Thursday, December 13, 2012

Do you see what I see?

That is the question I ask myself every time I sit with a client to work on the design and the fabric selection for window fashions.  I am able to see it perfectly clear in my mind’s eye and though I am capable to explain it and or draw it on paper, the visual sometimes is lost in translation. 
That’s exactly what occurred recently with a client who had just moved to a new home with very wide windows.  She just could not visualize a valance being that big and wide.  Additionally, the fabric pattern repeat, every 29” vertically, and colors were difficult for her to envision.  Furthermore we were using an entirely new color pallet for the rooms involved, the family room and the kitchen open to one another.
But with my new “Virtual Rendering Service” I showed her exactly how her valance would look in her room before it was completed.   I revealed to her the exact treatment, in the exact fabric, with the exact hardware, on the exact window, in the exact room.  
Kitchen Bay BEFORE

Family Room BEFORE

Above are the two windows before we started….family room and kitchen.  They appear small but the bay window is actually 172” wide, a little over 14 linear feet.

Above are the same two windows after I designed them.  This is what I see in my mind’s eye, and now the client can see it too.

And here they are after completed…

There’s a lot I can say about the proportions, the color selection, the fabric combination. But that entire dialog can be overwhelming to the client and that is why this service saves us time and the money during the design process!

A picture is worth a thousand words, in this case it most certainly was! If you want to see what I see for your windows call 925.862.9064 or email me at and make a "Design Consultation" appointment, you will save time and money!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Top 5 Holiday Decorating Tips

Whether it is for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah or Christmas, many people will do more decorating in the next few weeks or so than they do all year round! So to help you get ready for what seems like the Super Bowl of home decorating, read on for my much-requested Holiday Decorating tips.

As a decorator, I apply the same principles of design even when decorating for the holidays. Some tricks of the trade that you can apply in your home include:

1.       DO De-clutter & take inventory: Start with a fresh palette. Remove the tired wall art, take away those spring/summer fun accessories- you can always put them back after the holidays.
Place  chalkboard over the mantel and write a holiday message on it to your family.

2.       DO CREATE a focal point: Perhaps you have an architectural feature in the room like a fireplace or a wall of windows. Don't have any architectural interest? Create it with color, a large piece of furniture or a piece of artwork. It doesn’t always have to be the tree!  

3.       DO a Theme: A theme can be created in one of two ways. 
My grandmother's silver candelabra, my daughters silver bell music box, and my son's gift to me, he made while in kindergarten!  It just wouldn't be Christmas without family mementos.

·         The first is based on a decorating subject that can symbolize a favorite past time, meaningful family occasion or perhaps highlights a prized collection. Examples include a rustic ski lodge, a wedding Anniversary or newlywed theme, a fantasy Toyland, an Old World Christmas, a pet tree featuring your breed of choice, even a favorite sports team, novel or movie star.  Mine is always my children’s childhood handmade ornaments.
When a room is red, it's perfect for Christmas, just add greenery and a few candles and it's ready!

·         The second is color-based themes; great when you're just starting out or don't want to use the same decorations again. For a harmonious effect, complement the color of your homes décor.  A winter wonderland of all white and metallic is stunning. Another source is to look to fashion trends for inspiration. Hot color trends include jewel tones like sapphire, acid bright colors like hot pink and neon green, and a black and white scheme always creates drama. I decorated a Christmas living room that had red wall paper, how fitting is that? Everything looked great against the red and very Christmassy!

4.       REMEMBER Odds Rule:  Decorators know that grouping accessories in odd numbers are the most appealing to the eye. So, apply it to your holiday decorating too. Group five glass jars filled with cranberries on your mantle, group three large reindeer in the center of your tree, place one large angel on your buffet table.
Using the "odd number" rule; 2 chairs, 2 drapery panels, one simple tree = 5!

5.       GET CREATIVE! Think outside the box - shop around your house, look in closets, your pantry (red apples, green pears, nuts, cranberries and peppermint candies are great in apothecary jars or vases to anchor greenery), even the back yard. Tree branches and sticks or pine cones and spray them with metallic paint for an inexpensive alternative to the floral store offerings. Check out the non-holiday aisles in craft and floral stores too. Place a framed wall mirror in the center of your coffee table and add votive candles on top. Use feather boas in place of garland on a tree. A faux fur throw makes a fabulous tree skirt or tablecloth.  I have found the best and most unusual holiday decorations at thrift stores or tag sales during the summer months.  Take advantage of the off season discounts for holiday décor purchases if you can. Use a statement piece - one in the tree, a wreath or on a tabletop creates a focal point. A child's favorite stuffed animal embedded in the center of a tree with smaller ones on the mantel; framed photos from Christmases past are a special touch; collectible lit houses can be displayed in the tree as well as under it, etc.

But most importantly decorate from the heart, even if you decorate only at this time of year!  Decorating is meant by it’s nature to be fun and to enrich the home so all will feel it’s warmth and it’s love. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Art Of The Hang!

Hanging objects that are near and dear to us always makes good decorating sense to me.  After all what better way to express our interest could there be than actually displaying it openly.  Here a person that collects antique and vintage suit cases is also displaying photo's and other things in a beautifully balanced way.
So if you have some of mom and dad's old Samsonite in the attic or basement, now is the time to re-use and re-purpose them!

This arrangement was created to bring color, texture, and visual interest to an otherwise less than interesting entry way. The plates are arranged in a soft arch, starting high on the wall and cascading down low.  All different colors, but all working in concert with the chest, the lamp, the light switch and the door bell box.  It may look artistically loose, but it was skillfully planned and executed.  Just beautiful against this pale blue wall!

If you have photo's in small frames, but you need to make a big statement, just get a big frame to frame them in.  Done here with a beautiful elaborate frame painted white to give a great contrast to the small black and white framed photo's.  This can also be done to coordinate with the wall colors or the other furnishings in the room.  You can often find great large old frames at thrift shops and yard sales.  Don't let the color or finish of the frame deter you, after all you'll be painting it!

What to do with that long, long, long hallway? Frame it in sections to visually reduce it's length.  Paint the wall  inside the framed area in a bold contrasting color, deep tan was used here. Now hang your framed photos and art within the framed section.  Done here in a balanced, symmetrical fashion; You can even put interesting fabric or wall paper within the framed sections too. Or as an option you can use a fancy molding for the frame. The idea here is to contain the art with in the large frame.
Here are some simply hanging patterns to use as a guide for hanging your photo's.  Don't forget to also consider the scale of the wall, the furniture placement and size below the objects hanging, and of course the frames them selves. They all work together in the art of the hang!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

How To Restore The Glow In Your Home...It's In The Math!

With the days getting shorter, the rooms in your home may look less bright in early morning or late afternoon than they did a few weeks ago. What can you do to restore the glow?
One possibility is adding illumination to the level you enjoyed during summer.
Chandeliere , sconces and can lighting in the ceiling make this large dining area glow!
Remember, lighting does more than just brighten the room. It can create atmosphere and express your style. Whether you hang a new chandelier or simply plug in a beautiful table lamp, such changes can freshen the look and heighten the visual appeal of your room without a lot of fuss or a huge expenditure.

Here are some tips from lighting professionals. Illuminate a room proportionately to its size. Lighting designers figure the square footage, and then multiply by 1.5 to determine the approximate (incandescent-lamp) wattage needed. For example, a 15-by-20-foot room has 300 square feet of space; when you multiply by 1.5, you find 450 is the optimum level of wattage, counting all the lamps, ceiling fixtures, task lighting, etc. For work spaces and other specialized areas needing more illumination, multiply by 2.5.

To create great accents -- in a hallway, at either side of a fireplace or flanking a dining hutch -- consider wall sconces, placed about 60 inches above the floor and 8 to 10 feet apart.

Near each end of a fireplace mantel, or on the console behind a couch or on a hallway table, consider using a 20-inch-tall candelabra lamp with a dark shade to add an a elegant glow. If brown, black or mahogany, the shade will project a sense of masculinity.

When adding a chandelier to a room, math again can help you calculate what size works best. This time, start by adding add the room's width and depth together. For example, if the space measures 12-by-16-feet, add 12 to 16 for a total of 28. That tells you a 28-inch-diameter chandelier should do the job. For a chandelier above a dining table, divide the table width in half. For example, with a table 48 inches wide, a 24-inch-diameter fixture should work nicely.

In a dining room with 8-foot ceilings, the bottom of the fixture should fall 30 inches above the tabletop. Add 3 inches for each additional foot of ceiling height.

Another trick for freshening up a room: Buy small silk shades in alternating colors that work with the room's overall color scheme to freshen up an old 1970s brass chandelier. After you snap a shade right onto each small bulb, it will look as if you've replaced the fixture. You also can redo the yellow brass finish by spraying on metal paint in shades of gold, silver, bronze, white or black to change the whole ambience of the room.

Toni Berry: Tips for improving and updating interior lighting
By Toni Berry Correspondent

Thursday, August 30, 2012

20% OFF Our Annual Custom Designed Drapery


We're Having A Once A Year Only

Designer Drapery Event!

Now is the perfect time to update your old draperies and make your rooms look stunning!
With 20% off you can afford to give your home that finished look of custom draperies in your own style.
Plus, a free one hour in-home drapery design consultation to help you pick out exactly what you want.
What are you waiting for?
Call Toni Berry at 925.862.9064 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 925.862.9064 end_of_the_skype_highlighting now to get an appointment for your free drapery design consultation!
Save 20% and a One Hour Drapery Design  
Only once a year do we offer this exceptional value: all styles of draperies, and all hardware.
Let your friends know about this great opportunity!
We'll bring the fabric and hardware samples to you and we'll design the custom treatment to fit your windows and your budget perfectly in the comfort of your own home!
Event Ends September 30th
Cannot be used on prior purchases or combined with other offers or discounts.  

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Why Custom Drapery? 5 Reasons.

Show off your unique style with beautiful, luxurious drapery and end the aggravation!
Style, light control, perfect fit, and luxury!

If you’ve ever bought ready made draperies you know it’s exhausting and disappointing.  Hours of guessing at what style would be a good for the room, measuring that frustrates you because you don’t know what to measure wall or window, few choices and bad selection,  limited sizes, inferior workmanship, fabrics that hang poorly with patterns that don’t match, and imports from countries whose name we can scarcely pronounce! 

But if you’ve ever seen beautiful custom draperies that fit the style of the room, are hung correctly and in the right place, folds and pleats that are uniform, patterns that match with fullness that is appropriate to the style….you will know instantly that these are real draperies!  They may cost a bit more but in the end….they are worth every penny!  Here are 5 reasons why you should have “custom draperies”!
Fabric choices, color selection, graceful hardware in every imaginable finish
 to coordinate with the rooms existing decor!

1.       A world of choices.  Colors, fabrics, trim, hardware….the list is endless and our selection is too. With hundreds of options to choose from, we’ll help you find a perfect fit.  Every detail is matched to your style for a custom look that lights up the entire room.

Any window, door, wall or passageway can be draped,
no matter the size or configuration!

2.       The perfect fit.  Forget the guesswork and leave the measurement to us!  Our meticulous tailoring creates draperies that fit any size or shape window seamlessly.  Exact measurements create a crisp and clean look that ties the whole picture together.  From simply to elaborate, floor skimming to pudding, our draperies are made in all lengths and widths for a look you’ll love now and for years to come.

Each individual design style and heading of drapery takes a different fullness
to make it look lush and full and we are expert in knowing
which one works best in any given fabric.

3.       Get your fill.  The secret to drapes is the fullness of fabric.  We’ll never leave your drapes just hanging there.  Our experts choose the right amount of fullness, usually double the amount used in ready made drapery, to accentuate the stylish pleats and folds of your choice fabric and style.

The linings and interlinings can make all the difference in the world!

4.       What’s inside counts.  Our custom drapery considers both inside and out with a range of linings and interlinings that aid in light control and insulation.  This simple addition, not only protects your fabric, adds years of life to the drapery, lowers your energy bill, but also adds extra body that keeps the shape and style of your drapes looking gorgeous.

"God is in the details"! And details are what custom drapery is all about!

5.       A strong finish.  Our highly skilled American seamstresses meticulously cut fabrics and construct each piece with eloquent precision, making sure the patterns match precisely.  Each piece is custom finished with double turned weighted bottom hems for a dose of extra body.  Our exacting detail guarantees your draperies will hang as they should with stunning effects.

Stunning effect...only custom!
 The team at Marie Antoinette Interiors are highly skilled experts bringing creative styles, beautiful workmanship and endless choices to the comfort of your home.

We look forward to working with you personally to create a designer look that you will love and enjoy for many years and worth every penny!

Sunday, July 15, 2012


French Doors are beautiful in a home, but they often require privacy, light control or simply an extra “touch” to make them function properly and look beautiful too.  

Before!  New French Door with temporary "make-do" treatment!
After! Valance with Remote Control Roller Shades beneath!
One such case was a 3 part French Door; two stationary windows flanking a center opening door.  Lovely to look at but difficult to treat and maintain accessibility to the door. 
Here’s one way to approach the problem:

1.       By installing 3 individual roller shades (as opposed to one large one) above the moldings and on the wall, each shade operates independently of one another giving the homeowner control of the sun and the view. 
Hunter Douglas Designer Roller Shade with Power Rise Motorization

Operate them one at a time or all at once in unison.

2.       We chose a sun screen fabric for the roller shade that allows some visibility of the outdoors, yet blocks out much of the sun rays protecting the furnishings. We additionally had all 3 shades motorized to be controlled by a hand held remote eliminating the shade cords and strings. These motors run quietly on a battery pack making them a joy to operate! 

3.       A beautiful color and style coordinated tailored Valance was added to hide the shade rollers and give a beautiful ambiance to the room’s décor. The Valance placement is crucial to the functioning of the door, too low and the door will disturb it upon opening, too high and it won’t successfully cover the roller shade and its hardware.

There are of course more ways to effectively treat the French Door Dilemma; draperies, roman shades, cellular shades and blinds. Each one of these has a drawback and a plus and each one is specifically suited to the clients’ needs and style.  A decorator will understand the pros and cons and pitfalls to any window treatment dilemma solution so it's best to employ one for a consultation before you make a costly mistake.

If you have a window or door that you need treated call Marie Antoinette Interiors at 925.862.9064 for a solution!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Consignment Store Shopping For Your Home and Your Budget!

I am presently working with a client that is in need of “furnishing” her new home.  She and her husband came to this sizable home with absolutely “NO” furniture at all.  Overwhelmed with the task to do it alone, she called on me to help.  With a realistic budget in mind we set out together to put in place a sensible plan!
Room by room, I made a practical itemized list of what was “needed” with its perspective allocated $ amount total.  She quickly saw for herself how fast it adds up.  So in an effort to work within her budget I decided to pull out my secret weapon; the consignment store.  They offer a wide variety of furniture, and various decorations for the home.
We found this beautiful one at the consignment store for $159.00…
works perfectly with our style, size and budget. Sold!
Shopping for furniture in stores such as these takes a little getting use; you have to know exactly what you’re looking for because the inventory of furnishings offered at these stores isn’t always displayed in an organized fashion but the savings can be enormous.  

Here are a few tips on what you should know when shopping at any consignment store:
ONLY look for items in your style. The best way to find pieces that you will love for a long time is to find items that fit in well with your personal style. Determine first what item, its style, and size and search for it by eliminating everything else you see.   In our case we needed a coffee table, in a French style, and no larger than 45” inches long.  The amount of $ allocated in our budget plan for a coffee table was $800.00.  We found this beautiful one at the consignment store for $159.00…works perfectly with our style, size and budget.  Sold! 

Really examine and test items carefully in the store. Appearance is not the only element to consider when shopping for new home furnishings. Comfort is one of the most common priorities when shopping for furniture. That is why you should always try out items in the store before purchasing them. You can test the comfort level of sofas and other seating options by having a seat in the store to determine if it is comfortable and practical.  In our case we found a perfect little upholster arm chair, but upon closer inspection the chair’s legs were wobbly, and the upholstered arms were a bit worn. So we opted to let that possibility go because by the time we re-upholstered and repaired the legs, its total cost was over the allocated budget amount for an arm chair.
Hurry buy now because it will be gone tomorrow. Unlike traditional retail furniture stores, consignment stores have an inventory that is always changing. That is because they put new consignment pieces on display every day! If you find something you love, you should buy it as soon as possible to make sure you get it before someone else does. Some consignment stores will allow you to test drive the item in your home making your decision even easier.
Consignment buying should be fun….I call it the “thrill of the hunt”! Yes, it’s easier to do with a designer/decorator that has a trained eye and will keep you on course …but anyone can do it by following my tips above!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Designing Eye: Smart Decorating for the Small Patio

Did you grow up with a big porch, a flowing lawn, a big deck off the kitchen? It's a dream setting that not everyone, including me, was fortunate enough to have. Instead, I remember a balcony and small patio that we would go out to this time of year when the weather turned nice.
This condominium patio is only about 10 feet by 10 feet, but it appears much larger through the use of neutral colored furnishings, a stone bench, a single piece of wall decor and right-sized colorful plants. To help with the ambiance, a water feature and windchime were added.

Many homeowners and renters find themselves with only space to enjoy the great outdoors. Decorating such a space, however, can be fun and inexpensive. Here are some ideas to help you make your small outdoor space just as fine as a big one.

Consider the size and scale of your patio or balcony before you add furniture. Furnishings that are large or overstuffed can engulf a small space. Look for furnishings without arms and that have simple lines and low backs. Benches can be used along one or more sides of your patio for additional seating.

Choose furniture that can do double duty. Ottomans that also can be used for storage and cocktail tables or furnishings that can be folded, stacked and put away when not in use work well in small spaces.

Look for furnishings that tend to "disappear." Acrylic or glass tables and thin-line metal chairs allow the eye to see through them, which decreases their visual weight, making them perfect for small patios.
This small patio has a big outdoor feel with plants, light colored furnishings and a glass table top that doesn't add to the visual clutter. Debbie Noda/Modesto Bee ( Debbie Noda )
Container gardens make excellent accents for small patios or balconies, and a little landscaping around your patio is a great way to enhance privacy and shade. But know your plants -- or find a good nursery that does -- before adding them to your patio. A pretty trailing plant may look cute in the store, but it may overwhelm your space.

Choose landscaping and plants that will add color, texture and height, not bulk, to your patio.

Plants with pleasing scents are a wonderful addition to any outdoor area, but avoid plants with extremely strong aromas that can quickly overpower both the space and you.

Small patios don't necessarily need a lot of small decor. One large urn has more impact than several small vases, which can look cluttered. One nice piece of wall decor beats a bunch of small ones.

Diffused, natural light and lighter colors tend to open up a space and make it feel larger. If your patio is extremely shady, consider adding uplighting, string lights or other electrical light to brighten it up. Stick with light colors or neutrals in furnishings and use bright colors as accents in pillows, an umbrella or place mats.

Fabric prints can work well in small spaces, too, as long as they are used sparingly.
Stripes often work well on small patios because they can be used to create the illusion of height or length. When choosing patterns, stick with the ratio of 2-to-1 -- two small-scaled patterns or textures with one sparsely used bold pattern to add interest and pop.

Listen up
Although the look of your patio is important, don't forget the power of sound. A small water feature or wind chimes can enhance your patio and mask unappealing noises from a nearby street or your neighbors.
Call 925-862-9064
Email me at

Monday, June 11, 2012

Table Top Decorating or Tablescape!

The definition of the word Tablescape is; An artistic arrangement of articles on a table!
I am not a party planner, but I do love planning them.  And as you might have guessed my favorite part of the plan is the adornment of the table....after all I'm a decorator and decorating a table top isn't too far off from decorating a room.
Below are some photo's and tips of the Tablescapes I have designed inexpensively for my own home parties!
Outdoor Patio Luncheon Party! 
Choose a theme! Here it's lemons. We floated them in the large green glass urn filled with white gladiolas.

Two colors, one prominent and one as an accent! Lemon leafs were folded into the napkin wrapped plates.
Lemon tree limbs were used as long garlands on the table tops.

Consider contrast to the background color! Chairs are neutral tan like the rock wall allowing only the lemon yellow and green color to pop.
 Garden Brunch!
Let the tablecloth deliver the biggest splash of color and use the 80% to 20% rule.
Here it's green as 80% and hot pink as 20%.

Simple flower vase is clear to support the color theme of green and hot pink.

White chairs pick up the plate color and balances the hot pink against the green.
 Afternoon Wedding Shower!
White, silver and lavender!  The canopy of shade from the oak trees
 allowed the colors to brighten the landscape.

Real dried lavender was gathered, tied and buried in sand filled silver urns as centerpieces!

White linens, white china, white chairs.  Lavender napkins, lavender chair ties, lavender centerpieces. A sprinkling of silver for sunlight reflections!

More silver, not color, adds some glam!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Designing Eye: Picking The Perfect Paint

By Toni Berry
Contra Costa Times Correspondent

Deciding to paint the interior of your home is easy. Deciding what colors to use, not so much -- just ask anyone who has agonized and struggled for hours choosing paint colors only to be disappointed with the end results.
Some hire a decorator to help them choose. Others decide to go it alone. Either way, it can be a bit scary to make color choices unless you know a few simple tips.

  For this Client; The same two colors in the family room and living/dining room were used in the foyer to create harmony. The two wall colors are Benjamin Moore"s "Stone House" and "Tree Moss". And the ceiling, crown molding and baseboards are Linen White throughout.

On the don't list
  • Don't choose colors in a paint store. Colors change drastically depending on the light, so they can look very different in your home. When deciding on colors, make sure to look at them in the space they will be used.
  • Don't forget the ceiling -- it's the fifth wall. A white ceiling may be the best choice, but don't just leave it white by default. A room looks more finished when the ceiling is deliberately painted to coordinate and harmonize with the decor.
  • Don't ignore accessories. While paint is the most common way to add color, incorporating pillows, fabrics, area rugs and other accessories is a great way to add splashes of color and your unique personality.
    The do list
  • Do understand the psychology of color. Colors evoke reactions and affect us physically and mentally. When you understand how colors shape your feelings, you can choose ones that help you feel wonderful in your home.

  • Do create flow from room to room. In most homes, you can stand in one room and see other rooms, so there needs to be a smooth continuity. That doesn't mean you have to paint all the rooms the same color, but the colors need to work together. Carry elements of one room into another. The easiest way to do this is to paint the moldings in all of the rooms in the same color. Another way is to use different shades and intensities of the same color in each room.

  • Do be inspired. If you have a large piece of furniture or a treasured accessory, let it awaken your color creativity. The background color in a piece of art can become your wall color; a favorite antique can inspire the color for pillows; a lampshade can become the molding hue.

  • The most important thing to remember about color is that it should make you feel good. So be courageous and pick some color! And if you need some advice call for a "Color Consultation".  925.862.9064 or email

    Thursday, May 3, 2012

    How Much Time Does It Take To Make A House A Home?

    I’ve heard said, “It takes time to make a house a home”!  And I believe that to be absolutely so.  The photos below are of a home that recently went on the market.  It was not professionally “staged” and yet is sold in one short week and well over the asking price.  Why you ask, keep reading!
     The owners of this home employed my services to help them with the color/paint selection (interiors and exterior), furniture placements and purchases, window shades and draperies, rugs and carpet, hardwood flooring, tile, wood refinishing, wall art, family photos (framing and hanging), kitchen and bath make-overs, lighting, and accessorizing! 

     If I were a celebrity interior designer and on HGTV I may have accomplished and completed this project in a short span of time. But, I am not, and the owners of this home are busy, hardworking people, with 4 children. So this project took years of developing and finishing. Slowly over the course of a decade, the client and I lovingly worked on every square inch of this home. Each year, beginning in 2002, we started and finished several projects. Budget and time permitting the owners would call on me to solve decorating and design problems that they themselves could not. I became familiar with their, style, taste and budget, and that is why this home reflects the family’s character and love of “home”.

     I believe if you stay true to yourself, your values, the things that mean the most to you; it cannot help but show in your home! 

    Now I’m helping this family with the move to their new home, and the process begins again!