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One of my favorite blogs that I read is Things That Inspire. Sarah is the voice behind this interesting design blog and she and I email each other regularly to discuss decorating and blogging and other very important topics. Lately Sarah is wanting to talk about chandeliers and sconces and recently, she wrote an interesting blog about chandeliers. She asked me if I would then write one about sconces because she knows that I, well... really love them! Throughout my house, I currently have seven (!) pairs of lighted sconces. Most of these sconces I picked up at antique stores around town, unelectrified. This isn't really a problem because any reputable lighting store can wire a pair of sconces. Some people prefer to use candles in their sconces instead of lightbulbs, but I'm not one of those. I put low wattage, silicon tipped bulbs (7 wattage) in mine.

Another thing I do is leave my sconces on all the time. I never, ever turn mine off. Dimly lit sconces are wonderful because they're a great mood enhancer in a room. It's very atmospheric to see a low light glowing in a darkened part of a house. Rooms just comes alive when some kind of light is on and sconces are a perfect way to do this. I try to convince clients to leave their sconces on, but this is a battle that I sometimes lose (you know who you are!). They are either scared of fire or the electrical bill. These same people aren't afraid to leave a night light on, but I just can't convince them to leave their sconces lit. One person who really doesn't like to keep sconces on all the time is Ben Webb. But he knows this is one battle not worth taking on and after 20 years of marriage he's learned to live with lit sconces. I'm not going to change my mind about this and so he's resigned to living with "atmospheric lighting."

When decorating, I always try to add sconces to a design plan. Sometimes I've installed them without even telling the client beforehand that it was going to happen. I know that once they are installed and lit, the client is going to be happy, but given a chance to decide ahead of time, they would have said "no." To date, I haven't been asked to remove any yet.

Apparently I'm not the only one obsessed with sconces as their popularity seems to be on the rise. The magazine House Beautiful is running an extensive feature on different types of sconces in this month's issue. There are as many kinds of sconces on the market as there are chandeliers. Many sconces come "matched" with a chandelier, but I personally don't have any of these. I just prefer to have a sconce that looks like it was purchased separately from the chandelier. There are sconces made for the living room and dining room, and there are less dressy sconces made for a den or a porch. Some people prefer sconces in the bathroom as opposed to overhead task lighting. Recently, the owner of a company based in New Orleans, Julie Neill - Illumination for a Well Dressed Life, sent me her list of inventory. Hand made and totally customizable, her gorgeous crystal and hand turned wood chandeliers come with matching sconces. Julie Neill just discovered design blogging a few weeks ago and she is still giddy with excitement over her discovery. If you haven't visited her web site, but sure to do so here.

If you don't have any sconces in your house, take a look at these pictures below and see if the look appeals to you. Most likely you will be in agreement with me that sconces are a wonderful accessory that add a finished touch to any room. If you haven't before, take a chance and install a pair in your house - trust me, you'll be very pleased with the results.

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Julie Neill - Crystal Sconce

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Another Julie Neill - Sconce, 4 arm

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David Iatesta Sconce based on a Swedish design

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Niermann Weeks, 3 arm sconce

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Niermann Weeks again, crystal sconce

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Antique crystal sconce

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Charlotte Moss loves sconces and has them all over her apartment.

Here, 3 arm sconces on mantel

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Charlotte Moss, again, 2 arm sconces frame the mantel

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Client's bedroom with Blanc d ivoire sconces

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Antique sconce with unusual double shade

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Sconce in a foyer lights up the space

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My house - one of two period antique sconces, triple arm, from Tara Shaw

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Triple arm sconces surround a fireplace

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Ultra contemporary sconce

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Client's house with antique sconces in dining room

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One of two antique sconces in a living room

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Carolyn Roehm's bedroom with candle sconces

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Antique sconces light up a powder room

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Entry hall with contemporary sconces

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Sconces balanced on either side of armoire in a living room

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Sconces in master bathroom

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Dining room with sconces over buffet

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Contemporary sconces with red shades

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Dining room sconces frame silk curtains

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Another dining room with sconces

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Here, candle lit sconces over an antique mantel

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My house: these iron sconces complement the wood turned chandelier

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Brass candle lit sconces balance window seat

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Large wood sconces frame living room sofa

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Double tiered sconce

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Here, lantern type sconces light a powder room

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My house - large triple arm iron sconces frame a desk

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A sconce in a bath tub enclosure provides the atmosphere

Summit Talks


On Saturday, Blogger Cote de Texas welcomed All The Best's Ms. Ronda Carmon to Houston to discuss blogging, design, publishing, and other important topics. The summit meeting, held in Southampton, Houston's Museum District, lasted approximately two hours over lunch. In a sign of solidarity, the two parties both ordered the same dish: crab cakes with chicken noodle soup.

Over the course of lunch, it was discovered that the two bloggers share the same politics and the same feelings about the current administration. Whoop!!

Following a quick shopping trip to M. Naeve, the two parted, promising to rendezvous at another summit, date to be determined by their social secretaries. At an impromptu press conference held outside M. Naeve, Cote de Texas stated that All The Best was sweet, friendly, very pretty, easy to talk to, warm, and politically - very smart! All The Best is heading back to Scotland soon, while Cote De Texas headed off to an appointed with a client.
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My 50th birthday rolled by 3 years ago and now, it's that time again on the 20th. To my complete and utter surprise, two of my favorite blogging friends conspired to wish me a happy birthday in a most creative way, or course! Patricia Gray, the fabulous Canadian interior designer of Architectural Digest fame, asked Ronda Carmon of the delightful AND informative All The Best to contact Ronda's new friend and artist, Patricia van Essche of PVE Designs. Ronda asked PVE to design something special for my birthday and, wow, did she ever: her watercolor completely captures Cote De Texas and me.

If you look closely, you can see my Springer Georgie and also, my baby Cavalier Sammi Jo sleeping on a French chair. There's a Texas armadillo (how did PVE know about my Armadillo days in Austin all those years ago????). I love the flowery urn and the French wine and cheese. A starfish hails all the from South Padre Island. PVE even managed to draw my design books in. I can't remember ever receiving another gift as creative as this and I'm anxiously awaiting the watercolor's arrival.

PVE is available for custom watercolors. Besides her character studies, she does delightful paintings of homes. Be sure to visit her web site and check out her work. Ronda and PVE rendezvoused this fall in NYC and Ronda has nothing but praise for Patricia. She described her to me as a lovely woman, extremely warm and caring, well mannered in the Southern way, and an absolute pleasure to be with!

To Patricia Gray and Ronda: I owe you both a big one! Somehow I'll repay you in kind one day. You helped make this one of my best birthdays ever. I felt so loved by your gift and just walked on air all day yesterday.

Houston House and Home

What is this doing in my den? I usually don't show old home movies on Monday mornings!

Who are these people and why are they studying a computer in my kitchen?

And now, they are eating - don't they know I don't entertain except for my two family holidays - Hanukkah and Father's Day????

The story of these pictures is this: A short while ago, the editor of Houston's oldest shelter magazine, Houston House and Home stumbled upon my blog while googling different Houston interior designers. Linda Barth, the editor, lurked on my blog for awhile and then emailed unsuspecting me one day. Would I, she politely asked, allow her to come invade me privacy and the sanctity of my home, to determine if her magazine would be interested in plastering pictures of my house all over the Houston area? Would I? My first inclination was to say no and I had many reasons why, with which I tried, unsuccessfully, to convince Linda not to photograph my house. My reasons against: my house is too small, it's not a new Mac Mansion, there aren't a lot rooms to shoot, I'm too shy, I don't seek out publicity, you won't like it, the floors need refinishing, I'm in the middle of updating the hardware, and on and on. The editor lady was unmoved by my excuses: we like small houses she claimed! This cat and mouse game went on all week, until finally I reluctantly relented and Ms. Barth arrived for the scouting shoot. The next day, she emailed me to say that her committee did indeed want to feature my home in the next issue and probably wanted to put my guest room on the cover. My guest room? OMG, you've got to be kidding me! You mean the room with the silk headboard that has a huge grease stain front and center from my husband's hair? That guest room? They must be nuts, I muttered to myself.

So, the good news, I suppose, was that I had been accepted by some "committee," the bad news was I had exactly one week to get my home "photo ready." I was totally overwhelmed by this news, but my family was ecstatic and promised to help me clean it up, which I knew would be a lie (it was.) There was so much to do to get my house "photo ready" - two words I would come to loathe. The list of rooms that couldn't be photographed was growing: my office is such a disaster even I hate to go in there, my daughter's room is a typical teenage mess, the kitchen, with it's outdated appliances, has new pewter hardware clashing with the brass plumbing fixtures which are awaiting their turn to be replaced. This same problem affected all the bathrooms. My decorating crises didn't leave too many rooms "photo ready"so I had to get the rest of my house in tip top shape and fast. Like most people whom I sure don't have "photo ready" rooms, my house is filled with the clutter of everyday life: piles and piles of unopened junk mail, back issues of unread magazines stashed everywhere, an overcrowded garage -- not that they would want to photograph my garage, but after the grease-stained headboard cover story, who knew? In other words, my to-do list was very, very long, so long that I dreamed of calling the magazine to cancel. My suddenly publicity hungry husband threatened me with divorce if I did. And so, I proceeded on to d-day.

In order to make it "photo ready" I did major spring cleaning in the fall. I moved my televisions, phones, radios and anything with a vile electrical cord into the garage. Bookshelves which have remained the same for years were rearranged. Stylish vignettes magically appeared out of scattered nick-nacks. In short, every inch of my house was cleaned, arranged, polished, dusted, or painted in order to become the dreaded "photo-ready." God forbid Houstonians see my house and how we live with any degree of realism. At a mad, frantic pace, I stuffed my already overloaded garage with the flotsam and jetsam of every day living. Baskets of throws and magazines were banished there, along with computers and work files and anything else that wasn't "designer." My guest room got a HGTV instant redo with the help of Restoration Hardware, my daughter was forced to hang up her clothes, I had a bench and chair slipcovered overnight in Chappell Hill via a series of stealth maneuvers that the Army would envy. I had my workroom rush a pillow order for the den, only to loathe them on sight. Thankfully Daniel at Area provided the backups I needed. With all this work going on, I didn't sleep much that week. And there was more. My "regulars" disappointed me: the window washers managed to clean the outside of the panes, but vanished before doing the inside. My gardener promised to bring me fresh annuals for the patio, only to show up the day after the shoot laden with a gorgeous array of fall flowers. I moved around every accessory I owned and discovered such dust that even my housekeeper was disgusted. And finally when I announced I would be kenneling my two dogs for the big day, I was told: No, don't, we LOVE dogs! How true I would find this to be.

In the end, the dreaded Monday came and went, and I found I actually enjoyed the experience. For instance, the crew was professional but fun. Milo, the red headed Croatian photographer was the sweetest, kindest man whom I plan to use in the future. The art director was hysterically funny and put me at ease when he promised to "vertically" stretch my photograph to melt away my extra pounds. The editor, Linda, who's fault this all was, could not have been nicer. She was supportive and complimentary to a fault, all the while orchestrating the shoot efficiently and with much grace.

All that was left to do now, was to wait for the magazine to come out. It was a fast shoot and I was lucky the wait wouldn't be long. In the interim, Linda emailed me my quotes to verify, which absolutely horrified me: did I really say THAT? How pompous, how obnoxious! She asked me to go over the photo's captions and together we came up with a short list of resources. I learned so much more than I expected to from the process, about photography and wide angle lenses (the key to great design photos) and I learned that maybe I was not quite as shy as I thought. Yesterday, the magazine finally arrived on the stands. I was waiting in line at the bagel shop when I spied its cover - a picture of two darling dogs on the cover of the new Houston House and Garden. My dogs! They looked so adorable - their coloring even matched the decor - but I knew how tortured they had been that day, asked to perform and do things they've never been asked to do before. Looking at the cover picture though (the guest room didn't make the cut), all I saw, and all anyone will see, are the two most beautiful dogs in the world sitting in a "photo ready," just-OK decorated den and that's OK with me!

To see the entire article online, click here. If you would like a copy of the magazine, email me your mailing address and I'll get one out to you. Hey, this is my one and only shot at fame, and I'm pretty excited about it!

The Cover Shot!

My Marrakesh, My Maryam


My Marrakesh is one of my favorite blogs. If you aren't familiar with this blog, you should be. It is written by the adorable and quite beautiful Maryam, a warm, sweet, funny and loving woman who moved to Marrakesh some years ago and continues to live there with her husband and son and daughter. Maryam, American by birth, is a social activist - a human rights and democracy specialist. She is also a writer of much acclaim, and a very, very popular blogger. She has thousands of readers who adore her infectious style of third person prose. Her readers check in regularly to share in her adventures in Marrakesh and in her exotic travels to Africa, the Middle East, and India, to name a few.

Right now Maryam and are husband are in the process of building guest houses on their fragrant olive tree-filled property. The Peacock Pavilions, as the guesthouses are to be called, are named after their numerous pet peacocks. Maryam's husband is the architect of the Moroccan styled guest houses and the building process has been a combination of love, hard work, obsession, and desire. It's been a long road getting them up and ready for business and they're almost through. Maryam is tired and anxious and ready to greet her guests. She's in need of a little TLC right now. Recently, her blog was nominated for Best Blog of 2007, International Division. Voting closes on Thursday and currently she's in second place. Would you please consider voting for her - she could use a "lift" right now. You can vote once every 24 hours, so hopefully you can get two votes in before it closes. Click HERE to vote. On top of all her accomplishments, Maryam is a wonderful photographer. Her blog is filled with her shots of Morocco and of her travels. I've pulled some of my favorites off her blog to share her exotic life with you. Enjoy!!! (All pictures are copyrighted by Maryam.)

Beautiful bougainvillea in Morocco.

A candle lit table set for dinner.

A Moroccan door.

One of my favorite pictures that Maryam's taken.

Twin caravans.

Famous Moroccan roses.

A pet peacock.

Maryam's daughter trying on saris.

A guest house in Morocco.

An exotic mannequin.

Tiles which Morocco are famous for.

A bazaar and tapestries.

Maryam likes to take pictures of her adorable, bunion-less bare feet (I'm jealous!).

Ready for a party in exotic sandals.

I love the color of her men's Moroccan shoes against the black and white striped rug.

I told you she likes to take pictures of her bare feet!

Aw, the beautiful couple at their wedding.

Please be sure to visit My Marrakesh and please vote today, here.