A Fresh Eye – Sometimes that’s all it takes

Dina Livingroom

Dina Chairs Livingroom

Dina Kitchen

Dina Bedroom

Recent photo’s taken by my ever so talented photographer, Jonathan Beach.

Do you love some of what you have already but need help pulling it together.  I can help with accessorizing and styling your rooms.

Sometimes a fresh eye can yield incredible results.

Day Trip

Nothing is better than playing hooky on a slow day when the weather is as glorious as it was the other morning when I awoke.  I said to my husband, “let’s take a day trip somewhere.”  So off we went to the Montezuma Swamps.  I’ve always wanted to drive through the swamps and hike the trails.

My love of photographing wildlife and landscapes is my second favorite thing to decorating – Oh OK maybe it’s tied for first.

It was a beautiful sunny day with a gentle breeze and all the wildlife were out enjoying it as well.  My husband did the driving while I shouted every so often, “stop!” to capture a remarkable creature.  Whether it was a Great Blue Heron stalking the edge of the water for his next meal or Mommy and Daddy geese eyeing us suspiciously while protecting their newly hatched family, it was amazing and exhilarating!

The colors of the day couldn’t have been more vibrant and perfect to try out my new digital camera.  My favorite colors of lime green, purple hues and mixed colors of yellows were abundant.

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Great Blue Heron.

I’ll leave you with a saying I love that was written by Patrick O’Leary for the Chevy Tahoe ad:

“There’s a place I travel when I want to roam, and nobody knows it but me.  The roads don’t go there and the signs stay home, and nobody knows it but me.  It’s far, far away and way, way afar, it’s over the moon and the sea and wherever you’re going that’s wherever you are…and nobody knows it but me.”  If you’ve never been to Montezuma, take a day and enjoy……we did.


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Mom and dad guard their new family.

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Every move puts the father goose on guard.

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Mother goose settles down with daddy and babies close by.

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Hues of yellows, lime greens and purples set the stage.

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Muskrat enjoying the grasses.

The Front Porch/Former Splendor

Fielddale lodge

I remember when I was young my parents would drive my sister and I to Albany to visit our grandmother.  As we came upon her beautiful brick home, there she would be, sitting on the front porch in a white rocking chair surrounded by beautifully colored ceramic pots with wonderful flowers cascading down them.

Our home in Buffalo, New York I lived in until I was 12 years old, had a lovely covered front porch.  My family would always gather there after dinner and sit in the naturally colored wicker chairs with lively colored pillows in them.  My friends would see me out and run over – off we went to play.

Whatever happened to gatherings on beautifully decorated front porches.   Now a days even when a new home is built with a lovely front porch do you ever see anyone sitting on it?  Centering ourselves to the back of our homes has become the new norm.

What’s disheartening to me is how unfortunate it is that some people have an entrancing front porch but do nothing to enhance it.


My small but beautifully decorated front porch captivates the senses.

Although I don’t have much of a front porch I have an Adirondack chair, bamboo bench , a potted bush and flowers on it.  As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I’ve made my front courtyard into a “room” thereby enhancing the entrance to my home. It captivates the senses before you enter into my home.  I enjoy going out on my small front porch and sitting amongst my “secret garden” with a cup of tea and book in hand.

Architect and Author, Sarah Susanka was quoted in a Chicago Tribune News interview as saying, “I really like the character of a Cape Cod in large part because I really enjoy the front porch…the house sort of welcomes you before you enter the front door.”

Last summer my husband and I were invited to a friends summer lake home.  Sitting on their beautifully enhanced  lake front, front porch, neighbor upon neighbor stopped by for a drink, conversation and some advice.  It made me think that at home no one every stops by unannounced anymore.  But then I realized the difference at a lake house.  The lake view is considered to be the front of the house and so you are visible to all the neighbors around the lake.  They see you and hop in their boats to come and visit.  If we are focused on the back of our homes, no one can see you.  Could it be our lives have gotten so busy and full we prefer to be in the back where no one can see us?  If you sit out front think of it this way, it’s a way to socialize without having to actually clean your house!

Bed and Breakfasts are very good at playing on your senses.  They provide an instant clue to what is inside.  They do it right by enhancing your first impression of their place.  A porch with comfy chairs, plants and signs of life with people conversing draws you in.

Even though our days of gathering on the front porch seems to have slowly drifted away could we not rethink the possibility of what I call “gathering of the senses?”  As summer approaches start thinking about a makeover for your front porch by adding  pieces of furniture, a wall sculpture, potted plants and trees, an outdoor rug or even a new beautiful light on the ceiling of the porch.  Porches provide a creative way for a staging area for holiday decorations.  Let’s not neglect what is a person’s first impression.  You might find you will even enjoy going out the front to sit instead of the back.

“The house sort of welcomes you before you enter the front door”

I shall leave you with a poem I adore by Garrison Keiller, “The porch promotes good conversation simply by virtue of the fact that on a front porch there is no need for it.”


Manlius Home Featured in the Syracuse Post Standard

House of the Week: Beauty Queen Status

By Marnie Eisenstadt | meisenstadt@syracuse.com on March 08, 2013 at 6:00 AM, updated March 08, 2013 at 12:47 PM

The Hepburn has all the features you’d expect from a home named for a film icon — beautiful finishes, granite countertops and California closets throughout.

Post Standard Photo Gallery

But there’s a detail that’s carried throughout the house that might escape a first look: Every corner is rounded. Every angle is smoothed.

“It’s comforting,” said builder Dave Zellar, running his hand over one of the rounded corners. The entries to most rooms are arches instead of square angles.

The house had local beauty queen status: it was featured in the Parade of Homes in 2010. It’s tucked in the Manlius hills in what’s technically a condominium development called Villas at Mallards Landing. That status means the taxes are 40 percent lower than what they would normally be on the property.

There’s a homeowner association fee of $190 per month. That takes care of snow plowing, lawn mowing and landscaping.

The three-bedroom, two-and –a-half-bath home was built for the specific lot. There’s a morning room off the kitchen that looks out over the hills and fills up with sun. It was designed with that effect in mind, Zellar said. And when there’s no sun, the walls make up for it. The wallpaper in the morning room is bursting with pink, yellow and red blooms. The house was decorated by Marcia Philipp.

The ceilings are 11-feet high with crown molding throughout the downstairs. The great room has coffered ceilings, so you get the grand impression without losing that comforting feel. The dining room has a tray ceiling.

The home’s arches extend to the hearth and built-ins in the great room. They all have rounded edges.

And the arched feel continues into the master bath, where the soaking tub with air jets sits in a windowed-nook under a comforting arch. There are stacked pieces of stone around the tub and on the shower wall. Zellar said people questioned whether it would be hard to clean during the tours of the home when it first went on the market.

“Look at it. It still looks perfect,” he said.

One of the home’s most unique details is the upstairs loft area at the top of the stairs. The wallpaper has trees on it and the branches have been painted up onto the ceiling. The window treatment is held up by twigs instead of a curtain rod.

The floors in the loft and throughout the home are oak. Zellar promises they’ll be creakless forever. Even the home’s furnace and ductwork is done so it doesn’t make any of the rattle you might find in another house with forced air heat. The home’s appliances and insulation make for a utility bill that average $220 a month.

The details:

Address: 147 Gadwall Lane, Manlius  Price: $549,000  Taxes: $12,955  Size: 3,200 square feet  Monthly Mortgage: with the standard 20 percent down, the payments would be $2,131.97 a month based on 20 percent down with a rate of 4.125 percent based on the recent national Freddie Mac average. With 24 percent down, the loan moves out of the “jumbo loan” category. Then, the payments would be $1,901.73 with a rate of 3.625 percent.  Built: 2010  School District: Fayetteville-Manlius

Great room: The front entry opens into the great room with 11-foot coffered ceilings. The room has built-ins and a gas fireplace, all with rounded edges that match the homes many arches.

Dining room: The dining room has a tray ceiling, fabric chandeliers and faux painting on the walls.

Kitchen: There are painted wood cabinets that close automatically. There are sunflower granite countertops and a matching backsplash. There are built-ins for knick-knacks at the end of the kitchen island. The stainless appliances are Kitchen Aid and include a double, convection and warming ovens. There’s also a built-in wine rack and bookshelves for cook books. The kitchen opens to a morning room/breakfast nook that’s full of windows and light. There’s a door onto covered veranda made from Stampcrete.

Powder room: The powder room is off the mud entry and is sizable for a half-bath.

Downstairs back hall: There’s a California closet for storing gear, shoes and anything else that needs to be hidden. There’s also a laundry room and office with built-in desk off the back hallway.   Master bedroom: The best feature of this room is that it opens to the same veranda as the morning room. There is striped wallpaper and large his and hers California closets.   Master bath: features a Jacuzzi tub in a quiet windowed nook. There are stacked stones both there and in the shower. There are double sinks and granite countertops.

Upstairs: The loft area has tree wallpaper and faux painting that extends the branches to the ceiling. There’s a window treatment that uses twigs instead of traditional curtain rods, completing the nature theme of the area. There’s another full bath with a single sink and tub-shower combination.

Second bedroom: The second bedroom is painted red and is wired to also be used as a media room. It is a sizeable closet.

Third bedroom: The third bedroom is larger and has a nook that’s the perfect spot for a desk. It has the same sized closed as the second bedroom. The window treatment in that room uses belts instead of curtain ties.

Contact Marnie Eisenstadt at 315-470-2246 or meisenstadt@syracuse.com. To nominate a house of the week, send an email to meisenstadt@syracuse.com.

A Lighting Affair/A Passion for Lighting Ambiance

This picture perfect light fixture by Hubbardton Forge was installed over my clients pool table in the Adirondacks.

Empty a house completely, and three elements remain:  Light, color and a sense of cleanliness.  Any rethinking of the space starts with these basics.  It’s odd that lighting is so often overlooked, since it has the power to radically transform architecture and interiors.  Lighting can make a small area seem spacious and a large one intimate.  It can make walls appear solid or transparent and can even make or break a mood.  Whether you infuse a house with natural light or use artificial, keep this in mind; the ideal house should operate beautifully with natural light during the day and aesthetically pleasing during the evening.  To this day, I can remember one of my college professors said to me, “You can practically redecorate your whole house by just changing the placement of lighting.”  That’s so true.  Did you ever add a lamp or move one to a different spot?  It changes the way you look at that space at night.

Often overlooked by builders and architects is the consideration of placement of lighting in a home.  Not as much the placement of chandeliers and hallway fixtures, as much as the placement of the new bendable track lighting and recessed lighting.

Table withMorror

The lamp added balance to a column console.

Placement of lighting should visually accent, dramatize, enhance, or create.  Accenting a fireplace or wall (spotlights with dimmers), dramatizing a built-in wall unit or piece of furniture, enhancing a painting or piece of art and creating a space normally uninviting with recessed lighting.

whole livingroom

Installed with dimmers, these recessed lights in my clients home added ambiance and additional lighting.

One interesting concept that has taken hold is linear lighting systems.  Applications range from under kitchen cabinets to “toe spaces.”  Toe space lighting; illuminating under steps, lower cabinets, under bathroom vanities that are hung on the wall or even counter top overhangs can act as a night light or the so-called mood lighting.  Recently in Boston, I stayed at a hotel that had created a triple tray ceiling and inset the linear lighting into the middle of the third tray.  Below, three carpets were inserted to form borders and thereby creating the same effect as above.

 Last week, I went to a new client and immediately noticed their kitchen table was offset in the eating area because the builder had installed a chandelier in an awkward spot in the ceiling.  I told them to add recessed lighting in the space thereby eliminating the need to place the kitchen table in one spot.  They did and what a huge difference it made.  You could easily get around the table, a piece of furniture could be added to the wall in the kitchen and you could easily access the door to the deck.  Think outside the norm – You don’t always have to have a chandelier over your kitchen table.  Add a lamp to the kitchen table in the wintertime to give more lighting and ambiance, put a small lamp on the vanity counter in the half bath that you turn on for guests, invite warmth by putting a lamp on the kitchen counter and turning it on with the under cabinet lighting.  I once had a custom farm table made with two holes evenly spaced in the center so my client could use two lamps on the table.  The cord went through the holes in the table to a floor plug below.

Don’t be afraid to be different.  When moving from one home to another, my client brought her wonderful dining room chandeliar with her.  I loved the look of it with her new bed.  So, we had the chandelier installed in the bedroom. Continuing with the circle theme, I had a long shag rug cut into a circle to give the room some warmth.  



My clients dining room fixture from her old house was installed in the Master Bedroom.

bedroom Mirror

Dramatic results happen when stratigically placing a mirror.

Seeking a professional can help you create something that you can’t necessarily see yourself.  Surrounding yourself with inviting comfort is what’s it’s all about.  I spent facetime with a client in Florida yesterday because she said her house lacked “Marcia-nizing.”  She wanted that same feel her home up North had that I did.  My new favorite word……..   

Do you need “Marcia-nizing?”


Love the styling

 I love the styling of this line, Monterey Sands, from Lexington Home Brands – A wonderful furniture line I’ve been selling for years.  Their showroom at the Furniture and Accessory Market I travel to in October in High Point, North Carolina is amazing.   I remember once, to show off a new line of furniture they were introducing, their stylist created a cornfield in the middle of the showroom.  As you meandered through the cornfield you came upon a wonderful imaginary facade of a wrap around front porch complete with rocking chairs.   As you stepped through the screen door into the kitchen, there was coffee brewing and a woman baking pies. You just wanted to sit down at their new kitchen table they were featuring.  You couldn’t wait to “experience” the rest of the house.  I wanted to buy the furniture because it had a warmth to it and I could pass that warmth along to my clients.  The stylist had put personal style into the showroom, inventing a character – let’s say conjuring up an imaginary client’s personal style.

Carrie Donovan’s description of personal style in the magazine section of an old New York Times states, “A chair, if it’s the right one, can have it.  So can a room, a house and possibly everything in it.  Even a tree can be said to have it (though that is certainly not the first thing to consider when planting).  Many people go happily through life without a trace of style, but just as many others are continually pleasured by their ability to create it or appreciate it.  One person’s idea may be abhorrent to another.  And styles in style shift with the times.  But what is constant is a certain idiosyncrasy or quirk that distinguishes the stylish from the mundane.”

I couldn’t agree with Donovan more.  You want rooms to exude harmony, a special air of grace.  Such decorating springs from the fundamentals of good design.  For designing and decorating, I believe, is an endeavor that combines equal parts of technical know how and innate artistry.  The fundamentals of a well-built, well decorated home should consist of comfort, suitability, warmth, contrast, and of course, personal style.

You shouldn’t go into a home and experience just one thing – a great ceiling, a great sofa or a great facade.  I believe it should be an integrated environment.  Detail can be wonderful, but not to the point that it’s lost.  Often, it’s more important to subtract than to add.

The builders personal style is passed on to the potential buyer whose own personal style matches that of the builder’s.  Then, the buyer places their trust and confidence in the designer who can make the interior of their home as special as the surroundings.  In other words, tying all the elements together.

A quote by T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings say’s it all, “Why do we love certain houses, or why do they seem to love us? It is the warmth of our individual hearts reflected in our surroundings.”

                                  What’s your personal style?



                     HAPPY VALENTINES DAY……..Marcia   


Outdoor Spaces

When my husband and I moved into our condominium six years ago, my gardening flourished.  You are restricted in what you can do to the outside when you have a Homeowners Association so my challenge began.   Each year,  I have created spaces outdoors that you can sit, read or reflect in.  One of my passions along with decorating is gardening.  I have a dear friend, Barbara, who loves to come over and “share” my outdoor spaces with me.  As we were sitting in the deck space one year,  she took a deep sigh and said, “I feel like I’m in a little slice of heaven.”  Even small condominium outdoor spaces can become “rooms.” 

I have what I call three separate outdoor rooms during the summer.  The first, is the deck, which has wonderful all weather wicker chairs and a high top dining table set made of woven vinyl that I sell from Lloyd/Flanders.  Potted flowers and herbs, wall decor, outdoor bakers rack, and fountains envelope the deck.  I bought an old shutter and corbels from a salvage yard to create a wall server for food and drinks when entertaining.  I had a piece of Plexiglas made to fit on top of the shutter.





The “screen room” is what I call our second space.  With the condominum covenants you can’t erect a permanent structure so, my husband  and I put up an 11′ x 11′ hexagon screen room (after getting approval of course).  What a wonderful space.  I put up grommet draperies held by thick ropes on shower rods my husband cut to fit.  Added an outdoor rug and furniture.  We love it at dusk when the mosquitoes come out.  A lot of times we’ll have dinner on the deck and move inside the screen room for coffee.  My husband cleverly erected a way to get into the screen room from inside the house.  We are able to leave the living room sliding door open to get in and out.  Our two Abyssinian cats love the access to go in and out although they are more in the room than out in the summer.  Sarah Susanka, architect and author states in her book; “the not so big house,” “that a screen room celebrates summer weather and the outdoors.” 

Screen Room


Our third space is my recently installed small pond with a waterfall  in the front courtyard.  My husband calls it, “The Secret Garden.” It’s so very peaceful and private although there are many condo’s surrounding us.  I sit in the Adirondack chair (don’t you just love how the Adirondack chair symbolizes water and peacefulness in your mind.)  So many Adirondack chairs have been photographed with two facing the water.  My husband and I were in the Adirondacks in Blue Mountain and I shouted to my husband, “stop!”  I wanted to take a photograph of two wonderfully old adirondack chairs facing the lake.  The photograph on the top of this page is of my pond with one of the seven frogs that kept me company all summer. You can view more pictures of the pond and a larger picture of the screen room by clicking at the top of this page to go to my website.



I shall leave you with a quote from Paige Rense that’s in a little book my friend, Claire gave me:  “Everyone has, I think, in some quiet corner of his mind, an ideal home waiting to become a reality.

Enjoy your home today!

Somerset Bay

Don’t you just love this!  This article is in the February/March 2013 issue of Traditional Home Magazine.  The furniture featured is a line I sell called Somerset Bay.  I just ordered three new pieces for stock.  Everytime I place the new pieces in my studio/home, they go right out the door. 

One piece I ordered is the Augusta Box on stand.  It’s a wonder piece for next to a chair or sofa if you don’t have a lot of room.  The other piece I ordered was the Sarasota Nightstand (see picture below).  I’m going to put it next to my sofa in the den.  I’ve had an antique table that originally started out being red with turned legs there and I painted it a rich cream color from Benjamin Moore called Cloud Nine.  Time to change!!  This piece will look fantastic there.  I ordered it in the finish it’s featured in – Vanilla Bean.  That’s one of the wonderful things this company offers is they have a lot of different finishes to choose from.

 I originally became familiar with the line when my husband and I journeyed to The Traditional Home Ocean 3 Showhouse:  Beauty on the Beach in Montauk, New York.  One of the Showhouse sponsors was Somerset Bay.


 View one of the Showhouses here:   http://www.traditionalhome.com/design_decorating/showhouses/oceans-showhouse-beauty-on-the-beach_ss1.html  or visit Somerset Bay’s site you will love it;  www.somersetbayhome.com

“Living with Mate-Lasse” – How my Husband Deals With Being Married to An Interior Designer.


Mea Matelesse
My favorite custom bedding line – Eastern Accents
Visit them at www.EasternAccents.com

 “Mate-Lesse” – that’s what my husband said the other day.  When does the “mate-lesse summer spread come out?”  “It’s February,” I said.  He thinks that’s a cool word and he uses it whenever he can.  I myself find it an interesting word as well.  For those of you not quite sure what it means, it’s  a jacquard loom and used esp. for clothing, upholstery, and bedspreads and marked by raised floral or geometric designs with a puckered or quilted appearance achieved by the interlacing of threads in the weaving or the contracting of threads in the finishing (see picture above). 

I love using words in the “designer world” when speaking with my husband, Rick,  about my various projects I’m working on.  “Oh the draperies were unbelievably beautiful on my clients window,”  I said.  “They had grommets and they undulated in and out.”  “Undulated in and out!”  “What the heck is un..ju…lates…..?” My husband elongates the word to emphasize it.   Ah another word in the designer world. 

Stay tuned for more “designer words” I use on my husband.