Tag Archives: home decor

Cerused Oak


On my most recent trip to San Francisco, I was able to take some time to walk through the Galleria in search of materials for a returning client. I always make a stop at Wroolie and Company who are known for their high end furniture and lighting which range from custom reproductions, original designs, to contemporary. I was delighted to see several cerused oak side tables near the front window of the showroom. I’ve been fond of this finish for years and am very pleased to see that it is being used in new and interesting ways. These pieces by Mario Grimaldi International were in a variety of rich stains and finished with a high gloss finish.

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With my interest piqued, I did a bit of research on cerused oak and learned a few interesting facts. The technique of cerused oak, known as limed oak in Britain, began back in the 16th century.  Carpenters rubbed a material containing lime into the grain of the wood to fill it, then the wood was stained and finished giving you a two toned effect. Cerused oak became popular again in the age of Art Deco and is having a  comeback in our decade as well.

Mario Grimaldi International London Dining Table

Mario Grimaldi International London Dining Table


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Best Book to Buy While in Paris- International Design Magazine’s 2013 Paris Design Guide

On my most recent trip to Paris I came upon the essential guide for any designer or lover of art to have during their time in Paris. International Design Magazine’s 2013 Paris Design Guide beautifully describes the newest and best designed showrooms, hotels, cafes, shops, galleries, and bookshops that Paris has to offer. With over 300 places you can visit, it’s hard to even scratch the surface. The book is separated into chapters by Paris’ 20 districts making it very user friendly. Each district has its own chapter that begins with a map showing the exact location of the showroom, hotel, etc. The information given about each designed space tells you just enough about the space to make you want to go visit for yourself.

557I visited two locations in the 1st arrondissement with the help of this guide. The first was Le Café Marly which is nestled into the north end of the Louvre museum, with outdoor seating under the arcade of the Louvre. The space boasts not only beautiful design, but a splendid view of the Ming Pei’s Pyramid. The design of this space was inspired by Napoleonic interiors, featuring Empire colours on the walls, ceiling, and furniture detailing.





208The second place I had the opportunity to visit in the 1st arrondissement was Hotel Lumen. Designed by Claudio Colucci, this space has a unique mixture of elegance and quirk. The designer incorporated the baroque look with a modern twist by choosing whimsical furniture and unexpected finishes. As its name suggests, Hotel Lumen incorporates light in a soft while contrasting way that warmly draws guests into the space.




1201Another amazing place that I was able to see with direction from this book was located in the 5th arrondissement. La quinacaillerie is a handle and knob boutique located just down the street from Notre-Dame. Featuring the best international suppliers of door and window handles and furniture knobs, it’s hard not to fall in love with them all. The store displays the best and most functional handle designs of the world. The white walls and simple wood floors makes the space feel more like an art gallery than a showroom.1202

236The last place I was able to visit thanks to the help of this book was in Paris’ 7th arrondissement. Café Campana located in the Museum D’Orsay has a beautifully modern design. The Campana Brezilian brothers have incorporated whimsical modern design into a Parisian architecture shell. Gold pendants made of gold shards, textured turquoise methacrylate panels, and twisted orange metal partitions give many layers to a fun design. The design of Café Campana seems to give a nod to the impressionist artists who greatly influenced Paris and the world.




The design continues even into the menu graphics


I highly recommend the 2013 Paris Design Guide to any designer or lover of the arts. It allows you to feel the pulse of creativity in Paris in a user friendly way. I will never go to Paris without it again! Happy travels.

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American Classical Style Architecture in East Sacramento

Perfect Symmetry

Found a new book published by Monacelli Press, The American Style, which is a wonderful tribute to our very own American  Classical style!  Though California is not widely known for this style – as much as, say, the East Coast – you can still find this colonial revival style if you know where to look!  

“Broken” pediment detail over front door

Emphisis on the front door makes for a grander entry

Right here in East Sacramento are homes that are excellent (and beautiful!) examples of the classical use of balance and symmetry.  Details, including the use of wood or shingles,porticos or recessed entry porches, pediments over the center entry, and shutters, are consistent with proportional touches that say “Classical.”

Wonderful reference for Classical American Design

For more information on Interior Design, follow this link to StoneWood’s photo gallery:  http://stonewooddesign.com/portfolio.php

For more information on Classical Architecture, see The Insititute of Classical ARchitectue & Art  http://classicist.org/

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Granite Bay Master Bathroom…The Project that Grew…

BEFORE – Bathing in the 80’s

AFTER – Stunning new free standing tub is a design feature!

        A simple desire to replace an existing bathtub grew into a master bathroom remodel that has delighted one of my clients and given her a whole new room! Although not yet complete, these remodel photos show the dramatic differences already apparent in this work-in-progress.    The beginning…

BEFORE – Old shower is outdated and feels claustrophobic

AFTER – New shower feels spacious and luxurious!

By selecting a freestanding tub and freeing the space originally filled in around a sunken tub, we opened up this corner of the bathroom. Removing the plantation shutters to let the view of the outdoor garden and natural light flood in has also lightened and enlarged the space.  The middle… In the separate shower area, we also opened things up by cutting out a large section of the exterior wall and replacing a small octagonal window with a larger, oval one. Voila!   Stay tuned for upcoming photos of the finished project!

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Windows on the World (and Home)

Recently I enjoyed an unusual, solitary experience on a day in San Francisco when shops were closed because of a holiday.  This allowed me to wander undisturbed down one of my favorite streets in Pacific Heights.  The area is predominantly residential with many beautiful Victorians and some modern lofts perched above the occasional boutique.  A neighborhood most of us can only aspire to, the shops cater to the most sophisticated and high-ticket clients.

An antique tobacco rack makes a wonderful contemporary window dressing

When but on a day like this could I peek and peer to my heart’s content without anyone thinking me strange?  I could easily take photographs as well, which on busy days could rouse a shop owner to become suspicious of my motives!

Repetition of the same type of item – like these wood utensils – makes a bold design statement

I was looking for MARCH, which reopened last year in a new incarnation focusing on kitchen, pantry, table, and open plan living.  The windows display rustic, yet elegant and minimalist pieces.  (My favorite “glimpse” was an oversized, hanging, tobacco drying rack.) It feels very contemporary but with large scale, hand-hewn items like butcher-block tables, and classics like a huge AGA cooker.  The interior space is light and bright, with white subway tile and woodwork creating a clean, minimal canvas to display the fabulous items here – practically like visiting an art gallery!  The furniture and accessories seem to float in space.

The ordinary, everyday kitchen objects are not only functional, but exquisite.  And they seem to resonate with historical significance.  I particularly loved the display of wooden utensils hanging along one wall.  MARCH also boasts a “Pantry” section with a signature line of jams, vinegars, and spices.

Sam Hamilton, the owner of MARCH who once interned at Chez Panisse, wanted to use her shop to highlight San Francisco’s contribution to food culture — slow food, locally sourced – and to draw attention to the independent, stylish shopping of Sacramento Street.  Mission accomplished… this is sophisticated design right in the heart of San Francisco!

At ANTHEM, a family owned shop with a whole team of design professionals, founder Janelle Loevner has created a wonderful gallery of eclectic items gleaned from all over the globe.  There is something here to inspire the designer in everyone!

ANTHEM facade offers its own design inspiration

Based on its façade, ANTHEM feels very neoclassical, but with clever twists on old classics.  It, too, had a bright white interior — a backdrop that allows the impact of the antiques, furniture, and accessories housed within to shine. The emphasis here is on neutrals, natural materials, and layered metallics.  Loevner has added exotic details to contemporary design and displays items ranging from African kudu horns to Spanish hand-woven textiles.

   Next trip I’ll definitely poke around inside these stores to explore more thoroughly, but as I suspected, even window shopping at unique and trend-setting boutiques offers its own design inspiration!



For more home remodeling ideas, visit our website.



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I’d Like to Thank…

Award Winning Kitchen

Award season is nearly over; we’ve made it through the Grammys, the Golden Globes, the Oscars and, of course, the Annual Design National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA). I’m thrilled to report that StoneWood Design was awarded 1st place for “Open Design Kitchen.”   

 Established in 1963 as a network of kitchen dealers, NKBA today boasts more than 40,000 professional members.  And while I’ve been a member for years, and have won several awards from them along the way, I’m particularly proud of this year’s recognition.  Winning this year’s “Open Design Kitchen” award after 25 years in the business is acknowledgement from my peers and other professionals that says, “Your design and work is noteworthy.”  It means a great deal to me. Plus, it’s such a joy to be noticed for something that you love to do as much as I love interior design.  As long as I continue to feel excited and confident in the work I do for my clients, and gain the recognition of my peers, I can’t see myself ever stopping, so here’s to another 25 years!

Fobes Laundry

Also, beyond this most recent recognition from NKBA, I’m pleased to share that a laundry room designed by StoneWood Design is featured in this month’s edition of Sacramento Magazine.  If you have a copy of the magazine, flip to pages 70 and 71 to see the functional, airy and delightful space I created for the Fobes family.  I love seeing the pictures of my client, Cathy, enjoying the space with her three daughters, Kate, Allison, and Emily.  It’s always a pleasure to see clients using the space you’ve designed for them.  If you don’t have a copy of the magazine handy, you can check out the online edition at www.sagmag.com

 Finally, in addition to liking what I do, I’m blessed to work with many, many wonderful clients.  For the “Open Design Kitchen” I’d like to thank my clients, the Plumlee/van den Akker family for the opportunity to work on this amazing and fun project.   Not only are they the perfect clients, whom I have been privileged to work with on a number of projects, but we also make a good team.  They know what they like and expect from their space, and it’s my job to execute that for them.  I’m hopeful that we’ll have the opportunity to collaborate with each other again in the near future.


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Designer vs. Decorator

Functionality is the key to any space, but especially in the bathroom. If in order to achieve better functionality you need to make major structural changes then you are best to hire an interior designer.

Documentary film producer, Jason Cohn, recently shared one of the primary lessons he learned about interior design while making a film about famed, interior design icons, Charles and Ray Eames, “It’s not a surface gloss you put on a product.  When it’s practiced correctly, it’s about problem solving at a deep level.”

As an interior designer with more than 30 years experience, I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Cohn’s assessment of what constitutes good design.  Clients and curious friends often ask me what the difference is between a designer and a decorator.  My answer often is as simple as:  “it’s surface versus substance.” What I mean by this is that a good decorator can help you create a new and beautiful “surface” for your space by helping you decide what color to paint the walls, what type of window treatments to use and how best to position your belongings and furniture so that it is pleasing to the eye.  On the other hand, an interior designer is often called upon to go well beyond the surface, which means a designer needs to be able to deconstruct a room and know structurally how to put it back together again—often in a whole new way–so it will function properly.  As a designer, my primary duty is to help my clients conceptualize, from floor to ceiling what their space could look like, create the design and then manage the design execution.  I love that my work requires me to be both creative and strategic in order to create a space that is functional, structurally safe and aesthetically pleasing to my clients and all who visit their space.

Knowing the difference between a decorator and a designer can save you time, money and a lot of headaches.  So remember, if you were thinking about hiring someone to help give your master bedroom and bath a two-dimensional facelift (i.e. change the paint color, buy new bedding, change the furniture placement) then you would be wise to hire a decorator. However, if instead of a two-dimensional facelift, you want to knock out a wall, add some new French doors in place of a window then you are better to hire an interior designer who can consult with you about how to creatively get the look you want and also advise you on what is structurally and functionally possible in your space.

At the end of the day, neither one is better than the other, but knowing whom to hire at the unset of your project is important.  The next time you are considering taking on a design project think carefully about the scope of your project, what needs to happen in order for you to realize your dream room or home and then hire the right designer or decorator for the task.


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