Thursday, November 7, 2013

Mood Swings? Might be caused by your home!

Emotionally speaking, our homes play a bigger part in how we feel than we may think. It doesn't matter how good each piece looks. If it isn't functioning properly as a whole, we're just not comfortable.
In this once gloomy living room/dining room, heavy draperies have been removed to admit more natural light; the sofa, chairs and coffee table have been regrouped to create a conversation area; lots of pillows were added to make the space more inviting; and a dark, patterned area rug was taken out to uncover the off-white carpeting, which reflects more light.
That became painfully obvious at our house last month, when all at once our toilets quit working due to septic problems; our microwave wouldn't heat anything up; and some of our lighting fixtures went on the blink.
Happening suddenly and simultaneously, those problems got me down. But now that these things have been fixed, my outlook is much better. The experience got me thinking: The mood we experience almost subliminally in our homes affects how we feel.
Here are some ideas about how to lighten the mood at your place -- after taking care of any major problems like the ones I had.
In the dining end of this combination living room/dining room, the table has been set at an angle to open up access to the kitchen; heavy draperies have been taken down to admit more daylight; a dark area rug has been removed to allow the off-white carpeting to reflect light; and the entire space has been de-cluttered.

1. Let there be light. If your space doesn't have optimal lighting, here are some small improvements you can make: Add mirrors, open blinds, use lighter material for curtains, put a light-colored area rug under the furniture and use brighter, more energy-efficient lamps on tables, in the ceiling or both.
2. Change up traffic patterns. Observe how traffic flows in your space. If the flow is poor, move your furniture. Place it at an angle; create a conversation nook; move your sofa away from the wall so you can move behind it.
3. Do a thorough cleaning. Sometimes what gets us down is a buildup of grime and gunk. Tackle one space at a time: Clean the top of just one table, then just one bookshelf, and so on. And don't forget carpets, linens, blinds and the tops of ceiling fans.
4. Weed things out. If you don't love something, use it often or attach sentimental value to it, get rid of it.
5. Create some DIY time. Contributing to your living space can give you a sense of pride and responsibility. The change needn't be huge. Fix a dripping faucet, recover a pillow or change a light fixture.
Remember, it's not just about decorating; it's the TLC we give our homes that makes us feel great!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What's Your Style, Take A Quiz To Find Out!

Do you know what decorating style best describes you? If you've ever wanted to know for sure, I have discovered how you can find out and have a little fun doing it. Just go to and take this little on-line quiz. Its easy and very visual- you simply take a look at a series of photos of rooms and give your reaction to each ranging from hate to love, and it analyzes your style based on your answers.
After taking the quiz myself, it said my personal style was mostly Classic and Traditional. I was skeptical of the quiz at first but I have to admit, it was right on the money. Here's how they accurately describe my Classic taste or style in room design;
"What's old is new again! The beauty of Classic style is how well it takes all of the beautiful forms, colors and textures of the past and reinvents them in a way that feels both fresh and inspired.The style itself is a mix of European influences, French, English, Italian antiques and replicas are often used together. Furniture is well proportioned and comfortable and the rooms give off an air of sophistication and grace. Oil paintings depicting still- life or nature scenes and emphasizing symmetry of pairs helps maintain the traditional nature of the room. Windows are often covered with opulent fabric shades and/or drapery.Traditional rooms give off an air of history that seems to say "I was here long before you, and will remain long after you've gone." And yet, even with this level of sophistication, the rooms are soft and inviting."And its true, I love mixing old antiques with modern furnishings. I love beautiful fabrics at the windows and spread all over the room. And most of all I love to show off my European, Italian heritage in my rooms. I believe every room in my home should have a little "Italian" something in it, just for fun!
Go ahead, take the quiz, you might be surprised at the results!

Want to do a room in your home in your "decorating style"? Call or email me to make an appointment for a free 15 minute phone consultation!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Drapery Panels In Printed Fabric Finish The Room

Dear Toni,
Help!!! We just up-dated our living room BUT it still doesn’t look finished.  What have I done wrong? We started by painting the walls a light sand color which we love. Then we purchased a sand colored area rug that we placed over the sandy colored tile floor and are happy with that too. We also added a large brown leather sectional sofa and brown coffee and end tables.  We added white shutters on our windows for privacy. But it all looks so bland and sterile, what can I do to make it feel warm, pulled together and finished?  Thanks for your answer….

Dear Reader,
As far as I can tell, without actually seeing the room, you need something to pull all those solid colors together! And the best solution at this point is to use a printed fabric for some much needed drapery panels at the windows and an assortment of pillows! 

Photo by Tennille Wood of Beautiful Habitat: Interior Design & Decoration
Choose a fabric that has a light background with brown, sand, and one other pop color like blue for example. See the photo that perfectly illustrates this*; these panels don’t necessarily need to operate as you already have the shutters preforming that task.  Place them to hang from some lovely short rods at each side of your windows.  And given there is so much brown and sand color in the room already,  use the solid blue fabric on the edge of each panel to really infuse and deliver the added color to the room.  This decorating principle also balances the colors throughout the room.

The large brown leather sectional can be made more interesting and less expansive by adding lots of pillows.  Try to make at least 3 of them a fabric similar in color and texture to the drapery panels.  The rest of the pillows can be sand and blue solid in color, giving the sofa a lush lift by adding color and texture.

A decorating tip of mine is to  first start with a printed fabric, then select the rest of the soft furnishings and paint accordingly.  But sometimes doing it in reverse, as I’ve done here for you, will  still give fabulous results.  Just imagine the room above without the drapery panels and pillows.  Pretty blah wouldn't you agree?  But with the drapery panels and pillows in a nice print, it has that pulled together and finished look that feels complete!
*Photo courtesy of my colleague Tennille Wood of Beautiful Habitat: Interior Design & Decoration

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

How To Camouflage The TV

The Dilemma

Hi Toni, We have a fireplace with two white book case cabinets on each side. Our problem is our TV stands out like a big black rectangle? We are not sure if we want to install it over the fireplace because we like it where it is. It just looks so one sided and unbalanced. Can you find a solution to this problem?

Photos by Anne Tuckley HOME
The Answer
My first line of defense is "Paint"! It's the easiest and most cost effective solution as well. By simply painting the back walls of the bookcases a charcoal color the TV will disappear within the space. One of my favorite wall colors for purposes like this is Benjamin Moore's Kendall Charcoal HC-166 in matte sheen. I recommend painting the back walls of both flanking bookcases to give balance and continuity to the entire elevation.
As you can see from the photos, the eye is really drawn to the center, the fireplace...and not the TV.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Ohlone College Interior Design Students Show Their Talents

I’ve been a decorator/designer all of my life it seems.  But the real Interior Design seed was planted many years ago while studying Fashion Merchandising at Ohlone College.  I took one introduction course to satisfy an art requirement and I was hooked and still am to this day!  I love Interior Design and Decorating and the fabric component which goes along with it.

Room Design Illustration Board by student
Residential Remodel and Addition Board by student.
 I presently sit on the Ohlone College Interior Design Advisory Committee.  It gives me great satisfaction to be able to help the faculty of the Interior Design Department to creatively shape and develop the courses of study (from a “design practice/business” perspective) for the present curriculum.   The students there have a superb, fully stocked, studio and lab set up where they actively work on projects.
Fabric Book Samples in the Interior Design Lab/Studio.
Donated by Marie Antoinette Interiors
In May these students had a show displaying their creative work in the Louie Meager Art Gallery on the Ohlone Campus.  Here are some photos of event that I had the privilege of attending.  
Student Show at Louie Meager Art Gallery on the Ohlone Campus.
I was so impressed at the range and scope of their talent.  I was also very proud of all the hard work I know went into each and every one of their projects. 
Hand Woven Textiles on display by students.
Check out the student's on line design and presentation boards...Bravo students of Ohlone!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Pick The Right Color The First Time!

Save 25% on Paint ~ Color Consultations

Need help choosing the right paint colors?
Like to see them in your home not the paint store?
Let me confidently select the colors based on your interiors, your preferences and your lifestyle with 20+ years of expertise.

A Paint Color Consultation can save you lots of money and the agony of a re-do!
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*Toni Berry is the Color Consultant for the Bay Areas leading Painting Contractors and their clients.     

Thursday, April 11, 2013

How To Add 2013's Color Of The Year To Your Home

When Pantone LLC announced that emerald green was its Color of the Year for 2013, reaction among designers and interior consultants was mixed. I was one who applauded them!

The company, Pantone, which creates and matches colors for the home and fashion industries, picks a top hue each year based on current use and expected continued popularity.

For me, emerald green’s boldness means it should be used only as an accent. My experience tells me you either love it or hate it. Greens have been strong for a while because of interest in nature, Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of Pantone’s research arm known as the Pantone Color Institute, has said. She calls green “a color of growth, renewal, healing, unity and regeneration.”

So can you decorate with emerald green without becoming overwhelmed by it? Yes you can but you’ve got to be careful.  There’s no getting around it, emerald is flat-out dramatic. Which means its best used in small doses, as accessories.  

For those liking the color enough to consider paint, I suggest this; True emerald should go in tiny spaces like foyers or powder rooms, and then dining rooms, which always benefit from a theatrical touch. But it’s too harsh a color for rooms in which you linger in my opinion.

In contrast to any other color family, the human eye perceives that no two greens clash. This is because we’re accustomed to seeing every variant of green coexisting harmoniously in nature so it’s perfect for accessories like pillows, table top accessories, lamps, dish and stone ware and of course draperies .
Want to add a little or a lot of green to your space?  Call for a Color Consultation!
925.862.9064 or email

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Lets Just Wing It, Shall We?

Not your Granny's Wing-Back Chair!

As a child I remember seeing these chairs in family friends home. I loved to curl up in them to enjoy the cozy feeling the side wings gave me. I didn’t know then that these chairs were called “Wing-Back” chairs. We didn't have one in our home so they seemed very stylish to me.  When I married years later and had to buy our first upholstered arm chair I knew instantly that this was the style of chair I wanted.  I bought mine at a tag-sale for $20.00 and re-upholstered it myself in a camel colored velvet.  I loved using it in almost every room in the house!

The Wikipedia describes it this way; a wing chair (also, wing-back chair or wing-back) is an easy chair or club chair with "wings" mounted to the back of the chair typically but not always stretching down to the arm rest. The purpose of which was to enclose the head or torso areas of the body in order to provide comfortable protection from drafts, and to trap the heat from a fireplace in the area where the person would be sitting. Hence, in historic times these are often used near a fireplace. Currently most examples of wing chairs are fully upholstered with exposed wood legs, but, many of the oldest wing chair examples have an exposed frame with padded cushions at the seat, arm rests, back and sometimes wings.
Perfect a dining room ambiance.

These days this chair is making a huge comeback and it is seen in virtually every home décor magazine.  Lots of different variations on styling and in every imaginable fabric color and print.

Decorating Tips; Use them in pairs with one round foot stool for both.  Placed flanking the fireplace or a credenza it makes a fabulous focal point for the room.
For an interesting look some come in two different fabrics. One fabric or leather (a solid) on the inside of the chair back and seat and a different fabric (a large print) on the outside back and arms. Some are available as recliners; done in leather they add a masculine touch to a family or living room. 
And to add a sense of Old World style to the bedroom, many Wing-Back Beds are available as well. Sometimes called“Shelter” Beds they have the same qualities and style as the chair.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


The key to every well-dressed woman or man’s wardrobe are the accessories!  And so it is true also for the interiors of any room.  You can spend many laborious hours with the selection and placement of what I call “the bones”, or the furniture, but the rooms will just NOT look truly finished if they are not accessorized.

A silver mirror updates a 80's bathroom. Hung right on top of the plate wall mirror!
One of the accessories I like to use in designs are Mirrors, here are 5 ways to mirrors as accessories in your home with great success and results;
1. Use a mirror as a focal point. Whether over a buffet table (to add drama to a dining area), on top of a fireplace mantle (to add width and height), or over a bed (to add romance and charm), a mirror can be a stunning star. After placing your mirror, dress up the focal point area. For living or dining rooms, flank the mirror with matching candle holders or floral arrangements.
Small living space suddenly doubles in width by artfully placing the mirrors!
2. If you wall is wide, be sure the mirror is as well. Or to fill a very wide wall you can use many mirrors placed in a symmetrical pattern to make a dramatic statement and enlarge the room. Traditional spaces do well with chunky frames in burnished gold finishes. Modern spaces should have sleek frames in smooth finishes or with a geometric styling.  
3. Use mirrors to expand a small space. They work wonders in entryways to keep the area from seeming too narrow or cramped. Place a large wall mirror in an especially small guest room to open it up. Or do mirrors in pairs leaning against the wall to double the square footage of the room visually.  Always secure them to the wall for safety.
4. Use a small mirror on a table as part of a centerpiece when entertaining. Select an unusually shaped frame such as an octagon, oval, or circle. Place it in the center of the table, and layer it with items of color and texture, or top it with candles and glass beads. Dim the lights and celebrate the evening with sparkling beverages and hors d'oevres.

5. Position your mirrors for good reflections. Check to make sure what you see in the mirror is a great sample of color, texture, and favorable design elements. Avoid eyesore reflections such as air conditioning vents, one blade of a ceiling fan, a random section of molding, or a window that throws off a glare. Aim for mirroring a window with a view, artwork, greenery, a nice display of accessories, or an open space that represents good design.
Our favorite mirror "the leaner"!
When your mirrors are used correctly and creatively as a key accessory, your room will be the fairest one of all.