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Robert Rutherford who owns the amazing and, in my opinion, best design store in Dallas, Texas asked me to create a room for one of their show spaces in the store. “What kind of room,” I asked? ” That’s up to you,” he replied. Well, that set my mind going, I can tell you! A carte blanche request to do anything that I wanted. How often do you get that kind of playing field?

But where to start? RUTHERFORD’S has something of a traditional attitude about it. Not old fashioned, mind you, but not exactly modern either. It is the first place that Dallas designers and patrons beeline to when they want extraordinary trimmings and fabrics. Robert was attracted to my use of color in a house that I recently completed in Dallas. You can click on my Gallery to see the before and after shots. So, I knew that he was expecting something different and hopefully surprising when it came to the color palette that I would choose. Number one problem solved. USE COLOR.

Color. okay great, but now what? STYLE? Problem number two. This is always the elephant in the room, so to speak. People are always asking designers, myself included, “what’s your style?” For me things like warm, comfortable, dramatic and even sexy are my buzzwords, but that’s not a style. So, I guess, that I don’t really have “a style.” Every new house speaks to me in it’s own language which is exhausting, I admit, because it would be so much easier to have a style that you can generally apply to whatever project that you bump up against.

So, problem number two, STYLE. While working on the Dallas house, I had become aware of the huge surge in downtown Dallas construction. Hotels, new condos, other old buildings being converted into condos; it is a very vibrant and active scene. I was especially impressed with the new arts district that is going to be world class when it is finished. Problem number two solved. CREATE A MODERN LIVING AREA IN AN ARTS DISTRICT CONDO. This would also be thinking out of the box for RUTHERFORD’S and hopefully create an additional market for them.

Two problems taken care of, but where to begin? It is that first idea that usually is the most exciting, and I had one! One of the three walls in the room that I was working with had an old antique mantel attached to it. Definitely not modern. But I had an idea. In a word, TILE. You almost never see figurative tile used in a living room and I had in mind creating a wall of tile to surround the mantel. So, I was off to ANN SAKS tile to see my friend Sheri Hershfeld who is the manager of the Los Angeles showroom. Bless her, she loved the idea. In looking around their beautiful new facilities I came across some jet black tile with gold and white waves on it. Very oriental, very theatrical. My mind leapt to the possibility of creating a mural that would surround the fireplace mantel. I was sure that Sheri would say that I had finally lost it, but she loved the idea. The nucleus of the room was born.

My favorite paint is FARROW and BALL. It is a paint made in England that is based on the colors of the old English country houses. It has a a texture and pigmentation that has so much depth and life to it. I swear by it. I wanted unusual colors that would fulfill Robert Rutherford’s expectations and excite me as well. the colors that I chose for the room were Radicchio Red, London Ground and Off Black. The mantel crown moulding, baseboards and windows were all painted Radiccihio Red. Two walls went London Ground, a soft buff color, and I tore out the carpet and painted the concrete floor Off Black.

For the third wall with the windows, I chose a traditional and elegant Farrow and Ball hand blocked wall paper with a victorian design in off white and radicchio red as well. For the windows I wanted simple roman shades that I did in COPPER SNAKESKIN. Very dramatic. The tops of the shades were softened with a striped silk fabric in a complimentary color.

The furniture is definitely modern. A huge black linen sofa with silver nailheads dominates one of the walls. Very modern steel and goat hair rocking chairs, nickel and glass lamps and clear italian glass sconces with black trim on the fireplace wall. Next to the tile the most dramatic feature of the room is an extraordinary glass Fortuny chandelier made in the Murano factory in Italy and by some miracle it had all of the colors of the room in it! The Gods were definitely smiling on my very mixed media room.

Scott Hegan, the noted California glass artist, created two stunning red glass discs mounted on steel for either side of the fireplace. The rug on the floor is environmentally friendly, made of jute in soft red, grey and black. The paintings are by Texas artists Tony Bass, Jang Me Pak and the remarkable Michael LeDoux who works in polymer resins.

Whew. That’s it! I hope that I have proved that it is possible to take a small space and make it eye catching, comfortable, modern and sexy. On May 1st, The Dallas Morning News in their HOME special edition will feature a story on the room and its creation. Go to www.DallasNews.com and click on Home to see what the critics have to say about the room. I will be looking forward to it as well. My fingers are crossed.


  1. 9-6-2010

    Love this post. Keep on posting. I’m a follower.

  2. 5-12-2010

    I love the colors and textures in chose for this room. The wallpaper is to die for.

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