Problem Solved: A Great Window Treatment For A Bathroom

Photo courtesy of Hunter Douglas

One thing I love about design for the home is that there is always a challenge (some people call them 'problems') to solve.

One of my clients is looking for a solution for their bathroom window. The window faces a boardwalk, so the window treatment needs to provide for privacy.

But, since the window doesn't need to be closed to views from outside all the time, it needs to have a quick and easy way to adjust light coming into the room.

Lastly,  because the bathroom has various degrees of humidity during the seasons, it should be a window treatment that can hold up to the wettest of conditions.

Problem solved: Since I recently attended a seminar featuring Hunter Douglas products I recalled that their Palm Beach Shutters might answer all the challenges on our list.

With a guarantee to "never warp, crackle, fade, chip, peel or discolor" I think we may have an answer that not only works well, but looks great for years to come!

Discover a Designer's Secret to Creating the Best Dining Room

William Sonoma Heritage Dining Room Table - large but 'airy'

What are the Biggest Mistakes in Selecting Dining Room Tables?

Make no mistake, you have company coming to your home soon! You have visions of friends and family gathered around the holiday, birthday, anniversary, or graduation themed table. But the vision quickly turns into a nightmare! Once again you are faced with one or all of the three biggest problems most have with dining rooms.
  • You realize your room size was designed for midgets - not for seating eight to ten comfortably. Or it's so large you feel like your in an airplane hanger. 
  • Your chandelier never was in style. (By the way, it's installed either too high or too low and doesn't go with anything else in the room.)
  • Your chairs all match (boring).They may be uncomfortable and the fabric was out of style twenty years ago.

Dining Table Ideas 101

Many of the dining rooms I see are often too small or too large for typical family gatherings. Maybe the room can only handle a 36" deep table and no sideboard or buffet. Or the room is too large, so the space makes dining for four look like the rest of the company never showed up.

Wherever you are in your dilemma, keep these basic rules in mind when buying a new dining table so you actually will enjoy and want to use this room for upcoming festivities.

  1. Allow at least 24" of table space for each diner's place setting and room for candles, centerpieces or if you still use them - a salt and pepper set.
  2. Make sure people can get to their seats! Around a table there should be a minimum of 36" from edge of the table to the wall - so you and others can get to their chairs before the food gets cold.
  3. Whenever possible, look for tables that have pedestals so that you and your guests have ample leg room. This way they won't damage the table legs that you won't notice till they have left the scene! 
  4. Be realistic in choosing the finish of the table. If your entertaining is casual, look for a distressed finish that will hold up to all those people (small and large, young and old) who will accidentally find some way to scratch the table top, legs or the table apron.
  5. If your dining preferences lean toward the aristocratic vibe - make sure your cleaning staff use the correct furniture polish on your table and chairs.

For professional interior design for your home, office or commercial project call:


Mary Alice Smith of M. A. Smith, Ltd. - an interior designer serving New Jersey, including Ocean and Monmouth County, the Jersey Shore and metropolitan New York areas.

To schedule an appointment call: 732 690-2030 or email me at masmith729@comcast.net.

M. A. Smith, Ltd., Interior Design
Allied Member ASID

The Best Way To Light Up Your Rooms


Add Texture and Sparkle with a Lamp

Last week, when I entered the room, I noticed not only that it was so dark (even during the day) but that there were no lamps to be seen. Are they just moving into this home or are they getting ready to move out of the house?

Where were the lamps? Were they on order, stolen from the house, in a repair shop?

No, the homeowner never thought that they were needed since there were numerous recessed lights in the ceiling.

Hmmm ... I thought. But what about task lighting when you're reading? What about creating mood from the glow of a lampshade. Or, adding a neat little accent light on the mantel?

As Clodagh says "In a bedroom, you need what I call a 'love light' - a lamp you can dim..." Or perhaps you might agree with James Huniford and I - "A room should have multiple kinds of light to balance it and give it interest."

Every evening after a full day of work, I love to turn on the 'black frog' lamps on our sideboard and light the alabaster lamp on our foyer cabinet. Truly, the chandelier in the Foyer's ceiling does not warm up the space quite like that alabaster lamp.

If you want to make your home dazzle, sparkle or just look great, make sure you include lamps, chandeliers, candles or floor lamps to your design repertoire.

Here are some Lighting 101 suggestions to get you 'lit' :

  • Dimmer switches - no dimmer switches?  Use low watt (15 watt) bulbs instead
  • In a lamp with 2 sockets - use one pink bulb and one white bulb
  • Leave the Swiss cheese look on your sandwich, less is more with recessed lights in a ceiling
  • Go BIG in size with at least one lamp on a table - go ahead, make a statement!