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!

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 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.