Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Shop Tour: Sisters Unique in Newport News, Virginia

A trip to see my mother-in-law almost always includes stops at The Perfect Setting and Sisters Unique in Newport News, VA. She's at the first so often than the staff greets her like an old friend (and also knows my name and that I do embroidery work!). I love that there are still gorgeous shops that make you feel like family.

Sisters Unique has been helping my MIL redecorate her home. She's also taken some Annie Sloan painting classes there with plans to give some of her old pieces of furniture a new and more colorful life. We stopped in to Sisters Unique last week to pick up some paint samples for her next project and I took a few pictures as I walked around...


Their selection of drawer knobs and pulls is amazing! They're all nestled in antique showcases filled with sunflower seeds!

Their Efex Decorative Latex collection is fantastic and they'll even teach you to apply the pieces to your furniture. I tried Efex out last year and they were so easy to work with!

City Center at Oyster Point
701 Mariners Row
Newport News, VA
(757) 595-9355
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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Decorist Experience Part 5: The Final Design

*If you want to read how we got to this point, check out  

Here it is! The final installment of my Decorist series. In case it wasn't evident, I really enjoyed the process that I described in the four previous posts I wrote about the Decorist experience. After designer Alexis Robbins presented me with two design boards, I spent a few days thinking about both options and selected one that introduced navy into our home's color scheme as the winner.

A short time later, the final design was ready for me to view inside my project on the Decorist site. The first page was a design board with an introduction from Alexis. If you've been following the series, you can see that she switched out the drapes to ones like the pair she had in the design board I didn't select. She also pulled in a gold etagere like the Ikea hack on which I was working.

The second part of the final design was the floor plan. It is so helpful to have a professional do some space planning. I wouldn't have put a bench near the entrance of the room (on the left in the image below), but it makes sense! I also wasn't sure about a sofa at the far end of the room, but Alexis found one that was a great fit for the space.

The last page of the final design included extensive instructions, even including alternative chairs to use in case one that is out of stock doesn't become available again. Alexis put together a detailed shopping list to complete the design. She included alternative selections in the shopping list, too. 

Decorist offers to manage ordering all of the items, but also includes links to every item on a store or catalog website. I'll be accumulating items slowly with a goal to have the room complete next Christmas, so I won't be using that service. However, I think it's a great option for those who don't want to deal with gathering items from dozens of ompanies.

I was so excited about my design that I wanted to dive in right away, but we have another major project wrapping up right now (more on that soon!), so this will have to wait. I did email Alexis to ask if she had any suggestions for paint and she recommended either Benjamin Moore's Swiss Coffee if we wanted to go with a neutral backdrop or Farrow and Ball's Calamine to add color.

I don't think I can overstate how happy I am with the entire Decorist experience. Start to finish, the entire process took about three weeks and I felt like my designer was eager to take all the information I gave her into account.

If you are interested in Decorist, I strongly suggest to join their mailing list and follow them on social media. They offer a service where they'll answer questions from subscribers and sometimes send special promotions in the emails, too. You can also use the code smallchic20 for $20 off any Decorist Design Service.
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Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Decorist Experience Part 4: Picking My Design

*If you want to read how we got to this point, check out Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.*

After providing Decorist with details about the living room with which I wanted some help and being matched with designer Alexis Robbins, I was presented with two preliminary design boards and some general information about each. Once I picked a board, Alexis would create a full design including a floor plan, shopping list, and instructions for making everything work in my room.

As a recap, here were the two options:

Thoughts on the first design:

My initial reaction was to select the first design because it blended the colors in adjacent rooms perfectly. Our dining room is aqua and our foyer is pink. Most of the people to whom I showed the options thought this was the one that looked like me, if that makes sense.

Thoughts on the second design:

Seeing navy introduced was a really nice surprise! The more I looked at the design, the more I liked it. Navy is probably the color I wear the most (which is why I was surprised when people said this design didn't look like my style). This was the design that Marc liked the most.

I decided to go with the Design #2. It wasn't easy to pick a favorite and I went back and forth for about four days, but in the end, the furniture pieces and color scheme of the second design won out. The Navy Fleur pillow by Caitlin Wilson pulled in both colors in the adjacent rooms, too.

When you log your decision into Decorist's website, you can add comments or ask questions. I asked it if was possible to use drapes like the ones in the first design in my room. While I liked the greek key drapes from Ballard Designs in the second design, I loved the idea of a nice, wide trim on the edge of the drapes.

Next time, I'll share the final state of the Decorist process, which was a flood of great information. They don't just drop a design board and shopping list into your project. I think you'll be surprised!
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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Decorist Experience Part 3: The EDesign Boards

In my last post about the Decorist experience, I went over the process of submitting information about my living room to the Decorist team and being matched with a designer, Alexis Robbins.

The second phase of the Decorist process requires a tough decision. The designer presents you with two mini design boards and explains some of the selections made. Once you select a board, a full design is created.

Our living room is next to the foyer, which is painted in BM Shell Pink, and our dining room, painted in BM Crystalline. I wanted to living room design to work with those soft pink and aqua colors. In my head, the room was going to be pink and all the upholstery would be aqua. Thank goodness for Alex, who came up with two sophisticated boards. Even in the truncated stage, I knew the final designs would be amazing.

Decorist Option 1:

I loved the soothing palette on this board. The draperies jumped out at me. In my original survey, I told Alexis that I was open to some DIY projects and she suggested I attach some pretty trim to some pre-made drapes to get a custom look. I loved her furniture selections, especially the Oomph table, the lattice chair, and the spindle stool. Alexis suggested layering a Caitlin Wilson rug over a larger natural fiber rug. I have always liked that layered look, but wasn't sure about the right mix of rugs to achieve it, so that was really interesting!

Decorist Option 2:  


This option obviously pulls in navy as a third color. The aqua color is present in the Caitlin Wilson pillow and pink is a strong accent color. I was excited to see my tête-à-tête in the design and the navy accent chair was something I hadn't seen before, but reminded me of a McGuire chair I have loved for a long time (and saw in the basement sale section at the Georgetown Baker Furniture store). 

It was time to make a decision. Keep in mind that about two and a half weeks had gone by since I started my survey and took pictures of my room. This all was happening quickly! 

I'll share my decision tomorrow, but I'm curious about what you all think...
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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Decorist Experience, Part 2

My first post about my experience with Decorist was written right after I submitted photos and a questionnaire about our living room, the space where I felt I could use a professional's help. The room was empty for the first year we lived here and partially furnished with a few random pieces since.

I told Decorist that I wanted to keep the tête-à-tête, cocktail table, and cow print (Bell by John Matthew Moore) in the room. The pink lamps are new (from Folly Home Furnishings here in Charlottesville) and I think they should be in the space, but I was open to finding a new home for them. I bought the rugs for the room two years ago at Shades of Light's Richmond outlet and loved them at the time, but they are a bit loud to me and I could definitely sell them. The parquet flooring aren't in the best shape, but it will be a few years before we can install new hardwood. The baseboard heating will be removed someday. We installed a heat pump when we replaced the HVAC unit, so there is no need to leave space around those baseboard units. I also let them know that I was working on an Ikea hack that would hopefully give us some nice, gold etageres for the room.

One of the interesting things about the survey was that they asked what stores I liked and what stores I wasn't crazy about. So listed out a few favorite stores and brands (Ballard Designs, Wisteria, Horchow, Lulu & Georgia) and added that I wasn't crazy about Restoration Hardware, CB2, and Room & Board.

They also asked for links to Pinterest, Houzz, and other sites that would help my designer understand my style.

 Just two days later, the Decorist team wrote that they had matched me up with Elite Designer Alexis Robbins.

Of course, the next thing I did was look at Alexis' profile on the Decorist website and look at posts from the Decorist blog that showed her work.

One of the first projects I saw was the Weddington Way showroom. Most Weddington Way clients work with the company online, but now they can host clients in a pretty, upbeat space.

 Another blog post showed a living room Alexis had designed.

Alexis and I chatted by email about a few items I wasn't clear about in my survey so she could develop two preliminary designs. A full design board with a space plan and shopping list would be created after I picked a design board.

Come back tomorrow to see the two preliminary design boards!
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Monday, December 14, 2015

Lynchburg Design House Recap

I made a hurried post about the Lynchburg Design House the other day because I only heard about the event just before it was over. I stole away for a couple hours on Saturday morning to drive down to Lynchburg so I could visit the house and I was so impressed!

The house was conceived by Moyanne Harding, a Lynchburg-based designer who has been a fixture at the Charlottesville Design House. She pulled together the Lynchburg design community and the organizing charity, the YWCA, to take a beautiful, old home on Rivermont Avenue.

I have a feeling the Design House will be a new tradition in Lynchburg!

Entrance Hall and Upstairs Foyer

Carolyn Mahone, Mahone and Sons Decorating Center

Front Parlor

Elizabeth Harrington, Studio H Home

Dining Room

Betsy Burton, Burton Designs, LLC

Family Room

Moyanne Harding, Interiors by Moyanne, Inc.

I really hope a professional photographer goes through the house. I didn't get great images of this beautiful room!


Beverly McCloskey, Beverly McCloskey Designs

Breakfast Room
Kelly Mortemousque, The Silver Thistle

Kitchen and Butler's Pantry
Chris Hargis, Pinnacle Cabinetry and Design


Haley Pavao, Pastiche at Main

Another room where a professional photographer will do a much better job than I did. The joists in the ceiling were wrapped wood. I can't imagine how long (and expensive) that job was!

Master Bedroom

Troy Deacon, Estates and Consignments

Guest Bedroom 1

Tera Janelle Auch, Tera Janelle

Guest Bedroom 2

Kathy Potts, Decorating Den Interiors

Extra Spaces by Moyanne Harding

As I walked around the house, it seemed like Moyanne took on so many extra spaces. Bathrooms, walk-in closets, a sunny retreat room upstairs...all had Moyanne's special touch.


Kaycie LaGrone, Circa Studio

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