Skip to content

Sneak Peek at our Design Feature in the Washington Post

March 12, 2012

I was recently asked to participate in the Washington Post special feature, “House Calls.” The Washington Post pairs local readers’ design challenges with an interior designer. The result is a before and after makeover with tips and tricks for making the most out of their space. I love participating in this feature! This is my third time and I always get so excited to see the final result when the piece is published.  It’s always a fun challenge and I like that it gives residents of the DC Metro area a chance to pair up with a local designer and experience the virtual design process which is gaining momentum in the design industry (stay tuned for the launch of our new virtual design website…coming soon!)

My assignment for this edition of “House Calls” was to help the Bremer’s, a local family from Annandale, create a fun and bright play area in the basement of their home. The article will debut in early April but I wanted to give you a sneak preview into the project, I have had a lot of fun designing this space!

I created a design for the Bremer family room focusing on three main objectives:

1. Making the space bright and airy (and well-lit) even though it is in a basement with little light.
2. Using a color palette that is kid-friendly and gender-neutral.
3. Leveraging the alphabet as a core element in the design.

Here is a picture of the basement before:

With our three objectives in mind let’s walk through our design makeover!

{To start, I wanted to warm up the space with a golden hue on the walls with a 12″ horizontal stripe painted in the middle of each wall.  Using light colors on the walls will help create a light and airy environment. I selected Benjamin Moore’s Concord Ivory and Simply White.  The white stripe that will run around the room is the backdrop for another core element of the design (which I will talk about later).}

{A horizontal stripe, like the one pictured in this photo, will not only showcase the alphabet wall decals (a key feature in the room), but also will make the room appear larger.}

itstics - Alphabet wall sticker

{To make the alphabet a core element in the room we used products like these alphabet wall stickers found on These will be installed around the room on top of the white stripe.}

{To disguise the gray access panel, I selected an adorable growth chart that goes a long way toward making this room much more appealing.  This Animal Growth Chart can be purchased at Land of Nod for $59.00}

{Next up, white drapery panels are hung as close to the ceiling as possible to heighten the basement ceilings and make the room appear larger. The drapes pictured above can be purchased from Home Decorators Collection, two panels for $59.00}

{Kids love to create artwork. We thought it would be amazing to incorporate the Bremer children’s artwork into their playroom design by using Star Art Cable from Pottery Barn Kids.}

{Low bins create a great way to not only store small toys and books, but also are useful in teaching children responsibility in cleaning up their play space. The ones pictured here are from Ikea. For this room we replaced the pink bins with something more gender neutral, blue. You can do the same in your home, these plastic bins come in many colors to suit the color scheme of your home.}

 {Layering an area rug on top of the dark carpet adds a pop of much needed color. We found this area rug on}

{This Karlstad sofa from Ikea in Korndal green is ideal for this play room, the color of the fabric can easily conceal stains while simultaneously showcasing a chic and clean look an adult can enjoy.}


{These pillows were selected to tie the palette together.  The orange pillow will be placed behind the blue/white one on the sofa to bring the room together.}

{Two well placed Kid’s Orange Microsuede Beanbags make for extra comfortable kid-friendly seating. Found on}

{Lighting is an important element in this room as the basement lacks natural light. In our design plan we included floor lamps, wall sconces and this chandelier from Lamps Plus that will be inserted above the children’s activity table.}

{Finally, we wanted to give the children a place to be creative, do their homework and read. This table is from Land of Nod but there are very similar tables from other retailers in varying prices. The chairs alternating in color are fun and unexpected.}

There are a few more items that I put into the final design, but they’ll have to wait until publishing day.  By putting all of these design elements together I designed a room that the whole Bremer family can enjoy–while being mindful of their budget.  Thank you Bremer family for allowing the team at Decor by Denise to design you a new playroom. We hope you enjoy it! Also thank you to the Washington Post for allowing us to be part of “House Calls.”

This edition of “House Calls” is expected to go to print in early April.  Stay tuned to see the final design sketches by the talented artists at the Washington Post who will bring this room to life!

If you’d like help creating a beautiful home or office you love, contact me today to learn how easy it is to get started.



Clever Household Tricks to Make Life Easier

February 25, 2012

My mom recently forwarded me a fun email entitled “Handy Helpers that Make Life Easier.” I thought many of the ideas were really clever, so I thought I would share a few of them with you and also include a few more I have come across in my own quest to be more efficient. Enjoy!

{Use old egg cartons to store your holiday decorations. No broken ornaments next year when you go to unpack your holiday treasures.}

{Place a few drops of your favorite scented oil on the cardboard toilet paper roll. Your house guests will get a fresh scent burst each time they take a square of toilet paper.}

{I love this trick. When packing your suitcase wrap a shower cap around the base of your shoes to keep the soles from marking up your clothes.}

{Blast some hot air on those stubborn price tags for easy removal.}

{Spray your votive holders with a light coat of canola oil cooking spray before dropping the tea light in. Once the candle has burned down the wax will slip right out.}

{Every now and then I get a craving for some pancakes, but I always dread the mess. This trick suggests using a recycled ketchup bottle to dispense your pancakes onto the pan. I can’t wait to try this one!}

{Use a walnut to buff out scratches on hard wood floors and wood furniture.}

{Here is a great handy trick for your child’s nursery. Secure a velco strip on the wall in their room and adhere soft toys to it, eliminating toys on the floor.}

{Turn up the volume by placing your iPhone & iPod in a bowl.  The concave shape amplifies the music.}

{Turn a bottle of baby lotion into a clever charging holder for your cell phone.}

{Organize your linens by storing bed linen sets  inside one of their own pillowcases and there will be no more hunting through piles for a match.}

{Rub chalk onto greasy stains and the chalk powder will absorb the grease, making the stain easily removable by the laundry soap in the wash.}

{Keep scarves rolled up and neat with napkin holders when not in use.}

{Use a pop top as a picture hanger.}

{I have been using this trick for years! When your candle burns too low to easily access with a match, light the end of a spaghetti noodle. You will get a few more uses out of your candle and save yourself from getting a burn.}

I hope you learned a few handy household tricks today, I know I did!  If you have a great tip you’d like to share, please respond with a comment.  I would love to add your idea to our growing list.  Have a great weekend!

 If you’d like help creating a beautiful home or office you love, contact me today to learn how easy it is to get started.


Spring Decor for Less: Announcing Our Spring Blow Out Sale!

February 21, 2012

Last week Décor by Denise announced it’s Spring Blow Out Sale to all of our family, friends, clients and colleagues. Now we are extending this wonderful offer to our blogging community. We are pleased to offer special discounts on our favorite “must haves” for spring!  Take advantage of this limited time offer to spruce up your home without breaking your bank account!  Our design team has spent time hand-selecting these unique products, that are sure to bring a new energy to your home. Here is a sneak peak at some of the fabulous items you can purchase at a temporarily reduced price.

{The Onion Tower Lamp, originally priced at $604.00 is currently on sale for just $483.20! Pair two of these lamps at either end of a console table to make a stunning impression.}

{We now have the Sun Ray Gold Leaf Mirror at the discounted price of $598.50 – that is a remarkable 30% discount from its retail price! This mirror will look amazing gracing the walls over your fireplace, behind a sofa or being centered over a console table as show in the picture above.}

{Pictured here, designer Tobi Fairley pairs identical sun burst mirrors over a sofa. The overall effect is stunning. Check out all the mirrors featured at our Spring Blow Out Sale and achieve a similar look for less in your own home.}

{I adore this Iron Table with White Marble Top. It is the prefect compliment to any living room and is currently nearly $200 dollars off its original sales price.}

{Accessorize a table or mantel in your home with our colorful Glazed Porcelain Jars. Check out our entire selection at the Spring Blow Out Sale listing page. Act now, these attainable price won’t last long!}

{The designer of this living room has strategically placed porcelain and glass jars around the room for pops of color, order from our assortment of porcelain accessories and you can achieve the same look.}

{Store your magazines in the most chic way possible, our Leather Magazine Organizer in ivory is now on sale for $279.99. It has a retail price of $358.00.}

{Nothing says spring quite like this Purple and White Accent Chair with a Floral Pattern at the base. It will surely bring energy and excitement into your home decor. Like the rug to? We are currently selling both items at discounted prices, check them out at our Spring Blow Out Sale.}

Please take some time to browse through our Spring Blow Out Sale offerings. We are very excited about all the pieces we are offering and we think you will be to!  Decorate and SAVE this spring!

If you’d like help creating a beautiful home or office you love, contact me today to learn how easy it is to get started.


Color Pairing with Tangerine Tango

February 15, 2012

I wrote a blog back in January titled Tango with Tangerine. The post was centered around Pantone’s color of the year: Tangerine Tango – an exciting new hue that embodies energy and light. Recently I discussed tangerine tango in a bit more depth in an article I authored for Viva Tysons Magazine where I talk about pairing the bold orange color with other hues in your home. There are some wonderfully rich and vibrant options out there, so lets take a look and see how it easy it is for you to infuse this season’s hottest color into your home.

{My first piece of advice is to look for areas in your home that need a punch of color. Pillows, throws, candles and lampshades are an easy place to start incorporating the hue into your existing decor. These pieces can easily be swapped out seasonally and do not necessitate a long term commitment. The orange throws pictured above are the perfect accessory to the neutral toned chairs, can’t you just feel the warmth radiating from this room?}

{Here is another example of slowly working the color into a room with accents like flowers, throws, ottomans, rugs and decorative bowls. A little tangerine can go a long way. The crisp white walls and furniture are the foundation for this room but the punches of decorative orange embers complete the look and make for a completely chic living room. Start small and make a big impression!}

Now that I’ve shown you a few ideas for how to infuse Tangerine Tango into your existing decor, lets think outside the box about pairing this vibrant hue with this season’s other hottest colors for a completely unique and current look.

{This color swatch embodies the bright hues of 2012 and tangerine tango can be paired with all of them..yes, ALL of them! We have navy, indigo, gray, yellow and fuchsia. If you are tired of neutrals then this is your year to shine, COLOR IS IN! Lets take a peek at some inspiring color combinations.}

{I am in love with this room! Here we have a color palette with white, tangerine, an icy blue and a pop of fuchsia. The colors blend and compliment each other so perfectly. This room combines a bit of whimsy with a touch of chic – perfectly dressed for 2012.}

{Pictured above is a soft light blue paired with shades of orange. Light blue has been a bit tired over the past few years but with the help of tangerine it looks timeless once again. The window treatments in this space are gorgeous adding height and depth to the room. The detailed framework around the mirror brings all of the elements in the room together for effortless sophistication. The chocolate zebra print Ottoman adds instant flair and is an unexpected pairing with the sea shell accessories adorning the console table.}

{This room is so playful and really explores the use of vibrant colors. The designer has incorporated indigo in the headboard fabric and close by are a cheeky lamp and rich tangerine end table. Funky pillows and a mustard throw dress the bed for a complete look. Excellent use of vibrant pops of color in this bedroom, don’t you think?}

{Another color you will see a lot of this year is gray. It’s making its way back on our walls and onto our furniture. The key is adding pops of color to the neutral hue for a sassy and urban look. The picture above exemplifies the color combo perfectly. The opulent fabric, romantic lines and rich color on the headboard stand out wonderfully next to the gray backdrop.}

{Navy walls and a completely chic tangerine tufted sofa delight this living room. It’s an eclectic assortment of accessories and furniture that combine to be one of this year’s hottest color combos.}

As you can see there are a lot of options for color pairing tangerine in your home. I hope this collage of photos has inspired you to experiment with tangerine tango in a new way. Add a splash of color to your life and home this spring. To hear more ideas on this topic tune into my segment on  local talk show, Let’s Talk Live this Friday, February 17th at 11am on News Channel 8.

If you’d like help creating a beautiful home or office you love, contact me today to learn how easy it is to get started.


Fashion for a Cause…Paws!

February 11, 2012

If you read anything about me, you will know that I am an avid animal lover.  I have had pets my whole life and wholeheartedly support organizations that rescue animals.  Several years ago after the death of my little Cairn Terrier, Scottie (at the age of 17, yes 17!) I joined Lucky Dog Animal Rescue as a volunteer.  I acted as a foster parent and conducted home visits for people who were considering adopting a rescued dog.  That is how I came to find the two newest additions to my family–Jake and Edward.  Jakey and Eddie were my first and last two fosters with Lucky Dog (yes, I am a foster failure times two!).  They came home with me one weekend after coming off a long transport and I just couldn’t let them leave.  I fell in love with them the moment we met!  They are the sweetest little guys who provide me unending love and tons of kisses.  Every day when I come home, I am a Rock Star in their eyes!

{Here are my two sweet boys on a long road trip sleeping next to each other.  Jake is the 15 pound Chug (Chihuahua/Pug mix) on the left and Edward is the 6 pound Chihuahua on the right. Aren’t they just adorable? Can you believe that just a few days before they were rescued, they were slated to be put down? Lucky Dog brought them all the way from SC to VA to find their forever home.  I feel so blessed that they found their way to me!}

Because Jake and Edward bring so much joy to my life (as have my other pets through the years), animal rescue organizations are near and dear to my heart.  When you get involved with the other volunteers who work for these organizations, it really warms your heart and renews your faith in humanity to see so many people give their time, money, hearts and souls to save these vulnerable and defenseless animals who bring so much love to others.

Given how I feel about animals and animal rescue, you can imagine how elated I was when I was asked to participate in the 2012 Fashion for Paws (F4P) runway show.  As a runway model, I am chartered with raising a minimum of $5,000 for the Washington Humane Society.  If I achieve that goal, my dog, Jake, and I will be strutting our stuff down the runway on April 14th at the show.  Our fundraising web page just went live this week and as of today we already have achieved over $1,000 towards our goal…yeah!

Yesterday Jakey, Eddie and I participated in a photoshoot in my house to create some photos that we will be using to promote our F4P fundraising efforts.   I thought I would include a few of those photos here for you to see.

{Here is little Edward looking somewhat terrified.  He is so squirly it is difficult to capture a good photo of him, but this one wasn’t bad.}

{Here is a picture of Jakey and me in my living room.  I haven’t slept much all week, so these aren’t the best pix of me, but little Jakey looks cool as a cucumber. Unlike Edward, he is so easy to take photos with because he is an extreme lap dog. He just sits and waits for you to position him. A photographer’s dream!}

{Here’s one of the three of us. Edward was squirming all over the place and it shows.  Turns out my little guys were getting sick from eating something they shouldn’t have. They have been couped-up all day today with a stomach bug.  No fun for them and definitely no fun for me…lots of messes to clean up all night long (so much for sleep)!  I am hoping tomorrow will be a good day and that we will all get some much needed rest tonight.}

{This is one where Jakey really looks super cute!  Love this little guy. He is so cuddly and just wants to be with you all the time! My boyfriend’s 5 and 6 year old children fight over who is going to sleep with him all the time because he is just so darn cuddly.  I call him my cuddle-bug! Because he is so chill and can handle the nearly 2000 people who are expected to attend Fashion for Paws I have decided to walk the runway with him instead of Edward.  Poor little Eddie would be shaking in his skin…not good!}

I want to thank Sarah Willis who works with me for not only taking these fabulous photos, but also for helping me learn a new technique for curling my hair.  Having fine hair, I have never been able to hold a curl longer than a minute, but with the technique she showed me, I woke up today with the curls I went to bed with…amazing! Thank you so much Sarah for helping me capture these photos for such a worthy cause.

To learn more about Fashion for Paws, the runway show, and Jakey’s and my fundraising efforts, check out our site!

I’ll be posting some pictures in an upcoming blog of some of my animal rescue work, so stay tuned.  In the meantime, have a wonderful weekend and don’t forget to hug your furry friends!

If you’d like help creating a beautiful home or office you love, contact me today to learn how easy it is to get started.


Trend Alert: Tory Burch’s Spring Collection is Out – Stripes and Polka Dots Galore!

February 7, 2012

Good Morning friends. This week we are kicking-off our new series “Trend Alert.” We will update you on a monthly basis to keep you abreast of the latest and greatest trends in the design world.

Today, we start with Tory Burch’s Spring Fashion Collection. Her announcement of the latest line just hit our in-boxes and I for one am very excited! What is popular in fashion usually transcends into our homes, so it’s important for me to be conscious of what is happening in the fashion community.

After looking through all the new arrivals on her website I see that mixing stripes and polka dots is a central theme. Mixing patterns started to creep into fashion and design in the latter half of 2011, but rest assured this look is here to stay for 2012. I love the versatility we are now encouraged to display in our homes and wardrobes through the use of color, patterns and textures. And, anyone who knows me knows I absolutely LOVE polka dots!!!! Can’t get enough of them.

Here is what Tory has to say about the inspiration behind her spring line:

{Interview courtesy of}

I couldn’t agree more. Stripes and polka dots have been around for the ages; they are timeless and have been reinvented over the years to keep them looking fresh and up-to-date. I am glad we are paying homage to them this spring. Let’s take a look at how we can incorporate this look into our homes.

{Interior designer Tobi Fairley pairs two contrasting patterns together for a uniform look. Cohesiveness is created by keeping the contrasting patterns within the same color palette.}

{Your tabletop is an excellent place to experiment with different patterns. Kate Spade has a fabulous assortment of patterned china – mix and match her designs to create your own look.}

{These throw pillows found on make mixing stripes and circles fun and flirty. Floral patterns are well complimented by stripes.}

{This room features a basic black and white stripe lamp shade that is offset by a bold wall treatment and turquoise end table. I love the mix of colors and patterns here, thank you pinterest!}

{This bright breakfast nook includes both stripes and dots. Hues of orange, green and white keep this color popping room anchored into place.}

{In this picture we have a few different geometric patters; the designer has stayed focused weaving turquoise and red throughout the room. Stunning don’t you think?  Photo Courtesy of Traditional Home Magazine}

{Right off the pages of Elle Decor this herringbone-pattern inlaid ash-and-walnut floor “wows” this entryway. Don’t be afraid to use geometric patterns on your floors especially if you want to keep them off your walls.}

{Garnet Hill is taking part in the trend with their new dot, stripe and damask towel collection.}

I hope you found a little inspiration not only for your home, but also for your spring wardrobe.  Happy decorating.

If you’d like help creating a beautiful home or office you love, contact me today to learn how easy it is to get started.


Meet Guest Blogger: Janet Schiesl, Owner of Basic Organization and co-author of “Get Organized Today.”

February 1, 2012

Today I am happy to have Janet Schiesl, Owner of Basic Organization here to answer a few questions on the business of professional organizing. The first months of the year are all about New Year’s resolutions, clearing clutter from your life and starting fresh and we want to empower you with some words of wisdom from a master of the trade. I am a strong supporter of professional organizers – they do amazing work and often help my clients immensely. There is a lot of hustle and bustle in and around Washington, DC and people often don’t have the time to get to those large projects that require systematic organization: your garage, a child’s closet that is packed with clothes that no longer fit, kitchen pantries and attics.  Janet was kind enough to answer my questions about her business and give tips and insights on better organization in your home.

Q: Janet, tell us a little about Basic Organization. Why did you start the business and what services do you offer?

A: I started Basic Organization in 2005, at the height of popularity of cable organizing shows. That is really how I became aware that organizing other people could be a career and a business. Shows such as “Mission Organization” and “Clean Sweep” not only educated me, but informed the public that being more organized can change your life.

My company offers clients the option of working with a single organizer or a Basic Organization team. It depends on the scope of work (size and deadline of the job) as to what we will suggest for each individual client. For instance, a downsizing senior will need a team if they are interested in our service called “Done in a Day”. This provides them with a complete unpacking the day they move into their new home. An organizing team would be needed for the client who wants to clean out and organize their garage on a single Saturday because of the size of the job. A single organizer is appropriate for the client who needs to set up a filing system for their home office and get a handle on their piles of paperwork.

Q: Who is your typical client?

A: Basic Organization works with busy families, small businesses, downsizing seniors and the chronically disorganized in the Washington DC area. We help people rethink their priorities and simplify their lives. Our clients realize how their “stuff” is affecting their life and are looking for expert advice on how to make lasting positive changes.

Q: Do you have any training or hold any certifications in organizing or related areas (chronic disorganization, coaching, feng shui, interior design, etc.)?

A: Everyone at Basic Organization is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO). It is an association focused on educating the professional on best practices in the organizing industry. I am currently the president of the Washington DC chapter of NAPO.

There is a certification for professional organizers. I am preparing to take the certification test in the Spring 0f 2012. I am currently a specialist in chronic disorganization with the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) and a member of the Association of Interior Design Professionals (AIDP).

Q: What is your process?

A: The process is always different, because each client is different. But our standard procedure is to meet with each new client for an assessment. This is when we study and discuss the project. We identify the client’s goals for each area they want organized. We then set up appointments for hands-on organizing. Our appointments range from 3 hours to all day.

The organizing process starts with sorting what a client has, so that they can decide what items will help them achieve their goal. The next step is to decide what to do with the items that are not supporting the client in the process. Basic Organization aids clients in determining how they will let go of the possessions they no longer need. We use whatever storage the client has or suggest options to purchase. The part of the process that is the most fun is when we get to put everything in its place. This is when it all comes together. Maintaining organization is the final and continuing step. We often help busy clients maintain the level of organization that they are comfortable with.

Q: How can clutter negatively affect a person’s life and well-being?

A: People don’t realize how their possessions affect their everyday life. It takes a lot of time and money to buy, bring home, place, clean, move, find, insure and use your stuff. There is research to show that the average American spends 55 minutes a day looking for things that they know they own, but they cannot find. Being more organized cuts down on that wasted time and frustration. What could you do with an extra 55 minutes a day?

Many of our clients have been through a dramatic life change: whether it is a positive change, like getting a new job or getting married, or a negative change, like an illness or unexpected move. They lose the level of organization that they are comfortable with, while focusing on the change. When things settle down, people don’t know how to get back on track. Basic Organization offers the support they need to get back on track.

{Clutter can leave you feeling overwhelmed and unproductive.}

Q: What are the benefits of hiring a professional organizer and how does a person know it’s time to take action and get the help of a professional?

A: Many of our clients are busy professionals who have a project they want to accomplish, like organizing their garage, but just don’t have the time to do it. We can offer the expertise to get the job quickly and completely. It’s great when our client can pull their car into a newly organized garage at the end of the day.

But if you have tried to get organized before and just can’t seem to accomplish much, or if you want options for the systems that are just not working for you, it’s time to hire a professional organizer. Many people can relate to hiring a personal trainer. You want to learn how to improve your life from someone who can offer you the most benefit for your time and money.

Q: What are everyday tips a person can do to keep their home organized?

A: Some of my favorite tips are:  1) Give everything a home; 2) Use labels to identify items; 3) Do a little each day and 4) Keep it simple.

Q: Are there any new organizational products on the market that you suggest?

A: One of the most important organizing tools is a calendar or planner. If you can manage your time and tasks, you are way ahead of the curve. It is easy to get stressed over what is required of our busy lifestyle. Staying on top of your commitments will ease that stress and give you a clear outlook on your day.

Everyday technology has become an important part of our 24/7 life. Look for apps to help you schedule your time, list your to-dos, and keep and share your files.

Another favorite tool for all Basic Organization organizers is a label maker. We love to label. It’s all about communicating.

Q: Tell us a little about what we can learn in your book, “Get Organized Today?”

A: “Get Organized Today” is a collaboration of many professionals, providing inspiration that affirms the power and importance of getting organized. The book provides practical ideas that you can use immediately to live a better, more effective life.

Look for my chapter Staging Your Home – Transforming Your Space to Eliminate Clutter and Fit Your Lifestyle in the book. I wrote from my years of experience working in an interior design firm. I teach you how to change each space in your home to reduce the accumulation of clutter.

Q: Any last bits of advice or inspiration you can give us before we embark on our quest for a more organized home in 2012?

A: Be clear about your goals for the project. Focus on the outcome you want. If an item doesn’t support your goal for the space then you don’t need the item.

It’s been shown that organizing is a social activity. If you don’t enjoy organizing by yourself, you are not alone. Find a friend or professional organizer to help you achieve your goals.

Thank you Janet for guest blogging with us and sharing your invaluable knowledge on this subject.   To learn more about Basic Organization, visit Janet and her team at, or follow her Basic Blog. You can also connect with them on facebook at Basic Organization Professional Organizing Services, or on Twitter at BasicOrganizer.

I hope you find this information as valuable as I do. Organizing is not only visually appealing, but also it helps us to live a more balanced life.

For today our mantra is: Dream. Design. Organize.  Happy sorting!!!

If you’d like help creating a beautiful home or office you love, contact me today to learn how easy it is to get started.