Layering Your Windows


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Just like dressing yourself, dressing your windows is best done with multiple layers. It adds versatility by creating more options with the function that impact the mood of the room. I personally love the look of a natural wood shade, flanked with linen panels for a relaxed setting. This can be a great way to use store bought curtains to create a custom look. For a more formal setting, consider multiple sets of panels and a cornice or valance. Note: It’s crucial to make sure your top treatment is well designed to avoid looking dated. Unlike your grandmother’s waterfall swags, today’s valances are well tailored and chic. When pairing, consider the pattern and texture of both fabrics to make sure they will compliment one another rather than fight for attention (which will create tension in the room).

Additionally, multiple layers create a wider range of light control in the room.

Here are some options I collected from Pinterest. Follow me (ToriTAlexander) to see where I collect inspiration for client projects and future posts.





How to Make a Hand-me-Down Work


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If your family is as generous as both mine and my husband’s, I am sure you have encountered the dilemma of trying to make a hand-me-down piece of furniture work in your home. Why is it that something that looks so perfect at your parent’s house doesn’t quite work in your own? Think of it like a puzzle piece that you try to fit in a different puzzle… it is not going to work unless it fits with the surrounding pieces.

When my mom recently sold our home in Nashville, my husband and I decided to have some of the pieces we had left there (along with  one very important hand-me-down) shipped to California. Anyone who has ever moved cross-country knows this is no minor expense, but it proved well worth it to get “Big Blue”. Big Blue is my mom’s beloved bed with a blue toile linen headboard. The selling feature to my husband was that it came with a king size memory foam mattress.

However, the beautiful headboard that was once the focal point in my mom’s bedroom was not settling in quite right in our new house (moving to California is a harsh adjustment for any southern belle and Big Blue is nothing if not a belle). What was bugging me the most was the background of the toile (which is gray-ish) looked dirty against my warm, creamy walls. I lived with everything in the room “as is” for a couple months knowing that changing the headboard would never be an option, so I needed to find a solution to make my room work with this new piece.

Before: The linen headboard looks dirty against the cream wall. It did not seem to bother my design assistant sitting on the bed ;)

Before: The linen headboard looks dirty against the cream wall. It did not seem to bother my design assistant sitting on the bed 😉

Here is my thought process: The headboard is the dominant piece in the room. I need to use it as my starting point and working out. Remember that… if you ever have a piece that feels like it is fighting the rest of the space, use it as your starting point. Other variables I was unable to change, two large, dark dressers and my bedside table. Other than that, I wanted to start with a blank canvas so I cleared off all my walls and surfaces. I lived with that for a couple of days waiting for inspiration to hit me, which it did! I remembered this beautiful French antique mirror that I picked up at the flea market this summer intending to use it in my daughters room. It had been re-finished in gray-ish blue that just might work with that gray in the background of the toile. I have always loved the look of a small-scale starburst mirror over a bed, and thought my look could be like a French cousin. It worked, I liked it. This move inspired the rest of my design. I needed to ditch my curtains (painful but necessary) and select a more dramatic paint color. Here is the key, I selected my paint color to be an exact match of the darkest shade of blue in the toile headboard (Novelty Navy by Dunn Edwards).

Total Chaos

Total Chaos

Good thing I had the Kardashians on hand to help get me through this project.

Good thing I had the Kardashians on hand to help get me through this project.

Going dark in your bedroom can be intimidating, but this just felt so right. It felt so right that I could not wait for my painter and went ahead and painted myself. The finished product is a room that feels rich and cohesive. The dark walls and toile headboard have enough chemistry that the room feels full but balanced. I selected a much more edited collection of prints and art to re-hang, all of which really pop with the contrasting wall color.




After: I love how this vignette really pops against the dark walls.

After: I love how this vignette really pops against the dark walls.



I share this example because it is something to keep in mind if you ever find yourself inheriting a family heirloom that is hard to work with. Try to make the focal points in each room compliment one another. Not long ago I helped someone who had a very special family dining set with chairs covered in silk fabric imported from France (the color scheme included ivory, pink, peach and gold) in a green dining room with a very fine oriental rug (with colors including navy and red). While all of these pieces are beautiful on their own, we needed to make them work together in the same space. The history behind the fabric and the chairs inspired our selection of a new paint color, which was a pale peach. The space has much better energy now and the wall color actually seems to disappear while you are in the room, really showcasing the gorgeous dining chairs.

Finding a starting point is always the best way to develop your design. If it is not something existing like Big Blue or the dining chairs, find a fabric, wallpaper, paint color… anything that speaks to you and build your design from there!

Blue Crush


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This Oscar darling has left me crushing on powder blue! Leave it to Lupita Nyong’o to perfectly execute this dreamy, but tricky pastel hue. The trick is to balance the sweetness with a strong anchor to give it dimension. For Lupita, her skin tone perfectly balances the softness of the dress as well as its color.

Here are some interiors with powder blue that are equally crush-worthy.

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Thank you for reading. All images for this post gathered from Pinterest; follow me (@ToriTAlexander) to see where I collect my inspiration.

Small House, Big Style


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Join me for a home tour!

I stumbled on this gem while doing my weekly check-in on the Nashville real estate market over the weekend and knew it needed to be shared. While one bedroom is not practical for everybody, I think we can all agree there is much to admire about this daringly stylish home in one of the city’s most desirable neighborhoods. In my mind, the owner is someone worldly and artistic; confident enough to take risks and smart enough to live in moderation. Whoever you are, Bravo!

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3617 Sperry Avenue Nashville, Tennessee 37215

Hope this inspires you to take a risk and make your home something to remember.

Olympic Fever- Americana Decor


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After spending the better part of a rainy weekend (and the first half of the week) watching the Olympics, it occurs to me what distinct, beautiful colors Team USA is lucky enough to wear. While I often incorporate both red and blue into my designs, it is rare that I combine the two. I thought I would show you how to execute this look into a few different directions.

Nautical– The most popular use of this color scheme, nautical decor will always be around (think painted wood, stripes and a pair of oars hanging on the wall). You have seen this played out on the pages of Pottery Barn a thousand times, but I encourage you to think outside the box and incorporate actual nautical pieces and antiques. Frame old sailing maps or, better yet, use them for wallpaper! Bring some old rope into the room… keep it piled in a bowl on your coffee table or consider using it for drawer pulls. Framed flags (bonus points if it has less than 50 stars) are often the focal point of these rooms.

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Classic Colonial– Quilts, windsor chairs and stripes! People are often dismissive of colonial style without ever recognizing the imprint it has made on American design. I can almost guarantee that you have a colonial piece in your home… old ladderback dining chairs in your breakfast room or a rustic end table with spindle legs. This is a modest style, so you will need to be very deliberate with your statement pieces. Personally, I love an antique windsor chairs in a dining room with a collection of blue willow plates on the wall.


Glamorous– Our country’s colors can do a lot more than decorate your Fourth of July picnic table. Here are some high drama glamorous rooms in red and blue. If you are brave enough to commit, go the extra mile and make it high gloss for maximum impact. Can you imagine a navy velvet sofa against poppy-red walls?! If you can, (you are awesome AND) you will love this look.

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Worth mentioning These ADORABLE rooms!

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All images collected from Pinterest. Follow me to see where I collect my inspiration (ToriTAlexander).

This post is for my mom who has always used her home to display her patriotism year-round. On behalf of all the “folk artists” you have supported along the way, your inability to pass up some “flag art” is downright charming.


A Cozy Look on a Cold, Wet Day


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“The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house All that cold, cold, wet day.” The Cat in the Hat

I think Dr. Seuss must have written that line on a day like today. It is cold, wet and gray and my daughter and I have been stuck inside all day.

While we are keeping warm, I thought I would share one of my favorite cozy looks for your home… layering rugs! I collected some of my favorite images from Pinterest of well executed designs that incorporate layered rugs. Stay warm and enjoy!

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I’d love to hear from you! Please visit my website at, follow me on twitter (@ToriTAlexander) and check out my Pinterest Boards (ToriTAlexander) where I source my images for posts.

What I am Working on: A Stylish Breakfast Nook


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Just wanted to share a fun project I have been working on for a client’s breakfast nook. It is a beautiful space with a large bay window and built-in banquette. Initially this space was not very high on my client’s priority list, but after a little nudging, it bumped up on the list. The space is contained, which means that we can get a little crazy without having to be too concerned about it limiting the design of other spaces. Completely finishing a single space will start to make a new house feel like a home (and that is exactly what this client needs). An additional perk of designing small spaces is that they require less material, so this is the perfect opportunity to splurge on a pricey fabric because you will not need very much yardage.

In this case we were very lucky because the adjacent kitchen itself is a crisp white with gray accents, which helped inspire our charcoal color palette. I always approach new designs by searching for one thing, whether it is a fabric, piece of furniture or light fixture that “speaks to me”. I knew I found IT when I stumbled across the charcoal ikat linen fabric by Schumacher. Right away I claimed it for our window treatments. Additionally, I selected a coordinating pattern for large square pillows and solid for the banquette cushions in the same color scheme(both by Schumacher).


Top: Linen Ikat for Window Treatments, Middle: Solid Charcoal Outdoor Fabric for Cushions, Bottom: Charcoal Diamond Outdoor Fabric for Pillows

*Design Tip: Outdoor fabrics are great to use in situations where children will be eating! In this case, all of the materials we are using except for the window treatments are outdoor fabrics.

I adore this monochromatic color scheme! Luckily, my client loved it too. Once I showed her some images of similar spaces to help her visualize the space, she had the idea to add a pop of color. She went and picked a lemon and said to add that exact color of yellow to the mix. Finding that perfect lemon yellow was quite an exhausting search, but I found the perfect shade by Silverstate (also an outdoor fabric). To help bring it all together, we are going to use gray remnants for piping on the yellow pillows.


Here are some of our inspiration images from Pinterest. Looking forward to sharing the finished project!

68a9b063aadc437e3963e36bd9875a7b 82bbc9f75171239e7768697fa7383aab 180 E 79th St d66f26a915b00a3dfeb2561cbd966c3eThank you for reading. For more information about past and current projects please visit and follow me on twitter (@ToriTAlexander) where I share daily design tips and design inspiration.

How to Make a Room Look More Expensive Than it Really is


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Decorating your first place or on a tight budget? This is a must read!

1. Paint

Choose a color with depth. I never understood this until recently. This means a color that has undertones of other colors. For example, if you want a light blue room I would suggest looking for a color with a grayish undertone. It will neutralize the color and give your room a more sophisticated feel (otherwise, your room may look more like a nursery). You want to create intrigue, so select a color that falls between two mainstream colors. It is a job well-done if you have to invent a word to describe it such as “greige” (gray, beige) “blue-ish”. Think about elements of nature… the ocean is never perfectly blue and the variation of green in a leaf. Nature can also show you perfect compliments. My favorite is the radiant pink (pink undertones are uplifting in any space)of a hydrangea once summer has ended and it is dying out with hints of brown and gold all anchored on a green stem.

As you transition spaces, coordinate a complementing color palette to tie all the spaces together. You can select all warm or cool tones or choose a different shade of the same color for adjacent spaces. Decide which rooms you want to have high impact color and create a palette from there. Homes that change color from room to room often feel choppy and smaller than they really are. I see young people make this mistake too often!

Paint is cheap (especially if you do the labor), so don’t be afraid to take a chance.

Colors I like:

String, Stony Ground, Chemise, Slipper Satin Farrow and Ball (left to right)

String, Stony Ground, Chemise, Slipper Satin
Farrow and Ball (left to right)

Quiet Moments Benjamin Moore

Quiet Moments
Benjamin Moore

Constant Coral, Nomadic Desert Sherwin Williams

Constant Coral, Nomadic Desert
Sherwin Williams

Raindance Benjamin Moore

Benjamin Moore

2. Original Wall Art

Start frequenting your local flea market and keep your eye out for anything original (hopefully it is signed by the artist) and finished. By finished I mean that it is already framed or wall-ready. If you are pinching pennies, it does no good to purchase something that needs additional work. Another idea is to commission a friend to create something original for you or look online at Etsy.


Looking for something a little more unique? Try hanging a vintage textile such as a quilt, scarf or suzani. If you are looking for a set, frame individual pieces of wallpaper samples. This is a great way to occupy large wall space (like above your sofa) and help the room feel balanced.


Consider re-purposing vintage treasures for your walls. I recently found some authentic Italian Florentine ashtrays for $15 at the flea market that I mounted and hung on my wall. What about your grandmother’s china that’s not being used?

A collection looks more expensive than a single piece, so hang coordinating pieces together. If you do not own a set of prints, use an online service that can take your own photos and print them on a canvas. Avoid using close-ups of faces for this. Consider scenic travel pictures or anything from nature that you have taken. If you are a recent bride, perhaps use detailed photographs of your bouquet or the centerpieces from the reception. As you select the pictures, keep in mind how the colors (black and white is always a safe bet) will fit in with the color scheme of the space.


3. Accessorize & Layer

Minimize your personal accessories such as picture frames and junk magazines in shared spaces and relocate them to your bedroom. Choose a select few in simple frames to keep out.


Books are your best friend! If a wall of empty bookshelves overwhelms you, keep the golden ratio in your back pocket… 75% books, 25% accessories. If you are a book lover, try pulling the slipcovers off of your books to give your collection a more cohesive, vintage look. Thrift stores and estate sales are a great way to build your collection. Empty vases, bowls and candlesticks make wonderful bookends. Pick up a few display stands at your local craft store and display a restrained number of china pieces.


4. Pull your furniture off the walls!

This is the easiest of all. A tight space feels even tighter when all the furniture is pushed up against the wall. And let’s be honest, if we need the space to feel “more expensive” that means making it feel anything but small. Specifically, I am talking about upholstered pieces in your seating arrangement. Pull everything in about 3 inches and you will be amazed at the impact. Your living room will feel “cozy” instead of crowded.

While you are doing this take an assessment of what you have and how it is meeting your needs. For example, do you need to keep 6 dining chairs out all the time if you are tight on space and live alone? I love creating intimate dining nooks with just a pair of chairs. If your living room is also doubling as an office, consider placing your desk directly behind the sofa and it can act as a console as well.

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2014 Golden Globes Fashion-Get the Look for Your Home


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How fabulous was the fashion at last night’s Golden Globes?! I wanted to share a few of my favorite looks and how they can be translated into fashion forward interior design.

1. Romance

Drew Barrymore-Romantic

Drew Barrymore

71st Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals

Zooey Deschanel

Just like both of these red carpet looks, there is nothing more classic than a romantic bedroom with soft surroundings and a femininely warm color palette (think colors of a sunset).

Romanticromantic bedroomRomantic Bedroom soft

2. Color Blocking

Taylor Swift & Sandra Bullock- Color Blocking

Taylor Swift, Sandra Bullock

Amy Adams

Amy Adams

Color Blocking

Julie Bowen

This look is best achieved with a sharp color contrast. However, the application can be much more subtle than painting stripes on your wall. For example, use throw pillows for an unexpected pop of color on your sofa or bed.


 3. Black & White

Julia Roberts-Black and white

Julia Roberts

Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence

Allison Williams-Black and White

Allison Williams

A classic combination that never goes out of style! This can literally work in every room in your house.

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4. Hollywood Glamour

71st Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals

Julianna Margulies


Cate Blanchett

Just like both of these red carpet looks, Hollywood Glamour decor is bold and demands attention. Classic, but ornate; dramatic, but controlled. No one does this better than famed interior designer Mary McDonald.


5. Jade

My favorite look of the night was Olivia Wilde (without a doubt)! In case you are wondering, that is EXACTLY how I look when I am pregnant.

71st Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals

Olivia Wilde

Margot Robbie- Trim

Margot Robbie (jade embellished trim and shoes)

Olivia Wilde-Jewel Tones

Olivia Wilde… So nice, thought I’d show you twice!

On the heels of The Year of Emerald Green, Jade is like the sophisticated older sister: deeper and sexier. I especially love jade accents and upholstery pieces.

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6. Drama

NBC's "71st Annual Golden Globe Awards" - Arrivals

Lupita Nyong’o


My second favorite look of the night. This dramatic look works because of the clean lines and subtle accessories. Well done!

Likewise, to achieve drama in your home think of highlighting a single piece rather than taking a dramatic approach to an entire room. If you go with a dramatic wall color, stick to furniture with clean lines.contemporary-dining-roomclassic dining room round table brass chairs blue leather miroor graphic rug mural sr gambrelinterior-design-ideas-red-rooms-2