2015 - Here we GO!

2015 is in full swing; as I write this, it is already February!    Is your year off to a great start? 

A new year brings all the hype on making changes to your lifestyle to be healthier, wealthier and wiser.  The media is awash with ways to lose 10 pounds and how organizing your closet leads to a more organized life.  The key word in all my shelter magazines is ‘Refresh’.

I myself am a firm believer in the bit about organized closet= organized life. I do believe that having an efficient start to your day leads to a productive life outside of the home.  I make that statement a bit more broad and say that a well-designed home leads to a well-designed life!   Now don’t be fooled, I am in NO ways a super organized person; I am no Martha Stewart.  I do however pride myself in my ability to help people create a cohesive home to feel more ‘put together’ in their spaces.

My 2015 is off to a great start, I have already survived arctic weather on our yearly ski trip to Vermont, our personal renovation project is nearing completion and I have a number of exciting Client projects in full swing.   I am so excited to be able to explore new techniques in my projects that are yielding fantastic effect, techniques such as:

Painting the walls with fabric

Powder Room with great bones....but wait till you see the plan...

Plan for powder room - the wall covering is fabric, can't wait to share the finished product!

Adding color in unexpected places

Dramatic hi-gloss paint on ceiling to make this jewel box room float

My new favorite- using accent color on the doors, don't you want to open them to see what lies behind?

Reflected ceiling plan for basement exercise room currently under construction, adding movement to the room with a navy ceiling stripe and repeating the navy in basement on all primary doors, media room ceiling and media wall.  Can't wait to share these finished pics!

Using vintage materials in a modern way

Vintage bathroom with modern spin - classic subway tile with dark grout in unexpected size (4x12), large format (12x24) floor tile reminiscent of slate and main area flooring in distressed hickory- you would never know the wood is actually laminate!

Hidden shower niche to house product

AND many more project photos still to come:

  • Basement bar island with double waterfall edges
  • Craft room designed for just the ladies
  • Transforming unused room into beautiful storage
  • Basement 'u' bar with dramatic movement
  • Media room you want to hang in at all times of the day
  • Soothing Guest Room for it's primary occupant- a very special Mother-in-Law
  • TOTAL renovation of two story bachelor's condo--will be biggest project yet!
  • Fantastic wallpaper and lighting selections....
  • AND ???

Until next time,





It certainly looks like Fall in the Washington suburbs.  The leaves are in full color, pumpkin patches have cropped up all around town and ghost decorations are taking over lawns.

After a weekend away of soccer at the Virginia shore, I am enjoying this Columbus Day inside admiring the trees we have back home, their leaves bursting in full color, feeling warm and cozy with a pot of soup simmering on the stove.  AND with all these thoughts of fall, it strikes me that I have not yet shared my newest acquisition, one that is staring right at me and so fittingly aligns with the hallowed season --my Ghost armchairs!

Ghost chairs in my office

What do you think?

If you are like me, you love the classic Louis XVI silhouette made modern with the use of translucent Lucite.  You love the shine and curves.  You love the ability to have a glamorous object that takes up so little visual space- AND- is comfortable.

Or maybe you side with my husband, and think, WHAT-you bought plastic chairs?!

Regardless of your subjectivity, these are famous chairs.  They were created by Phillippe Starck in 2002 as a modern nod to classic form.  Originals are made from a single injection molded polycarbonate which is strong, scratch resistant and recyclable.

Ghost chairs in parlor

Simply search for 'Ghost Chair' and you will see these beauties used in any and all interior (and exterior) design schemes.  And maybe you will even come across mine.

Disclaimer- mine are NOT the originals made by Kartell.  You can find the originals here:



Door in Tomar, notice the Templar Cross on the knockers.

I have a passion for moldings.  On our summer trip to Portugal, that passion grew to encompass doors.  In going through photographs from our trip, I found that I took more architectural shots than I did of my own children.

A building’s entrance is its first impression on the exterior world.  It is what fuses public and private spaces and can speak wonders as to what is to come.  In public spaces the front door is often tall, wide and grand to welcome many visitors at once.  In private homes in the United States, the front door varies widely with regional and time-period specific architecture from farmhouse simple with half divided light, to six paneled wood in the traditional east coast, to dual glass doors intricately carved and shaped in city brownstones, to tall and flat in modern architecture. 

In our time spent in Portugal, where buildings are ancient compared to what we are used to back home, I found myself so intrigued with the beauty and detail of doors across the small country. Old, new, faded, grated, glassed, shiny, carved, grand—there are too many adjectives to describe the uniqueness of each.  So share in our journey across the country in my gallery of entrances:

What does your door say about your home, about what is inside, about its inhabitants?  

Welcome to my home

Mine is quite simple, classic, and what I think is a nice prelude as to what is to come.


I would love to see yours.

Go a little slower

Often times I feel like I am that person in the action photo, the photo taken so fast that there is a trail of blur around them.  Can you picture it?

Our culture is constantly on the go, whether it is 24 hour access to everything, prepared food galore, or drive through cities, we try to cram in as much as possible in the least amount of time.  And to be cliché, we do not, for a second, stop to smell the roses.

Square in Braganca at sunset, we just walked out of a great dinner at Solar Bragancano and found people starting to gather for a folk parade on the side of the street

I know that is why our recent travels in Portugal were so refreshing.  Portugal is a country that still celebrates a slower pace of life, which closes shop from 1-3pm for lunch, has a cafe on every corner, and whether it is morning, noon or midnight, there is time to sit down and socialize with your neighbor, always with coffee or a ‘midi’ beer and the most amazing pastries and snacks.  The culture is created around these premises. 

Town square in Guimaraes, the birthplace of Portugal, as we watch the 2014 FIFA World Cup Final, notice the TVs outside of every cafe

Public architecture was designed before the advent of cars  and frames the Portuguese culture with large town squares and glorious churches for people to gather.  Sidewalks and streets beckon to be walked on with elaborate decorations.  Restaurants spill out onto patios where people gather and enjoy the breeze.  Everything in the town is walkable and people young and old are seen in the streets. 

Se, or town Church, in Leiria

Personal homes, whether they are in the city or countryside, all have eatable gardens.   Growing your own food, tending to the crops and animals, takes time and is an important pleasure.  Vineyards abound with wine being drunk more than water.   Here everyone makes their own drink, or has a friend that does.  Grocery stores are small and sell food from local farms.  Meats too, often come from personal stock.  My children ate ‘Arroz con Pato’ or rice with duck, from an uncle’s suburban backyard (suburban as in Arlington to DC), and thought it was the best thing ever, even after visiting the adorable baby ducks that graced their plates.

Touring a friend's vineyard in Freixanda; later we enjoyed their wine at a fantastic homemade dinner of vegetable soup (that my Son rated the best of the whole trip), meat and potatoes from the garden, and chocolate cake finished with aguardente.

Here in the Washington ‘burbs we are trying ourselves to get back to the old culture with farm to fork initiatives, CSA’s, farmers markets abound and new construction of walkable town centers and communities.  I have had a few clients of late in a new Loudoun community that has its own working farm on property where you can stop at the farm stand on the way home and buy produce from its fields.

My family is trying hard to not lose sight of the ‘go a little slower’ memory from abroad.  Why can’t we feel that same way at home?   Or can we…?

Walking in Tomar with the Convento de Cristo looking down upon us.

Back from Abroad

Ahhh vacation, the beauty of getting away from the rigors of daily life.  I am sure you can attest to the feeling of relaxation, the pleasure in knowing you do not have to cook a meal, or be at some activity in two hours, and the way the slower pace allows your mind to wander and ponder, ‘ why is it always not like this?’.

Coast of Praia da luz, Algarve, Portugal

My family and I recently returned from three glorious weeks in Portugal.  We traveled up, down, and around the country, experiencing the abundant micro- cultures across the regions and seeing family we have not seen (or for my children, ever met!) in over nine years.  I do not know about you, but this was my first vacation of such length and I was a bit worried we would be homesick or tired or worse yet, bored!  But after having done it, and sitting on the plane on our return home, wanting more, I encourage everyone to step away from life, for just a tad longer than normal, as you will never be the same.

Top of Lisbon from the Santa Justa Elevator

I have so many images and thoughts to share from our trip, relevant to all aspects of life: savor the little things and slow down, enjoy company, less IS really more, eat and drink from your own garden, mix and match pattern in abundance, doorways are the best accessory, utilize nature in your designs, sometimes things don't need to be updated to feel modern, relish history…I could go on and on.

 View of Porto, from Vila Nova de Gaia

View of Porto, from Vila Nova de Gaia

I will elaborate more on the finer points shortly, but in the meantime, THANK YOU to all the family, hoteliers, and restaurateurs who graciously hosted us and showed us the country.  AND a special thanks to our great friends who came from the other end of the earth to travel with us.  It was a trip of a lifetime...that we now hope to repeat time and time again.

In Regua, after our Duoro River Cruise

Daydreams of Vermont

 Top of Bolton Valley

Top of Bolton Valley

Have you had the pleasure of visiting Vermont?  My family and I took our first ski trip up north to the great mountains of Vermont late this winter.  I am a sucker for anything architecture related and seek to explore it in all places I go, but Vermont, wow, did it take my breath away in a way I did not expect.

We drove north from Loudoun County, Virginia, through Pennsylvania, past the Catskills, alongside the Adirondack Mountains and up into quiet Vermont.   Our 10+ hour drive felt shorter than a work commute as the peaks, valleys and rock formations climbing the paths we drove stole our attention. 

We passed through many small towns, some with quaint new England architecture, some with garish ornamentation that looked as though Queen Anne and Victoria had a battle of exuberance, some with bright red barns punctuating the barren snow covered land, some with disheveled, weather beaten homes made cozy with warm smoke wafting from the chimneys, but most of all, what struck me was the beauty and depth of the landscape, the feeling of being so small in such a vast world. 

I felt a sense of serenity and carefreeness in the shelters we passed, the beauty of stillness and calm in all the snow covered valleys.  I found myself not being held by the architecture I was seeing, as I so often am, but rather the landscape garnered all my attention.


We stayed and skied several majestic days in Bolton Valley, Vermont.  Our children fell in love with the mountain and declared they would never again play video games if only we moved to Vermont (they saw buses of children arrive at the slopes after school—what a way to spend your afternoons!).  My parents, no longer eager to downhill skiing, found pleasure and serenity in snowshoeing and cross country skiing.  And for my brothers and I, who have not been on the slopes together in years,  zooming down the mountain together, each with our own personality, were brought back again to being those three Plank kids that could not get enough of the outdoors.

Walking along frozen Lake Champlain in the heart of Burlington, I found the colors of crisp white, nautical blue, warm amber sunset, and the grayish green of the mountains across into New York, the perfect inspiration and color palette for a future project to read just as I felt on our trip, SERENE.

 Lake Champlain, frozen solid!

Lake Champlain, frozen solid!

Vermont left an impression on my family like no other.  Don’t get me wrong, I love living in the newness, formality and landscaped lawns in the Washington, D.C. area but I can’t help daydream about living in the pure, natural, unabashed beauty of Vermont.  The landscape empowers and overshadows everything else.

Focal Point

Do you remember my last post?  Well...here it is complete! 

What do you think?


The wall is the focal point of the house and was created to add depth, character, and drama to the extra tall room AND to distract from the unbalanced elements of the single window flanking the fireplace and the wall mounted television. 


For added bonus, the entire pass through to this room was paneled.

NEXT UP:  Lightening the room's wall color- I am thinking Benjamin Moore's Revere Pewter to echo the main hall...

New year = one box checked (almost...)

Happy New Year! 

What will 2014 bring you?

For me, there are too many things to discuss on my New Year list, but there is one in particular that I did want to share.  With the New Year, comes the completion of a long awaited design!

Remember the project that I mentioned in my last post, the one influenced greatly by the beauty of domes across the city, in particular, the central dome in the National Gallery of Art?

The project that has been on graph paper for almost two years is nearing completion and will be ready for a coat of beautiful glossy white paint in just a few days...what do you think so far? 

  great room wall paneling, pre-paint

great room wall paneling, pre-paint

Influence everywhere

Happy Thanksgiving!  I wish you and your families a warm, inviting, and wonderful day of food, family and fun.

I love to explore the sights of our city and each time I do, I am impressed with its beauty.

Kids cropped.jpg

Lucky for me, my teenage nieces are in town from Michigan and what better way to spend a day than to hit the National Gallery of Art and have lunch in Georgetown.  Alone, those two places conjure images of great architecture and interest, but today, on a cold and slightly snowy day, I found myself focusing on little details in the places we visited. 

It was the details that jumped out at me today, like the variation in color and width in the wide plank flooring, the depth of paneling, the built up molding galore, and the deep hues on the walls in the galleries, or the herringbone bricks, the colorful doors set on white facades and the irregularity of the old homes in Georgetown. 

 Dome in National Gallery of Art- I am designing a wall application that mimics this

Dome in National Gallery of Art- I am designing a wall application that mimics this

I started to realize in my enjoyment that not only do these images seem so beautiful and familiar to me, but that they are inspirations in my current work.  My obsession with repetition and geometric forms are surrounding me as I walk through the halls of the Gallery!  We don't always realize it, but our everyday experiences constantly show up in our work. 

 Greek key mosaic in atrium of National Gallery of Art - Doesn't this remind you of a Greek Key tape on the leading edge of a drapery panel?

Greek key mosaic in atrium of National Gallery of Art - Doesn't this remind you of a Greek Key tape on the leading edge of a drapery panel?

What are your experiences that stay with you as you dream?

Small details, big impact

Details make all the difference in the world.

I was having a bad day and needed a little retail therapy and knew just where to lift my spirits - my favorite retail place on earth - Anthropologie!  From the moment you see the storefront (I was in Reston, VA) with its amazing linear modern yet rustic wood application across the front to opening the huge heavy wood door to stepping inside and smelling the inviting aroma of the smell that signifies their store, to the fantastic electric color and texture groupings, they appeal to all of your senses through the right combination of details and simplicity.  

Oh how I love everything about their clothes and accessories and home decor.  I found a few fun and unique pieces for my wardrobe, but even better, I added to my collection of amazing home details--check out the fantastic little knob baubles that now grace my old ugly traditional chest I recently lacquered black.  How fantastic does this $8 addition make this piece!

Interior decor does not need to cost a lot, by adding some special details, you make a piece fantastic!

P.S.  I also found these a few months ago at Anthropologie...they fit perfectly in my office.