Mixing of New and Vintage

It can be a delicate dance when mixing vintage and new items together in a room, and if done right the room is transformed into something magical, collected, interesting, and historical.  Whether you have family heirlooms or are great at finding pieces at antique stores, flea markets (my personal favorite), or estate sales, a room can feel dated with formality pretty quickly if there is not an element that feels current.  To create this delicate balance, I would suggest some of the following guidelines:

If the piece is a vintage piece, make sure it is good quality or has a good story behind it, as well as staying in tune with the overall decorating theme of the house.  You don’t want anything that feels as if it is from left field.

If the piece is new, it needs to be in the same genre of the vintage pieces.  For instance, 60’s ranch style modern, industrial, traditional, transitional traditional, organic modern, contemporary, “cottage,” or modern farmhouse.

Make sure there is a balance between new and vintage in the room.  I usually do my upholstery pieces as new items, and the “layers” in the room, such as textiles, books, tables, accessories, or other points of interest as the antiques and collectibles.

Pick a color theme and stick to it.  By doing this, both your new and vintage pieces will blend together effortlessly, and will add sophistication to your overall look.

Creating “moments,” where the new and vintage can be experienced together will make the space seem inviting, and you and your guests won’t want to leave.  To do this, try to upholster a new chair in linen, with a textured textile pillow that nods to the vintage feel, and a beautiful cashmere blanket; or on a tabletop, a lucite tray with crystal glasses, and beautiful bar books on mixing classic drinks; or a collection of shells and bottles that take up a whole shelf or an arrangement of vintage toys and trucks – all of these are your personal collections and will make a statement in a room.

Mixing new and vintage allows for the room to tell a story, but also helps recycle great pieces with a new life.  It gives life to a room, and create great “design moments” for you and your friends to enjoy.

A quite outdoor nook

A quite outdoor nook


A relaxing spot...

A relaxing spot…


Highly stylized...

Highly stylized…

Design moments and the importance of them…I talk a lot about “moments” with my clients.  They are some of the most important aspects of design.  They are the final pieces that make a room a wonderful room, delineate a space from being just a space, to a well intended styled room that has layers and points of interests.  “Moments,” as I define them, are when someone takes a bit longer to stay because the furniture is organized just so that prompts an intimate conversation, or a place to curl up to gaze at the view, relax, read a book, or the table is styled with layers of books, collectibles, photos, objects all in effort to tell a story.  These “moments” take time to develop, and are like pieces of art.  Each moment tells a story and relays a purpose to the observer.  You know exactly what to do when you see one – two chairs with a cashmere blanket casually laid over their backs and carefully position by a window invites you to view the landscape under the warmth of the blanket, read a book, or catch up with a friend.  A series of well placed coffee table books amongst collectibles and objects peak the interest to explore what is there, learn a bit, and maybe spur an innovative idea.  These moments are the layers that make a room feel finished, collected, a story, a room with the ability to be styled and not overly decorated.  To find your own “moments” in your home, start with the items you love, find a theme, and then start to group them in threes or fives (unless you have so many that you can do an entire bookcase or wall of shelves to keep consistent).  If you are working with furniture, think conversational, intimate, and versatile – whatever suits your personality and interests.  Four upholstered chairs surrounding a low round table is one of my favorite things, or two chairs sitting by a window with a table between them filled with magazines and books, or built-in window seats that are great for curling up and enjoying just about anything.  I love this topic, so stay tuned for more DRD tips on creating great “moments.”

I love outdoor entertaining!  What could be better than an outdoor party — great weather, friends, foods, and drink?  Keeping the food and menu simple is a must, not only for the sanity of the host or hostess, but also so that the guests will enjoy the festivities.  With this in mind, I set the table so it has a casual elegance about it.  I usually pull colors that are exploding in my garden onto the table in forms of napkins or flowers or food that I am serving.  The food is usually served on crisp white plates to add a blank canvas to the beauty of what is on the plates, and by pulling the colors from the garden the linens pop too!  And who could forget about lighting!  The warm glow of white candles in their glass canisters, or white paper bags ling a driveway or path, or white cafe lights strung from the trees is so inviting.  The simplicity of the food, colors from your garden accenting your linens and lighting all create the perfect atmosphere for outdoor entertaining.

Working with Contractors and Designers

Plans are approved, permits are pulled, and now you are ready for construction.  Here come the contractors!  It can be daunting or you can embrace it as an adventure with your general contractor and designer as your partner.  I have opted for the partner approach.  There are so many nuances in the building codes that they understand, and have been tested for, that by partnering with them and your designer design does not get sacrificed.  No matter how great your plans are, and the agreed upon design, situations arise in the construction process.  What I have found when partnering with my general contractor is that the end result is sometimes better than what was planned for a variety of reasons. At times, spaces play out differently because of interior and exterior light patterns; or plaster came down and you can see all the way through into the other room, and that framed wall really does need to come down even though it wasn’t part of the plan (this has really happened); or the tile layout needs a bit of tweaking.  The lesson for me in all of the projects that I’ve worked on is that something will always happen, and by partnering with your general contractor and designer the outcome can be a very positive one without sacrificing design.

Spring decorating is here!

I love spring! There is newness to the air, and it always gives me a desire to do some serious cleaning, moving furniture around, and usually start a project that will last a few months.  I always feel as if winter is about hibernation, and taking time to come up with innovative ideas, industry research, taking time to ponder, regroup, and enjoy the inside time that pushes us to think differently.  Then, here comes spring, and we are off!  Spring is a time to assess the way things might look in your house: Does the paint need to be touched up?  Are the linens still in good shape? Are all my closets in order?  How does my garden look?  What are the holes I need to fill?  How can I add color in new ways to my home?  Can I change the look of a room by changing accessories around or switching them out completely?  It can be completely predicated on what is happening in your room.  A well decorated room has versatility in its main pieces, such as the upholstered pieces or larger hard surface items, such as a coffee table, side tables, consoles, or large scale armoires.  One way to transform a room is through the use of seasonal books, pillows, blankets, a new fitted slipcover for a sofa that has a color that fits the season, or an arrangement of flowers along with some other lighter items to quickly bring the spring indoors.  With spring, decorating finds color.  So find your color to compliment what you have in your house, and sprinkle it through your home.  This way the house will feel like it has been put together, sophisticated, and freshly in season!

Doing Your Design Homework

Whenever you begin a design journey, looking online, in magazines, or books can be helpful in fine-tuning your own personal design aesthetic.  This research can be used as the basis from which you would like to create a space.  Also, if you do chose to hire a designer, take some time to collect images that you find inspirational, or reflect the way you would like the space to be to feel.  It is these images that will become the guide for you and your designer to most effectively communicate with each other.  Images can show designers the way a room might be pulled together through the use of layers, the use of color and/or tones that would be difficult to describe otherwise, or a furniture layout that might seem familiar enough that it would not stand out to the naked eye.  All of these components help the designer create the space that you envision as well as the feeling you would like to experience when you enter the space.  So, doing your homework before meeting with your designer is important to help you achieve your personal [and financial – this needs to be addressed separately to give more context] goals for the space and project.  Happy decorating!

Inspiring Home Design for the New Year



With each New Year, come inspiring home design resolutions and possibilities.  This fresh energy in the start of the New Year might ignite the desire to spruce up your home a bit or work on some items still outstanding.  As you start on your design adventure or are just continuing on in your journey, look through magazines for inspirational home ideas, follow trends on sites like,, or, look for colors and color palettes to reflect the way you want to live.  Remember designing your home is a journey that tells a story of the way you live, and not one that you arrive at overnight.  It is through this inspirational journey you begin to understand your own design aesthetics and boundaries.  Be creative, find inspiration from nature, and have things you love around you.