Artful Photo Arrangements


I’ve been paying special attention to art & picture arrangements lately.  At this present moment, my own home has one piece of art hanging (and it’s a print), but it has been my mission over the past few months to add some more art to my bare walls.  I had been waiting until we could afford “real” art, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I will never be able to afford real art…or at least won’t be able to in the next decade.  So rather than wait with my naked walls, I’m taking action and creating my own.

One of the ideas I have involves finding old black and white photos of my family and my husband’s family.  I plan on spending some time over Thanksgiving going through my Mom’s stash and hopefully I will find some treasures of her when she was younger and of my grandmother and great-aunts as well.  I’d like to arrange these photos on a shelf in my living room (or on a wall if the collection gets too big) and my vision is to use the same color of frame, but in different profiles.  One example of what I’m going for I found on the Pottery Barn website:

 I may actually seek out this very color of frame as I find it to be very beautiful.  And based on this picture, it works very well with black & white photos.  Here are some other ways to arrange framed photos or art that I like.  The first image is a home designed by Charles Allem that I came across in Architectural Digest:

The following three are all Pottery Barn arrangments as well–I love the look you get when you take different photos and different frames types and layer them together:

The remaining images also show a similar technique, but prove that it’s possible to have this look good in your own home and not just in a catalog.  The first is a design by Jonathan Adler and the second a design by Vincente Wolf:

And finally, an image that I find beautiful enough to be used as art on its own.  I love the juxtaposition of the old building to the new black & white photographs on the wall.  From



A Question of Style


As Sara and I build up blog content, and get closer to the official launch of our website, I’ve begun widening the circle of people I’ve told about our business.  A good friend of mine joked that she loved the blog so far, but was disappointed about not being mentioned.  I, also joking as she’s living in a temporary apartment, said that I’d be more than happy to feature her place in a few months after we completely redecorate.  She replied thanks but no thanks, and besides, we have very different design aesthetics.

Now, she and I are old enough friends that I know she didn’t mean anything personal, and it’s very likely that some of the lightheartedness of her comment was lost in email translation, but what she said resonated with me.  There are certainly a handful of designers, think Frank Gehry and his dramatic, rippling Guggenheim Museum at Bilbao, Frank Lloyd Wright’s sweeping cantilevers at Fallingwater, or Zaha Hadid and her jagged, jarring interpretation of the Vitra Fire Station, who have a style so definitive that it sells itself – you often hire designers like these for the prestige, to have one of their signature pieces.  While of course many young designers dream about a day when they might be hired based on name recognition alone, the truth is that it takes time to get there.  It’s likely that even designers with household name recognition dabbled in many styles before attaining iconic status.  (Even the icons know the importance of evolution – Frank Lloyd Wright’s later work is markedly different from his early Prairie Style.) bilbao encarta

Guggenheim Museum at Bilbao

fallingwater - greatbuildingsonline

Fallingwater, photo


Vitra Fire Station

My point in all this is that the goal of the majority of designers, and specifically Sara’s and mine at EFeDesigns, is versatility.  I don’t believe that a designer should impose their personal style on a client’s space.  How boring would it be to design the same space over and over again!  The job of a good designer is to listen to what the client wants, likes, doesn’t like, and to refine THAT vision and bring it to fruition.  Of course if we think that certain wants are at odds with one another, or will create some functional problems, it is the designer’s job to point this out and work to come to a solution that works well while respecting the original design intent.  The job is NOT to compel a lover of romantic sophistication and intricate detailing to install a minimalist design simply because that what the designer would do in their own home.

Does it make sense to hire a designer based on a love of their previous work?  Of course!  That’s why my hope for this business is to work with a diverse customer base, especially in the beginning, in order to put our ideals into practice, and prove that we are able to not just execute different design styles, but to do it well.  I want it to seem almost like a designer was never there – to understand what a client wants so intimately that the space reflects what they would do themselves if they had the time, resources, and patience.  It also gives us a chance to do things that we might NOT do for ourselves.  I often really admire certain spaces, but know that it wouldn’t make sense for my lifestyle – but how cool is that my job allows me to create that for someone for whom it WORKS!  Plus it helps me see things in a way that I might not have thought of before, and if it helps me evolve my own personal style, so much the better.  🙂

To that end, I think that as we continue to build blog content, and eventually portfolio content, we plan to investigate a diverse mix of styles and atmospheres.  Can you think of a typology or space or design style that we haven’t touched on yet that you’d like to see discussed?  Feel free to make suggestions in the comments!

Idea House


While paging through the November edition of Coastal Living, I found myself entranced by photos of their 2009 Idea House. I stared at each page, studying all the details and enjoying the overall effect created by each room.

I like when a space makes me stop and dream about using similar elements in my own home. Whether it be the color of a wall, the shape of a lamp, or the way different eras are brought together in one space using different pieces, I like when something makes me stop and think, reflecting over what exactly it is about the space that is drawing me in.

In the Idea House, each room was a new delight to study (minus a couple of rooms, which are not pictured here).

Living Room

I’m drawn to soft, subtle colors. I can’t pick just one favorite thing from this room—I love it all. The walls are such a beautiful color and look fantastic with the limed oak fireplace and the dark, moody artwork.

Dining Room

While I’m not wild about the teapot pattern of the wallcovering & drapes, I do like the idea of using the same fabric for a wallcovering and for drapes.  And using a giant pot for a table base—great idea!


I love two things about this kitchen. One: the black cabinetry—so beautiful. Two: the use of different materials on the island. I can’t wait until my husband & I have a larger house and can use this technique in our own kitchen. I like that it makes a kitchen feel unique and not like it was picked out of a catalog.

Screened Porch

The drapery. Full-height drapery will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s so elegant and luxurious. One way to add instant drama to a space.

Bedroom 1

Bedroom 2

Bedroom 3

Speaking of drama, that’s exactly what this master bedroom is: dramatic. I am a huge fan of using grey as the neutral in a space (rather than white or off-white). Paired here with a bright chartreuse, it’s simply stunning.

Guest bed 1

Another favorite color combination of mine: blue & green. Peaceful, bucolic, relaxing.


This space is one of my favorites. I like the idea of using every niche in a house to its fullest, so when I saw these vibrantly colored bunk beds tucked away behind the horizontal grey bead board walls…I wished I were a kid again.