House of Fifty Fall 2011

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1. Don't be overly concerned about matching or coordinating the palette, this nearly always ends

up looking contrived. Be bold and consider mixing unlikely combinations: mustard with teal, chartreuse and purple, bronze with a bright turquoise. These and other unexpected color combinations provide the eclectic look which result in the spaces people end up being drawn to. Experiment and make it work!

Get Inspiration from a Favorite Object 2. Do you have a favorite art piece, pillow or fabric? What colors do you see? Use these objects as your inspiration to pull unusual colors into a room. To add another layer alongside the colors add gold, bronze and silver metallics into the mix, and try using more than one of these finishes together. When it comes to metals, anything goes and mixing them can work beautifully.

Start With a Neutral Base and Then Add Color 3. Keeping the big pieces neutral, such as sofas and upholstered beds, is key. Then consider


using patterned fabrics on the accent furniture pieces and begin layering in color through pillows, a rug, a throw, art, lamps and other accessories. This approach allows the look to be changed with the season or with your moods, by switching out pillows and other smaller items. Finally, each space should reflect your own tastes and personality. For me, green is a neutral!



For me, green is a neutral! - Katie



There is No Need to Match the Colors Perfectly

Alternative to Wallpaper

by Lakeitha Duncan

Consider using stencils on other surfaces as well. Stencils are being used with wonderful results on ceilings and floors, and even as a way to elevate a simple fabric. All you need is a creative imagination, a stencil, brush and paint.


“I created this large Moroccan-inspired stencil for a client's project, but I decided I loved it so much that I used it in my own bedroom!” Kristen from ‘Kristen f. Davis Designs’

Lauren, from ‘Pure Style Home’, took stenciling a step further, applying a pattern to fabric.


“I decided to stencil a drop cloth for Justin's nursery because I wanted to replicate the look of hand block printed fabric. It was an inexpensive (yet time-consuming!) way to get the look I wanted.”

decorating with children’s art:


“What was any art but a mould in which to imprison for a moment the shining elusive element which is life itself - life hurrying past us and running away, too strong to stop, too sweet to lose.�

--Willa Cather


! y s a E by Janell Beals

With the arrival of Fall, it’s time to reconnect with friends by hosting an evening at home. While the idea of entertaining can be overwhelming, with the prospect of preparing enough food and ensuring the beverages don’t run dry, it doesn’t have to be! Instead, prepare a few favorite appetizers and open a bottle of wine along with a few bottles of sparkling water. Set the table with these items, a stack of plates and lots of glasses. Then invite your guests; girlfriends or several couples, asking everyone to bring their favorite dish and a drink to share.

To help get you started, we’ve put together the following articles. Ewa of Delishhh has provided three easy to prepare dishes to begin the festivities, Sue De Chiara of the Zhush has gathered a great collection of items to help you set the table and we’ve chosen a fun mix of music to set the stage. Finally, Jennifer Rosson has selected her favorite pieces of clothing and accessories to inspire some dressing up. Because even when simply inviting people into your home, wearing an outfit you feel great in makes the evening even better!


- Invite Friends Over! - Pull out the Serving Dishes & Glassware - Prepare the Appetizers - Set out the Beverages - Put on the Music - Choose a Cute Outfit

e m i T t a e r G a e v Ha ! p U g n i h c Cat



eclectic SPACE




A big trend in interior design is to leave behind the notion that we must define exactly what our style is, such as traditional, cottage or contemporary, and then follow the guidelines of this definition throughout the home with few variances. An alternative approach is to begin with favorite pieces already owned or a neutral foundation, and build upon this by bringing in only items that are equally appreciated. This method creates eclectic spaces which feel layered, collected

and unforced, resulting in a home that is both unique and personal. If you look up the definition of the word eclectic, it reads: “Deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.� If we use this simple collection of words as inspiration, the formula for putting together this type of space really becomes a little less daunting. In fact, putting together a dynamic space really involves following a few simple rules and tips.



Enjoy a little bit of everything, and all in moderation!

The most basic rule to this type of decorating is to trust your instinct. Don’t be afraid to put things together that you think don’t match; a little clash is a very good thing. Play around with your space, add things that are quirky and interesting, and be brave. When you add a traditional element, look for a modern accessory that will level the playing field.


If you fall in love with a Venetian mirror, look for a clean teak console to play along with it. Take that velvet curvy footstool and pop it beside your favorite mid century chair. Let things play off one another. Like in life, diversity makes things a lot more interesting and a whole lot more beautiful. Enjoy a little bit of everything, and all in moderation.


Can you share a little about your creative process, especially how it relates to your artwork? I paint from my heart, finding inspiration and palette ideas from everyday objects and nature. And of course I'm spurred on by the


love and spirits of our beautiful children, Guy, Virginia and Kate. Using high quality acrylic paints, bits of paper, fabric or wallpaper, I endeavor to transform a canvas, length of cardboard or craft paper into a visual adventure. I want my work to be hopeful and in the end to simply make people feel happy.


How do you feel art transforms a room, what can art add to the design of a room? "Art" can be lots of things: a beautifully shaped chair, a gorgeous classical urn, a first-graders sculpture. Artful objects, of course, always make a room feel more layered and complex because each piece is a little world unto its own. As far as paintings or any other sort of wall art, the same can be said. Each piece should tell a story.



‘Days at the Morn’


Micro Coral Bowl and Pears 73

Heather Knight


‘Late Morning Brunch’ 75

Kate Lewis

Lauren Liess is a designer to watch. She credits childhood memories and nature for the inspiration of the relaxed, yet chic designs that have become her trademark. Switching gears after graduating with a communications degree, she found her calling as a down-to-earth, green-loving designer who embraces traditional design through a modern approach, opening Lauren Liess Interiors in 2007. Her most recent venture is the launch of a textile and furniture line, which reflects her design aesthetic perfectly. We applaud Lauren for taking this step early in her career, a move that most designers wait many more years before tackling. Lauren Liess Textiles features beautiful designs on linen, while the upholstery line, Pure Style Home by Lauren Liess, features updated interpretations of well-loved classics.


Sherry Moeller:

When did you know that interior design was your passion? I didn’t know that I had any serious interest in interior design as a career until after I’d graduated from college and started decorating my first apartment. I repainted it a ridiculous number of times and went to my local thrift store several times a week to find items I could redo for my place. When I was at a work conference doodling elevations of all of the rooms in my soon-to-be new home, I knew I needed to make a career switch. Lauren’s talent was on display at this year’s DC Design House, where she was one of twenty designers who transformed a home to benefit the Children’s National Medical Center.


Lauren Liess:

She created a uniquely serene upper level hideaway showcasing her Mad Hatter chair, along with draperies and pillows created from several of her fabric designs. In addition to the delightfully whimsical Mad Hatter chair, Lauren has ten new designs in the pipeline, four sofas and six chairs. Some of the upholstery pieces embrace classic lines, such as an English Arm sofa, while others have a bit more personality. Lauren has “funny” names for the new furniture line, available through The Design Center of Northern Virginia. The Spooning Sofa encourages cuddling while watching movies, The Pretty Lady Sofa is named for its curvier lines, and Mr. Handsome is a take on the traditional tuxedo style.

While Lauren’s fabrics look wonderful on draperies and pillows, she also loves the idea of taking one of the large, oversized prints and using it to upholster a sofa or a pair of chairs. She selected linen as her fabric of choice, drawn to its natural quality, the nubbiness, the way it wrinkles and ages beautifully. Lauren would love for the lines to become a fresh and exciting go to resource for designers. It is a project she has just thrown herself into, thrilled

about the process and the results, and she hopes they’ll be exciting to others as well. When asked if she thinks she is young to have launched a line of fabrics and furniture, Lauren says perhaps she is, but when the timing is right one doesn’t think about age, one thinks about following their dreams. Through the fabric and furniture lines and her growing interior design business, Lauren is doing just that.


The lines are available online at The Pure Style, and at The Design Center of Northern Virginia, in Herndon, Virginia. The upholstery is available COM through the trade, in a basic line of linens, velvets, as well as the Lauren Liess Textiles line, with new styles in the works.


FINANCIAL SMARTS: Nine Key Strategies


Do you find balancing your checkbook to be a chore? How about developing a budget or making decisions on investing your money? If you are like me, just the thought of taking charge of my finances is exhausting. Luckily, I’ve managed to live within my means and even put away a nice little nest egg. But can I tell you how much I have in my checking and savings accounts, or what I am currently earning annually in my investment account? Not a chance. For many women understanding and managing our finances is a hassle and the last thing we want to spend our time on. Far too many of us take a casual approach to finances, living without a good understanding of our financial situa-

tion or relying on our spouses for managing the family finances. Whether you are single or married, in your twenties or fifties, having confidence in your financial future is important. It is time to stop avoiding that checkbook or the confusing retirement account statements and take control of your finances. “Women should understand the importance of taking control of their finances,” says Marti Hopler, a Chartered Financial Consultant and Registered Investment Advisor. “We live longer, have higher rates of disability than men and usually have no one to care for us if needing long term care.”

Recommended Reading:

Women & Money Owning the Power to Control your Destiny by Suze Orman

Smart Women Finish Rich by David Bach

Additional Resources:

Free online money management services: and An online site that allows you to organize your finances: My Living Balance Sheet Contact Marti Hopler at:, or visit her website at

by Lois P. Frankel, PhD


Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich


Categorize Your Active Projects

Active projects are tasks you're currently working on and need to access frequently. It’s important that you make these items quick and easy to get to. They can be located on your desk or within easy reach. Remember to use vertical space, since vertical storage is often


Store Your Reference Materials

Before you bother to file something, ask yourself what is the likelihood of needing it in the future. Eighty percent of the paper we file is never looked at again. Ask yourself if the information can be accessed online. Consider scanning the document and get rid of the original. Avoid keeping multiples of the same thing! In determining your filing system, start with broad categories such as House, Car, Financial, or Kids. Then break these down into smaller


visible, while horizontal is hidden. Consider organizing these projects in upright file holders to avoid stacks from piling up. Also limit the number: it's unlikely more than six to eight projects are truly active!

sections. Once a file drawer is more than threequarters full, it gets hard to use. This is the signal to purge or store out-of-date papers elsewhere. Avoid creating a miscellaneous category. Decide why you want to keep the information; is it a recipe, dĂŠcor inspiration, an important document or receipt? Create and label a folder accordingly. Keep papers to file in one location, use a tray that is one to two inches deep. When it gets full, it's time to file.

Home work

House of Fifty’s Art Director Shari Miller offers tips and suggestions for working from home. photos by geoff johnson

Home work

designer shari miller offers tips and suggestions for working from home.

Hit Your First Destination With a full belly it’s now time to enjoy your first afternoon. You’ve done your homework so you know where to go. Remember, you’re a tourist now and people watching is

always a fun activity. Don’t forget to give a good looking over to people as you pass them by and remember to document the weekend with photos.

............................................................................................................... Tourist with a Twist: Sights are all right but remember that the locals give a place life. It

doesn't matter if you’re watching newlywed couples pose for photos under the Brooklyn Bridge, an army of suits storm the subway in the morning rush, or chatting with the grandma running a local butcher shop. You'll leave with more memories if you take the time to watch the people around you.



“We’re off to Coney Island to soak up the sun and see the rusting bits of old Coney Island, as well as the new Luna Park. Experiencing it as a tourist rather than a local gave me the

opportunity to forget about being cool and just enjoy the cheesy fun it has to offer. Of course we couldn’t leave without taking a death defying ride on the Cyclone.”

Enjoy a Long Evening

With a new experience under your belt, how about a little romance? If you’ve timed it right, the sun might be hanging low on the horizon. A moonlit stroll followed by dinner is the perfect way to end the evening. Is there a restaurant that you’ve always wanted to try? Is there a spot with live music to check out? These are great ways to make an evening away all that more enjoyable.

............................................................. Tourist with a Twist: Don’t be afraid to revisit an old favorite spot and look at it with new eyes. You might be surprised by what you see!


Day Two

After a restful sleep in your hideaway, get moving into a fresh new day. Now that you’ve seen some sights, spend a morning in a fun activity. An organized tour, an unusual physical activity or instructor led class can be an experience you won’t want to have end.

............................................................................................................... Tourist with a Twist: Vacation activities don’t have to stop at sightseeing. Every town

and city has a myriad of activities that are great ways to get moving and spend time with your loved one in a new and exciting way. is a one-stop-shop to book an organized tour complete with reviews and photos.



fall essentials:

What’s in my bag?

The Bag: Tory Burch creates a new classic with her Audra Satchel, dressed in a perfect hue for Fall and just large enough to carry the everyday essentials.

8 Tips for Taking Better Photos!

by Kate Riley


Centsational Girl A beautiful photograph has the power to capture a moment or showcase the hard earned results of a project tackled in our homes. It can then be frustrating, when what we see before us is not captured in the pictures we take. If you desire more pleasing

images in your portfolio of work, or simply for your personal use, improving your knowledge of how your camera works and how to set up shots is key. Here are my top tips which will lead you to taking more artful photographs!

1. Invest in a Good Camera A good SLR digital camera with variable settings, F-stop, shutter speed and ISO sensitivity, is your best ticket to taking high quality photographs. Both Nikon and Canon offer excellent choices at a wide range of price points.

2, Know Your Manual As with most things, it can be tempting to jump right in rather than take the time to do a little prep work. Sitting down and reading through the manual is the necessary work to capturing the best photographs you can. The ability to manipulate light settings makes all the differ-

ence in the photo quality. This is especially true when shooting interiors or capturing detail shots, in less than perfect light conditions. Each camera is slightly different, so get to know where all of the settings are to prepare you for any situation.

4. Apply the Rule of Thirds

Centsational Girl On any of those four points where the lines intersect is where you should place your subject. This results in compositions that are dynamic rather than static.


When composing an image through your lens, it’s best to follow the ‘Rule of Thirds’. Basically this means dividing your image into three parts vertically and horizontally, like a tic-tac-toe grid.

5. Capture Interiors in the Best Lighting Conditions If you want to show off your project or space to its best potential, you must shoot it in the very best light. Ideally this means a sunny day with all your blinds open, allowing for the most natural light. Unfortunately, in winter or late

Centsational Girl

afternoon the light is often compromised. Knowing how to manipulate these settings and what time of day your rooms have the best lighting conditions are the keys to success.


Megan, a homeowner with a great sense of style, wanted a welcoming guest bedroom that was well designed and would allow guests to feel comfortable and enjoy their stay. The room had potential but she was overwhelmed when facing the effort and cost of furnishing a bare bedroom. Danielle soon had her on board with a plan that included shopping at discount furniture stores and several DIY projects. Megan was excited to take on the challenge of a thrifty design that doesn’t compromise on style. Though thrifty design was a new concept for Megan, she quickly embraced the idea and ran with it. Danielle introduced her to local consignment stores, the glory of HomeGoods

and DIY projects. By the time the project was nearing completion, it seemed as though making a headboard, painting a room herself and shopping at discount furniture stores was something she had done for years. As for the look, Megan envisioned a light and airy room with light blue walls. Mixing modern with traditional elements was a key request. From a functional point of view, the room needed to include a headboard, nightstands, lamps, a dresser, bedding, window treatments, overhead lighting and accessories to add the final touch of style. With a budget of $2,000, this goal was only possible to achieve through hard work and plenty of research.

Vintage Revival


repurposing vintage fiinds with high style

by Lakeitha Duncan

Lakeitha Duncan:

How did the name ‘Natty by Design’ come to be? Natalie Cox: When I decided to start my business, I came up with a whole slew of unoriginal names. I took them to my husband,

who has a marketing background, and he immediately threw them out and we began brainstorming. He and my mom call me Natty, so he looked up the definition and found it means "smart and fashionable". Less than a minute later we had ‘Natty by Design’!


You seem to have an eye for selecting pieces with great potential. How do you know if a piece is worthy of being refinished?


For me I don’t necessarily seek out a certain style of furniture, although I admit that I won’t waste my time with bland furniture that I think will be “lost” in a room. More important to me is that a piece be structurally sound and preferably hardwood, so that its rehab isn’t purely cosmetic.



Have you always been courageous when it comes to painting furniture? Some people wouldn’t dare paint a sideboard that once belonged to their grandmother, but a glossy coat of red paint does not seem to scare you one bit! Is there an item that you wouldn’t paint?


Up until a year ago I tended to play it safe with color. I was definitely all about neutral, but once I crossed over into experimenting with bold colors there was no going back. And no, I haven't yet come across anything I wouldn't paint. Q: For those that are interested in painting furniture, but don’t know where to start, what are the key steps you follow when refinishing a piece?


What most people don't realize is that the preparation work, although certainly tedious, is the most important part to ensure a quality refinish. It can be hard not to run headfirst into a project with your paint brush ready. A thorough cleaning, removing old paint, sanding and priming need to come first if you want to be happy with the end result.


I recently sat down with Aubre after a class, to discuss the benefits of practicing Pilates, what someone should look for when searching for a studio and what other helpful resources are available for people interested in practicing Pilates.

Janell Beals:

Can you describe exactly

Aubre Doyle: Pilates is a series of

what Pilates is?

movements developed by Joseph Pilates, which emphasizes the balanced development of the body through core strength and flexibility, with proper breathing being a key aspect of the practice.


What are the benefits of practicing Pilates?


Pilates helps you find your center or core muscles, improves your flexibility, strengthens the whole body and improves posture. When the body is properly aligned it simply works better and then you just feel better! When you have a strong core you have more energy, you naturally sit up straighter and tend to not get as sick. This alignment and core strength helps individuals to perform better in other types of exercise as well.


What should someone look for when considering taking a class taught at a studio or a health club?

A: Look for a level appropriate class and a


class size that is limited to no more than eight to ten individuals. Pilates by nature is a small group or individual exercise. I feel it is hard to replicate a true Pilates workout in a large group setting, which makes it difficult to

receive the guidance needed to do the exercises properly, for the best benefit.


If a person wanted to begin by taking private sessions with an instructor, what should they look for?

A: The most important aspect of selecting

an instructor to work with one-on-one is that there is a good personality match and the instructor understands the individual’s specific goals and any physical limitations. Also inquire if the instructor has had 500 to 1000 hours of certification, ask where they trained and if they are a member of PMA (Pilates Metro Alliance). Aubre also points out how important it is that the studio has proper equipment. Definitely look for and ask what equipment the studio has. At a minimum, the studio should have: a Cadillac, two Reformers, Chairs, a High and Low Barrel and various props, such as Balls and Pillows.

Pilates helps you

find your center or core muscles, improves your flexibility, strengthens the whole body and improves posture.

Q: What obstacles did you and Keith encounter? A: When we arrived in Ethiopia, we found out that our daughter had been very sick with pneumonia and had lost a significant amount of weight. It was unexpected and very scary to be in a third world country with an extremely sick baby and inadequate medical care. The doctors, our attorney, and adoption agency staff were wonderful though. They all worked together to expedite our case as much as possible to ensure that we could get our little girl home for better care. Once we were home, she improved drastically and is now a healthy, happy little girl.

amazing experience. So I’d say, stop thinking about it and get started!

Q: What advice would you give others who may want to adopt? A: Do it. There are so many people who have thought about adopting, but haven’t acted on it and there are millions of orphans in the world who need good homes. Adoption will change you in so many wonderful ways, it’s such an

Q: How has life changed since bringing home your babies? A: Life is amazing. Gus and Lula have brought us so much joy. It really does feel like they have always been a part of our family. The days are fuller now, but we are loving every minute.

Q: We have heard that there are changes occurring with the Ethiopian adoption process. Is this true? If so, what are they? A: Things change constantly with international adoption. Right now there is a movement to ensure that things are being done ethically in Ethiopia. It is slowing things down as more investigations are being made into each case, but it’s really a positive thing in the long run, if it prevents trafficking and other unethical dealings.



Take the old and make it new!

In this visually gorgeous book Betz White showcases a cheerful collection of creations that inspires us to run to our nearest thrift shop in search of goods to

reinvent into gifts and other useful items. My daughter and I have several projects bookmarked!