Friday, May 29, 2009


Yes it's true, Marie Antoinette is my real name and Toni is just a nick name that I adopted in junior high school because Toni was shorter, easier and way cooler!

I was born in Italy and customarily the first born is named after a grandmother. In as much as I had a grandmother named Antonia (father's side) and a great grandmother named Antonia (mother's side), they named me Maria Antonietta after them both. Grandparents and other family members called me Nietta for short.

After our arrival to America and when I started grammar school, the nuns of Saint Callistus Catholic School decided to translate my Italian Maria Antonietta to the English version Marie Antoinette. It was their attempt to Americanize me! From then on I was called Marie Antoinette and my childhood friends called me Antoinette. My parents however spoke only Italian in our home so they continued to call me Antonietta. When my younger siblings learned to speak my name they couldn't pronounce Antonietta so they formed the name Teta in baby talk. The baby talk stuck because they still call me Teta and so do their children. My niece and nephews call me Auntie Teta!

When I hit Junior High School in the late 60's Marie Antoinette or any version of it was just too "square"! And writing the entire name on homework assignments was a pain. So as in the masculine version of Anthony, Tony is a short nickname, I did the same with Antoinette using the feminine version of Toni. From that moment on I have been known as Toni. But my family in Italy still calls me by my Italian name, Antonietta.

When I started my business in 1984 I named it the English name "Marie Antoinette Custom Home Interiors" just to keep it simple. Yea, right!

So here are all my real names in order of appearance! Maria Antonietta, Nietta, Antonietta, Teta, Marie Antoinette, Antoinette, and Toni.

And yes that is my real name, driver's license, business license, passport and Social Security Card, Marie Antoinette.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

WHEN IN ROME, DO AS THE ROMANS DO...and get 15 % off doing it!

Ever wonder where the term Roman Shade came from?

Evidently in the heyday of the Roman Coliseum, the crowds would sit through a day-long program of events in the open air. The sun got pretty hot up in the stands (And if you've ever been to Rome you know how hot it can get!) so long awnings were constructed that opened into the arena and offered some sun protection. The awnings were held out on poles that extended into the stands. When they were not in use the shades pleated back on themselves, much like our modern Roman shades. The difference was that the original Roman shades hung horizontally out from the wall. Today's Roman shades hang vertically in front of the window.
Roman shades, regardless of their place in history, still offer excellent sun protection, privacy and unlimited design options. Roman shades can provide the finishing touch in rooms from casual to traditional to cutting edge contemporary.

If you have never tried roman shades they make a handsome addition to any room. They are versatile and come in a variety of elegant styles. You can use them for insulating your windows instead of mini blinds, pleated shades, or verticals. Roman shades can be light filtering or they can be used for darkening a room by using a blackout liner. It really depends on what you want your window treatment to do. Generally you can fit custom roman shades into any décor style beautifully!

There are a variety of styles for your roman shades. The most popular include:
Plain: plain styles are great for rooms where you want the window treatment to fit in with the rest of the décor by not emphasizing the window. These have horizontal pleats that fall in a uniformed pattern every six inches. They usually come lined and you can choose the type of liner you need.
Flat: the flat folded style of this roman shade will be a great way to showcase a variety of fabric patterns whether they are large or small.
European: this is true European style with a versatile shade that has a relaxed feel to it. The sides of the shade curve up so that when it is drawn it creates a casual and soft ambience to your room with beautiful random folds.
Soft Fold: many people like the soft fold style because it gently cascades down the shade. It gives a gentle fold every six inches and makes a more uniformed look.

If your windows need a face lift, give them a Roman Shade lift. We're having a sale on them now, "15% Off", through the end of June, just in time for the heat of summer! Call me now for your appointment. 925 862-9064 or email to to set up a time to see samples and fabrics for your new Roman Shades!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Summer's Around The Corner, Welcoming Guest Rooms

Yeah, it happened again! I'm absolutly trilled, what an honor! This is the second time AVA LIVING has featured me, Toni Berry from Marie Antoinette Interiors and one of my rooms on the landing/cover page of their web site. If you love Interior Design you'll love AVA LIVING! Desginers from all over the world post their work. And it's a great place to get ideas for your own decorating and design projects. Check out and see more of what you're looking for!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Announcing The Winner of Project Color!

The Fourth Annual "PROJECT COLOR" Painting For Charity Giveaway! After entries from all over the SF Bay Area, MB Jessee staff voted...and the WINNER is The Mission Neighborhood Health Center in San Francisco.
Mission Neighborhood Health Center is a 39 year old community based health center , and a cornerstone in the Mission community. It is a leader in advocacy efforts for culturally and linguistically competent health and human services for Latinos in San Francisco and the greater Bay Area. It humbly serves over 13,000 patients and renders over 66,000 health care service visits annually.

Toni Berry from Marie Antoinette Interiors donated the Paint Consultation for the new colors to enhance and compliment the existing Murals that flank the front door to the center. MB Jessee employees, friends, and associates will donate a full day to paint the center on June 20, 2009. This is a "before" picture of the building as it is today. Check back for an updated post of the "after" transformation!

Learn more about the Mission Neighborhood Health Center and MB Jessee Painting !

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Decorating Tips From Our Italian Moms

Many of you know, I have a beautiful Italian mother. She lives in Trieste Italy, but for years while raising her family, she lived here in the US. I remember affectionately all that she taught me about keeping a home and decorating (one in the same) too. After all I learned all my skills and everything I do well from my mother Lucia! So with that in mind I asked my Italian girlfriends, what they fondly remember about their mother's teachings of home keeping and decorating. Here's what they said;
Maria C. said, "The most important decorative part in my mom's house has always been the "centrini all'uncinetto", all around the house at the bottom of vases or ceramic decorations or a big one at the center of the table." These were traditionally handmade by any woman in the house and this craft was also a big part of the "housewife learning skills" before getting married."
Enza said, "The two tips I remember from my Mother the hand embroidered linen sheets and pillow cases. She would fold them over so the embroidery would show. And she always had the formal rooms wall papered."
Maryanne said, "She loved white or cream colored lace tablecloths. She always kept one on our dinning room table. When we ate outside, she would use a plastic white lace tablecloth! My grandmother was fond of very ornate furniture. The more curves it had, the more she loved it. I remember them very well because it was mine and my sister's responsibility to polish these ornate pieces and it would take us forever to do them. My mother in law loved intricate glass figurines that she kept on her tables, buffets, dressers, etc... Many were Murano glass."
Maria M. said, "She keeps a lace ecru runner on the dining room table with crystal which goes with everything."
Annette said, "My Italian grandmother's concept for home design was that everyone should feel comfortable and welcome in your home. She chose her furnishings for comfort first and style second. She also decorated with eclectic style using family handed down items along side drawings from grandchildren and photos of family to fill her space. And of course everyone was always greeted with a big hugs and the loving words "are you hungry honey, I have some fill in the blank (soup, spaghetti, meatballs, etc) in the kitchen I can heat up."
Theresa said, "She was a pretty plane Jane and kept everything and didn't throw away anything."
Rosie said, "She did everything, very well and with pride. From painting the house to making the mattresses, cleaning, cooking, washing everything by hand, making curtains, bedspreads, knitting, crocheting, etc. She liked to paint white the antique furniture pieces that we had. Oh, oh, she took Ikebana classes and made wonderful arrangements. She loved to cook savory and sweet. There is so much she could do.... I am tearing up so I will leave you with this: her favorite decorating tip was to love everybody, being sweet, sweet, sweet, caring and generous."
It was clear to me after reading my Italian girlfriend's responses that Italian moms decorate from the heart. They keep the home in good running order, and they make it look lovely at the same time. This is a gift, and this is our gift by virtue of birth. Thank you friends, and thank you to our Italian moms!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Ask A Design Question, Hardwood vs. Carpet, Which Is It?

Dear Toni, You have visited our home a couple times and I am just getting ready to put down wood flooring. Love the wood. My question is, I have a drop down living room and stairs as you enter. I think I want to keep carpet on the stairs (safety and to keep costs down), but I am trying to decide whether to do wood in the living room or carpet that as well.


Anne Reed

Dear Anne,I remember your beautiful home very well, and am so glad you asked this question! You are right about carpet on the stairs to keep the cost down. And yes, I would definitely do Hardwood floors in the living and dining room. Here's why, by using one unified floor (Hardwood) throughout, the space will appear larger and more gracious. This adds a sense of grander proportion to your small entry (because from the entry all the spaces can be seen) that adjoins all the rooms. Hardwood always adds a warm richness to any room and will increase the value of your home. Hardwood is classic, durable, elegant, and comfortable. Keep in mind the color of the wood should complement the wall color and the furnishings.
So Hardwood it is!