My Design: The Eleria House




The Dutch Door House with its Eleria curtains.

When I first toured “The Dutch Door House”  HERE (interiors by Lyndon West) I fell madly in love with the linen fabric in the master bedroom.   I begged the homeowner to find out whose fabric it was and she obliged, emailing later to say it was a Robert Allen fabric, Eleria HERE.  It turns out the Eleria is actually a very popular fabric, available in two colorways, Biscotti (above) and Green Tea.   I ordered the different colored samples and waited for the perfect client to use it.   I didn’t have to wait long.

A few months ago, a client of mine moved from her large, contemporary house in Bellaire to an inside the loop, traditional townhouse.   Years ago, she had hired another interior designer when she first moved into the Bellaire house.   But, some time later,  I stepped in to help with small redecorating jobs - a study, a powder bath, and a  master bedroom - each time trying to tone down the contemporary décor into something more traditional.    After moving to the townhouse this summer, my client wanted to continue the shift from contemporary to traditional.   When deciding what to take from the Bellaire house and what to sell – the decisions were easy:  her old chenille covered sofa and love seat had seen better days and her glass coffee table was too contemporary.   Her area rug was a beautiful wool patterned rug that, also, had seen better days and needed to be replaced.  The modern looking end tables would meet the same fate.   



BEFORE:  At the Bellaire house, the chenille sofa and love seat were showing their age, as was the rug. 

The glass coffee table was too contemporary, as were both end tables.   Everything in this picture was sold, except for the lamps and candlestick.


In deciding on a decorating scheme for the new townhouse, my client asked for warm and cozy, specifically, she wanted dark walls.  And, she wanted to plan everything around two bergeres she owned that were upholstered in a brown and cream print.   We decided on a dark taupe for the walls – Pratt and Lambert’s Toasted Wheat , a color I have used many times before.  For the Hien Lam  custom made slipcovered sofa, we used Pindler’s #1766 Vernon in Maple, a copper brown linen adding raspberry velvet pillows to pop color.   After much begging and pleading, my client agreed to curtains and textured shades.   We were on a tight budget and she didn’t want the extra expense of something that was not really essential.  But, I firmly believe that window treatments are important to a design scheme and most interiors look better with them.  The Eleria was the perfect choice for the curtains since we needed major yardage to cover all the windows and, for a linen, the price couldn’t be beat.  Because the breakfast room is open to the living room, we also covered its pretty bay window with the Eleria. We then chose a brown textured shade to hang behind the curtains.  

To end the last bit of contention – my client agreed to cover up her beautiful hardwoods with a custom cut seagrass rug that left just a few inches of the gleaming wood showing.  I know, I know.   But, if you want warm and cozy, nothing gives you that atmosphere more than seagrass.      In the dining room, I chose another Pindler and Pindler linen, a stripe, #1767 Casablanca in Truffle, to slipcover the rush seat chairs.  The dining room has no windows, so it needed some fabric to soften up all the hard edges of the wood table and chairs.   I purposely chose overly detailed slips to add just a bit of femininity.  Since we were on a strict budget, using all Pindler and Robert Allen fabrics helped tremendously to keep costs down.   There are a few things still to be decided on – a mirror or art work over the sofa, and a buffet in the dining room.  But for now, here’s the work in progress.




BEFORE:   This is how the townhouse looked when my client bought it.   The walls were a dark dusty rose and the curtains were a chintz.  Fortunately for her, the former homeowners took all the curtains with them – but left the costly rods and rings.  Now, all I had to do was convince my client that she needed to invest in window treatments, something many people think of as an unnecessary luxury.  Here you can see how pretty the room is – arches lead to the long entry hall and stairs.  The dining room is through the arch on the left of the fireplace.  The kitchen is through the other arch at the right of the fireplace.  Upstairs are two bedrooms and a study.   The third story is a large bedroom.



AFTER:   The custom slipcovered sofa has mutton legs and a triple arched back.  The fabric is a Pindler and Pindler brown linen.   The two bergeres were the homeowners and she wanted to work the entire scheme around their brown and cream upholstery.    Yet to be decided on is art work or a mirror to go behind the sofa.  



At the windows, we used 2 widths of fabric to create the full, lush look of the curtains.  One width just doesn’t give you that beautiful fullness. 

Curtains and shades by Custom Creations by Monica HERE




I bought the coffee table at an import store in the Rice Village.  The antique gateleg table was moved from the study, while the antique French desk on the right came from a Cote de Texas sponsor – Bonnie Neiman HERE.  To update her iron lamps, there are new burlap lampshades from Boxwood. 




You can see into the breakfast room on the right side of the fireplace.  



I brought out some oversized accessories to update the décor:  a lantern from Olivine and alabaster grapes.    The homeowner has some beautiful antique boxes inherited from the mother and grandmother which we also used.  To keep the room from looking cluttered, we stored away many smaller accessories. 




The dining room has no windows, so I covered the rush seat chairs in slips to make the room softer.  The Pindler linen stripe has the same colors as found in the living room to tie both rooms together.




The homeowner’s mother made the dining room table out of used bowling alley wood!   Still to be ordered is a buffet for the back wall. 





BEFORE:  the kitchen has a small bay window in the breakfast area. 




AFTER:  Since the breakfast room opens to the living area – we used the same Eleria fabric here.  The curtains dress up the area and make it seem more like a room, rather than a kitchen. 

The antique table came from Eloquence HERE.  The chairs are from Zentique.  Both, to the trade.




Lastly,  the round table opens up to a larger oval shape.  The glass cloche and cake stand came from Indulge.





I want to take the time to personally thank all of you who so kindly donated to Woodbourne’s Christmas Wish List. 

For those who still wish to make a donation, there is time left do so.  Please go HERE to read the details.




Woodbourne: 2010





Woodbourne, Baltimore Maryland

I first learned about Woodbourne from Meg Fairfax Fielding, a blogging friend who writes Pigtown Design.   Meg works at Woodbourne and  through her, Ben and I were introduced to this wonderful, caring facility.   Woodbourne started out in 1798 as an orphanage and it is one of the oldest of its kind in the United States.  Located in Baltimore, Maryland, it is today a non-profit organization that cares for children in desperate circumstances.   The children at Woodbourne all have lived through some kind of trauma: addicted parents, abuse or neglect, or mental health issues.  Many of these children live full time at Woodbourne, where they are given the tools and skills needed in order to one day return to their home or community. 



During the holiday season, the faculty makes a video asking the boys what they want for Christmas and what Christmas means to them.  Their requests are small and simple:  a notebook, a game boy, some candy, a notepad, pens, new shoes, batteries, a cookbook, and on.  Some just want to go home for Christmas.  Some worry about the other children at Woodbourne, not themselves.

Oh boy.   Just watch the video, below, and think about what is on your own Christmas list to compare.  I know it made my list seem so frivolous, so wasteful.

Last year, I invited you to watch the video and your response was overwhelming.  It was immediate and large.  Together, we raised a lot of money for the Christmas Wish List at Woodbourne and it made a huge difference in the children’s lives.  Their wish lists were actually granted with the help of your donations.  Let’s try to do the same thing this year.  I am hoping that you will watch this year’s video. Afterwards, if you have it in your heart, would you please donate to these children so that together we can make their Christmas wishes come true?   Any amount is welcomed and appreciated.  It’s very easy to donate – there’s a PayPal link here:  If you don’t do Pay Pal, please email Woodbourne directly here:  e-mail or telephone at 410.433.1000, ext. 2230.




Your contribution, no matter how large or small, will make a huge difference.  Please join Ben and myself in making a difference this year. 

We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Wishing you and yours a safe, happy and healthy Holiday Season.


Joni and Ben Webb





All In the White Family



I love getting emails from readers, especially when they include pictures of their houses.   One reader, Deanie, started sending me pictures of her house last year while she was redecorating it.   Deanie lives in Grapevine, Texas and at one time was an antique dealer.  But now, she had a dilemma – unpainted brick walls versus her husband.   You see, Deanie’s house had several interior brick walls, including the fireplace wall, which didn’t fit in with her new all white décor.  The problem was that Deanie’s husband was partial to the yellowish-orange brick walls and wouldn’t bend on the subject.  He absolutely refused to allow Deanie to paint the brick!



If I have heard this story once, I’ve heard it a 1,000 times.  Usually the decorating dilemma is dark stained paneling or furniture that husbands refuse to paint light.   Why do men just love dark stained wood?   It’s the mystery of the ages.   My solution to this problem is always the same:  look your husband squarely in the eyes and ask him “and where exactly did you get your degree in interior design?”   This tactic may not work of course if you husband is like mine who retorts “the same place you got yours,”    which is a stab at me because he knows I didn’t graduate college after attending it for four years!  Deanie came up with a much better game plan to persuade her husband.  She enlisted the help of her daughter, Dana.   Dana wrote a faux legal brief, acting as the attorney to her client, the lowly unpainted brick.   The gist of the legal argument is summed up in this paragraph: 


By Dana

My case is as follows. The aforementioned male house recipient has trusted his wife and devoted partner with countless creative updates and ideas for almost 40 years of their marriage. Although he prides himself in NOT reversing his decisions on most occasions; hopefully I have made a good enough case for him to reconsider his prior position regarding the future of my Client. Questions: Why is he preventing my Client from receiving the FULL benefit of his wife’s talent? Why won’t he succumb his willful determination to keep my Client in its most basic natural state? Why won’t he give her the best 65th birthday present by taking a trip to Home Depot, purchasing a single lifeless brick…paint it creamy white, wrap with a ribbon and give the best gift of all….PERMISSION TO PAINT MY CLIENT????!!! It behooves me to also mention that ALL family, friends and professional interior designers support my Client’s transformation.


Needless to say that when Deanie’s husband received the fake legal brief from his daughter begging him to let Deanie paint the brick, he finally relented.   Of course, once the brick was painted he loved it!  Isn’t that always the case?   Is there anyone out there that has finally gotten their husband to agree to paint the dark stained wood lighter, only to be made to repaint it dark again?  Of course not! 

Over the course of the past year, I have received periodic updates from Deanie showing me the changes she has made to her house as she transformed it from colorful to all white.   She also sent me pictures of her daughter Dana’s house.    I also received pictures of Dana’s sister in law Leslie’s  house.  And I was sent pictures of Leslie’s mom’s house.   More pictures came from Leslie’s aunt showing me her daughter’s house and a friend’s house!  I had serious problems keeping up with the family tree.   But apparently, everyone in this extended family loves antiques.  They love decorating and they love shopping for their houses – they even go to Round Top, although some of them live in Tennessee and Louisiana.   I thought it would be fun to look at one extended family’s decorating approach.



Deanie’s House:   The problem with the brick walls



BEFORE:   How Deanie’s house looked when she moved in.


When Deanie moved into her house many, many years ago – it looked like this.  The large fireplace wall was clad in brick and was the undesired focal point.   Perhaps if the brick was another color, or if it was stone, it would be less bothersome, but this was not the case.  For years and years Deanie had to decorate around the brick because her husband refused to allow her to paint it.  Apparently he is quite fond of yellow-orange brick, though no one else is!  The blue carpet was replaced with terra cotta tiles.  The kitchen is located on the other side of the fireplace – and yes, the brick is there too!





After Deanie started redecorating her house in all white – the brick wall bothered her more and more.





In the middle of the redecorating, Deanie had yet to repaint the armoire, but all her upholstered pieces were now slipped in white. 

The armoire has since been painted gray.




And finally, after her daughter Dana, sent her husband the fake legal brief – the brick wall was painted. 

Behind the shutters is the sunroom, which also had many brick walls.  Those were painted too!





And for Christmas this year.   The furniture is arranged to make room for the white (of course) flocked tree.





The painted fireplace is so pretty and soft looking now!

Since it has been painted white, the fireplace is an asset and the focal point of the room.






The sunroom was enclosed – it was once a porch.  So, of course the walls are made of brick.  

Here is how the sunroom looked before the walls were painted. 





And, after the walls were painted.  Deanie also painted all the wicker furniture gray, for a more trendy look.  She also added grain sack pillows.  

I think this room looks so cute! I love the wicker painted gray and I love the coffee table. 





And looking at the other side with the now painted brick wall.  

I should paint my white wicker gray like this.  It really gives it an entirely updated look. 

Now, let’s take a look at her daughter Dana’s house. 



Dana, Deanie’s Daughter’s House


Dana recently moved to a rental house.   The house came furnished but Dana didn’t like the furniture, so Deanie came to Nashville and moved the owner’s furniture into storage so Dana could use her own! 

Dana also loves white slipcovers, and she likes to add touches of blue to her décor.   I love this slip with the gathered ruffle edge, so cute!   




Looking the other way towards the living entry hall. 

The alabaster lamps and shades are really cute.  The sofa table is an English antique. 

Imagine that these rooms were painted a dark green when Dana moved in.

The white paint makes all the difference – it’s so bright and cheery and fresh looking now.






The dining room has a white table with black chairs.  Nothing looks better than a crystal chandelier.

Many of the pieces in the house came from Deanie’s house or were bought by Deanie and Dana at antique fairs.  




A close up of the entry hall with its antique buffet painted white.  I have that same exact lamb!!!

Dana’s house is so cute, especially for a rental, and I’m sure they’ll be happy here for years.


Now, I also received pictures of Dana’s Mother-in-Law and her daughter’s houses.  So, that makes two sets of mothers and daughters in an extended family.  Of her family, Deanie says:  “We are definitely partners in our madness over all things old and making our homes look the best we can.  Its in the blood I guess.  We all love a lot of the same things but our houses are completely different with our different tastes.”  Her daughter Dana says of the bunch  “We ALL love Roundtop, decorating(we NEVER stop), laughing, great food and company, cultivating 'anything' we see and just living beautifully and full!” 


  Elizabeth’s House:


Dana’s mother in low, Elizabeth, recently moved back into her house in Nashville, after living in Texas.  While in Texas, her house was rented and it was painted by the renters.  It now all has to be repainted and just the front rooms have the new paint.  Here is the living room with its gray buffet and darling blue and white slipped sofa. Deanie said that when she started decorating with white – Elizabeth didn’t understand it or like it.  Now, she has many white and painted pieces herself.



The dining room is in the prettiest shade of blue gray.  I love the color of the walls!!  

She mixed a crystal chandelier and a dark table with a painted console.




Elizabeth’s family room is still to be painted, but you can see her large white slipped chair and ottoman. 

I love her green lantern – it is one of a pair.  The hide rug adds another trendy touch.



The bedroom has a white slipcovered headboard with white and pale blue bedding, along with painted white end tables. 

White with light blue is my favorite color combination for a bedroom these days.





 Leslie’s House:


Elizabeth’s daughter Leslie (who is Dana’s sister in law!) painted her living room a light blue gray, just like her mother. 

She mixes urns and columns and mirrors – as did her mother, Dana and Deanie.




The entire family all has white slipcovered sofas!  And they all have crystal chandeliers.   Leslie mixed in baskets and mirrored furniture. 




The antique French armoire is a real focal point.   When starting out, you should try to buy one large antique for each room, then build around it when decorating. 

The antique will last through any decorating style or trend and is a great investment. 


Elizabeth and her daughter in law Dana both moved to Nashville to start a church.  Elizabeth and her husband are the pastors and Dana is head of the Children’s Ministry.  Dana’s husband also preaches there.  Besides her work with the ministry, Dana has four children who keep her quite busy.   Needless to say, Deanie is very proud of her daughter, and who wouldn’t be! 

Looking at these four families – two mothers and two daughters – and how similar their houses are, yet different at the same time, think about your own family.  Does your house resemble your mother’s or your sister’s?  Or do you have totally different styles than theirs?   In my own family, it is similar – my mother and sister and I all love the same things, but in different ways.  We all love antique furniture and accessories.  They don’t love slipcovers and seagrass like I do, but we all three love French design.  On my husband’s side, the daughters in law also all love decorating.  

I wonder if all families are like this?  Do the women all love to decorate in your family too?  I would love to see more extended family houses and look at how the decorating is related from house to house.   I think it would be hard to be the only one in the family who decorated.   If you spent money on your décor but your in laws didn’t, would they think you were extravagant or wasteful?   My mother always advised me to “put your money into your house and not into your clothes,” which I do.   I would much rather buy a new accessory than an pair of shoes.  It helps that most everyone in my extended families – on both sides – have the same mindset. 

A huge thank you to Deanie, Dana, Elizabeth and Leslie for sharing pictures of your beautiful homes!!!!





Kristin Mullen who writes the blog Covetable Designs is having a giveaway to tie in with a big announcement.  Kristin who designed her own gorgeous home in Dallas, above, has started a new decorating business, Design Online, for clients who don’t live in Dallas but want to hire Kristin.  Be sure to visit her blog for all the details about the giveaway HERE.




And, don’t forget that Kathryn Ireland is the guest interview this week on The Skirted Roundtable, HERE.  Last Saturday, we recorded a new interview with a HUGE surprise guest!   That will be online after the holidays, so watch for the announcement.  Thank you as always for your continued support.  Pictured above is a dining room from Kathryn Ireland’s book Classic Country.



And Finally:


Cote de Texas welcomes a new sponsor:  Chic Provence Design Tour.  Interested in a shopping trip to Provence this spring?  Go HERE for the brochure!


Decorating in Birmingham with Dana Wolter




The Wolters home in Birmingham.   Beautiful new construction by architect Dean Robinson. 

My friend, and a sponsor on Cote de Texas – Jackie Sharbrough of The Urban Market – sent an email introducing me to a friend of hers who is an interior designer.   I love learning about other decorators, especially when their portfolio is so beautiful!   The designer is Dana Wolter and she is certainly garnering a lot of press lately.  Her Alabama house was featured in the Christmas edition of Southern Living Magazine and was in the Nov/Dec issue of Birmingham Home & Garden magazine.   With good reason – her house is beautiful!   A quick look at her web site shows so many wonderful interiors that I thought you would enjoy seeing her house for yourself, especially since it was photographed decorated for the holidays.



Dana Wolter, Interior Designer


Dana is the mother of three young daughters who keep her very busy, yet she still manages to run a successful design business.   She graduated from the University of Alabama and spent her early career in sales.  As is often the case – designing for friends got her into the business and she opened the doors to Dana Wolter Interiors in 2005.  I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot of Dana in the years to come.




The first glimpse into Dana’s house shows a beautiful staircase decorated for Christmas. 

Straight ahead, you can see into the family room.




The entry is roomy enough for a settee and chairs.   The built in cabinets have the same iron motif found on the window transoms. 

I love the hide rug Dana placed in the entry.  






The living/dining room is a mix of antiques and contemporary pieces.   The palette is serenely monochromatic.  Dana likes to layer textures, starting on the floor with the natural rug leading up to the fabulous ceiling of pecky cypress.  The sparkly crystal chandelier is a perfect juxtaposition to all the rough luxe.  





An antique mirror and console mix with a contemporary lamp. 




The window seats flanking the fireplace are set apart by luscious curtains and fabric walls.  So cozy!



A close up of the window seat.  Here you can see the stone floor found in the living/dining room.





The dining area of the living/dining room has an unusual seating arrangement – a high back, velvet covered banquette takes the place of chairs on one side of the table. 




The family room is Belgian inspired with its long linen slipcovered sofa and industrial styled coffee table.  

The Christmas tree blends right into the décor with its white, silver and gold colored balls.





Looking the other way, a contemporary triptych hangs behind the sofa.   The lighting fixture is an Italian inspired wood chandelier.

Such a pretty room!



The breakfast room has another banquette against the bay window.  The walls are paneled and the table has a zinc top.  

Dana says the upholstery on the banquette is an extremely hard wearing polyester.




In the kitchen, an unusual combination of pecky cypress paired with white marble makes up the island. 

More texture comes in the stainless quilted backsplash.   So pretty!





The master bedroom continues the quiet monochromatic scheme.  Again, a mixture of modern and antique makes an interesting interior. 

But the headboard is the real focal point – it extends from wall to wall.






In a daughter’s bedroom, one wall is covered in wallpaper – cute window seat too!

Notice the Christmas tree and reindeer! 




A close up of Dana’s holiday table set in the dining room.





And a close up of the holiday table set in the breakfast room.




More From Dana Wolter Interiors:



In another house that Dana designed, a warm family room sits next to the breakfast room. 




Here, Dana used facing sofas and a large ottoman/coffee table, along with two arm chairs.




In still another house, a kitchen and breakfast room was remodeled by Dana.  

She again used pecky cypress on the island.   Notice the great trough sink on the island!k 




And – using her trademark - a high banquette sits along a back wall.  The contemporary damask is really eye catching. 

These kitchens photos are by Jean Allsopp Photography




And one of my favorites on Dana’s web site: her daughter’s bedroom.

So cute with the contemporary fabrics and hide rug mixed in with vintage furniture.



To see Dana Wolter Interiors web site, go HERE.


And finally, a huge thank you to Dana for sharing her beautiful photographs with us!  Thank you!