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.

Dinner Party


I recently had a gathering of friends for a dinner party.  The best part of planning a party is decorating the table.  I used a paper tablecloth from Caspari that you would never know was paper.  I love my Tattersall dinner plates from MacKenzie-Childs.  I bought them after using them for my tabletop setting for the Designer Showcase/Tabletop Tour De Force I did for MacKenzie-Childs (see my website for pictures of the tabletop).  I stuck in thistle that I dried from my niece’s wedding flower arrangements into my flower centerpiece.  I love thistle – Being purple is a perk as it’s one of my favorite colors! 

Having friends over for the superbowl.  What are you doing for the superbowl?


Everson Museum of Art Festival of Trees

everson2012  I always love creating a donation for the Everson Festival of Trees held each year in Syracuse, New York.  This year I decided to create a centerpiece.  A candle, inserted in the middle of the faux greens, jeweled fruit, leopard feathers, glittered leaves and red bendable curls added sparkle to the piece.  The centerpiece sold the night of the opening preview party and I visualized  seeing it on top of a stand in the middle of a Holiday Open House gracefully cascading down amongst wonderfully displayed appetizers.  Enjoy!

Shower Gathering


My sister and I  recently had a baby shower at the Cavalry Club in Manlius, New York for my niece, Alison.  Since she was having a girl my sister and I decided upon tones of pink (what else!).  Alison wanted a theme of zebras, elephants and giraffes. 

 I used a wonderful fabric from Kravet Fabrics with animals on it for the center of the table to add color and I built off of that.  The wild and unusual flowers were suggested and ordered from Whistlestop Florist in East Syracuse, New York.  I used fiddles head and lime green mums among other flowers to give it a “wild” look for the animal theme.  Different baby rattles hung from the flower arrangements on each table.  Bursting from the napkins were paper pom poms I made.  It added wonderful color to the table.  Larger pom poms hung over the gift table which I situated in front of a large mirror to add color and dimension to the room. 

I carried the animal fabric over to the gift table and added wonderful ribbon my sister found to the front of the table.  Alison wanted a cozy room feel so I brought over my wonderful wicker chairs from my deck added a table and hung a painting of a mother and daughter on the beach over the window. 

So very fun!!