Merry Christmas 2010

Wishing everyone a very Merry and Safe Christmas Holiday!!! I look forward to more exciting posts in 2011, which will be my 4th year of posting interior design challenges and fun decorating ideas.

Outdoor Rooms

Outdoor 01 fire design

Lean and Clean

While enormous hearths have their charm, not everyone has the room to accommodate those structures. A contemporary, gas-fired alternative like this module unit from Spark Modern Fires is more environmentally friendly than wood burners and can be modified for custom designs. What's more, it turns on with the flick of a remote. Photo by Spark Modern Fires.

Outdoor 03 burning bowl

An Intimate Firebowl

A beautifully-shaped firebowl, such as a Greek urn, is an attractive and portable alternative to traditional outdoor hearths. This bowl, designed by Ian Knepper, is a sculptural work of art that provides a safe and clean flame and is small enough to be positioned anywhere. It offers a wonderful opportunity to nestle chairs around for an intimate gathering. Photo by Ian Knepper.

Outdoor 04 fireplace and column

Warmth Under a Pergola

It's nice to have a backyard entertainment space set apart from the main living area. You can gather around the blazing fire, look up at the stars and pretend you are far away from civilization.
This standalone fireplace from Stirling StoneWorks sits under a garden pergola on a stone patio. A raised hearth adds seating for outdoor entertaining. Photo by Melody Saunders Brenna; Stirling StoneWorks.

Outdoor 07 fire design on patio

A Wall of Fire

Modern, modular gas-fueled fire ribbons offer enormous design versatility. A fire wall is used as a dramatic enhancement to the outdoor architecture. This unit is constructed from stainless steel with waterproof internal components, a remote control and an electronic ignition. Photo by Spark Modern Fires.

Outdoor 08 fire pit and seating

The Circle of Flames

Whether you live in the frigid North or are more accustomed to warm breezes and rustling palms, there's no better way to enjoy the company of friends than around a blazing fire as the night descends. Today's fire pits come with all the conveniences of modern life. Photo by Snassek.

Outdoor 09 fireplace and seating

Bringing the Indoors Out

A classically-styled stone mantelpiece will be the center of attention, whether it is in your living room or on the patio. With the right seating arrangement, your backyard becomes a natural extension of your home. Choosing materials that complement each other and considering lighting options, materials and furniture are key components in creating a comfortable outdoor entertainment hub. Photo by Winston Furniture.

Premiere Surgical: December 2010 eDigest - Your Heart, Our Team

Premiere Surgical: December 2010 eDigest - Your Heart, Our Team

Real Estate Luxury

Las Vegas: 1 Hughes Center Drive (© Cristine Lefkowitz)

Las Vegas

1 Hughes Center Drive, No. 1901
  • List price: $11.7 million
  • Previous list price: $20 million in January 2008
  • Reduced: $8.3 million
  • Price cut: 41.5%
This two-story penthouse in the Park Towers was listed by Prudential at $20 million in 2008 before being relisted for $15 million in 2009, according to The price was cut to $13.2 million in February 2010 and then to $11.7 million in September, according to
The penthouse measures 6,799 square feet and has four bedrooms, six bathrooms, a home theater and views of the Las Vegas Strip, according to Prudential. Park Towers, built by casino owner Steve Wynn and developer Irwin Molasky, opened in 2001.

Las Vegas: 2777 Paradise Road (© Cristine Lefkowitz)

Las Vegas

2777 Paradise Road, No. 3801/3901
  • List price: $10 million
  • Previous list price: $16 million in January 2009
  • Reduced: $6 million
  • Price cut: 37.5%
This penthouse offers more than 12,000 square feet of living space, including more than 3,000 square feet of wraparound terraces that provide a view of the Las Vegas Strip. The unit has five bedrooms and nine bathrooms and a dining room with a vaulted ceiling, according to Prudential. Florida-based developer Thurnberry Associates built the property.

New York: 610 Park Ave. (©

Miami Beach, Fla.: 800 S. Pointe Drive (© Bryan Sereny)

Miami Beach, Fla.

800 S. Pointe Drive, PH-A
  • List price: $16 million
  • Previous list price: $22 million in 2008
  • Reduced: $6 million
  • Price cut: 27.3%
This new luxury condo development, named Apogee, was built by Miami-based developer The Related Group in 2008. The penthouse, which first listed for $22 million in 2008, occupies the top two floors of the building, with 11,000 square feet of terrace and balcony. The rooftop has a private pool and built-in kitchen.
"If (it were) listed for $16 million in 2008, it most likely would have sold by now," says Bryan Sereny, a co-broker for the listing who also represents other sales at Apogee.

New York: 812 Park Ave. (© Sotheby's International Realty)

New York

812 Park Ave., penthouse
  • List price: $15.9 million
  • Previous list price: $36.5 million in November 2007
  • Reduced: $20.6 million
  • Price cut: 56.4%
This 6,500-square-foot triplex penthouse is on the 13th, 14th and 15th floors of a pre-World War II cooperative on Park Avenue. Sotheby's International Realty listed it for $36.5 million in November 2007, and Brown Harris Stevens listed it in June 2009 for $22 million.
Architect James Carpenter won an award from the American Institute of Architects' New York chapter for his work on this building in 1927, according to Corcoran.

OK, back to earth!!!! I call this my dream tour!!!!

Christmas Tree Ideas

 AGlass ornaments on a tree

Gorgeous Glass

This simple, timeless design will never go out of style.

Tip: Instead of purchasing individual ornaments, opt for boxes of multiples in one color and put the money you saved towards more gifts.

Holiday theme with cranberries, robin's blue egg


Introduce a fresh color scheme to your holiday decorations (we chose cranberry, robin's egg blue, and chocolate), and repeat the colors for maximum sparkle.

Tip: Before adding ornaments, look at the lit tree at night so it's easier to see where you need to add or take away a strand.

A silver themed tree with family heirlooms including baby cups

Silver Sensation

To make your tree especially meaningful, look around your home for personal collections to use as ornaments. Here, family heirlooms, such as silver baby cups, create a silver-themed tree.

Various sizes of trees, garland, plants, and boxes make for a festive outdoor background

Festive Front Entry

Take the tree outdoors! By mixing multiple trees in varying sizes with garland, seasonal plants (such as poinsettias), and wrapped boxes, you can create a festive backdrop for an outdoor holiday gathering.

Tip: Keep your setup safe from the elements by staging it in a covered area.

Pale butterfly inspired colors on a tree

Fanciful Fir

Use what you already have to inspire new looks. The decor for this tree began with a butterfly-patterned piece of china from the homeowner's collection. The plate's pinks, reds, yellows, and greens dictate the color scheme for this holiday home.

A kids' tree with gingerbread ornaments

Kids' Corner

The little ones will love helping you decorate a tree that's just for them (Norfolk Island pine is used here). Try hanging homemade gingerbread-man ornaments (made of felt, buttons, rickrack, and candies) and strings of gumdrops as garland. via

When my grandson was 4 I let him decorate his own tree with his tools, trucks and any of his favorite things and add special holiday greetings to special friends and family. He is 18 now and has never forgotten that tree.

Christmas Tablesettings

Winter Wonderland

White on white makes a simple yet striking table setting during the holidays. Ceramic white plates finished each setting with a wrapped gift box for a striking touch.


Jingle Bells

RMS user dianneh stacked several patterned plates for individualized holiday table settings. An oversized bell holds the personalized name cards for each guest.

Winter Snow

RMS user AprilD26 used winter snow and ice as the inspiration for her holiday tablescape. Crystal glasses, a blue table runner and silver accents create a graceful and elegant dining experience.


Sky-High Centerpiece

RMS user Tablescapes used stacked cake plates to put together a dazzling tabletop display. When decorating with traditional holiday hues, combine red ornament balls, berry sprigs, red beads and ribbon for an extravagant centerpiece.

Simple Settings

Designer Katrina Giles used robin's egg blue ornament balls as name card holders for each place setting. The name cards are made of black glitter yardstick and silver letter stickers and can be used from season to season.

Silver and White

With a bold, eye-catching centerpiece, RMS user JenniH kept the table settings simple with stacked white plates on round silver platters. Small sterling silver vases hold individual Lily of the Valley flowers for each guest.

Designer's Notes/Master Suites

Designer's Notes

A dark, rich, chocolate-brown accent wall sets the tone for this modern yet romantic master bedroom.

The master bedroom is a luxurious retreat that has a beautiful bed as the central focus. A silk carpet grounds the room, and a great piece of art balances the wall of windows on the opposite side.

Two structural columns in the master bedroom dictated the layout of the room. One of the two structural columns in the room was encased in a free-standing wall built to divide the master bedroom area from the office. The front of the wall acts as a headboard for the king-size bed, while the back of the wall has a built-in desk with shelving above.

The bedroom area is open to the atrium, sharing the light and allowing for views out in all directions. The stone backdrop to the bed unites the finishes with the other stone accents throughout the apartment.

This master bedroom suite is gifted with a great amount of space. The very dark brown, almost-black walls make this lofty room feel more intimate. The fireplace and TV wall was reinforced as a focal point with free form-painted horizontal stripes. The artwork, also in a horizontal format, helps maintain your eyes from perceiving the height of the ceiling. Such a bold combination takes a bit of moxie and faith in your designer's choice.

Imagine the perfect room-within-a-room for a master suite. This reading nook provides a cozy retreat, complete with a chenille-covered big easy chair and ottoman, adjustable reading lamp, and preserved Manzanita tree. The tree shelters the seating area and adds warmth and a sense of security as you relax into this cuddle space.

Warm neutrals with golden accents draw you into this warm, intimate space. The slight sheen on the drapery panels and bedding add a luminous quality, and the linear details of the fabrics and furniture are caught by the light from the wall mounted arc sconces on either side of this master bedroom. A true retreat within the home, this cozy spot will make for a memorable 'staycation'.

Designer's Notes/Bath Suites

Designer's Notes

A Mediterranean feel was achieved in this powder room with the warm wall finish. The walls were faux-finished with plaster relief arabesque motifs scattered about. A soft glaze was washed over for an aged feel, which complements the mirror and etagere.

A 1950's vintage bathroom can still be revitalized. A custom-designed vanity with an open storage compartment can visually give the illusion of more space. The area below can be used to stack towels and other toiletry items in neat boxes. The walls were covered in a coral-colored grasscloth for a wow factor.

A small powder room can benefit from a unique vanity cabinet. Here, the vanity cabinet is floating above the floor and has a capiz shell inlaid panel. This detail is repeated in the custom Venetian plaster finish on the walls and the border of the mirror.

Don’t be afraid to use a dark paint color, as long as you balance it with colors and textures that reflect light easily like glossy white wainscoting and polished metals. This is the color I used on my own bathroom, I added a terrazzo floor to pick up the colors in the wall and retain the white onto the floor.

Black-and-white marble tile, silver blue paint and charcoal gray concrete counters add trendy charm to this 1940’s home.

This completely gutted and redesigned  bathroom  includes a steam shower, large tub and double-sink vanity. The custom cherry blossom tile mosaic is from Ann Sacks and makes the bathroom feel unique and luxurious. Because the mosaic was an expensive addition, simple, inexpensive tiles were selected for all other areas of the bathroom to avoid breaking the bank.


Champagne glasses filled with water and little branches of evergreens.

Got a Light?

No matter what you're serving or what your table looks like, simple votive candles add elegance and instantly dress things up. Also try this simple row of lights on a buffet.
Purchase unscented votives in bulk, and place a candle in the bottom of each glass. When one burns out, simply replace it with another.
Champagne flutes and evergreen sprigs form a centerpiece when interspersed with forest green tea lights in clear votive holders.
Prunings from some junipers stay fresh for a month or more in water. Other short-needled conifers for this use include Arizona cypress, Atlas cedar, Douglas fir, and noble fir.

Add topiaries and votives

Firmly Planted

When you want something a little more than just candlelight, add a few topiaries. These, planted with succulents, can be transferred to the garden after the party. Potted plants and herbs also add instant interest to a table.

Tiered present centerpiece

In a Box

When you’re tight on time, take advantage of what’s plentiful. Simply gather small wrapped presents, a tiered pedestal, and some holly or other greenery. Within minutes, you'll have a centerpiece that will last the entire season (or at least until the gifts are opened). I love the elegance of this centerpiece idea.

An alternative to potted poinsettias

Budding Idea

You're sure to have potted poinsettias around the house this time of year. Take a few clippings and place them in bud vases or glass bottles to quickly dress up a table. Set the vases in a row or in clusters on either end of your table.


Glass Houses

Interior fireplace

If you follow my blog you are aware I love glass houses, this one truly gives you the
experience of bringing the outside indoors. The Fireorb fireplace frees up floor space, and the spindly tables, chairs, and even kitchen counters help the home feel uncluttered.

Santa Monica custom home winner dining room

The dining room opens onto the semi-walled entrance area. The open floor plan and careful window placement eliminate the need for air-conditioning.

Modern prefab home

The result of a design/build class taught by Jennifer Siegal and Michael P. Johnson, it’s a dynamic, livable house that honors Frank Lloyd Wright’s legacy while tackling important design issues of today, from innovative prefabrication to sustainable systems like solar panels and rainwater and gray-water collection.

Landscape and architecture home design

Sustainable features and native plants up the ante on a seamless integration of indoors and out.

Green roof garden

A grassy roof helps keep the kitchen from heating up in warm months.

Sliding doors let evaporation from the swimming pool cool the house.

Urban living apartment building

The use of a structural steel frame allowed for more flexible floor plans: Someday, for instance, units A and C could be combined to make an apartment large enough to house a home office, an aging parent, or a growing family.

Seattle rooftop home roof and view

The roof's deep overhang keeps the rooms cool even though the walls are glass.

Eco-friendly home design

Geothermal systems that heat and cool the house, and solar panels providing power, let this house sit relatively lightly on a dramatic landscape.

Custom-built glass home

This largely glass house slices across the steeply sloping site, taking advantage of the mature trees, which help preserve some privacy.

Montecito custom home

As wildfires often ravage this part of the Santa Barbara coast, the architects chose fire-resistant materials (steel, concrete) for the construction.