Pearls are unique amongst gemstones, as they don’t arise from the depths of the earth but from the sea. They require no special cutting or polishing to maximize their luxurious beauty.  Pearls have been a treasured in our history, which has ensured that pearl jewelry is always in style.

Always utilized in jewelry at least as far back as ancient Greece pearls has always been one of the most valuable gems.  In many ancient societies pearls symbolized the moon and were thought to have magical properties.  Ancient Chinese civilizations believed that wearing pearls protected a person from fire; dragons while other cultures associated them with chastity and modesty. In Victorian England, small seed pears were often used in mourning jewelry to symbolize tears.

Ironically, many years after the Victoria era, pearls were worn this week to mourn the passing of former First Lady Barbara Bush at the age of 92.

In the late 1980’s, the fashion industry did not expected much from Mrs. Bush in the way of setting style trends. However, many were surprised, as she quickly became known for her ever-constant pearls around her neck and her projected image of grandmother, not glamazon.

When Mrs. Bush wore simulated pearls (faux) on Inauguration Day, American women around our nation dusted off their old strands languishing in their jewelry boxes.  The pearls she wore that day were faux – large, 12-millimeter glass beads.  Kenneth Jay Lane, a New York designer that died last year at the age of 85, designed the necklace.  At the time, the necklace was valued at $600.  If they were real, Lane estimated the cost to have been around $200,000.

According to many, Mrs. Bush found it quite humorous that people around the world as a style icon suddenly embraced her.  The truth is that she often joked that the pearls were originally worn to cover her wrinkles.

First ladies all the way back to Martha Washington have worn pearls.  Abraham Lincoln gave his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, a set of seed pearl jewelry from Tiffany and Co. to celebrate his first inauguration. Michelle Obama wore pearls in both of her official White House portraits.

Mrs. Bush donated her inauguration gown and famous pearl necklace to the Smithsonian Institution in 1990.

BB pearls



Changing Times = Changing The Channel

After a ten-year hiatus, what launched the DIY reality phenomena has made it back on television.  In 2000, we all fell in love with the perky Paige Davis.  The host challenged neighbors and TLC designers to swap houses and in two days renovate a room in each other’s homes with $1,000 budget.  Well, times have changed over those eighteen years however; the reboot has not – except fortunately the budget has doubled.

The good news is America’s sweet heart Paige Davis is back!  The beloved host narrates the weekend-long renovation process just as always.  The show also brings back a few designer success stories; Genevieve Gorder, Vern Yip and Laurie Smith however to boost their ratings TLC obviously had to bring back the most terrible “villains” from the show including Hildi Santo-Thomas, Doug Wilson and Frank Bieclec. Don’t worry the model styled carpenters are all back including Carter, Ty and Amy accompanied with a couple newbies.

Along with the original cast there are a few new favorites added to the mix from HGTV including Sabrina Soto and architect/designer John Gidding. These are welcome additions to the cast. Let’s hope they can capture a fresh new approach to a series that only two weeks into airing is quite tragic.

When the show originally launched it made interior design accessible to America, instead of the more affluent.  It was all about being resourceful and creating allot with a little bit of money. But, times have changed since 2000.  American’s have much more accessibility to design and inspiration. They are savvy, sophisticated and exposed to so many options. The Internet has influenced us all and allowed us to “pin” anything we love on our inspiration boards and make it reality. Major retailers like Target, Home Goods and Amazon allows us to obtain a more “designer look” on a budget and within hours.  When the show originally launched Target was just introducing their knock off of designs, IKEA was the affordable modern scan look and Wal-Mart had the nearest fabric store.  There was not the outreach that we all have today and stores like Ethan Allen and Restoration Hardware were out of many American’s budgets.

I have been a follower of Trading Spaces since the very beginning but this rebirth is an absolute horror show.  I gave it two episodes as well as both of the reunion shows to grab me.  Instead I found myself hitting fast forward and having flash backs of sponge painting.  The days of MDF, gallons of wretched pain colors and using eggshells for décor are over. The design aesthetics from the previous designers haven’t evolved enough and we are just spoiled by the big budget flipping shows, hometown husband and wife decorating teams and dream home giveaways. My generation of decorators grew up with this show.  They inspired us all.  It is a little painful for me to just delete my DVR but it’s happening.  John Gidding and Genevieve Gorder, I will always be your biggest supporter and Instagram follower.  You listen to the clients, give amazing design and make it happen.  TLC you need to get it together.   Unfortunately, I am sorry to say that this Gen X will have to drop the show at the curb because it lacks the appeal.

trading spaces


Cherry Blossom Official Art

The 2018 National Cherry Blossom Festival selected Maggie O’Neill as the official festival artist. O’Neill is an artist, designer, and creative entrepreneur based in Washington, D.C. Living and working in the neighborhood of Shaw, her work is inspired by local landscapes and cultural icons, her travels abroad, notable women, and fashion.  O’Neil has created a one-of-a-kind piece exclusively for the National Cherry Blossom Festival.  An annual collectors item, the artwork will be on the official poster and various merchandise.

Additionally, O’Neill has also personally designed a float that will debut in the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade on April 14, 2018.  The float will incorporate elements of the 2018 Official Artwork and will be seen by thousands of spectators along Constitution Avenue.

O’Neill’s fine artwork can be views in private and corporate collections from New York to Delhi.  In 2012, Maggie had the honor of personally delivering a portrait to President Obama, and in 2014 her “DC Uncle Sam” was featured on the front page of The New York Times.
Maggie is a fine artist, best known for her iconic pop impressionistic paintings of iconic Washington, D.C., landmarks and people, like her “Pop Capitol” and “Flynn’s Jefferson Memorial.” She’s been the featured speaker for Creative Mornings DC, a two-time winner of the design category for DC Inno’s “50 on Fire,” named a “Woman of Influence” by Capitol File in 2015,and her art was featured on the cover of DC Magazine’s December 2016 issue, among other accolades.

In addition to her work, Maggie is focused on giving back to her community and paying it forward. She is the founder of “super fierce”, a national traveling art exhibit that highlights female artists, benefits local charities and mentors aspiring artists.

The 2018 Festival commemorates the 106th anniversary of the gift of the cherry blossom trees and the enduring friendship between the United States and Japan.  BTW, proceeds from all official merchandise supports the Festival, a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization, helping to keep the majority of its events free and open to the public.




Later Granite

If you are considering renovating your kitchen in 2018, you might want to reconsider that that marble countertop. There are many prediction analysts out there that are ruling granite countertops “out of style”. I am so excited! I have been waiting for this day. Now we will no longer hear all the home shoppers and flippers whine about ripping out the kitchen and replacing it with “granite countertops”. Granite is no longer the most popular material.

Guess what is replacing the favorite for years. According to Trulia, more versatile, low maintenance materials like quartz are the most popular this year. Houzz reports that 43 percent of their surveyed participants are choosing engineered quartz for their countertops compared to 34 percent who chose granite. This may not seem like a big lead however granite has been on a three – year decline (down from 45 percent in 2016).

Interestingly enough, the average cost of granite versus engineered quarts is quite similar. Believe it or not, durability is most often the deciding factor between the two for homeowners. Granite is typically cut from slabs of pure stone while engineered granite is a composite of ground quartz and resin – making it a much stronger and durable material. Not only does quartz deliver a clean minimalistic look, it is less porous than marble, which makes if more sanitary and safe for your family.





Furniture Trends & Accents Ahead

When you look around a room there are so many elements that are used to create a cohesive statement. When I refer to a “statement” I am speaking of an overall message trying to be conveyed. A room would not be cohesive without all the elements coming together as one nor would it be bold enough without furniture to anchor the space. If you think about it, there are really very few rooms without furniture. Even in a museum, there is furniture that serves a utilitarian function but also coordinates with the space – making certain it does not detract.

This year there are a few furniture trends that we cannot miss. Here are just a few to keep on the look out for:

  • Raw, natural materials such as wood and cement. The two combined create an edgy artisan look. Another option is to mix chrome with wood and coffee tables with marble or onyx.
  • Mid-century modern. I don’t think I need to say anymore.
  • Blue furniture either painted or upholstered
  • Return to square tables (similar to traditional game tables)
  • This fabric continues to be strong especially in warm saturated colors like rust, wine, and watermelon for upholstery and then accented in draperies and pillows.
  • Located on sofas and lampshades.
  • Classic wood and metal chairs reinvented in bright colors used with farm tables and rustic desks.
  • Loosely interpreted floral patterns on upholstery in bold hues such as green and yellow.
  • A return to decorative detail such as trim and pleating along with more attention paid to the look of welting, flanges and zippers.




One Color In All Its Shades

As everyone is anxiously waiting spring, we still find ourselves snuggling up under the down comforter and dreaming of warm tropical breezes. When we typically think of spring we can’t help but envision bright citrus colors accented by bright white & shiplap. However, this spring we are embarking on a season that is filled with texture but also painted in a monochromatic palette quite different from seasons past.

Colorless design is making one of the biggest comebacks since it its last big “pop” in 1993. This simple trend is looking fresh and once again grabbing the eye of interior designers across America. The most successful designs are executed by the use of texture and shape rather than color and contrast. Depth and interest is easily achieved by utilizing grass cloth wall covering, 3-D art and chunky knits as well as fur accessories. Be on the look out for layered bright white with parchment, winter white, camel, linen and stone.

Here are a few ways to pull together your own monochromatic look without being too stark of flat.

  • Use well chosen accessories for easy and adaptable monochromatic looks
  • Arrange the accessories in graphic and fun patterns
  • Embrace or utilize a heavy duty industrial backdrop
  • Select industrial lighting to offset what could be a flat palette
  • Add innovative wall covering and wall murals
  • Expose brick walls – monochromatic décor with subtle touches of a color palette look striking against a brick wall
  • Introduce wrought iron in cocktail tables, bookcases, bed frames, etc.




Get WILD With Flowers

Spring is just around the corner, which means now is the perfect time to make plans for your garden. And if there’s one thing you should be thinking about adding into the mix this year, it’s wildflowers. Gardeners are forever trying to change things back to the way they were before — before bulldozers, before Lewis and Clark, before Eve took a bite of that silly apple and got us kicked out of Eden. We stroll through arboreta and botanical gardens and resolve to make our own gardens as beautiful, and when finished, to start on the abandoned lot in the next block and the park on the corner. And maybe no plant embodies that desire so well as the lovely wildflower.

Wildflowers aren’t just pretty — they’re good for your garden, too. Flowers like oxeye daisies, red clovers, poppies, and wild carrots can serve as all-natural pesticides by attracting useful insects to your garden.\

Wildflowers are a “secret” that farmers have relied on for years, planting the pesticide alternative on the perimeters of their farms to protect crops. But more recently, many farmers have begun experimenting with a new method: planting strips of wildflowers right alongside their crops and vegetation.

Seed companies happily cater to the dreams of amazing wildflower fields by selling wildflower seed mixtures which, to believe the packaging, you need only scatter upon the ground, rake lightly and then wait for your garden to become saturated with colorful blossoms, attracting a plethora of rare and beautiful butterflies and hummingbirds.

There are two important realities that these fantasies conveniently set aside; namely, soil preparation and weed control. Thus, if you have visions of converting your entire chemical and mower dependent lawn into a “carefree” meadow, I offer two simple words of advice: start small.

For your own mini-meadow, choose a full-sun location (minimum six hours). It need not be irrigated, but within hose-dragging distance is helpful for in the beginning. Next, clear any plants or weeds from the site, turn over the soil, and rake it level. It is important to get an even spread of flowers, so mix up all the seed in a bucket, and add sand to it to make distribution easier. Sow the seed evenly, and then gently rake it in. Plant the ox-eye daisy plug plants in among the seed. Water the plants in well, and keep them well watered during the first few weeks. The bed will need frequent light watering (twice daily) for the first couple of weeks. Once established, it should require little beyond what Mother Nature provides.\

After flowering, allow the seed heads to ripen before either shaking them onto the soil for the following year or collecting them in paper bags to be sown later. Remove all the plants except for the ox-eye daisies, and add them to the compost heap.\

If you are interested in finding out what flowers are native to your own area – visit the National Wildlife Federation at

wildflower home