White Cathedral Ceilings - A do or a don't?

I have a love/hate relationship with cathedral ceilings.  I love them because, in theory, they make a room look huge and spacious.  I hate them because most of the time homeowners paint these rooms incorrectly and undo all the good that having this gorgeous, high ceiling does for the space. In most cases, we believe a room with a cathedral ceiling needs to have the ceiling painted a color other than white (unless the room is white then by all means white is perfect).  These rooms usually look best painted in soft, muted colors with the ceiling the same color.  Of course, this is a gross generalization but will create successful interiors with most homeowners if they follow this rule.

Here are some photos we spotted to illustrate our point....

A Hint of Pink

We know that Emerald is the hot color of 2013 but lately we have noticed that pink seems to be on our radar more than usual as well. Not just one shade of pink either, it seems like pink - in general is just hot. Here are some examples of beautiful rooms we have spotted incorporating pink. What do you think?

2013 Color of the Year - Emerald Green

Recently we found out that the color of the year is Emerald Green. Now normally we like to think we are pretty on-trend, often times we are using the up and coming colors before they are really the "it" thing. Emerald Green caught us by surprise but after a little research we are totally on board. Wondering how on earth you can incorporate this color into your decorating? Well it is bold, so you have two choices. First you can take the go big or go home approach and use it in a dramatic way like painting your walls with it or purchasing a green sofa. The other, low-commitment solution is to use it sparingly as simply a splash of color. I think our favorite way might be through draperies. What a gorgeous, rich color to layer in this way.

Here are some photos of beautiful rooms using the color of the year!!

Update Your Fridge with Spray Paint!

Buyers love updated kitchens. However, we often see homes with kitchens that are mostly updated except for a rogue fridge in the wrong color. So what can you do? SPRAY PAINT!!! (I really wish I could shout that out because it is just so awesome). So the solution is to spray paint your fridge. Truly....it works and it is awesome. You do need to purchase a specific type of spray paint. It looks like this --->

I have never done it myself. I have, however, had clients who did it and were thrilled. So I found a blog with detailed instructions on how to do it right. You can see that here: Sassy Style - How to spray paint your fridge blog

Good luck and let us know how it goes!

Boston and all of it's Challenges

Working in Boston means you are constantly learning something new. Because our amazing city is a combination of old meets new we face a lot of unique challenges like narrow streets, tight staircases, tiny elevators, creepy dirt basements, and strict security requirements in luxury buildings. We have encountered enough of these dilemmas in our day and now ask a LOT of questions, but that does not save us from the occasional surprise. We recently did a project in Charlestown in a gorgeous single family home with a lot of character. It also had really narrow hallways. So I thought I would take this opportunity to show you a photo so you can see what I mean by narrow. While I don't love surprises, I do love this town so I will take all of its challenges any day.

It's curtain time!

Guest blog by Amber Jodoin: Greetings from Violet and the Bean! I am honored to blog about a recent DIY decorating project my wonderfully talented friend, Julie Chrissis, recommended I try in regards to a curtain dilemma I had been having. Our new digs have a total of 19 windows. Six of those windows are in the dining room and front parlor. The two rooms are open to each other, but clearly divided by beautiful turn of the century columns. It's been a long while since I have had lots of windows. Our little condo only had three and each was in a completely different room; I didn't have to worry about flow or matching.

We have been here for just over two months now. And for about the first eight weeks, we lived with bare naked windows. I didn't want to just run out and buy whatever was on sale for the sake of having curtains. I really love the look of full length drapes, but of course with those, like most things, comes a very hefty price tag. Even the more affordable drapes run about $20 per panel.

My first thought was to buy inexpensive fabric and sew some lined drapes. I went to the fabric store and picked up some muslin and white lining and made a test pair of curtains. They came out wonderfully, but I am not all that skilled at sewing (I can do it, it just takes me a loooong time.) Three hours later, I had one pair of muslin curtains. They came out great and cost about $15 per panel. Given how much time it took me, not much of a savings. Five more windows at three hours each... ummm... yeah.. no.

Then I decided maybe I should just suck it up and buy the darned things. But honestly, I couldn't find anything I liked under about $35 per panel. I just couldn't cough up that much moola for rented windows.

I was still trying to figure out what to do, when my friend Julie, an interior designer and owner of Chrissis and Company Interiors, stopped in one morning. She was checking out the new space and I had mentioned my little dilemma. That is when she told me she had made curtains for her apartment out of drop clothes she got at Home Depot. The canvas fabric is basically the same color as a muslin - actually it is a little more brown which I actually prefer. It makes it easier for me to tie in the two rooms. At first I thought the natural color would be to much of a contrast on the sage green walls in the front parlor, but Julie assured me once I had the throw pillows, carpet and curtains in the room it wouldn't look stark at all.

Who am I to argue with a pro? Seriously - check out her work. She has created some beautiful interiors for premier properties in the Boston area.

So I head to the Home Depot pick up some drop cloths like this for $10.98 (but I had a coupon for 10% off):

The drop clothes come in a wide variety of widths and lengths. I purchased 6' x 9' drop cloths to give me plenty of fabric to work with.

It took me about one hour per pair. I didn't take pictures of the process, but basically I cut the drop clothes in half and rolled and ironed a hem (Thank you to my sister and Becky O'Neil of Becky Oh! for teaching me the importance of ironing as you sew), and zipped a straight line to finish of the side. I measured where I wanted the hardware to be and the length I wanted to curtains (mine at 91" finished due to my fabulously high ceilings). Then I measured off about 4" at the top to create a rod pocket and did a simple 3" hem at the bottom.

I didn't bother with a lining - I may add one at a later point but the house has blown in insulation in the exterior walls, new windows that have be caulked with silicone and the land lord is insulating the between the joists in the basement. I don't think a lining will really make a difference at this point.

She also directed me to get window hardware from Christmas Tree Shoppe. I was a little hesitant because I had always associated CTS with a place to buy next years yard sale crap - but once again she did not steer me wrong. I picked up six rods and brackets for $3.99 each. Wooooo to the hooooo! Did I mention this girl is talented and smart??

So basically, each window cost me $13.87 complete with hardware. I feel like a rock star.. or at least I like I deserve a gold star.

Of course, because we live in an old home, nothing is perfect. I'm not sure if you can tell from the photo or not - but the window casing closest to the fireplace abuts a wall and the left side of the casing is actually more narrow than the rest. Which means, we have to place the bracket up against the wall angle, remove the final and I will probably have to take at least one third off of one panel to "trick the eye" and stop the curtain from "creeping" too much into the actual window. C'est la vie!

Cheers and happy decorating! Amber Jodoin

Amber Jodoin was born at an early age and raised in New Hampshire. She has lived in various cities around the US and currently resides in New Hampshire with her husband and two daughters in a beautiful turn of the century home surrounded by maple trees and kamikaze squirrels. A formally trained graphic designer and photographer, as well as an interior design fan, avid blogger and an art nutter, she owns Sophie Bean Photography and specializes in modern children's portraiture, creative photography and urban landscapes. Her photographic work has been published in multiple issues of Time Life magazine as well as living rooms around the area. Visit her at on Flickr, Twitter, Facebook and read more about family, art and the randomness of life on Violet and the Bean.

Cool Art

So by client request we are going to tell you one of our favorite places to find things and something we found there recently and love. Don't worry, more cool places and cool things coming soon. We love Etsy! The prices are reasonable and you just never know what you are going to find. Especially for art.

Here are two pieces we found recently and love:

We would frame these and use them in an office space or on a three-season porch or in a hallway. You could also cluster them together for a dramatic presentation over a console table.

Quick Room Makeovers on the Cheap

So you want a new look for a room in your home but you do not have a lot of money to spend. So what can you possibly purchase that will make a difference but not break the bank? Here are some of our favorite ideas at each price point. IF YOU HAVE $0

Eliminate clutter. I am sure you are thinking that you have already done this. Here is a sure fire way to tell if you have. Take a picture of your room. Now look at the photo. What do you notice? Paperwork, magazines, plastic bins. Think about a model home or an elegant hotel. What might you see there? Go with the rule of three - three items per surface. PERIOD. We work with clients all the time that think they have eliminated all their clutter but have not even come close to scratching the surface. Clutter causes stress and takes away from your personal style.

IF YOU HAVE $30 Replace your hardware on a dresser or on your bathroom vanity. You can purchase packages of drawer pulls or knobs at your local hardware store. You would be amazed at the difference a simple change like this can make. A dresser or a chest can go from feeling out-dated and dull to fresh and modern just by trying new hardware.


Paint. Without a doubt nothing changes the look and feel of a room faster than paint. For around $60 you can paint an average-sized room. Try taking your neutral beige a shade darker or paint an accent wall. If you are unsure of which direction to go, ask your local paint retailer what his or her best-selling colors are and take inspiration from them.


Pillows are the way to go. Purchasing new pillows for a sofa or bedroom can make a world of difference. Simply layering in brightly-colored solids or something with a fun texture can give new life to a space.

Upgrades with Big Returns

I will never forget the time I went to an open house in Dracut, Massachusetts where the interior of the home looked like a postcard from the 1960’s. Sadly, the condition of the home wasn’t really the problem. The really bad news for the homeowner was that he had just spent $60,000 landscaping his lawn to put the home on the market. There was no budget left for interior upgrades and the agent and the homeowner were stumped as to why the home wasn’t moving. I wish this was the only time I had seen a situation like this but it happens more often that you would think. If you are selling your home, and you want to invest in making some changes, they should be upgrades that will result in more dollars at selling time. So what might those big return upgrades be?

If you have the means to do it, start with the kitchen. Do your research and get cabinets that look great but do not break your budget. If new cabinets are not in your budget, consider painting your existing ones for an updated look or replacing the hardware. Don’t underestimate the effect of brand new hardware. New, stainless steel appliances and updated countertops are also changes that will result in a lot more money when you sell the house. Countertops do not need to be granite. Formica now has options that look like granite and are incredibly appealing.

If you do not have the money to invest in a new kitchen or you just don’t feel like taking on a project of this size, consider updating your bathrooms. Upgrading your bathroom can be as simple as replacing the vanity and light fixtures and putting on a fresh coat of paint. Reglazing that avocado colored tile can also make a world of difference.

Upgrading linoleum to tile is another great way to make your home look newer. Tiles don’t have to cost you a fortune and if you choose the right ones they can actually make your rooms appear larger.

Painting neutral colors throughout. Paint has to be, by far, the one thing homeowners can do for short money and a huge ROI. Not only does paint make a house look cleaner it appears to be more well-maintained than a home with dinged or dirty walls. Additionally, absolutely nothing changes the look and feel of a room faster than a new paint color. Certainly paint requires a time commitment and a little bit of hard work but nothing else compares to the end results.

White trim is another big seller. White trim really gives rooms a bright, fresh look. Updating all of your trim is not an expensive undertaking. It is time consuming but really worth it. Sherwin Williams makes a super high-gloss trim that is actually acrylic so it does not smell badly. It covers wonderfully and looks amazing when dry. If you are going to paint your trim I highly recommend this product.

Regardless, of what project you opt for to improve the look of your home before listing, do your research. Make sure the changes you are making are desirable in your area. Renovations are time consuming, often costly, and usually inconvenient. If your goal is a return on your investment then a little research will go a long way.