Interior Decorating


I was recently given the honor to design a bathroom for the Charleston Symphony Orchestra Designer Showcase Home. I can't wait to show you the before and after pictures as you will not believe the transformation! As soon as I walked into this bathroom, I knew that a fabulous wallpaper would be a must to transform this space. The question was what design to choose as there are so many amazing options! Would I go for a bold geometric? Or stay on the softer side with a lovely feminine print? The answer was easy as the home was a beautiful historic house in the heart of downtown Charleston and will be used as a wedding venue in the future. I opted for a beautiful peach Anna French wallpaper full of scrolling and birds.  

                                                       Anna French "Bird in a Bush" Wallpaper in Peach 

                                                       Anna French "Bird in a Bush" Wallpaper in Peach 

The bird has been used in decor for many years and dates back to the early 17th Century when the Chinese started printing ornate designs placing birds and flowers into panels of rice papers.  This design became popular in Europe where the design was imitated and classified as chinoiserie.  

During the Victorian Era, new machines able to print up to 400 rolls of wallpaper a day afforded a mass production of wallpaper and fabric patterns.  Charles Voysey, one of the most well known pattern designers, created hundreds of pastel patterns incorporating birds in many of those patterns.  These wallpapers and fabrics became a staple in many Victorian homes.  

                                                                                    Charles Voysey wallpaper circa 1899

                                                                                   Charles Voysey wallpaper circa 1899

As time moved forward, the bird stayed strong in the home, evolving into the once famous owl design in the 1970's (think Macramé owls) and then coming back in the well known chintz wallpapers and fabrics in the 1990's.  Today, you will see birds in contemporary patterns as well as classic designs.  Here are some of my favorites.   

Schumacher Fabrics - Chinois Palais by Mary McDonald 

Schumacher Fabrics - Chinois Palais by Mary McDonald 

"Bird on a Wire" Handmade Custom Rug by  New River Artisans 

"Bird on a Wire" Handmade Custom Rug by New River Artisans 

Scalamandre Maison Arcadia Jar from  Layla Grayce 

Scalamandre Maison Arcadia Jar from Layla Grayce 

Voler Box with gilded bird by Aidan Gray Home

Voler Box with gilded bird by Aidan Gray Home

Audubon Framed Print "American Flamingo" from  One Kings Lane

Audubon Framed Print "American Flamingo" from One Kings Lane

Ibis Ancient Gold Table  Lamp by Cyan Design 

Ibis Ancient Gold Table Lamp by Cyan Design 



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My Love for Maison Ladurée and Creating Your Own French Tea House at Home

It's a well known fact, that when faced with the question of what my favorite dessert item is, I will always say the French Macaroon.  

For many years however, I would have answered this question quite differently and most likely would have told you it was some recent pastry or cookie I had eaten.  However, this was because of the following reasons:

1.  I wasn't intollerant to gluten at the time...

2.  I had never been to Ladurée...

My first experience with a French Macaroon was probably the best way any person could experience a macaroon for his or her first time.  It was at the Ladurée in Paris on the Champs élysées and it was there that the boy took me to have tea and desserts.  If I wasn't already sure at the time that he was the one...I knew after that experience, that this man knew a very quick way to my heart and it was through my newfound love of the French Teahouse.  

Ever since then, I have been so inspired by the original design of the Ladurée in Paris, so much, that I planned my wedding around those lovely colors from the beautiful sorbet colored flowers, to the purple uplighting that mirrored the lighting in the back room of flagship Laduréin Paris.  We even served macaroons and tea/coffee in vintage tea cups along with our wedding cake.  

Every Laduréhas their own design flair, but the common denominator is the fresh feel, opulent lighting and beautiful macaroons and pastries. My favorite however, is the Laduréon the Champs Elysées  and of course my favorite room is this one below.  So let's just have a moment of silence while we observe and catch our breaths.  

While traveling the world and going to each famous tea house sounds wonderful,  it's just not easy to do so...especially when you want to feel the "pretty" each and every day.  However, the next best thing is creating a space that evokes the feel of the most famous Tea House in the world. Below are some tips to create a space fit for Marie Antoinette.  

Add a Bit of Sparkle....

Okay, so a crystal chandelier may not work in every space but I love putting chandeliers in spaces unexpected such as powder bathrooms, tubs or closets.  If there is a space where you know you are going to be relaxing, then that touch of sparkle will add the feminine feel of a tea house.  

I also love to add small touches like crystal door knobs or hardware to a cabinet or door.  Even by adding that small touch, it immediately creates a softer and beautiful feel.  Master bedrooms and bathrooms along with dining rooms are my favorite places to do this!

Add a Touch of Gold....


Some may say that gold is making a comeback when it comes to hardware and plumbing fixtures.  However, if you ask was never really out of style.  When it comes to creating a timeless feel as many a tea house design does, then a little bit of gold goes a very long way.   One tip I always tell my clients is to never fear mixing metals.  Using all one metal such as gold, silver or oil rubbed bronze makes for a very dull space and even by adding a bit more variation, you immediately create interest in the room.  A beautiful gold mirror, small gold cocktail table or even a stunning gold wallpaper in a powder room, helps to create a beautiful feel that instantly transforms a space.  

Have Fresh Flowers in Your Home....

This task my seem daunting, but worth it because you are worth it.  Beautiful flowers aren't just for special occasions and unfortunately, many people don't think to do this small thing that makes such a big difference.  Of course, if we are wanting to go with that feminine feel of the Tea House, then I suggest a beautiful pink english garden rose, or tulip.  By adding a small touch of pink to your dining table, side table, bathroom or even bedside table, you can't help but smile.  Give yourself the gift of fresh flowers every week and you will notice a sudden change in the dynamic of the space.  If you have a green thumb, then plant your heart away so you will always have fresh flowers nearby.  If you can't even keep a cactus alive, (guilty) then invest in faux flowers.  There are a few lovely companies out there who make flowers that are so hard to tell they aren't real, you won't believe it!  My favorite is NDI.  I especially love their tulips! 

Use Your China...

The beautiful china you got on your wedding day is doing absolutely no good collecting dust in your buffet.  I remember watching Oprah one day, and she said that every afternoon, she has a cup of tea and a healthy snack on a beautiful piece of china.  It helps to create a beautiful afternoon ritual that you will look forward to.  I am very guilty of standing in the kitchen pantry eating a piece of chocolate out of the package or drinking my afternoon coffee in the same cup from that morning.  But with just a tiny touch of effort, you can create a truly wonderful experience!  

Use Fabric Everywhere You Can....

Of course, without going overboard.  However, fabric is one of my favorite ways to create a romantic and inviting space.  I have many clients who ask me if drapery panels are really necessary in their space if they aren't even going to use them or if they already have shutters.  My answer is almost always yes.  Draperies frame a window, and really complete the look of a room.  They can help tie in elements of the room that didn't make since before.  They are a lovely way to create a room where you can see yourself cuddling up by the fire and reading a good book with a nice cup of tea (on your good china of course!)


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