Noted Author: Diane Dorrans Saeks



Do you have a favorite design book?   I know, I know, there are so many design books available that it is hard to pick a favorite.  But, it didn't used to be that way.   In the past there were much, much fewer design books published.   Today, the market for these beautiful books has exploded and it seems every well known interior designer has his own book.  My collection of design books was once manageable.  Now I have literally run out of space to store all my books - there are stacks of them in  my garage waiting for some miracle like a gorgeous two-story library to suddenly appear in my house.   What are my favorites?    The list would be long.



An early design book that I absolutely loved was California Cottages, written in 1996.  



image This small book is filled with pictures of charming California houses.  



image I remember I particularly loved these chairs!!! 




The year 1997 brought this book – I devoured it – cover to cover and then over again.  This book was a favorite for years and years.  



And of course, a more recent book – Elements of Style – is now in its 8th printing which is a huge feat in design books.   All these books I have mentioned have one thing in common – they were written by San Francisco author Diane Dorrans Saeks. 



imageimage Above are Diane’s books.   How many do you own?   I was surprised how many I actually had myself!  Besides writing books, Diane writes for many publications.   She is currently working on two new book titles.  And Diane still has time to write a wonderful blog, The Style Saloniste HERE 



image The author, Diane Dorrans Saeks.   Our honored guest this week on The Skirted Roundtable.   She is an intelligent and fascinating woman.  Be sure to listen HERE.


As always, your support and comments are very, very much appreciated.

A Little Blog Lovin’



image Trish’s backyard – showing her lavender garden.  Isn’t this the most beautiful photograph?


I’ve mentioned before that one of my favorite blogs is Trouvais.   The first time I stumbled upon it – I stayed there for an entire night just salivating over all of Trish’s photographs.   This photo, above,  of her lavender garden just killed me!   OMG!!!  So unbelievable that someone lives with a backyard like this.   I immediately emailed Trish, asking her how to grow lavender.    Trish is a die hard romantic and her blog reflects this.   It is not only pure eye candy, but, also educational.   She is interested in the most beautiful and intriguing things, like old uniforms, clothing and shoes from the 18th century, manuscripts written in French, grisaille – anything!    Story after story on Trouvais is a visual treat.

So,  you can imagine,  how humbled and honored I was when Trish wrote a story about Cote de Texas.   What’s so funny about this, is the first time I was on Trouvais, I almost gave up writing Cote de Texas altogether.   Trouvais is the blog I wished I wrote.  It has a consistent aesthetic quality to it that I greatly admire and aspire to.   Please visit Trouvais HERE to read her story about Cote de Texas.   It was interesting reading the article myself – I didn’t remember writing half the stories she chose to highlight!

Below are a few of my favorite images that Trish has posted on Trouvais – these were all taken by her, at her home.  Notice that she is great photostylist. 



This photograph shows a dinner table Trish set up in her back yard.



image Besides lavender, Trish grows gorgeous peonies and roses.



image The old debate between books you read and books you buy to display!




Trish’s entry hall.  This looks like a photograph from Cote de Sud magazine.



 image When I first saw this photograph, I was so jealous of Trish’s fireplace!




 I love this image of Trish’s collection of zinc finials




A vignette from Trish’s kitchen.



   imageA view to the outside at Trish’s house.    So beautiful. 



image Another photograph of Trish’s lavender garden. No, this is not in Provence!


Thank you again, Trish, so much!  You are so sweet!   To read the article about Cote de Texas on Trouvais, go HERE.

Reader’s Remodeled Kitchen




BEFORE:   Reader’s kitchen before her remodeling.  Actually, this kitchen is truly charming as is.  That stove!!!!  It is the owner’s grandmother’s original Chambers!


Emails, I get emails!!   I recently got this email from a reader in Ft. Worth, Texas.  Here’s what she had to say:


I love your website and pored over Kitchen Design elements for months. I wrote you once about using white marble. I wanted it but was worried about caring for it. You were so nice and wrote me back and told me to go for it - get what I love - life is short. So I did!  I put honed Absolute Black on the one side and honed Carrara on the other. Our kitchen is still small -we could not get more out of the space, but we gutted it, made the door to the dining room larger, new electrical, new Pella windows, doors, hardwood floor to match the rest of our house. Out with my grandmothers Chambers stove and a new "baby" Viking to fit my small space and other new stainless appliances, THE gorgeous Shaw sink, polished nickel Perrin and Rowe bridge faucet, new cabinets, hardware and light farmhouse lights. I took all my furniture out of my dining room that I hated and we added another window. I hung some little sconces from Wisteria- best I can do till I get more money.  I guess in 10 years they will say - remember all those white marble kitchens? I think I will never get tired of it.

image AFTER:  Here is the same view – hard to believe it is the same space!!!  Notice the owner used black granite and white marble together!!


image Looking the other way – at the sink area.  The space is very small, but it is very functional.  I prefer small kitchens myself.   By using a combination range instead of a cooktop and wall ovens – the homeowner saved space. 



I love the cabinetry and the hardware.  Of course, the Shaw’s sink and the Perrin and Rowe bridge faucet are my favorites.  I used those two elements in my own kitchen.  I think they are so gorgeous.



The dining room opens off the kitchen. 


image The dining room used to be red, but the owner painted it a light yellow.  The chairs are from her grandmother and there are two different styles – repainted white, they blend together.   The prints had not been hung when she sent me these pictures.


image I love the white marble and I love the stainless appliances.   I said that I chose my appliances for their pretty handles and it looks like the homeowner did the same thing – I love the handles on her refrigerator and the dishwasher. 

Thank you so much to the homeowner for sending in these pictures!  You did a great job!!!!

A Giveaway To End ALL Giveaways!!!!




OK, I’ve been teasing you about this giveaway to end all giveaways, and here it finally is.   Above is a picture of my neighbor’s house that I worked on this year.  The giveaway item is located in this room!  Which item would YOU like the giveaway to be????  Hmmm????  Care to guess?





Here’s a clue.  The giveaway item is located in this picture!!!  Care to guess, now???






OK OK OK!!  Here it is!!!  The giveaway to end all giveaways is this lantern from BROWN, located in Houston.  It’s the exact lantern I used in my client’s breakfast room and it is GORGEOUS!!!!!!!   The lantern comes in small and large – and the winner will receive the LARGE one – with a retail value of $1,500!   How nice is that of Jill Brown, owner of BROWN?????   I am still stunned by Jill’s generosity.  Well, not really.  Jill is one of the nicest peeps I know.  Truly, truly nice.  She has this aura of niceness that surrounds her face, I swear!!!  




Remember when I did a story about Jill’s unique and wonderful house HERE?




image Jill’s store BROWN is one of my favorite haunts in Houston.  



image It is filled with things she buys overseas in Belgium and France along with things she finds in the United States.  Some merchandise is antique, some is new. 



image You never know what you will find in her shop.  But it will be fabulous, that’s for sure!  Jill designs her own incredible lighting line – something she specializes in.



Last year she had a party for Garden & Gun magazine.   The decorations were wonderful!  Read all about that party HERE.  I love that painted floor!



image The best part of the Garden & Gun party were the party favors that she placed on BROWN’S front porch, set up like a country store.   She’s so creative and generous!!  I took home a few of the gifts myself!  hehe. 




So, how do you go about winning this $1,500. lantern?   Simple.  Just go visit Jill’s 1st Dibs store.  Look at all her things for sale, and pick out something you would want – money no object!  Come back and leave me a comment telling me which object you would choose!  That’s it!!!

I’ll pick a winner on FRIDAY!!!   So hurry up – visit her shop HERE, then leave me a comment.  That’s all you have to do.   NOTE:  If you post anonymously, be sure to leave your email address, just in case you win.

Good luck – and Jill:  thank you sooo very, very much, from the bottom of my heart!!!!  I love you!!

To visit BROWN’S web site, go HERE.   To enter the contest, first visit Jill’s 1st dibs store HERE.

No Excuses Allowed!!



I’ve said the same thing so many times on The Skirted Roundtable that Megan and Linda both groan and say “not again”  whenever I bring the subject up.  But it’s true:   The IKEA slipcovered sofa is the best deal out there!!   There are SO many great looking design options today for those just starting out or for those just starting over.    I only wish I had had all these choices when I was decorating my first apartment – some thirty-five years ago.  Maybe then my apartment wouldn’t have looked like this:




OK, quit laughing!!!!  This was a loooooong time ago and I was a poor, single, 20-something secretary.  I wrote about my gorgeous space HERE if you want to really crack yourself up.   This picture makes me want to cry actually.   As you can see, I could have used  those IKEA sofas.   In truth, back then I desperately wanted white love seats – but no one made slipcovers in the 70s, and keeping white sofas clean is impossible unless they are slipped.  So, I settled for the next best thing – cream colored sofas in some type of hideous stain resistant fabric that felt like Velcro!! 

Which is why I say it over and over again until Megan and Linda want to slug me or gag me:  if I was starting out today, or if I was furnishing a vacation house, I would run to IKEA and buy their slipcovered sofa in white – for $399.    I’ve spent more out on a dinner at a nice place, and we all know where that money ends up – in the toilet!    Instead of spending $399.00 on a fancy meal or a dress you might wear once or twice, you could own a decent, long wearing sofa, with a white cotton slipcover, no less!   There is just no excuse anymore for not having a good looking home because today, there are so many cost friendly choices available.



$399 IKEA sofa, slipcovered in white cotton.  Of course, it also comes in different colors – like black, navy blue, and my new favorite – gray!  The other colors are a little more expensive at $499.00 – but still, that is dirt cheap.




BEMZ:   Ready-made slipcovers for IKEA sofas


Since I am so in love with the IKEA slipcovered sofa, I was thrilled to get a press release from Bemz, the company who make ready made slipcovers for IKEA furniture.    Bemz has recently come out with a new line of Belgian linen fabric slips, which they call their “Loose Fit Country” line.   Bemz is a located in Sweden, but shipping is only $20.00 to the United States.     Prices for the regular Bemz slipcovers are less than the new Belgian linen, but at $482, for a three seater sofa, you can up the quality of your IKEA sofa tremendously.    I love the look of the Bemz slipcover with the hems slightly draping on the floor.  And nothing beats 100% Belgian linen for beauty.  




This IKEA dining room chair is only $79.99 and is another candidate for a Bemz slipcover in the white Belgian linen.




These Bemz linen slips are $122.   All of the Bemz Belgian linen slips come in white, linen, brown, and gray options.  




This Bemz slipcover is softly pleated – another option.



What else is looking good these days at IKEA?    For just $299.00,  I noticed they FINALLY came out with a chaise without an arm!   Wouldn’t two of these be great looking, flanking a big stone fireplace in a cabin on a lake????  






For $349 – I love it in the gray.  I would mix the gray slips with the white slips, especially since the fabrics are solid.   The gray slips would look especially great in a room painted dark gray on the walls with white painted floors.





IKEA:  Just $99.00  in white, $149. in other colors.   You could pair two of these to make a great coffee table - or you could even do them in another color – like the gray for a contrast with the white sofa, or the navy blue if you were designing a beach house. 




Here is IKEA’s version of the white slipcovers mixed with the gray.  And notice the gray walls and the great sheer gray curtains.  




Real Life:  One of my favorite bloggers, Holly from Life in the Fun Lane, bought her IKEA sectional on Craig’s List for just  a song.   I love her house – all dark, dark hardwoods and everything else is white!!!





 More Real Life:  The IKEA slipped ottoman.  From Pink and Polka Dot blog HERE.



More Real Life:  The Style Sisters blog HERE with a red slipped Ikea sofa and the matching chair in blue and white stripes.  So cute!!!




More Real Life:  Just Beachy, HERE,  another favorite blog of mine, recently updated her IKEA sofa with a new slip from IKEA. 




When I wrote about gray wicker, style icon Jill Brinson left a comment saying she bought 3 car loads of the gray wicker at IKEA!   For just $59, I would do the same thing – this basket is fabulous.   Again, two of these would make great coffee tables or – you could stack them up a wall, put them underneath a console, use them in front of beds,  or have cushions made for the tops of them.   They are almost 20” tall! 





These baskets from IKEA are just $16.00, but they are also large at 17” x 21”.    I would fill up bookcases with these, use them in bathrooms, on tables, on top or underneath consoles – the uses are endless, and they are so great looking and soooo cheap and soooo gray!!!!    





These IKEA lanterns come in two sizes, large for $14.99 at 17” and smaller for $6.99.    These would be great electrified and used over a kitchen island, flanking sinks and mirrors, on top of consoles and coffee tables, and used indoors and out.





IKEA:  18” of great design for only $2.99.  I would bring these inside and use in pairs. 



For $299., I would add a genuine cowhide layered over seagrass.   Great price, of course – but in the Sunday paper, they said these are on sale for $99!!!!!!  Check this out before you go though.



A quick check of other catalogues shows a few new items with great looks, and cheap prices.  Now, for sure, Wisteria is much more expensive than IKEA, but their prices are still very affordable compared to what the stores charge.   This new item has great appeal  - trendy nail heads, love the arms, and at $1,149.00 – the price is still great. 





I LOVE this accent chair with the Suzani upholstery.   At $600 from Wisteria – the fabric alone is worth the price.





Wisteria:   This is a huge mirror, at 44"w  x 75.4"h.   Just $449.00.   If this price is out of your range, just wait.  Wisteria always has the best sales.  Even at regular price, this is a lot of look for the money.



Another Wisteria look – love this striped dhurri in apple green!  Refreshing change from the usual blue and white.  Starts at $499.  I would layer the smaller size over seagrass.  This sofa is a great look too – love it’s scalloped back and tall arms. 




Real life examples showing Wisteria bought products – here Trish from the beautiful blog Trouvais pairs the Wisteria zinc altar with a cloche and the Wisteria book boxes.   Trish is such a great stylist – everything here looks antique as opposed to coming from a catalogue.   The cross shadow box is $79 and the book box is $44 and $49.   Wisteria also sell the cloches.  



Here Trish from Trouvais shows the Wisteria sunburst mirror she bought sitting on top of a signed, 18th century settee she found.  I love her concrete balls too!!  Trish actually applied some gold paint to the mirror to make it more gilded.   Wisteria $149.  



More real life Wisteria:  in my daughter’s bedroom, I used the Wisteria chaise longue - $1,119.00, which I had slipcovered in white linen.  It comes in a natural linen.   Also, I used Wisteria’s blue book boxes on the table (Found for the Home).    I love the book boxes – they are so functional for hiding small things in!! 





Real Life Wisteria:  my favorite buy ever.  About five years ago I bought this set of two chairs and one table from Wisteria for the back yard.   They still sell it for $249!  




This month’s House Beautiful showed a room designed by Jim Howard.   I love the bobbin chair, but they are usually so expensive.  Until now….


Check out Wisteria’s bobbin chair, in black!   WOW!   Just $599.00 – not bad for such an attractive accent chair.  




And finally, after I chastised Pottery Barn for not getting with the gray wicker program, I noticed this great looking office chair!  Granted, it’s not in the trendy gray, but still – it’s sooooo cute!!!!   Totally adorable!!!   And only $399.00 – which is a great price for a functioning swivel with up and down lever.

Coming this week – a giveaway to end all giveaways.  I promise you!!!!!! 

And please check out our latest interview with Diane Dorrans Saeks on The Skirted Roundtable, HERE.