A Colorful Pageant with Pillows!

Whether you want a new splash of color for a seasonal change, a touch of cozy comfort, or to elevate a room’s style by adding pattern and texture, updating your throw pillows can be a small change that packs a powerful design punch. Don’t be afraid to switch things up!

Vintage horse blankets were used to cover pillows in the Manhattan living room above. Using unusual materials in an unconventional way can give your home a unique flair.

When a longtime client on Nantucket decided it was time for a new look for her living room, she had only one problem: she loved everything we had previously designed for the room!  We knew there was a simple way she could update the room’s design without starting from scratch:


We replaced the original playful print on the seat cushions with a more modern geometric design.


We designed a couple of new pillows for the sofa as well, matching the geometric print to the chair cushions. It was important to keep the clean, crisp color palette with vibrant blue and Hermes orange for the warm and summery glow they bring to the living room.

The new pillows were carefully coordinated with blue trim for a meticulously orchestrated color palette.

Here’s that same cheerful color palette extended to the patio.

In the study, the nearby beach inspired a marine theme with touches of navy blue and white.

Need a few more ideas? Read on!

Old pillows made new again

Here’s an eye-catching pillow design without searching for new pillows: In this elegant room, we sewed decorative tape to the existing pillows for a more contemporary look.

An artful fusion combining four separate pieces of fabric created this dynamic geometric pattern for the pillows shown above.

Playing with pillows  in your design should be fun! You can mix and match stripes, geometrics, plaids and colors as long as you stay within a theme. When you have your perfect pile of pillows, arrange them in a staggered line, or layer them with a focal pillow in the center.

Pillows add comfort, color and pizzazz! Throw a pillow party in any room in your house that needs an instant lift.

Be sure to subscribe  to get all the best design advice and beautiful inspiration through photos of our projects. I want all of us to live in happy, well-designed, healthy homes!




My Travel Notebook: Italy

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”–Ralph Waldo Emerson

In my last post about my travels to France, I shared the places I went, delighted with how they inspired me in my work in interior design. My trip didn’t stop at the border of France, however;  my husband, Frank, and I continued on into Italy. And the longer we were away, the more I thought about how it is that beauty can inspire us not only in the design of our homes, but also in the design for our lives.



As a fine artist who became an interior designer, something I loved in Italy (and in France) were the beautiful colors. In Verona, the buildings were a perfect foil for the brightly shining sun with their citrusy shades of tangerine, gold, pale yellow and sunburnt red. Life lesson: the world is a colorful place!



All the colors of Italy are subtly glorious. This old synagogue in what was once a Jewish ghetto shares the golden tones of the buildings in Verona, but it also inspires awe, as religious buildings are meant to. You must look closer to see the many intricate designs that proclaim it a Jewish house of worship.



Looking closer is one of the requirements of travel. At first glance, we see the bigger picture: the architecture, the ruins of this ancient amphitheater in Verona, the cobbled streets. It is only when we look closer that we see the faces of the people, their smiles, what they carry, who they are. (An earthquake in 1176 destroyed the amphitheater here; this is the only remaining fragment of the outer ring.)



Close attention to detail is also a requirement for an interior designer. Details bring a room to life, give it movement, personality and that elegant je ne sais quois. The ceiling in the breakfast room at our hotel in Villa Cordevigo near Lake Garda reminded me of both an important design rule, and one for living: lift your eyes. Look up.



The Murano glass chandeliers there were a source of light and delight. Shouldn’t every light fixture be both? I think so!



Italian is known as the language of love, and Verona is known as the City of Love. Romance is celebrated where Shakespeare set his story of star-crossed lovers. Romeo and Juliet, sadly, were based on a real life feuding family. Today, people in search of love, forgiveness, or who simply want to celebrate their own unique love story write letters and leave them here. The city of Verona receives over 5,000 letters a year to Juliet.



The statue of Juliet is said to be good luck to lovers. When the original bronze statue, cast in 1969, was removed for repairs, restoration staff found hundreds of letters from star-crossed lovers that had been squeezed into the statue through cracks in the exterior. In addition to notes, there were tiny padlock keys. Couples often buy padlocks, write their names in indelible ink, then either hide or throw away the key.



People come from all over the world to stand beneath Juliet’s balcony. Don’t you love the symmetry of the Romanesque windows underneath?



We saw many villas designed by the 16th century architect, Andrea Palladio. Palladio based his work on a study of classical Roman architecture, which gives much of the region its unique appearance.This is Villa Emo, designed by Palladio in 1559. It remained in the Emo family until it was sold in 2004. The landscape has a continuous history since Roman times, and it has been suggested that the straight lines of the villa reflect the straight lines of Roman roads.




In the land where the Renaissance began, with a culture and architecture heavily influenced by the Classical ideals of Greek and Roman civilizations, rich detail can be found everywhere you turn.



Villa Barbaro, also known as Villa di Maser, was built by Palladio for Daniele Barbaro, ambassador to Queen Elizabeth I of England, and his brother, Marcantonio, ambassador to King Charles IX of France.




The frescoes in Villa Barbaro are by the artist Paolo Veronese. He painted the wife of Marcantonio Barbaro, Giustiniana, along with her youngest son’s wet nurse, her parrot, and her spaniel dog.



Here is our tour guide, Janet Simmonds, with Frank, standing outside the Villa Foscari, also known as La Malcontenta. In the 16th century, rich patricians of Venice had villas built to expand their empires through agriculture. (The name La Malcontenta has several explanations, all hinging on a supposedly unhappy wife many years ago.)



We stayed in one 16th century villa, the Hotel Villa Franceschi, the former residence of jewelers to the Doge (the Italian chief of state). The villa stands at a bend in the River Brenta, and is the gateway to Venice.



The end of day is always a favorite time for me, when the sun begins its descent toward the horizon, and gently slants against the buildings. The quality of light is different in different locations. I’ve always found sunlight on Nantucket to be especially luminous. I love the sunlight in Italy, too.



This is our room at the Villa Franceschi. The guest rooms are opulent, with marble fireplaces and terra cotta floor tiles, and the ceilings have their original wooden beams. It’s important to revere our history, and restore our ancient buildings. I felt the same way when I restored a sea captain’s house on Nantucket years ago.



I have always found a mix of old and new, layered throughout a home, to give both grace and grounding to the interiors I create for my clients. I came home feeling more strongly than ever that in a home with a modern look and feel, there is still room for antiquities and fine antiques.



Many of my clients have inherited pieces or vintage collectibles that they want retained in their homes. By combining new with old, a recently decorated room has the look of one that has evolved over the years. The end result is a cohesive blend of style and comfort, as it is here at the Villa Franceschi.



You find symmetry, balance and order throughout Italy, including in formal gardens, as in the maze at the abbey of San Giorgio Maggiore.



Also called the Borges Labyrinth, it was created in honor of the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, to recall one of his best known stories, The Garden of Forking Paths. Because Borges became blind at age 55, a handrail was installed so blind people can walk the maze without assistance.



Italian gardens are beautiful, with or without a maze. There are many paths to follow, as in life. Since we can’t do everything and be everywhere, we have to choose which ones to walk.



Let’s walk toward beauty.



I’ve always been drawn to the beauty of water, and the end of our trip found us floating through the canals of Venice, following the same route George Clooney took with his bride Amal following their Venetian wedding. That was only fitting for a trip planned to celebrate our fourteenth wedding anniversary!



Janet arranged a private boat tour for us, and it was a magical day.



Passing under the Bridge of Sighs was a solemn moment. It is said that Casanova was one of the prisoners who sighed while crossing from the Hall of Magistrates to the prison on the other side. The glimpse of blue sky beyond was the last view of clouds and sun the prisoners would see for some time. (But Casanova escaped in 1756, slipping out of his cell into the palace, where a guard let him out. A happy ending!)



The last time Frank and I were in Venice, we were here to oversee the printing of my interior design book, Comfort Zone: Creating the Eco-Elegant Interior. We met my London-based book designer, Stafford Cliff, in Padua where the printer was located, but were able to take in a bit of Venice before we returned home to the states. That was a working vacation, though, which is a contradiction in terms!



Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. I think that the world must be examined, too. Luckily, we don’t need to travel to Italy, or to France, to find inspiration. It’s all around us. We just have to look for the angels of beauty that are everywhere, and remember we are blessed. (This angel can be found in the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, in Venice).



Like Casanova, we had a happy ending too: we made it home in time for the Peony festival in our own front yard. So we had a glass of wine to celebrate.




My Travel Notebook: France

“Work, travel, save, repeat.”

I’ve been traveling through France and Italy recently, celebrating a belated tenth anniversary with my husband, Frank. We engaged the services of the talented Janet Simmonds from the Grand Tourist, (she writes a fascinating blog she calls the Educated Traveller –British spelling!) She put together an itinerary for us that moved us from Southern France, beginning in Beaulieu-sur-mer to Venice, Italy, with elegant meals, private tours, and spectacular sights.


I found design inspiration everywhere–in the food, languages, colors, architecture and interiors–and I want to share my inspiration with you. I thought we’d begin with France, since that’s where we went first.



The creamy tones of the La Reserve Hotel got our trip off on a calming note. The bright pink roses that punctuated the patio were the perfect compliment, and added life to the scenery.



Indoors, the coral exterior evolved into dazzles of orange with grey and taupe. It reminded me of a favorite project I did for an Hermes orange loving client in Manhattan. Here’s my take on orange and neutrals, below:



Orange is eye-catching in floral arrangements, too. Both across the room…



…and close up!



We loved our room, which was a delightful blend of old and new. I loved how the interiors of La Reserve combined contemporary furnishings with priceless antiques, which adds such depth, warmth and richness! Much more interesting, I think, than all modern, which doesn’t take a location’s history into account.



The thread of good design holds true throughout the ages. Good design from the 18th century can play off good design from the 21st century. Here’s an example from my own design work, below: an 18th century buffet against 21st century lacquered walls. This is in a Manhattan apartment.



Meanwhile, there were no complaints about the shades of blue that met us in the pool and sea outside our door.



The saltwater pool was heated, and free of chemicals.



Wandering through the charming medieval town of St. Paul de Vence meant finding history of more than 1,000 years at every turn. In the 20th century, artists began coming to St. Paul to paint its famous brown stone buildings in the silken light of southern France.



As we walked through St. Paul, I couldn’t stop thinking about the rustic stone, and how that might translate into a modern home. Using natural materials is simple but stunning in its impact. Natural stones are endlessly elegant and eco-friendly. They bring a richness of texture and color to a room.



Here’s another of our Dujardin designs in Manhattan, where we used rough stone to create a dramatic backdrop to the sleek-lined furniture. We used antique horse blankets to cover the pillows–unusual materials and unique applications make an interior innovative!



Back in St. Paul, I was struck by how a mosaic of small stones could be one way to add movement and depth to a space, and offer many natural hues to work with.



Next stop: the bar at La Colombe d’Or, where we had an aperitif before dinner. The rough stone walls with muted colors depicting leaping stags was a masculine touch.



Aged paint on stone walls paired well with these surprisingly glitzy silver pillows.



The beautiful dining room at La Colombe d’Or, where Frank and I enjoyed our much delayed anniversary dinner–at last!



The simple stone building was once a weekend haunt for artists.



It’s still filled with their artwork–incredible pieces by Matisse, Miro, Calder, Picasso and Chagall.



Imagine eating dinner in an art museum, with comfortable surroundings and delicious food.



Everywhere you turn, there is priceless art.



Anybody interested in a fireplace with a sunken gathering area? Winters in New England seem to require one of these. The placement of the seating would concentrate the heat nicely while enjoying a brandy after dinner.



No one was eating outdoors, but aren’t these weathered urns planted with greenery just gorgeous with the stone tile floor?



Colors aren’t limited to artwork, as you can see in the purple irises growing in the field.



This quiet beauty in pink and white is the former home of David Niven, the British actor. We took a walk from Beaulieu-sur-mer to St. Jean Cap Ferrat to see the house. One scene from Niven’s last movie–the Pink Panther–was filmed there in 1983, the year before his death.



Gold doorknobs on the white door are the perfect accent. Pink and gold and white is stunning.



An ornate gate that simultaneously invites you in and says, “not so fast! Are you invited?”



A marble sign with the name of your home is always elegant. Especially if you’re David Niven.



We’ll be back soon as we continue our journey to Italy! Come along with us next month. I have so much more to show you!



At Home in the Country


I’m so pleased to have another of Dujardin Design Associate’s projects published by our friends at New England Home CT Magazine.  They’re also the publishers of New England Home, and both magazines are full of design inspiration. In their Spring 2018 edition, they tell the story of our design work at a beautiful country home located in the gracious town of Washington Depot, Connecticut. This is the eighth project we’ve completed for this client, by now a longtime friend.

When this client found another dream home for the next phase of her life (previous homes were in New York City, Greenwich, and California!), we knew we were going to have a wonderful time working together again.  Washington Depot is one of three towns that were the actual inspiration for the town of Stars Hollow in Gilmore Girls, so you can just imagine the feeling of warmth and small town camaraderie.

We’re so excited to show it to you. If you can pick up a copy of the magazine, please do. It’s on the stands until July 23, 2018. Here’s a sneak peek!


A trend in home buying and interior design right now is the need to remake our homes to fit the next stage of our lives. Whether you’re making space for a nursery, adding an in-law suite for an elder relative, or moving to a new location to embrace retirement, the chance to re-envision your home is an exciting time. Keeping what you treasure but adding new furniture, rugs and accessories to fit your new lifestyle is the best way to embrace the future!



One of the joys–and struggles–of moving is deciding what to keep and what to give away. New storage and display pieces can help you make those choices.



I’ve always believed that our surroundings influence our lives in countless quiet ways. This client loves the farms and rolling countryside she can see outside her windows,



Whatever stage of life you’re in, you can make your home a place that fully supports your daily activities and offers rest and respite at night. A good interior design plan helps you achieve beauty, comfort, and sanctuary without leaving home. Vacations aren’t the only option for rejuvenation when you truly love where you live.


Counting Stars in Your Own Backyard


Summertime is perfect for travel, to see new sights, taste new foods, and refresh our spirits. Sometimes we return from a vacation, though, only to sigh with relief at the sight of our own front door.  There’s something to be said for a chance to relax without packing a suitcase, airport delays, and crowds of tourists. With a little advance planning, we can turn a stay at home into a luxurious retreat.



Start by thinking about what you love when you travel. If the feeling of luxury and being pampered is part of what makes a hotel stay desirable, then recreate that escape at home. Toss out old bedding, and invest in good quality organic cotton sheets. They’ll feel wonderful against your skin, and will support your health by being toxin-free. Buy new pillows, and add a soft alpaca throw at the bottom of the bed.



Rejuvenating your body as well as your mind and spirit should be your priority for this vacation. Consider purchasing a room air purifier. A HEPA filter will remove allergens and particulates from the air you breathe, then recirculate purified air back into the room.



I have a whole house air purification system that keeps the air in my home pristine, and my guests tell me they’ve never felt better or more energized.



Bring the best summer has to offer inside! I love the look of nautical throw pillows. Add shells and beach-inspired decor to keep you feeling like your toes are in the sand.



I love my collection of vintage sand pails, reminding me that this is the season to remember the delights of childhood, or enjoy them again with little people you love.




Plan a day trip (or three!) to places in your area that you just don’t have time to get to on a regular basis. One of my favorite destinations on Nantucket is Pumpkin Pond Farm. My good friend Marty McGowan is an organic farmer who blesses the island with gorgeous flowers and delicious homegrown produce. The recent Tomato Tasting there was a delight for all the senses.




Indulge in all the bounty of fresh summer foods–tomatoes, corn, peaches, plums, and fragrant herbs. Try a new recipe every night!




When the afternoon sun starts to make you drowsy, there’s nothing like a window seat where you can curl up with a book to read or to nap.



Since you’re staying home, family and friends may be traveling to see you. Arrange guest rooms with the kind of touches that help people feel at home. A small table or chair where they can place their luggage is appreciated. Fill a basket with books you’ve enjoyed, soaps and lotions, and extra towels. The best way to decide if your guest room is ready is to sleep there for a night yourself.



There’s nothing more romantic than a summer evening, so don’t stay indoors and miss it. Be sure to make your patio or deck as comfortable as the interior of your home, with tables, umbrellas, and lots of wonderful places to sit, with cushions and throw pillows so you can relax.



String white lights with vintage lanterns..



Light lots of candles.



Then listen for the owls, and count the stars in your own backyard.





East Coast Home + Design Article

We love when our projects appear in magazines, where we can share the beautiful photography and background on our design choices with all of you! This month, East Coast Home + Design Magazine featured one of my favorite houses on Nantucket: the Pavilion-style home by famous architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen. Open, airy, and light-filled, our task was to revitalize the interiors with gently green principles. Editor Shelley McCormick and writer Deborah Brannon did a wonderful job. I hope you enjoy it!











Fall in Love with Your Bedroom

Trudy Dujardin

“When I woke up this morning, my girlfriend asked me, ‘Did you sleep good?’ I said, ‘No, I made a few mistakes.'”–Stephen Wright, American Comic

It’s hard to seriously imagine making mistakes while you’re sleeping, but if you’re designing a bedroom, there are good and better choices for your lifelong health. During sleep, your body works to remove any toxins that you were exposed to during the day.  A beautiful, serene environment that soothes you at the end of your day is best when it also supports your health.

Sleep is the time for cellular repair, for rejuvenation, for restoration of energy and health for both body and mind.That’s why, more than any other room in the house, you want your bedroom to be a pristine environment. You may be surprised to learn that your bedroom can be a repository of potentially harmful chemicals. Conventional mattresses, for example, are made with petroleum-based polyester and polyurethane foam, then treated with flame retardants. Those chemicals can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that become part of the air you breathe.

Pillows are also often made of synthetic materials that are treated with chemical finishing agents. Other sources of possible chemical contamination: Carpets, wall paint, wood furniture, even your cotton pajamas. With everything else you have on your mind, you don’t need worries about the health of your bedroom to keep you up at night.

Fortunately, there are products available to ensure your rest is undisturbed by allergens, toxins, or chemical vapors. For my interior design clients, I recommend using natural furnishings and finishes free of formaldehyde, VOCs, and petroleum-based products. Here are a few simple steps you can take to ensure a healthful night’s sleep:

Choose low or no-VOC paints for your walls and wood trim. Paints can emit VOCs over a long period of time, so just airing out the room may not be sufficient.

Choose hardwood floors (easiest to clean), finish them with water-based sealants (one of my favorites is Basic Coatings), and finally, cover them with organic wool or cotton area rugs.

Select an organic mattress, made with natural latex, wool or organic cotton. Be sure your pillows are natural as well. You can find pillows filled with organic wool or natural latex foam, and covered with organic cotton. Non-organic cotton is a heavily-toxin laden fabric. Cotton is grown in fields soaked in insecticides; dyes and color fixers use heavy metals such as chromium, copper, and zinc.

When choosing wood furniture, consider eco-friendly wood products that are FSC-certified, a designation from the Forest Stewardship Council ensuring that the wood was grown and harvested in a way that protects forests for the long term. Antique furniture is beautiful, and has the added benefit of no longer emitting harmful gases from wood or finishes.

Clear the air by adding a room air-purifier, or go one step further and install a central filtration system. Models are available that filter particulates (pollen, dander, and mold) and vapors (formaldehyde).

Remember that a good night’s sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. If you follow even one of these suggestions, you’ll be taking a step forward in improving the health of yourself, your family, and the earth. After many years of devoting my work to sustainable design, my clients tell me they sleep easy. I want that for you as well.

Let the Sun Shine In!

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After a long, cool spring in the Northeast, the calendar–and the weather–have agreed that summer has finally arrived. Let’s throw open the windows and doors, and rethink the way we live at home. it’s easy to feel as F. Scott Fitzgerald did when he said, “I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”


Start with spring cleaning: To fully embrace the beauty of balmy breezes and abundant sunshine, we need to remove winter’s dry stuffy air from the house, and scrub the hidden spaces where dust collects. We don’t need to bring toxic cleaning products into our homes. It’s better to clean with baking soda, lemon juice, and vinegar, or else choose environmentally friendly products, rather than dousing our living space with chemicals.  I’ve written about how to Clean Green before: read more here. 


Think about re-establishing order. Stacks of books and blankets left by the fireplace should be put back where they belong, and then you can recreate the room for a completely different experience. Once the room has become a blank slate again, bring out the things of summer! Bright colors and garden stools definitely belong inside.

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Add beauty and fragrance with fresh flowers. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, then you have a florist shop at your fingertips! Cut flowers early in the morning while the sun is still low in the sky and the dew has not yet dried. They’ll be fresher, and last longer. Immediately plunge the stems into a bucket of water, then put flowers or a flowering plant in every space you can, including the bathroom. Summer is a celebration of things that grow!

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The days of blocking our windows with heavy draperies are behind us. Make sure your windows are sparkling clean, then let the natural light pour in with minimal window treatments, or if you need the privacy, wooden blinds are a good choice. Simplicity is beautiful.

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Change your bedding from heavy down comforters and dark colors to light and white. Your spirits will be lifted each time you enter the room. Color affects our emotions in powerful ways.

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I love this room in my Nantucket fisherman’s cottage, decorated with vintage sand pails. Go ahead and celebrate what you loved about summer from your childhood, when the hours between sunrise and starlight seemed to last forever.

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Red, white, and blue always works in the summertime. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, let your patriotic flag fly.

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Don’t be afraid to have a little fun.

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Go nautical, and let your rooms remind you of  beaches, boats, and ocean breezes.


The time it takes to change your home’s look to sunshine and summer shouldn’t be seen as work. Homes need to be loved, just as people do. By making your home a welcoming, bright and sunny space, you will effortlessly bring more laughter and joy into your life.

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So go ahead: let the sun shine in!


Creating an Oasis of Calm

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Good design is defined by the basics of scale, proportion, color, and contrast, among other considerations. To take the concept of a well-designed home one step further, though, is what I call my “tabula rasa,” the oasis of calm that envelopes us when we step inside our doors at the end of the day. Here are my thoughts on how to create that oasis, with simple ways to make your home welcoming, warm, and comfortable to live in.

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Repetition of design elements, such as the columns in this beautiful beachside home, mirror each other from room to room, and define a space. Repeated in subtle ways throughout a house, they are the details that subconsciously soothe with symmetry.

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In this New York City bedroom, the Greek Key is repeated in furniture, floor and bed linens, relaxing in its soft echoes.

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Simple ways to reduce clutter, such as window seats with drawers for storage underneath, keep a room open and serene. I often say that “the eye needs a place to rest.” So does the mind, and the body.

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Tradition is restful for many of us. Finding fine antique pieces to blend in with more contemporary furnishings is calming.

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Surrounding yourself with the things you love is an important way to make your home unique, and fill you with joy every time you enter a room. Billy Baldwin said, “Nothing is interesting unless it is personal.” I would suggest that your most personal treasures that truly express your essence will do so much to lift your spirits.

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Adding one stunning piece that is both eye-and heart-catching can be a singular focal point, another way to gracefully express your interests.

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The color palette that I turn to over and over again is white plus one color. There are so many whites to choose from: crisp white, cool greyed tones, soft blue hues, or rosy tints when the sunlight streams through the windows. It’s pleasing to the eye and the spirit.

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An invisible way to restore energy and help to clear your body of toxins you’ve come across during your busy day is by installing a good heat recovery ventilation system and a whole house air filtration system, for exchanging, filtering and conditioning indoor and outdoor air to lower VOCs.  Honeywell has some that I like that will work with your heating and cooling systems, and recover up to 80% of the heating and cooling energy. Choosing No-VOC paints and finishes keep our homes a haven where our families can enjoy good food, good company, and good health.

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At the very least, invest in a good bedroom air filter, as your liver detoxes during your sleep. Clean air is the best gift you can give yourself to feel your very best.

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Luxury and comfort are not mere indulgences in my mind. Bespoke bed linens, downy comforters, and lofty pillows all summon us to sleep in a place of refuge. An organic mattress filled with cotton and wool and made without chemicals, including fire retardants, is a good choice.

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Don’t forget the bathroom as a space for luxury and well-deserved pampering. Soft towels, natural shampoos and soaps free of irritating chemicals, and organic cotton pajamas waiting by the bath allow us to sink into a restful soak when the sun goes down. Take time for your own end-of-day rituals.

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Oscar Wilde wisely said: “I adore simple pleasures. They are the last refuge of the complex.”


Make your home one of simple pleasures, and a place to savor the all-too-fleeting delights of summer. It’s the easiest path to finding peace of mind.

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Less is More


My work as an interior designer has taught me how to edit. There is a world of beautiful colors, furniture, accessories, artwork and things that a designer can choose from. The process of saying yes to this and no to that is not very much different from how each of us must live our lives, choosing what to let in, and what, sometimes regretfully, to decline.



When I’m at my Nantucket home in Madaket, I’m aware of editing my surroundings for function, comfort, and beauty. This is both a preference as well as a necessity, as my husband, Frank, and I have consciously chosen a beach cottage lifestyle there. We truly embrace the “less is more” experience after years of living in larger, grander homes.


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Our fisherman’s cottage by the sea is just the right size for the two of us, plus my dad, Bob, and our three darling Bichon Frises, G.G., Tuffy, and Ellie, who go everywhere with us. (With Bichons, more is definitely better.)



Editing is a crucial responsibility of an interior designer no matter what the size of the home. A common mistake made by homeowners is to look at furniture, lamps, and artwork, and to see them individually, without considering the space around them. A credentialed interior designer, however, sees things differently. When I enter a room, I see a frame –the boundaries of a room, the positive space –space that is occupied, and negative space –where the eye can easily rest. Every room needs space for the eye to rest, but the question is where, and how best to use it.


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Rather than thinking of negative space as open space to be filled, negative space is integral to making a room interesting and alive. You can work with negative space when you group furniture together, or place a collection of objects on a shelf. My eye can see a rhythm between one item and the next, something not everyone can do. I often think that my training as a fine artist was critical to developing my interior design aesthetic.



Juxtaposing one shape next to another creates one kind of negative space, as does placing items in symmetry versus asymmetry.



Color is powerful, evoking emotions we are not always aware of when we enter a room. I love to use white plus one color, often hues from the sea. Blue, seafoam green, and pale shades from nature are soothing when used with white.



What to place on a tabletop is another way to experience the power of less. Too many items can quickly become a cluttered mess that creates disharmony. Groups of items must be carefully considered for their impact on each other, especially when they are of disparate size or color.


One of my professors impressed upon me the importance of saving something for the next room. You don’t need to show everything you know in one room. Excellent advice that I have used time and time again!


Letting a room have space to breathe doesn’t always come easily, another reason an educated designer can be your home’s best friend. There are rooms that make us feel stressed and constrained, and rooms that make us feel expansive and relaxed. It can be difficult to see why each has the feeling it does, until you begin taking objects away.


Suddenly, there is peace. And we can never have too much of that.

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