Dream Outdoor Space + MDD

I was asked by the folks at Bravo’s new hit show Million Dollar Decorators to create a dream outdoor space based on this inspiration image- a city roof deck perfect for lounging and dining. The timing is perfect since it’s finally outdoor weather here in the Northeast! Now, they said I could make it any shape, size, etc. so my layout is based on something similar tot his but with a more rectangular shape….

I immediately knew I wanted something modern but with a hint of tradition, black and white with a bold dash of color.  As most of you know, I’m very inspired by Mary McDOnald’s style and I think this space kind of reflects her glamour with my own personal love of laid back living. So here’s the board I came up with….

And here’s my concept for a layout- dedicated spaces for lounging, sunbathing and dining- what more could you want in a roof deck (well, in previews for this week’s episode, I know Martyn thinks a pool would make it “delicious”!)

Here are the sources and notes for the board above!
1. Hedges planted atop side walls.
2. Back pillows of banquette in white Sunbrella fabric trimmed in Kravet Coral outdoor
3. Banquette seat cushions in Perennials Big Stripe in Black Tie.
4. Wally Wall via Design Within Reach.
5. Planter via Design Within Reach.
6. Custom designed banquette by Erin Gates Designs.
7. Banquette pillows in Trina Turk Fronds Outdoor fabric through F. Schumacher.
8. Dining Chairs by Obrien Ironworks.
9. String lights (woven into trellis above dining table) via Restoration Hardware.
10.  Lanterns above dining table via Tazi Designs.
11. Fire table via Restoration Hardware.
12. Stone greyhounds via Restoration Hardware.
13. Dining Table via Restoration Hardware.
14. Chaises via Janus et Cie.
15. Garden stool via Mecox Gardens.
16. Chaise lumbar pillows in Perennials City Kitty.
17. Chaise in coral Kravet outdoor fabric piped in black Kravet outdoor fabric.
18. Retractable awning above banquette.
19. Outdoor rug via Home Decorators Collection.

Million Dollar Decorators: The Drinking Game

While at first I was simply horrified by Million Dollar Decorators, each week I am enjoying it more and more. And the people that irked me the most (Mary and Ross) and currently my favorites! Such is the story of my hypocritical life. So I was thinking, it is the PERFECT show to create a good ol’ fashioned drinking game around!  So here we go, break out the pinot grigio and let’s try this next week, shall we?

You must take a drink when….

-Martyn name drops or says the word “delicious”.

– Kathryn mentions her boobs -two sips if she mentions their size (the DOUBLE D’s people!)

– Mary ignores her client’s budgets completely.

-Nathan comes on screen for 2.5 seconds and is adorable and then DISAPPEARS FOR THE REST OF THE SHOW.

-Ross puts his hands through his hair.

Deondra/Diondra Demetra/ Dimitra come on the screen (two sips if you cannot correctly identify if it’s #1 or #2).

-Jeffrey acts in such a way (extreme mini sink, $8k bathtub in a gym locker room) that makes you wonder how he got this big.

-Jacqueline appears on screen.

-Martyn sucks in his cheeks.

Wait, if we do this we’ll all be completely plastered halfway through the show! Ehhhhh, c’est la vie!

Concealing the Evil Neccessity

I love my TV. I mean, I hate my actual TV, but I watch a decent amount of it.  A source of education, comfort and entertainment I will never be one who claims watching TV is terrible for you. It can be if you rot your brain on reality TV non-stop but sometimes after a bad day there is nothing more soothing than popping in a DVD (Twilight-ahem) and having a glass of wine curled up on the sofa.  But unfortunately, TVs aren’t that attractive. And placing them in a room can be a source of stress (men have very strong opinions about this I’ve found- groundbreaking, I know) but I hate when it’s the absolute focal point.  In our last home I refused to put the TV over the fireplace and have it be the first thing you see when entering the house so we had it on this other wall where we’d both get neck cramps from having to position ourselves such a way as to both see the TV.  So now in our new place it’s over the stupid fireplace.  Once we figure out our permanent (or more permanent) residence I’ll amend this.  I the meantime, here are some ideas on how to work with a TV in a room….

Hanging a TV on a dark wallpaper or wall color like this Osbourne & Little paper below totally camouflages the TV! Love it!

Another option is to EMBRACE the TV and funkify the wall it’s on as to make it feel purposeful like this chevron paint job below!

A much more expensive option is to create a wall of built ins, which ALWAYS look good (and typically up the value of your home).  Adding doors onto the TV portion really conceals it, but can be a pain.  I love the look below from Lonny- the black accents in the room compliment the black TV frame.

A clever idea is to hang the TV within a gallery wall! GENIUS!

Brooklyn Limestone hung a grid to frame the TV evenly.

A way to curate a collection including a TV without hanging anything on the wall- paired with a large canvas and other object the TV kind of blends right in.

A clever little idea is to buy a picture frame and hang it around your TV- affordable and witty it gives your TV a little more panache.

You can check out a site like Frame My TV to have a custom frame (lots of finish and style choices) made for your TV- more expensive but it makes it look like a painting (you can have still images of artwork shown while it’s “off” or even have a mirror front put on)!

Having a good looking TV certainly helps. Samsung’s 7000 series TV’s are virtually frame less and have a chic little x base stand if you don’t plan on wall mounting…and look how skinny! It’s like the third Olsen twin! Too bad it’s FREAKIN’ expensive.

Great for a bedroom, this 22″ TV has a sleek white frame and is under $300!

This Samsung is similar.

Images via DecorPad, Pinterest, Lonny, Style at Home.

Million Dollar Divas…

So who watched Million Dollar Decorators last night?

I did, and if you follow me on Twitter (@elementstyle) you already know that during the first half of last night’s premiere of I had the sudden urge to quit my job.  If what was displayed and the attitudes that were personified by the professional designers they chose to be on that show is what people think I do for a living, then I want no part of it. I’m not even kidding, after popping a few Tums I went to bed stressing about the level of shallowness associated with what I’ve chosen to do for a living. But let’s step back for a minute and review….

All of the designers on the show are ones I have positively blogged about here- Mary McDonald, Martyn Lawrence Bullard, Nathan Turner, Kathryn Ireland and Jeffrey Allan Marks. They all have done AMAZING work- truly stuff that has inspired me and taught me- but their attitudes and approach as shown on the show last night were unattractive at best. Editing can make anyone look like a monster (trust me, if I was edited I would look like the biggest bitch ever, I’m sure, which is why I’ve turned down TV work so far- but more on that tomorrow…) But I still shut off the tube with a really bad feeling about how designers are portrayed. Let’s dissect one by one….


One of my favorite bedrooms by Mary

The one I was the most interested in because her work is my FAVORITE.  To be as big as she is, she obviously has not been sunshine and hugs her whole career, but the way she talked to her clients is something I could never fathom doing. I never tell people they “CAN’T have something” in their house (i.e. the piano.) I mean, it’s their house and their money, I just find a way to make it work and look the best it can!  But then again, Mary considered her client’s house “hers”- as illustrated by her horrifyingly selfish reaction to her client’s divorce announcement (“This is a tragedy! I love this house. I mean, it’s MY house!” and “I thought you were going to tell me something really terrible, like you lost all your money!”) Say whaaaaaaaaaaat? I suspect that was all said in jest, because clearly the client was already getting divorced/on some killer meds/didn’t give a shit. The one thing that perked me up was when Nathan said that Mary was the inspiration for Karen Walker on Will & Grace, who is only my favorite character ever. If that is true, I forgive Mary for her transgressions last night. That and her slew of puppies (us crazy, sorry, kooky dog ladies have to stick together).


(Tavern in LA- I ate here- it is GORGEOUS)

Jeffrey, Jeffrey, Jeffrey. He is fantastically good looking and his boyfriend/hired help is even more good looking. I have a feeling these two spend days staring in the mirror and telling each other “come here and see how good I look!” The little opening line about how Jeffrey thinks his job is “more important than the president of the united states”- again, no doubt a joke, but edited to seem serious, made a wave of nausea crash down on my already sick stomach. And the fact that he has TWO assistants named Demetra and Dimitra reaches beyond “funny” and into more creepy territory. Who knows, they may have been cast because I know they do that (I was told I needed to have a “sassy, gay assistant” cast for me on a potential show).


I do absolutely love this.

Sharon Osbourne, Sharon Osbourne, Sharon Osbourne,Sharon Osbourne, Elton John, Sharon Osbourne, Sharon Osbourne.

From our twitter chats I take it some of you thought he was entertaining, for me he was like having a red hot poker shoved in my eyes and ears while laying on a bed of nails. Could he be any more affected, self-absorbed and NAME DROPPING?? I seriously could not listen to him say “delicious” “I’m an interior design staaaaaaar” or “I can’t take jobs with budgets under a million” without putting a pillow over my head. Thank God for Sharon who stole the show with her appearance. I am sure Martyn is ratcheting up his personality for TV, but I for one want the volume turned DOWN.  And that accent. WTF.


Her typical laid back look

I heard Kathryn speak last year and she was delightfully funny (and a previous blog sponsor, believe it or not). I feel like she’ll be the most entertaining of the crew with her one liners and slightly off-beat approach to the business. While she too made shallow quips about “thing thing her clients have in common is they are RICH” and how she doesn’t get out of bed for less than a million (I however, will get out of bed for like, I dunno, $100 bucks?), she also had the best lines of the show regarding wine and her wacky old French housekeeper, the fact that her memoir should be called Food, Sex and Decorating (genius) and my favorite “I hate it when people try to drown other people!” about her sons playing in the pool. And I loved her comments this morning on her Huffington post review: ” If only I had taken Margaret Russell’s  advice and insisted on hair and makeup, not to mention losing 15 pounds before the show was taped instead of after, I would have no negative comments.” Margaret does know best, and speaking of, a show about her behind the scenes life would be something I’d LOVE to see!


So lovely and simple

He won me over as my favorie as soon as he was playing bullfighter with the Black Lab in Kathryn’s shop using $120 a yard fabric. I mean, really. He was sweet, funny and the least uppity about their job.  Running a retail store is hard and humbling work, so I think this is where he defines himself. I adored the effort he put into having Kathryn’s cake made (even though it was a creepy hacked torso) but even better was Kathryn’s reaction of “Nathan! How could you get my cup size wrong!?” :)

After some thought I realize that Bravo is clearly designing and scripting this to be an over the top, Housewives type show where our jaws drop over the huge sums of money and bitchiness. But that is the reason I have never watched any Housewives shows– I don’t find it that funny but rather quite sad.  And since this is a show about what I do and the people I thought I was emulating, I was super, duper critical.  I’m sure to those who are not designers it was a delicious little bit of fantasy television. I’m not going to go off about how gross it is to be throwing around $30,000 like it’s pocket change in this economy with the problems of the world that we have to worry about, because this is about escapism. But I do hope that future episodes are a little bit more about the stress and hard work it takes to do what we do (I suspect it will be) and less about how shallow decorating seems. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when a client has a big budget, and it’s fun to be able to work with beautiful objects and wondrous fabrics, but I truly do appreciate the artistry and the price tag and treat the ability to work with these things with true respect. It’s easy to be become affected when your clients all have ungodly amounts of money and shopping at Baker becomes equivalent to shopping at Target, but I for one hope I never, ever become that way. Plus, I love Target.

Your thoughts??