In The Spotlight: Meet Michelle Niday

I have not done a segment in my “In The Spotlight” series for a long time. But rest assured, there are still many talented people I have a strong desire to share – because of the good vibes, creativity and talent they ooze – with you!

Let me introduce you to the talented, LA based interior designer, Michelle Niday. We first met through my store when she purchased not one but two of my blankets. We started to talk about design and she shared some pictures of her home with me (I showed you a tiny glimpse some time back). Our cyber connection evolved into fun phone chats and had Michelle lived any closer I would have been regularly banging on her front door. I like this girl (she is warm, fun and clever) and I like her approach to design!

Her beautiful home is featured in the current fall/winter issue of Country French (I picked up my copy at Barnes & Noble). And what a home she shares with her partner, Corey Young (a mega talented general contractor)! They live in a fabulous loft that was once part of a 1920’s toy factory.

(Pay attention to those fantastic windows!).

My Scandinavian blanket looking good on Michelle’s pretty chaise!

I have have been wanting to share our design conversations with you for quite a while. The following are the questions I bombarded her with along with her graceful responses.

Enjoy — you might just walk away with a few design tricks!

Q: How do you describe your personal design style?

MN: I try to harmonize and to juxtapose timeless contemporary with timeworn antiques. I enjoy working with neutral colors, organic textures and graphic patterns to achieve an exciting space.

Monika: OK, STOP right there! I have a very serious crush on that table in front of Michelle’s lovely French sofa. She tells me that it is a very old cheese table from France and that it has a lovely patina and the most perfect scale. She knows how envious I am…

Q: What design elements do you never grow tired off?

MN: Vintage European (Italian/French) plaster sculptures of the human body (feet, hands torso, all good!), stripes, chandeliers, textural rugs like Jute or Seagrass, giant clam shells, vintage charcoal sketches of the human body, architectural fragments/objects (wood, metal), Belgian linen and Vellum books!

 Q: What 5 things can anybody do to quickly beautify a room?


1. PAINT: You can simply paint the 4 walls in an exciting dark or pure white color or try the absence of all color, black (BM Black Suede looks terrific if done in a flat finish) or do an interesting treatment ie: paint stripes, horizontally or vertically, or paint a graphic pattern. You could even try painting a floor!

2. REMOVING: If your room has particularly pretty flooring or windows/moldings, try removing curtains or rugs and letting the attractive moldings and floor become the focal points.

3. EDIT: Remove everything from your room. And I mean everything (even wall hangings)! Slowly reintroduce pieces back in to the scheme, trying things in different places until you get a more pleasing look.

4. FLOAT: Try pulling a major piece away from a wall ( sofa, even a bed) go one step further and try angling this piece (again, much easier when room is empty!).

5. REPEAT: Try grouping your favorite collections or paintings. Usually the collected pieces become much more impactful and interesting when placed together.

Q: What in your opinion is an absolute no-no when designing a room?

(I love Michelle’s answers where she mixes dont’s with do’s!)

MN: No THEME rooms allowed please!

– Do not use poly-fill in pillows. Instead use at least 90/10 down preferably 75/25 (super soft and squishy!)

– Do not hang curtains that are too short or hung too low! In my opinion, curtains should be hung as high as possible over the window and the length should just break on the floor much like a man’s pant cuff breaks on his shoes! Interlining a drape well allows even inexpensive drape fabric to look like a million bucks! Trust me even a muslin fabric will look really fab!

– Do not use lots of little upholstered pieces. Instead use less, but use pieces that have a grander scale!

– Do not create a room that is just a pretty face, it must actually function for you!

– Do not create a “period” room. Instead MIX pieces artfully using your favorite eras and styles to create a room with personality and timelessness!

– Do not be timid, do not be afraid to make a mistake. Imperfection often makes a perfect room!


Michelle, please share one personal design trick with us!

MN: I always infuse a room with at least one or two objects/furniture that have a natural patina versus a manufactured patina as in “You can fool some of the people all of the time…….but you can not fool all of the people all of the time…” It is certainly fine to use some pieces which have man made patina but I believe the human eye picks this up either unconsciously or consciously whether or not the entire room is filled with reproductions!

(This is Michelle’s wonderful and personal kitchen!).

Now was that interesting or what, folks! I learned a lot and I hope you did too! Thank you Michelle for sharing your thoughts on design with us. You are one talented and inspirational gal. I look forward to seeing more of your work (and I look forward to many more fun chats!).

Michelle is one busy lady renovating and decorating many clients homes (incl. several celebrities’ homes such as the lovely Ali Landry’s). She is also finds time to be in charge of set designs for TV shows. Hop over here if you want to learn more about her work. And you can always follow Michelle on Pinterest — here.

Hugs to everyone and always Thank You for tuning in!

Images: No. 1 via Splendid Willow, no. 2 private via Michelle Niday, no. 3-10 via Country French (scanned from fall/winter issue 2012).


Written by Splendid Willow in: In The Spotlight | Tags: ,


In The Spotlight – Brooke Giannetti

Time to put the spotlight on yet another talented designer who I find very interesting. LA based designer Brooke Giannetti is hardly a stranger to the blog community. Her wonderful blog Velvet & Linen is a high priority read and she has built a successful business, Giannetti Home, around her blog but she might be a new face to my many loyal readers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I have  wanted to do this interview with Brooke for a while because I have so enjoyed watching her personal design style change somewhat, literally, right in front of our eyes, since I started to read her blog about 18 months ago. It has been a fascinating process to follow. It is ok to change your style and taste people! Listen to your heart. (And of course our mutual love for Swedish antiques is also a factor).

Brooke has been going from a more feminine shabby style to embracing a more simple new classic style and still being true to herself. I also find it very interesting how Brooke and her well known architect husband Steve, who has a completely different style, have managed to find common and lovely design ground. Let’s listen to what she has to say. You will walk away with a lot of good information!

Which design trends do you see yourself happily adopting in 2011?
Steve and I don’t pay attention to design trends. We design spaces that move us emotionally and reflect the way we live
It has been very interesting to watch your design style in the last 18 months. Describe your journey. 
It has been an amazing time in my life! I think the blog has helped me to develop my design style more fully by forcing me to write about it. It has also opened up so many opportunities. Our design online services has become a wonderful addition to our work, which never would have happened without the blog. Steve and I are also excited to have the opportunity to write a book about our design philosophy — “Patina Style”will be published in September! We are also starting the design process for our new home in Ojai. I think the blog and the book have made this process so much easier because they have helped us to refine our design style and helped us clearly understand what we love
 What furnishings have you liked in the past but are no longer attracted to? 

I like slimmer upholstered pieces these days. They compliment the Swedish and French antiques that I’ve always loved and continue to be drawn to. Big overstuffed sofas and chairs have not held up as design elements!

The Nick sofa below is from Giannetti Home and was used in the Gilt Home Showcase House.

What objects for the home are you surprised to find yourself liking now?
I’m always looking for new home accessories to bring into our store. My eye is always drawn to pieces that have a wonderful patina and some connection to the artist that made them. I don’t like things that are too perfect.

During a recent flea market visit, I discovered a vendor who specializes in antique wood carved Loatian Buddhas. The vendor explained how each one was carved by a different villager as an offering to bring to the temple. You could see the care that went into making them. I bought them all!

Do you feel that you have found your “own” design voice? 
I do feel that my design voice has gotten stronger. Although I still flip through the pages of all of the design magazines, I find that my style is less influenced by them. I’m becoming much more confident in my own instincts. 
(Brooke’s powder room went through a makeover. Isn’t the sink gorgeous!)
How would you describe your design style vs. your husband’s?
Steve’s design style is much more modern and masculine than my style! (The gorgeous kitchen below is designed by Steve).
Merging two peoples different styles can be challenging. Any good advice?
I actually love how our two styles compliment each other. One of the things I’ve learned is to be open to his suggestions. I listen to what is important to him. I want him to feel comfortable in his own home and the homes we design together. I really feel that our designs are better when we combine the things we both love.

This is what their sun room looks like after they worked on the style together.


 After: (A personal makeover favorite of mine!/Splendid Willow).
And let’s hear it from Steve himself! What would your advice be to couples trying to find a common design ground?
Steve’s advice: “Select images and items that you each individually love. Put them together on the table and find the common ground between them. You might be surprised at what is created! Usually one partner vetoes an idea too early. Be open to the mix of your styles.”

Their living room before:

Their living room after: (More streamlined, more of a mix. Do you see the galvanized steel table?)
Any interior design project that has a special place in your heart, Brooke?
Recently we’ve had several clients who love what we love. Those are the easiest and most satisfying projects to work on.

We just finished helping a client fill their French inspired beach home in Malibu. We only had to visit their home once in order to know the pieces that would work. Our clients met us back at the store, we picked out the furniture and had it delivered to their home a few days later. There is nothing like immediate design gratification!

(An example of an interior design project for a client. Not quite finished — but oh so lovely).

 What would you like to do more of?
Steve and I enjoy going on buying trips for the store. I’d love to have more design jobs that allow us to use the pieces we find on our travels. I also have discovered a love for creating gardens. I hope to design more of them in the future.
You incorporate quite a bit of “Swedish”  into your and your clients homes. What is it about Swedish design and interiors that draws you in?

Swedish pieces have classic proportions and style, but they aren’t as heavy and formal as many European antiques. There is a rustic refinement to Swedish design that is so easy incorporated into any room.

Describe a room or home furnishings that make you, shall we say, nervous?
A space with too much color or pattern without any place for the eye to rest makes me jittery!
What 3-5 things can anybody do to immediately beautify a room?
1) Get rid of unnecessary clutter, 2) Simplify your color palette, 3) If you can’t afford an expensive rug, use a natural fiber one from Crate and Barrel or Restoration Hardware. 4) Baskets for storage are inexpensive and add so much beautiful texture to a room. They also hide the clutter.
In Brook’e office she cleaverly hides her printer in a wicker basket!
Do yo have a specific wall color that you come back to over and over again?

I actually prefer no wall color. We’ve used California One Kote, a drywall topping compound, on the walls in many of the homes that we design. It has a wonderful luster, similar to plaster but at a fraction of the price.

When we do use paint, we prefer Farrow & Ball products. Their full spectrum paint reacts beautifully with the sunlight in a room. Some of our favorite FB colors are: Pointing, Lamp Room Gray, and Pink Ground.

Any favorite place for great fabrics?
 I love incorporating vintage fabrics into my rooms. I often recover chairs or ottomans in homespun linen or vintage French linen sheets. For special accents I think Claremont Fabrics & Furnishings sell some of the most gorgeous fabrics. Most of their fabrics are made on old looms in Europe. Their silk velvet is dreamy!
Ssshhhh… And what about great design bargains? Do you have a secret place?
I still think that flea markets are the best places to find unique, one of kind pieces at great prices. 
What’s your favorite design piece at home? The one you’d take with you before all others.

The Italian piece that hangs over our bed in our Oxnard home. It has the perfect aged gilded patina. Because it was a gift from Steve, it also has a great deal of sentimental value.

Finally, what is your design motto?
“Thank you so much for including me in your “In the Spotlight” series, Monika! This was so much fun! xo Brooke.”

Thank you so much Brooke & Steve! I am so looking forward to your upcoming book. I’d better put myself on the pre-order list! For more on Brooke and her design services, go here. And don’t forget to visit their on-line store here where you will find many wonderful Swedish antiques here.

Images: No. 1 (spotlight) via Splendid Willow, no. 13 via Flickr. All other images via Velvet & Linen.

Written by Splendid Willow in: Designers, Illustrators, Photographers, Stylists,In The Spotlight | Tags:


Design Interview With Lars Bolander

I am so pleased to put the spotlight on an interior designer I am such a huge fan of, Lars Bolander. I can hardly think of anyone who has more genius when it comes to mixing old styles with contemporary design — and often with a Swedish twist.
I spoke with him by phone last week when he was cooking away in the kitchen of his Palm Beach home.

I had no idea what to expect before my interview. But Lars is one if the friendliest and most charming people you could ever meet. We chatted for quite a while in “Swenglish” and he said things I would never expect coming from a person with so many influential and wealthy followers and clients. His approach to design is liberating.

Enjoy the conversation. I sure did!

How would you describe your interior design style for my readers?
‘Cozy, grand, gutsy, simple. A good mix.’
Do you have a special place you go to to really unleash your design creativity?
‘Monika, it is either in the kitchen, where I love to cook! (Lars was making a fantastic sounding pasta dish during the conversation). There I can totally let my thoughts wander. Or it’s early in the morning. Like at 5 am. When the day is just about to begin and the head is all clear. That is when fun ideas pop up.’
‘One morning I woke up early and decided to paint the wall in my pool house green!’
He later used the pool house as the cover photo for his book Lars Bolander’s Scandinavian Design’.
‘I wanted some color for the shoot. Nothing predictable. I dragged out some pieces from my house to use as styling props and the whole photo shoot came together in 10 minutes.’
What is it about Swedish (or Scandinavian) design and interiors that you are so drawn to?
‘The simplicity. The simple lines. It is very easy to mix Swedish furniture with other styles. Swedish design is not complicated.’
‘I often see many people from Asia buying old Swedish antiques and I sometimes wonder how these two cultures cultures with such different traditions and styles are going to be able to mix. But again, because of the simple, less ornate lines — it might just work. It is always interesting to watch how different styles marry.’
How important are antiques to you?

‘I always have to be surrounded by some. I love the beauty of the pieces and the history. You wonder who could have been sitting in that old chair. You sometimes wish old pieces could talk. Painted furniture (when not over-done) I find very attractive.’

”But I don’t like fancy, very expensive antiques [Monika here – I was shocked but pleased to hear that, having seen many images from his fantastic homes]. I find them stuffy and they don’t go with my lifestyle. I like a relaxed style.’
‘I also love art and books. Those I can’t be without. But not only old. I love contemporary art and since the 60′ Sweden has seen the rise with some amazing new, contemporary artists.’
[He goes on to tell me about cook books. “Monika, I love cook books! I must have 500 in my kitchen. And they all have pictures in them. They need to have pictures. The cook books today are amazing!”]
Any particular kind of antiques you are drawn to? 
‘Nope. I like everything — from all different cultures and eras.
I always say — if you see something you really like with your heart (and you can afford it) — buy it. Figure out where to place it later. You will make room for it.
A few years ago, I found these amazing early 18th c, paintings of musical instruments while visiting Paris with my son. I could not stop thinking of them. Finally, I called my insurance guy and asked him how much my life pension was worth. He gave me a number and I said “sell it!”. And I used that money to buy the paintings!
(The art pieces are featured on the wall in the image below, which by the way is family Bolander’s residence in West Palm Beach).
It was meant to be. I later found out that these paintings were found in an attic on this tiny, tiny street in Paris, where my wife Nadine’s mother used to live! ‘
 What is a beautiful home (or room) to you?
‘Cozy. As soon as you open that front door you should get a feeling of the atmosphere. The personality should greet you right in that door step.
I also like large rooms. And rooms with tons of light.’
When you visit friends’ homes can you leave your design persona at the door step?
‘Only sometimes (Lars says with a laugh). It depends on the friends. But more than once I have started to move furniture around in rooms where I hardly knew the owners.’
 Is there a particular design item/s that you still kick yourself for not getting? 
‘Yes. Two sensational chandeliers I found in Paris. They were out of this world but very pricey. I left the store to think it through — and when I came back, they were gone!’
Are there any particular design objects for the home that you think are not only beautiful but also could be good investments down the road?
‘It all depends on what you like and are interested in. But whatever that may be, always make sure to work with people who are knowledgeable about them.
Swedish period antiques will always be good investments. And mid-century Danish modern chairs. They are very expensive. But they made so few of them, so the prices will only continue to go up.
I am also a fan of David Linley’s furniture (the son of Prinsess Margarete in England). His pieces are  top quality. Expensive, yes. But they are good.’
Is there anything within the area of interior design (in general) that makes you extra excited today?
‘Eclectic. Mixing.
I also tend to get over-excited when I travel. There are so many wonderful objects in different parts of the world.
Architecture always has a place in my heart. I can go nuts for architecture.
Once we happened to drive by this gorgeous Chateau north of Toulouse in France. The architecture, the  location and the sun opening up behind thick clouds right when we approached it – just made me want to buy it. And we did.  

The architect of the house was from Turkey but he spoke Swedish fluently after many years in Sweden.That sealed the deal!’ (They never lived in the house and sold it four years later).

 ‘I am convinced that I used to live in France in the 18th century. I can feel it!’
‘Our vacation home in Sweden (on the island Oland) is a place where I get to experiment with old Swedish architecture. I need a good dose of Sweden every year. My two sisters also have homes close to us. We talk on the phone every week. My Swedish roots are very important to me.’
Anything that gives you the hibee jibees?
‘Yes, lights high up in the middle of a ceiling – with no other purpose but to light a room. It gives the wrong kind of light!
Lighting is without a question the single most important thing in a room. Light has to be exciting. And there are many ways to light a room to make the room cozy.’
Other than that, I can get over most things. Except the word gorgeous!’
What things (2-5) could everyone do to easily bring beauty and comfort to a room?
1) Lighting, 2) Books, 3) Art, 4) Comfortable seating, 5) Flowers & plants
Art does not need to be expensive. I very often put a few art pieces together on one wall (much like an art wall) and leave the other walls empty. Makes more of an impact.’
What are your favorite places to shop for furnishings for the home?
‘Milan, Paris, Stockholm (primarily the neighborhood Ostermalmstorg).
Auctions all over the world and flea markets (but only in Paris). 
I also buy things on-line.’
Lars is now in the process of designing his first furniture line. Initially the line will consist of fifteen pieces. Everything from chairs and tables to beds. The line will be launched in his NY store, fall of 2011.
Do you ever do your own DIY (Do It Yourself) projects? If so, any in particular you are extra proud of?
‘Monika, I am too lazy for that! I have too much to do! After a long day at work, I come home to cook and spend time with family and then I need to make room for biking and swimming and reading and all those things!
But I have painted a few paintings. And I like to paint my own own walls. I recently painted a pair of columns. I find that relaxing. I only bring in some help, when I need to paint the ceilings!
Today there are so many good paints on the market. Even the mainstream brands make great paint.’
Using the “Desert Island” metaphor…If you could only take one design item with you from your home, what would it be?
‘Most likely a painting. But don’t ask me which one! Or an antique bust.’ 
Finally, what is your design motto?
‘Don’t be afraid! I find that people are so afraid of what others are going to say. Forget about those others! Your home should be a refection of you! Be brave. Just do it!’
I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. Brilliant he is, Mr. Bolander!
For more information on Lars go here. And visit his NY store here.
For another great interview with Lars, visit my friends at Eleish & Van Breems, here.
Images: No. 1 (Spotlight) via Splendid Willow, no. 2, 3, 5-10, 15, 17, 19 + 20 via Lars Bolander Design, no. 4 unknown, no. 11 via Flickr, no. 12 via Modernity, no. 13+ 14 via David Linley, no. 16 unknown, no. 18 via Flickr, no. 21 via Cote De Texas

Written by Splendid Willow in: Designers, Illustrators, Photographers, Stylists,In The Spotlight | Tags:


Meet Di – The Creative & Witty Owner Of Ghost Furniture

Whether this is your design style or not, pay attention to what what my friend Di has to say. She is one smart and playful cookie. And what  a fun life she lives! Residing in a 300-year old country home and on a regular basis hopping into her van and driving from the UK (!) to Paris to scout products for her business.

Di Overton is a witty and creative UK based designer who always inspires me and makes me laugh out loud. Yes, the blog world brought us together about a year ago (she is behind DesignersBlock which is the leading eclectic style blog in the UK) but I am so looking forward to meeting her in person.

This week Di is launching Concrete Ghost in collaboration with the very talented Kathy Dalwood. Concrete Ghost is a business line which is part of Di’s successful company Ghost Furniture.

I am pleased to be the first in the US with an exclusive on this!

Di,  please describe your design style for us.

Eclectic, there’s so many good styles out there I suppose I couldn’t choose one so eclectic it is.
Where do you get your inspiration from?

Inspiration comes from everything around me. The strangest things can inspire it’s a hard thing to explain. On the Ghost Furniture website there is an inspirations page I put together to show people how some of my ideas came to fruition. I have even been inspired to create a table by passing one of the lions in Trafalgar Square. My advice to anyone searching for inspiration is LOOK UP and never have a closed mind.

(View from Di’s cottage. “Open your eyes, smell the roses”).

What prompted you to get started in the design world?

I have been designing since the late 1970s. I used to be a knitwear designer in the 1980s and had a very successful business selling high end designer knitwear then got dragged into the world of advertising and at that time created which I subsequently sold to Bodie and Fou. In 2006 my partner Harvey and I decided we had had enough and semi-retired to our cottage in the country and it seemed the perfect time to start designing again instead of selling other people’s designs. It’s in the blood I suppose.

Many of us know about your fabulous and oh-so witty blog. Tell us more about your company.

Ghost Furniture, so called because we are bringing things back from the dead, employs only two people – myself and my partner Harvey. He writes the website, helps with the design ideas (sometimes he stops me being too wacky) and more importantly carrying heavy stuff around for me. We do all the photography, copy writing, web optimization etc etc ourselves, the advantage of having been in advertising for so long.  As we decided to semi-retire we are determined to keep it personal.

Splendid Willow’s comment: This is why I love this girl! Look at her Marie Antoinette chair – and what inspired her.

How lovely and fun isn’t this tasseled bedside table!

And look at this framed spoon. How unexpected and playful!

Our youngest daughter Charlotte lives in Paris and we visit often and trawl the brocantes and flea markets there. She is our scout as she scours the Paris area for the best brocantes that will be held when we are visiting. The whole set up is perfect. We travel there with our van and come back loaded to the gunnels. We deliver most of the larger pieces to our customers as this gives us a chance to meet them and we get to see parts of the UK we may never have visited otherwise. A pretty perfect way to run a business I think.
So what new do you have cooking?  Please share with us!

Well this has been kept a deep dark secret for a long time
now but at last it can be revealed Concrete Ghost. Late 2009 both Kathy Dalwood and myself discovered that we had both been admiring each other’s work from afar, as far as London, where Kathy lives, is from the wilds of Northumberland where I live. As you will already know Kathy creates fabulous concrete sculptures from flea market finds and I asked her to create something I could apply to my Ghost pieces.
As is the case in most collaborations things evolved and we have ended up with an amazing collection of sculpted tassels made from heavily detailed vintage originals finished with vintage mercier and passementerie from the alleyways of Paris. Some pieces have been applied to furniture some are stand alone pieces and we even created a range of curtain tie backs. We are both very excited about it as we know that no one has ever attempted such a collaboration. As Kathy cleverly puts it – “The raw quality of the monochrome concrete is an intriguing contrast to the luxurious colored cords and delicate trimmings”.

Splendid Willow’s comment: People, this  tassel is made of concrete! A sculpture!

These mini-sculptures, each individually cast by hand, are concrete casts of real silk tassels with all the intricate detail of the original.

Look at this free standing concrete tassel sculpture. Splendid!
What part of design really gets your heart racing?

The best part is applying the first coat of paint which is the start of the transformation. When I buy the pieces for Ghost they are deceased, as we say – bringing quality furniture back from the dead and making it hauntingly beautiful – I would never think of touching a piece that still has some life in it.

(Flea market find in the process of being transformed into something lovely and fun).

Do you have a signature design feature/technique or object?

My signature design feature is the truly matte finish of the paints I use. These paints are specially mixed for us in Paris. Applying them to the pieces is like applying fresh cream. If I told you the source I would have to kill you :) It has taken years to find the right mix and the right colors and I am in love with it, sad but true – Di Overton is in love with her paint.

Describe what you see as major design influences and trends right now? Do you even pay attention to them?

Never, never, never. It is the road to ruin. Imagine how much stuff I would be left with if I followed trends they are in and out like a fiddler’s elbow.

What’ your favorite design piece at home?  The one you’d take with you before all others.

Believe it or believe it not if I had a fire in my home and I could grab one item before I left it would be my Dustpan and Brush. I obtained this set when I owned, designed and made by Normann Copenhagen. Never does a crumb go under it and the brush goes into the tightest of corners. When we had our cottage extended the builders asked for a dustpan and brush and when I passed them this set they laughed but proceeded to use it for months and it survived their abuse. It’s washable, never warps and I just love it. Innovative design like this blows my mind.
What’s your favorite wall color?

Stone. If you want to add color put something colorful on it. It is so versatile and clashes with nothing. A close second is black which if used in the right way can be stunning. I have black walls in my kitchen but the cupboards are stone and bronze which puts the wall in the background and it also can carry any color placed on it.

Describe the house you fantasize living in. (Or are you already living in it?)

Monika, I am in it!  I visited some rich friends recently and was sitting in their orangery thinking how I could actually fit my cottage into it. We were looking out onto their huge garden and I thought – how the hell do they manage that. We used to live in a huge town house in the city so I’ve been there and done that and truly appreciate that fact but I look out every morning and evening and see a changing landscape that most people would give their eye teeth for. My cottage is over 300 years old maybe older and has a fascinating history and it works for me, I cannot ask for more.

Finally, what is on top of your design wish list?

Nothing! When I owned I had access to the best in design world and took advantage of it so without sounding smug I don’t really need anything else.

Thank you Dear Di! I so enjoy your company and your unique style!

I think that interior design at times can be boring and predictable. (Yes, really!). Your playfulness is such a relief! And so is Kathy’s! You both inspire me to add much more personal spunk and beauty to my own home!

Image, Paris, via Flickr. All other images are the rights of  Di Overton.

Written by Splendid Willow in: In The Spotlight |


Meet Ally & Her Fantastic Eye For Eclectic Design

Before I start, I would like to say that in my monthly “In The Spotlight” interviews, I feature people who I personally find very interesting & inspirational and have something to teach about design & art. Now, some of them also happen to have blogs (I have met them in lovely blog land!). But that is not why I pick them.

Meet my dear friend Ally with From The Right Bank. (I have known her since my early blog days and she was the one who pushed me when I thought blogging was so hard). Ally has a fabulous blog which is a must read for all my readers but what I am really interested in is her eye for design. Eclectic living. She has such good taste, this gal (and she shares her personal interior design ideas and her home with her readers) . I just want to explore design through her eyes and hear her thoughts! I personally look to her for inspiration. So enjoy what she has to say and her hand picked images!

Ally, describe your design style for us.

This is always tough for me to do. My style is all over the place as I really do love just about everything. It’s a combination of global bohemian influenced by my travels along with some French froufrou from my years living in Paris, balanced out by a bit of clean and modern Scandinavian simplicity.

When did an eclectic design style first resonate with you?

Hmmmmm . . . looking back at all of my homes, they’ve all been a bit hodge podge in decor so I guess it’s always been my thing.
What is key for a perfect eclectic room or house?

Mixing styles, time periods, textures, price points, . . . everything!
Tell us more about your new home. What is the biggest difference compared to your last?

My new house could not be more different from my last one. We used to live in a contemporary, open-plan house with lots of glass, concrete and exposed beams. Our new house is a traditional brick with a much more formal layout and feel.

Did you already know how you wanted to decorate the house, before the moving truck arrived?

I think you already know the answer to this question, Monika! :) Of course! From the minute we made an offer on the house, I was decorating in my head, sketching floor plans, and picking out fixtures and paint colors.
Does your husband have any say in the design process?

I run some things by him but for the most part, he’s happy to let me do whatever I want because he trusts my style. Thank goodness! :)
Any brand new design ideas you are going for this time around?

In keeping with the architecture of the house, I’m incorporating more traditional elements than before. But I want to put a twist on it. (Of course!)

Are there any budget friendly DIY projects close to your heart that you have tried or are looking forward to trying?

I bought a set of 4 red leather chairs at a thrift store in New York back when we lived there and they’ve definitely seen better days. So I want to try my hand at reupholstering them. I’ve been inspired by all the amazing chair makeovers everyone seems to be doing lately. As much as I like decorating, I’m pretty incompetent when it comes to DIY so it’s going to be a real experiment!

What ‘s on your design object wish list?

The top three are probably: 1. deGournay wallpaper, 2. Arne Jacobsen’s Egg Chair, 3. Union Jack rug by Vivienne Westwood for the Rug Company.
Any sentimental design objects you never will depart from?

Most of the art we have has been collected on our travels or have been gifts so they all have special meaning and I can’t see parting with any of it.
Do you have any secret places for good design finds?

I’m just starting to discover all the amazing antique shops all over Atlanta. I had no idea of the treasures they have here! I’d say the whole Atlanta area is a very well-kept secret.
Have you settled down for good in Atlanta? Or will we see you living in other areas or countries down the road?

With me, there is always another move somewhere on the horizon(!) and I would love the opportunity to live abroad again. But I just got here so there are no immediate plans!
Today you running a very successful design blog. What do you see yourself doing 2-3 years from now?

I see myself continuing to blog, write and photograph. I’d also like to get back to painting more and creating a body of work to exhibit.
I hope you have enjoyed the interview as much as I have! Thank you for sharing your design thoughts with us Ally! An even brighter design future is in the cards for you! And now, I am also looking forward to your first art exhibition!

For more on Ally’s blog, go here.

Images via: 1. Private, 2. Living Etc, 3. Elle Interior Sweden, 4. Domino, 5. Marie Claire Maison, 6. Lonny, 7. Abigail Ahern, 8. D Magazine, 9. Marie Claire Maison, 10. From The Right Bank, 11. Fritz Hansen. 12. The Rug Company, 13. New York Magazine, 14. Domino, 15. Marie Claire Maison, 16. Ngoc Minh Ngo

Written by Splendid Willow in: In The Spotlight |

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