Diva Design Diary

By Holly Peterson

Diva Design Diary is about bringing the latest interior design trends and tips to our existing clients, as well as future clients...enjoy!

Vegan Queen Handbags

By Holly Peterson

I know this has NOTHING to do with interior design, as my most recent posts have been completely off-topic, and shopping for handbags is probably not the best way to start off the New Year...BUT, I must tell you about this fabulous find!!!
Not many eco things say “money” – even if they cost a whole lot of it. But with Vegan Queen’s new unisex duffle, even the most die-hard LV fan wouldn’t mind joining team green. The bag is made from 100% eco leather (cotton and synthetic micro-fiber), vegetal leather (Brazilian rubber-tree sap mounted on cotton), and organic cotton terry lining. It is also recyclable so you don’t have to spend hours listing it on Ebay when it's time to part with it. Although, I don't see why you would.

Get yours now at veganqueen.com

2009 New Year's Resolutions: Make Green a Habit

By Holly Peterson

What does the year of 2009 hold for you??? I'm all about New Year's Resolutions and thought I'd share a few (if you're working toward a "green" New Year that is)...

Yep, that's right! Here are some New Year's Resolutions to help you to Make Green a Habit in 2009!

  • Run a Fully Loaded Dishwasher-Cost: $0
    If you have a dishwasher, use it. Running a fully loaded dishwasher—without pre-rinsing the dishes—can use a third less water than washing the dishes by hand, saving up to ten to twenty gallons of water a day. Simply scrape large pieces of food off of your dishes and let the dishwasher handle the rest. And by using the air-dry setting (instead of heat-dry), you will consume half the amount of electricity without spending a dime.
  • Lower the Temp in Your Fridge-Cost: $0
    As one of the biggest appliances in your kitchen, the refrigerator is also one of the most power hungry, accounting for 10 to 15 percent of the average home energy bill each month. Get your fridge running in tip-top shape. First, set the refrigerator thermostat to maintain a temperature between 38 and 42-degrees (F). This temperature will protect your food from spoiling while saving electricity. Twice a year, clean the condenser coil at the back of your fridge. Condenser coils tend to get dusty, making them less efficient.
  • STOP Buying Bottled Water-Cost: $14.98 for aluminum water bottle
    Did you know that it takes 26 bottles of water to produce the plastic container for a one-liter bottle of water, and that doing so pollutes 25 liters of groundwater? Don’t leave a trail of plastic water bottles in your wake! Stop buying bottled water. Use reusable water bottles instead made from materials like stainless steel or aluminum that are not likely to degrade over time. If you choose a plastic water bottle, check the number on the bottom first: Plastics numbered 3, 6, and 7 could pose a health threat to you, so look for plastics numbered 1, 2, 4, or 5.
  • Switch to Reusable Towels-Cost: $6.95
    No matter how you look at it, paper towels create waste. During your next trip to the grocery store, buy some reusable microfiber towels, which grip dirt and dust like a magnet, even when they get wet. When you are finished with them, toss the towels in the wash and reuse them again and again. They are even great for countertops and mirrors. When you absolutely have to use disposable towels, look for recycled products. If every household in the United States replaced just one roll of virgin fiber paper towels (seventy sheets) with 100 percent recycled ones, we could save 544,000 trees.
  • Turn Down Your Thermostat-Cost: $0
    Electric power plants are the country's largest industrial source of the pollutants that cause global warming. By snuggling under a blanket on the couch on a snowy winter night instead of turning up the heat, or enjoying the breeze from a fan in the height of summer instead of turning up the air conditioning, you can save pounds of pollution, as well as some money off your utility bills. Set your thermostat in winter to 68-degrees F (20 C) or less during the daytime and 55-degrees F (13 C) before going to sleep or when you are away for the day. And during the summer, set thermostats to 78-degrees F (26 C) or more.
  • STOP Receiving Unwanted Catalogs-Cost: $0
    Each year, 19 billion catalogs are mailed to American consumers. All those catalogs require more than 53 million trees and 56 billion gallons of wastewater to produce -- and many of us don't even know how we got on so many mailing lists! So grab that stack of catalogs piling up on your coffee table and clear out the clutter. Visit CatalogChoice.org to put a stop to unwanted catalogs. Within 10 weeks, your mailbox will be empty of unwanted catalogs. A less cluttered mailbox means less pollution, less waste, and less of the pollution that cause global warming.
  • Switch to Recycled Toilet Paper-Cost: $2.96 for 4-pack, 260 sheets
    Believe it or not, switching to recycled toilet paper can change the world. If every household in the United States bought just one four-pack of 260-sheet recycled bath tissue, instead of the typical tissue made from virgin fiber, it would eliminate 60,600 pounds of chlorine pollution, preserve 356 million gallons (1.35 billion liters) of fresh water, and save nearly 1 million trees. And the best news is that a four-pack of recycled toilet paper costs about the same as a four-pack of conventional toilet paper.
  • Check for Leaks in Your Toilet-Cost: $0
    Most of us would be surprised to find out that one in every five toilets leak, and since the leaks are usually silent, you probably have no idea if your toilet is leaking. A leaking toilet can waste anywhere between 30 and 500 gallons of water every day, so any leak should be repaired. To see if your toilet is leaking, put a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the dye shows up in the toilet bowl after 15 minutes or so, the toilet has a leak. Leaking is usually caused by an old or poorly fit flapper valve, which can be replaced by any amateur DIY-er!
  • Wash Your Clothes in Cooler Water-Cost: $0
    Did you know that only 10 percent of the energy used by a typical washing machine powers the motor? About 90 percent of the energy is used to heat the water, and most clothes will come clean in cold water. So switch your washing machine’s temperature setting. For heavily soiled clothing, change it from hot to warm, but otherwise try to wash and rinse most of your clothing in cold water.
  • Switch to Natural Washing Powders-Cost: $10.25 for one 112-oz box
    Many detergents today are made to clean clothes just as effectively in cooler water temperatures. Choose detergents and other laundry products that are plant-based, concentrated, and biodegradable.
  • Dry Your Clothes Wisely-Cost: $0
    The second biggest household energy user, after the refrigerator, is the clothes dryer. Over-drying your clothes can end up costing you money as well. An electric dryer operating an extra 15 minutes a load can cost you up to $34 a year in wasted energy; a gas dryer, $21 a year. When using the dryer, clear the lint filter after each load and dry only full loads of clothes. Dry heavy fabrics separately from lighter ones, and don’t add wet clothing in the middle of the drying cycle. And remember that hanging clothing outside in the sun and air to dry is the most energy-efficient method—or use a folding indoor rack all year long.
  • Air Our Your Dry Cleaning (or skip it all together)-Cost: $0
    Until recently, almost all dry cleaners used a cancer-causing chemical called perchloroethylene, also known as Perc or TCE. Traces of this toxic chemical remain on your clothes after dry cleaning and will evaporate into the air in your car or home. If you have to use a traditional dry cleaner, take your dry cleaning out of the plastic and air it outside or near a window before hanging it in your cupboard. To avoid the need for dry cleaning at all, make customer care a part of your clothing purchase decisions and choose fabrics that don't require dry cleaning at all.
  • Check Your Tire Pressure-Cost: $0
    Increase your gas mileage by checking your tire pressure. More than a quarter of all cars and nearly one-third of all SUVs, vans, and pickups have under-inflated tires, according to a survey by the Department of Transportation. If every American kept his or her tires properly inflated, we could save 2.8 billion gallons (10.6 billion liters) of gasoline a year—and help curb global warming pollution—so inflate the tires on your car or truck and continue to do so once a month or as necessary.
  • Get a Reusable Shopping Bag-Cost: $1 Do you opt for paper or plastic when at the grocery store? Neither is a good choice. Twelve million barrels of oil were used to make the 88.5 billion plastic bags consumed in the United States last year. And it takes four times more energy to make paper bags. The best choice is reusable shopping bags made of cotton, nylon, or durable mesh-like plastic. Put a few reusable shopping bags in your car so you have them handy on your next shopping trip. And if you happen to forget your reusable bag (as we all do!), choose paper if you will recycle it or plastic if you will reuse or recycle it.
  • Recycle-Cost: $0
    For every trash can of waste you put outside for the trash collector, about 70 trash cans of waste are used in order to create that trash. To reduce the amount of waste you produce, buy products in returnable and recyclable containers and recycle as much as you can. The energy saved from recycling a single aluminum can will operate a television for three hours! If your community doesn’t provide containers for recycling, designate a bin in your garage for recyclables to make it easy for you and your family to recycle things like the newspaper and aluminum cans.

Cool Beans

By Holly Peterson

Rancho Gordo Heirloom Beans
There are cranberry beans, yellow eye beans, midnight beans, lima, pinto, garbanzo…ooh, and don’t forget dem pebble beans. Of all the types that you eat in your chilies, salads, and soups, how many of them can you trace the origins of? Well, all of them if you get your supply from Rancho Gordo. Obsessed with food from the “New World,” the site is stocked with 20 to 30 types of beans that are indigenous to North and South America. The genetically-pure legumes are grown in limited quantities to ensure freshness. And, because they are fresher, you don’t have to soak them as long and they taste hardier. Many of these beans are also on the verge of extinction (losing out to the commercial kidneys and favas) and our consumption helps keep them around. Plus, haven't you heard?
Beans, beans are good for your heart. So eat up.

Order your share today at RanchoGordo.com

Ho! Ho! Ho!

By Holly Peterson

Christmas time is here,
Happiness and cheer,
Fun for all that children call,
Their favorite time of the year.

Snowflakes in the air,
Carols everywhere,
Olden times and ancient rhymes,
Of love and dreams to share.

Sleigh bells in the air,
Beauty everywhere,
Yuletide by the fireside,
And joyful memories there.

Christmas time is here,
We'll be drawing near,
Oh, that we could always see,
Such spirit through the year,
Oh, that we could always see,
Such spirit through the year...

Merry Christmas to You and Your Family!!!
Warm regards,
Design Diva

Fight the POWER!

By Holly Peterson

Phantom power haunts you as your appliances sleep. Depending on the type of device, it can suck up approximately 10% of your electricity bill. One option is to unplug everything that is not in use. But that answer requires not being lazy and causes minor back pain from crawling under tight spaces, and endless knee and elbow banging against sharp corners and edges. An easy alternative comes in the form of the Belkin Conserve Energy-Saving Surge Protector. The strip comes with a remote control that completely controls the flow of energy coming in and out of the appliances plugged into it. Two “Always On” outlets remain on the strip for items that, well, always need to be on (like phones and routers). Place the remote near your keys or lights and never forget to switch off your appliances again. It makes sense – more sense than fighting power you can’t even see.

Power down at catalog belkin.com


By Holly Peterson

The average adult receives 41 pounds of junk mail each year. It is: a) annoying, and b) a massive contributor to deforestation and your individual carbon footprint. For $41, 41pounds.org will contact between 20 to 30 direct mail companies and stop the majority of bulk mail that comes to your home. The service lasts for five years so it’s really just $8.20 per year. That’s a pretty cheap price tag for sanity and an intact mailbox. Plus, more than a third of the sign-up fee goes to the charity of your choice. Save: time, trees, the planet, and your overused paper shredder.

Take the weight off today at 41pounds.org

Storage for your little ones!

By Holly Peterson

Everyone could use a little more space – the understatement of the century if you have kids. Luckily, with the brilliant colors and modular stackability of Stella Stackables, you don’t have to sacrifice design for functionality. Each piece is hand made from 100 percent recycled wood and finished with non-toxic, VOC-free paint. The company is also a member of 1% For the Planet and donates, well, 1 percent of their annual sales to environmental organizations worldwide. Beautiful, whimsical designs that strive to protect our children and our planet – now that’s a chic organization solution that any growing household can use.
They have other great options for children's furniture too!

Get organized at qcollectionjunior.com

O Christmas Tree

By Holly Peterson

The Cardboard Christmas Tree

Some families had real trees. Others had plastic ones. All were decked with a menagerie of plastic ornaments. And that was Christmas. These days, getting a tree is more perplexing than figuring out which college to go to. We all love the scent of pine. But somehow, hacking down a real tree and subjecting it to hot lights feels a little mean. Artificial trees are reusable but then you are dealing with chemicals and plastics that are around forever. So, nix the tree thing all together? Maybe not. This year, consider getting a tree made from 100% recycled cardboard instead. It may not be as lush but think of it as a three-foot blank canvas that you can decorate to your heart's content (read: excellent keep-kid-busy project). Plus, for every tree sold, The Cardboard Christmas Tree (fancy official name) contributes to the Arbor Day Foundation’s reforestation program, Trees for America. Traditions and rituals are great. But they are even better when they offer help instead of sacrifice.

If it's not to late... Start trimming at thecardboardtree.com

Speaking of countertops... Granite is SAFE!

By Holly Peterson

Study Reveals No Health Hazard From Granite, MIA Contends
In what it called the "most comprehensive scientific study of health threats from granite countertops" ever conducted, results did not find a single stone slab that poses a health risk, while quantities of radon and radiation emitted by stones included in the analysis all fell well below average background levels commonly found in the U.S., the Marble Institute of America said last month.

The Cleveland, OH-based MIA, which has disputed claims at granite emits potential unhealthy levels of radon, announced the results of the study last month. According to the association, scientists conducted more than 400 tests of 115 different varieties of granite countertops, including stones cited in media reports as being potentially problematic. The stones tested, said the MIA, include types of granite that comprise approximately 80% of the annual U.S. market share for granite countertops.

The study found that not one stone slab contributed to radon levels that even reached the average U.S. outdoor radon concentration of 0.4 picocuries per liter - one-tenth the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency level for remedial action within a home, the MIA said. The stone slabs found to emit at higher levels - though still well below average outdoor background levels - represent a tiny share of the U.S. market for granite countertops, less than 1% of sales, the association noted.

Countertop Trends: Nature & Personlization

By Holly Peterson

Today's multi-purpose kitchens and bathrooms demand products that can meet a wide variety of design and functional needs - while still offering the ability to create uniquely personalized spaces. Fortunately, today's countertop manufacturers are up to the challenge, offering a plethora of beautiful and durable material options that can work singularly or in conjunction to create a nearly endless array of design choices.

Mother Nature continues to inspire some of the hottest trends, with soothing colors, rich textures and earth-friendly options all the rage. Value-priced offerings are also hot, and now come in a wider array of upscale design options than ever before.

Below are some of the hottest trends in countertops right now:

Nature-inspired colors, patterns and materials remain hot countertops picks, with both natural stone and stone-look products popular choices. Earthy color palettes and soft neutrals are in high demand, though a bold splash of color on an island can also be a great choice for adding visual drama.

  • The green trend, initially seen more in cabinets and appliances, is now gaining ground in the countertop market; if your clients love all things green, look for recycled glass countertops or other materials with recycled content, as well as locally sourced stone.
  • As the kitchen increasingly evolves into a multi-purpose space, you'll see more mixing and matching of countertop materials - including natural and engineered stone, wood, glass and laminate. This creates enhanced design opportunities and increases functional value, while allowing even budget-conscious homeowners to enjoy the benefits of upscale materials and a personalized look.
  • Whether the countertop acts as a stunning focal point or a more subtle design element, the flat look is out. Rather, today's hottest countertop materials feature depth, directional movement and plenty of textural interest.
  • Upscale countertop materials are increasingly showing up in other areas of the home, including outdoor kitchens, wet bars, home offices and garage work spots, creating a whole new market for these products.
  • Give THANKS...

    By Holly Peterson

    This holiday season will be a tough one for many around the country and I hope you will help in any way you can.

    1. Citymeals on Wheels
    Why they’re hurting: The fall of Bear Stearns and several generous hedge-fund donors has taken a huge toll. “Altogether, we’ve lost $1.286 million this year. That’s about 200,000 meals,” says executive director Marcia Stein. While volunteers are always needed, what the charity really could use is more cash. “We need to make up losses in a time when food costs are rising by more than 7 percent.”

    What you can do: Donations are the highest priority—each meal costs the organization $6.42—and they can be made at citymeals.org/donate. Volunteer to deliver meals for a day or an afternoon. Or if you’re ready for six-month commitment, sign up for the Friendly Visiting program. You’ll visit a homebound senior once a week for a half-hour, just to check in. For Friendly Visiting, download the volunteer application from the Website and fax it along with two references to 212-687-1296. E-mail volunteer@citymeals.org to help with deliveries.

    2. United Way
    Why they’re hurting: The organization has long-standing relationships with Fortune 500 companies like Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase, but many have cut back on their annual giving. “Our revenues are down, but our needs are up,” says Steve Kaufman, senior director of community affairs. “For every job lost on Wall Street, an additional 3.3 jobs are lost throughout the state’s economy,” a state of affairs that will undoubtedly affect the low-income communities his group serves.

    What you can do: The best way to donate is through uwsd.org; you can choose an “action area” to support and receive monthly e-updates on how your donation is helping. Call (858) 492-2000 to volunteer.

    3. Big Brothers, Big Sisters
    Why they’re hurting: Bear Stearns was involved in the charity’s workplace-mentoring program, which brought teenagers into an office twice a month throughout the school year to learn about the professional world. “We have 47 corporations that have managed to stay with us,” says Michael Corriero, director of the New York office. “But if one leaves, that’s ten, fifteen, twenty kids left without a place to go.”

    What you can do: The standard workplace program runs the length of the school year and brings teens into the office for four hours a month. If that’s too much commitment, businesses can also run a one-day mentoring program with employees and mentees (a.k.a. “littles”) spending at least two hours together. Individual volunteers can sign up to be paired with a “little” for at least eight hours a month for a year, on any activity they choose together. Volunteers and donors can get involved online at sdbigs.org.

    4. Habitat for Humanity
    Why they’re hurting: Volunteers (including many former Bear staffers) are still willing to wield a hammer to build affordable-housing units for Habitat, but it’s the high cost of construction materials that will likely restrain projects. Since 2002, construction costs have shot up $112 per square foot. “It’s so crucial that we get donations,” says executive director Josh Lockwood. “We have a project in Brownsville where there are 8,000 requests for 41 condominiums.”

    What you can do: As much as you may want to get out your tool belt, making a donation online at habitatsdiego.org will go further. Habitat also accepts donations of tools and building materials. Contact (619-283-HOME) to donate tools or materials. The group is not currently taking new volunteers.

    How to hire an interior designer that's right for you!

    By Holly Peterson

    In one of my recent interior design updates, I found a useful article for those interested in hiring an interior designer, but not quite sure what to expect.

    Click on the link below:

    RecycleBank... It's that easy!

    By Holly Peterson

    Have you thought to yourself, "I should be recycling...", but you just don't have the time or the space to store all of it? Well, no more excuses, check out this perfect solution...
    MONEY IN THE BIN - RecycleBank
    Let's face it. Most of us can do a better job at recycling. We seriously reassessed our rubbish in honor of America Recycles Day last week. But in case you did not, here is another incentive. How would you like to get paid to recycle? RecycleBank makes it easy. You sign up. They bring a bin to your front door. You fill it with recyclables. You get reward points that can be used at places such as Target, CVS, and Foot Locker, or for products made by Stonyfield Farms, Method, and Evian. City dwellers and college kids (who might not have a place to house their own bins) can utilize the program's many kiosks. Whoever you are, it is three easy steps toward providing relief for your two favorite things – the planet and your wallet. And that, my friends, is how America recycles.
    To learn more go to recyclebank.com

    How "Smart" is Your Toilet?

    By Holly Peterson

    Caroma's Profile Smart:
    Adding to its line of water-conserving toilets, Caroma has launched the Profile Smart (available in 2009), a space-saving, dual-flush toilet with an integrated hand basin designed to lower bathroom water usage. A simple and effective way to re-use water, the unit uses the same water twice, first for hand washing, then for toilet flushing. Activated when a user flushes, fresh water flows through the basin spout and ends up in the tank, where it's used for the next flush. Suitable for both new construction and remodels, Profile Smart requires no additional installation beyond that of a regular toilet, is available in white vitreous china and features chrome buttons.

    If you're in the market for a new toilet this coming year...this is it!!!

    Happy Birthday Design Diva!!!

    By Holly Peterson

    I'm closing my eyes and making a WISH...

    It's MY Birthday!!!
    xoxo, Design Diva

    Exterior Paint Palettes

    By Holly Peterson

    Several paint specialists swear by these unusual trim-and-siding combos that are distinguished and still neighborly.

    These dusty hues would especially enliven a Craftsman house. Subtle without being neutral.

    Siding: celery
    Sleepy Hollow #D6-2
    Trim: deep brown
    Potting Soil #B11-1

    Dutch Boy for stores

    Pale aqua and bluish gray work beautifully on a Colonial. A driftwood-style pairing that fits nicely into the landscape.

    Siding: aqua
    Surf Spray #14-4807
    Trim: gray
    Monument #17-4405

    Pantone Paints for stores

    For a country-cottage-chic look, use white with this deep, dark green.

    Siding: white
    China White
    Trim, shutters, screen doors: dark green
    Black Forest Green

    Benjamin Moore for stores

    A subtle combination of versatile neutrals, made even more striking when paired with very dark sashes and shutters.

    Siding: pale gray
    Trim: white
    Alaskan Husky

    Benjamin Moore for stores

    White with black accents. A red door is especially charming and inviting.

    Siding: white
    Trim: black
    Jet Black
    Door: red
    Ruby Red

    Benjamin Moore for stores

    Elegant ways to say "welcome" (from left to right).

    13" x 13" x 26" "English Street" $1,314
    McLean Lighting Works

    10" x 7" x 16" zinc-finish lantern $650
    Marston & Langinger

    6½" x 6" x 22" "Lyford" lantern $1,100
    Urban Electric

    It means a serious wallet-stretch, but upgrading from asphalt shingles is a splurge designers and their clients agree is worth it.

    standing seam metal: Amazingly durable and low-maintenance, this once-industrial choice comes in a huge array of colors and styles.
    steelroofing.com for information

    slate shingles: The Limoges of roofing materials is perfect for traditional houses (particularly Federal and Colonial), but requires special handling in installation.
    vermontstructuralslate.com for information

    cedar shakes:Wonderfully warm and rustic, this thicker-than-shingles option weathers to a gorgeous silvery gray.
    cedarbureau.org for information

    Festive Centerpieces

    By Holly Peterson

    Thanksgiving is about a week away... Dress up your dinner table with these offbeat seasonal arrangements and it won't even matter what you serve.

    Rich-brown pheasant feathers (naturally shed, of course!) lend graphic drama to an elegant table's mostly white palette. The trompe-l'oeil resin vases recall the bird's forested terrain.

    Crab-apple branches and gnarled driftwood entwine for minimalist, sculptural splendor in this organic-looking scene. Though the fruit is too tart to eat, the ripe reds and greens liven up the blond wood; together they exude a folksy warmth.

    This contemporary take on the classic cornucopia uses just three harvest elements, laid directly on the table, for a casual, bountiful vibe: golden leaves gathered from the backyard or a nearby park, wheat sheaves from a local farm stand and pumpkins.

    Artist Focus: Raw Art Design

    By Holly Peterson

    The first picture of art shown above (with the brick background) was a custom piece that Rich and I had come up with for a client in Encinitas, CA. Rich was able to use metal scraps that the client had found during the demo of their remodel project, along with his own ideas.

    These are just some samplings of what Rich Walker with Raw Art Design is capable of. Not only is Rich a very dear friend of mine, he also has amazing talent. If you or someone you know is interested in having your own specially personalized art, please contact: info@designdivastudio.com

    My artistic focus is in the use of recycled, reclaimed, and natural materials from our every day world to create peaceful and harmonious works of art.
    I balance these mediums with colors, depths and movement. I worked with metal, ceramic and wood. I often use a combination of mediums within one project. I enjoy the challenge of creating an original work for each new client

    Enjoy Life, Be Creative and Laugh - Always.

    - Rich Walker

    What's Your Chair Style?

    By Holly Peterson

    Chairs are such a happy furniture piece... Do ever notice how there are certain smells, colors, things, etc. that just make you feel good? Well, chairs (FUN chairs) make me happy! Maybe that's the interior designer in me?
    Check out these pics and let me know what they make you feel like???

    (The above chair makes me feel like I've been playing with E.T. and Gumby for far too long, although the color brings me energy!)

    This chair makes me wonder..."How long can you possibly sit here without feeling totally uncomfortable?" But, if you used in the right application, I think it could definitely lend itself to Asian/Japanese design.

    Slightly resembling a child's high-chair, this modern acrylic chair is not for everyone. I would use this in a modern/contemporary home or office. It's clean lines, metal legs, and pop of vibrant color bring out the artsy side of me. Thanks Cartier!

    What a classic! The famous Barcelona Chair. This chair, also leaning toward the more modern side of design, can be used in more traditional/transitional spaces as well. Imagine it with any fabric you wanted...the possibilities are endless!

    And last but not least, my most favorite little chair. Bringing out the more feminine side of a chair, this chair just screams "sit in me!" I love the tufting, the nail-head details around the edges, and the color is so calming... This too can be mixed with several different design styles.

    Let me know what chair/chairs make you happy...

    Attention: Cell Phone Users

    By Holly Peterson

    I was at a birthday party last night, where I discovered this super cool tool for ANYONE with a cell phone. And who doesn't have a cell phone???
    A target market that immediately popped into my mind when learning about smarttouch was teenagers/parents of teenagers. Or anyone that doesn't want to pay an extra data plan fee through their cell phone carrier.

    Read on for more information directly from smarttouch...

    • What is SmartTouch?
      SmartTouch is a powerful, mobile widget-platform that uses text messaging to provide the user with a rich, branded, graphic, and interactive experience. SmartTouch gives you access to a large base of content and services comprising a diverse set of categories including information, entertainment, social networking, retail, food services, banking & payments, etc. from many of the brands you know and trust. There are no short codes to remember and no syntax rules to follow in order to interact with these services.
    • What are widgets?
      Widgets are mini-applications that run on the SmartTouch application on the mobile phone. Widgets allow you to access specific content and services available via text messaging in an intuitive manner. The user experience is much superior than using a mobile web browser and does not require a data plan. Widgets can be downloaded and managed by the user as explained in “Managing Widgets” below.
    • How much does SmartTouch cost?
      SmartTouch is free to the user. Since SmartTouch uses text messaging to send and receive messages when you access content and services, you may incur standard text messaging charges from your operator. If you have a text messaging plan, such messages will be applied to your text plan. For details about your plan and text messaging charges, please contact your operator. Certain content and services accessed through the widgets, such as retail purchases and transactions, paid subscriptions, Premium SMS content, etc. will incur their own associated charges and are not covered by SmartTouch.
    • Does SmartTouch require a data plan?
      SmartTouch does not require a data plan. However, one-time data charges may be incurred when the application and/or widgets are downloaded wirelessly based on your service plan with your operator. For details about your plan and data charges, please contact your operator.
    • What cellular operators does SmartTouch support?
      SmartTouch currently works on all cellular operators in the US.
    • What phones does SmartTouch support?
      SmartTouch currently supports Windows Mobile and Pocket PC phones. We are actively working to enable many new devices on various operators’ networks. Stay tuned or enroll here to be informed when our application is released on new devices. Below are the devices SmartTouch currently supports:
    HTC PPC6800

    HTC Touch

    HTC Tilt
    HTC Tilt 8925
    Motorola Q
    Motorola Q9h
    Motorola Q Global
    Pantech C810 Duo
    Samsung Blackjack II
    Treo 750

    HTC Touch
    Mogul PPC-6800
    Motorola Q9c

    HTC Wing
    T-Mobile Shadow

    Audiovox SMT 5800
    Motorola Q9m
    Samsung SCHi760
    Verizon XV6800

    More information can be found @ smarttouchmobileinc.com/stfaq.aspx

    BUILT-INS... Are you in need?

    By Holly Peterson

    BUILT-INS...what almost every home needs.

    As with any project, there are key areas that clients like to focus on a.k.a "high priority" areas. So many times I work with clients that say things like, "I don't have enough storage", "I am sick and tired of looking at all this entertainment or office equipment", "I want a custom look, but don't want to spend a fortune". Well, you're in luck!!! Built-ins don't have to drain your bank account and I can honestly say that they will make a positive impact in any space. I happen to know from experience...
    I work very closely with a father-son team that not only does amazing work, but they are also very fair with their pricing. 90% of my projects involve built-ins and 100% of my clients are more than satisfied with the final completion of their work!
    Here's a little something to consider...

    Top 5 reasons to consider BUILT-INS:

    • You can have any configuration you like, it's custom, so you're not trying to make do with a piece of furniture that isn't right for the space.
    • You can conceal even the ugliest of components...and literally never have to see them (thanks to both stock and designer speaker screen).
    • You can select any paint or stain finish you like.
    • They are a great selling point if you're looking to sell your home...form and function sells!!!
    • They aren't as expensive as you may think...
    Top 3 reasons not to consider BUILT-INS:
    • You don't need storage.
    • You like looking at your equipment. (Did I really just say that?)
    • You think that they're too expensive.
    Contact Design Diva Interiors at info@designdivastudio.com if you are interested in what options we can explore for your home!

    Voter Guide for the Environment

    By Holly Peterson

    Election Day is here!!!

    Check out this site, and see how GREEN your candidates are...

    TECHNOPHOBIA: Steam Appliances

    By Holly Peterson

    Steam cycles are popping up in so many appliances like clothes washers, dryers, and dishwashers. Why would I want steam?

    Ovens too, by the way. People like the idea of sanitizing their clothes and utensils, so appliances with steam cycles have started to become popular. The cycles are on a lot of top-of-the-line appliances as well, so many people assume they need it, which isn't always the case. The most popular are laundry machines and clothes dryers (as you can see in yesterday's blog post). For me, the one that makes the most sense is a dryer with steam.

    What can they do?

    They can dry your clothes without leaving them wrinkled. Use one as you would a normal dryer and during the final cycle, anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes of steam is injected and the clothes spin a few more minutes to get the extra mist out. It's also good if you have a garment you want to wear right away but it's all wrinkled, or a load of clothes for that matter, you can run a shorter steam cycle on the dryer and it will make them all wrinkle-free. The steam feature really does add something and people may want to consider spending more for a steam-equipped dryer.
    Can I use a steam dryer to dry-clean my clothes?
    Well no, they won't clean your clothes, but they will get out the wrinkles. If you want to do that, use a Dryel bag. You just put your delicate or permanent press garments in the bag and chuck it in the dryer, and it will clean them.
    I've read that steam in a dryer cuts down on static cling.
    Yeah, it's true. But I'm positive that it's an extra benefit. There is no way some engineer sat in the corner and planned to use steam to reduce static. It has to be a side effect of the steaming process, but either way, it is true.
    What about steam in a washing machine?
    A steam cycle is a good add-on if you're an allergy sufferer. In that case, the steam is hot enough to kill dust mites and other allergens that hot water from your pipes might not take care of. But one thing to keep in mind is that a lot of customers have a misconception about a steam cycle on their washer-that it will give them the same results as dry-cleaning. It won't The steam cycle is just another cycle before you put your clothes in the dryer, but one that can kill germs.
    Do you recommend steam for dishwashers?
    For dishes, I personally think steam is less essential. All higher-end units in the same price range heat the water to 165-170 degrees anyway, which is a disinfectant wash, much less the fact that you use detergent. And I don't see steam improving how clean your dishes will get. In terms of using water, all washers today are more efficient due to efficiency laws. Old dishwashers used 40 gallons of water to do a load of dishes, which is incredibly wasteful, whereas today it's around 12 gallons or less.
    You mentioned there are steam ovens. How do they work?
    There's a German company, Gaggenau, that makes a wall unit that does both regular and steam cooking. You pour water into it much like you would a coffee machine, and that gives you enough steam to cook for about an hour. So you can do your vegetables, or shrimp, and seafood, or use it just to refresh food that has cooled down.
    Are they popular?
    Not yet! Most people in the U.S. don't cook using steam. Heck, they're still afraid of convection ovens, much less steam ones.

    Old-fashioned steam is the hottest new thing. But is the extra cycle worth it? That depends on what you want it for...

    The Laundry List

    By Holly Peterson

    Cleaning clothes in a washer and dryer seems simple enough: Put them in, add some detergent, watch them tumble and spin, and voila! Fresh laundry. But while most machines get the basic job done, not all washers and dryers are created equal.
    The agitator, for example-that protruding stem in the middle of of traditional washers-is a merciless stretcher of garments, while scratches on a dryer's metal interior wall can cruelly snag threads and tear delicate articles. It's better than toiling over a washboard and bucket, but the road to a machine-clean clothing is filled with danger.
    Luckily, home appliances compare with computers and cars when it comes to technological and material innovation. From agitator-free washers to snag-proof dryer walls, the list of risks is shrinking.
    In addition, to treating garments with greater care, new machines have also made significant strides in water and energy efficiency, saving operating costs throughout their life spans. Though dryers still run neck and neck with refrigerators-and hot on the tail of air conditioners and water heaters-in the competition for greatest domestic energy hog, they're leagues ahead of where they once were.
    Today I've selected five of the newest models of front-loading washers and dryers to take for a spin. I've reviewed one expert's opinions, Eric Ryan of Method, to help separate the suds from the duds.

    1. Epic by Maytag / $1,099-$1,199 each / maytag.com
    Expert Opinion: "Epic's heroic name is fitting because it's the Clark Kent of machines. On the one hand you have a sturdily built, reliable washer. On the other you have a suave, nimble powerhouse. It's stackable and has optional storage drawers, which are huge space-savers. Speaking of saving, it's super energy-and water-efficient, too. So the superhero analogy definitely applies. But maybe it's more like the Maytag man just found his cape."
    What I think: Maytag's commercials have long solicited the fact that their machines function so well they make the repairman obsolete. With the Epic, they practically make the owner obsolete, too, with a series of sensors that regulate water level, temperature, and soap suds (all sold as additional features). The automatic adjustors all keep the use of water to just what's needed, so none is wasted.

    2. Affinity by Frigidaire / $749-$999 each / frigidaire.com
    Expert Opinion: "Smart is the name of the game with the Affinity, and it's intelligent iCare system puts the "care" in fabric care. It gently cleans clothes without an agitator, a good thing if you're interested in thread longevity and looking to extend the life of your clothes (yes, I mean those $300 jeans). Granted, it won't play the latest Coldplay CD, but since it has a lot of the features the more expensive guys have, this is a great value."
    What I think: Frigidaire integrates classic style with the newest technology, even down to the retro logo design. Like oven ranges, domestic washers and dryers are leaning toward professional grade, which in this case means larger capacities. Still, the side-by-side Affinity washer and dryer keep their overall profile to a minimum, and with a short dry cycle, the process takes less time and uses less energy than it does with older models.

    3. Duet Steam Washer WFW9600T by Whirlpool / $1,399-$1699 each / whirlpool.com
    Expert Opinion: "Meet the Brad and Angelina of the laundry world. This steamy affair (pun intended) is made up of smart, strong, and downright sexy forces. Thanks to the power of steam, you don't need to pretreat stains, and you can even sanitize your clothes without nasty bleach. It will revolutionize your laundry routine with less ironing and fewer trips to the dry cleaner-a bonus for both the environment and your wallet. And it's the biggest water-and energy-saver of the bunch too."
    What I think: In the Whirlpool's laundry list of features, one that stands out is the "Add-a-Garment" function, which offers the forgetful among us a chance to slip in late items for up to eight minutes after the wash cycle begins. When the light goes out, time's up. This machine also indulges the meticulous categorizer who likes to do laundry by type: Bulky, silk, wool, and varying degrees of grime each have their own special setting.

    4. W 3035 and T 8005 by Miele / $1,749-$2,349 each / miele.com
    Expert Opinion: "Think I've run out of similes for washing machines? Think again. The W 3035 and the T 8005 are like a Porsche reincarnated as washer and dryer-911s to be exact. There's a reason for that. Their features read like a sports car's; there's even a turbo button on the washer! They're high-performance, but the controls are simple enough so you don't need racing gloves or anything like that. Although, if the price tag doesn't make you shy away, then you might be in a position to have someone else sort and fold for you."
    What I think: We agree that this is the most utilitarian-sleek of the lot. Miele's stainless-steel exterior gives it a no-nonsense appearance. As functions go, it keeps things simple, and the interior light allows you to see the cycle in action. I'd like to think this eliminates the mystery of the disappearing sock.

    5. Nexxt 800 Series by Bosch / $1,449 for washer, $1,299 for dryer / boschappliances.com
    Expert Opinion: "Bosch is known for cool design and superior quality, and it doesn't disappoint here. This is one hot-looking model, and it boasts some really unique features, too. It's the quietest washer in the U.S., with cycle settings that go beyond the usual delicate, regular, and permanent press options. They've taken into consideration everything from washing jeans and comforters to taking tough stains out of kids' clothing. With all that versatility, this is a great choice for families."
    What I think: These machines have so many special features that Bosch has come up with a new vocabulary to describe it's superpowers: XXtrasanitary, KIDScare, SENSOtronic, ARCHIE Paddles-the list of trademark terms promises targeted cleaning for every kind of dirt as well as a "nearly silent" cycle. Though the array is a bit overwhelming, it's nice to be able to select based on load type and presumably get a better wash out of it. You just have to be willing to sort.

    As an interior designer with close industry relationships, my clients enjoy the highly discounted prices that are extended to them through working with me as their designer.

    Would You Use Black Toilet Paper?

    By Holly Peterson

    The concept of "designer toilet paper" is kind of akin to a Swarovski-encrusted nose hair trimmer; you just can't make nasal weed-wacking look glamorous. So, I would never venture to kid myself by buying Black Toilet Paper ($12). But, I do think if you were going to go all out hosting a Halloween party it would be a cool touch. Or maybe even an "Over the Hill" celebration?

    Would You Use Black Toilet Paper?

    Leave your comments and feedback...

    Small Kitchen Remodel...Final Completion!

    By Holly Peterson

    The final install of the 6"x6" travertine tile layed on a diagonal with 2"x2" granite insets, and the installation of the new fixtures has been completed! This kitchen went from being "livable", but somewhat cold, to feeling very warm and inviting. Another perk about upgrading to slab countertops from tile...no grout, which makes cleanup less of a hassle.

    Are you interested in learning what changes you can make to upgrade your home?
    Visit: www.designdivastudio.com