1. First, use wrapping paper (be use to use the non-print side so you can visualize you concept better) or butcher paper is best.

2. Trace and cut out the frames and be sure that you number them so they don’t get mixed up. At this point you should mark approximately how far down the nail should be on the front of the template.

3. Now, begin to lay out your arrangement directly on the wall the way you would like. This is the benefit of doing it this way because, now you can rearrange the composition as much as you like before making any holes in the wall. Also, since you have them numbered you can consider which one is which and place them by content. Think of arranging them by color complements or relation.

4. Once you have your final lay out you can hammer the nails through the paper. Remove the paper and begin to place the art work where they belong and admire how PERFECT they look once your done.

Optional:  Add bumpers to the bottom corners of the frame. These will “grab” the wall, eliminating any skid or scratch marks, while keeping the frame itself level — side to side and top to bottom.

Need some more inspiration? Here are some of my favorite arrangements from various sources via the web

Lastly does this seem like to much trouble for you? You can actually buy them as a kit here are a few links


The Perfect Picture Wall Company:

Arron Brothers: