INTERIOR DESIGN | Bringing Your Dining Room into the 21st Century

Bringing your dining room into the 21st century


Dining rooms are wonderful spaces for enjoying time together with family and friends in a convivial atmosphere. Sometimes they are unloved, neglected and ultimately unused, which is such a waste when there are simple ways of bringing tired and dated dining rooms into the 21st century.

To achieve a successful dining room refurbishment it’s important to know how it will be used. Is it for strictly formal entertaining? Will it be a relaxed family dining area? Does it need to be flexible enough to cover both of these areas? Once these issues have been decided, ambiance and style questions need addressing. Whether it’s intimate soirées, grand banquets, mass family gatherings for Thanksgiving or for TV dinners on weeknights, whatever the room is needed for impacts directly on how it should look.

Here’s a rundown of some of the hottest interior trends guaranteed to make any dining room glide glamorously and effortlessly into the 21st century.

Lift with lighting


Ambiance is so important in a dining room, and getting just the right balance can be hard to achieve. Using a combination of clever lighting and a well-chosen color scheme helps enormously. For bright and airy spaces choose pale zingy pastels; for more formal areas deeper hues work better. A suspended feature light over the dining table adds drama. This could be an opulent Venetian crystal chandelier, sleek pendant light or textured modern shade – it needs to look fantastic as well as illuminating food and the faces of diners. A dimmer switch is a good idea so that lighting can be adjusted to suit the occasion. Those lucky enough to have natural light in the dining room should consider sleek plantation shutters as a window treatment for a clean and modern finish that looks super stylish.

Table talk

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The shape of a table is dictated by the scale and shape of a room. Round tables encourage a more intimate atmosphere among diners; casual trestle tables are good for family dining, whereas grand square tables are ideal formal solutions. The current trend is to mix and match table and chair styles so that the overall look is not too uniform. Mid-century modern chairs juxtaposed against a gnarled antique trestle or a contemporary glass topped table teamed with vintage bentwood dining chairs look stunning. Choose chairs that are in proportion and deliver on comfort – dinner guests will not linger if they are uncomfortable. Dining room benches are conventionally considered the more relaxed option, and there are some beautiful banquettes and upholstered benches available that are re-writing the rulebook on chic dining seating.

Break the rules

custom dining room furniture, custom dining table, natural wood and metal dining table, unique dining rooms, unique dining room tables, shaped dining room tables


It is important to know the difference between matching and coordinating furnishings in a modern dining room interior. Current design mores call for a relaxed approach to schemes; they don’t insist upon matching fabrics, colors and styles within the same room. Experiment with furnishings from different eras, a variety of textural surfaces, wallpapers and paint finishes in the same room and include a blend of art and accessories that reflect a broader sense of the home’s occupants.

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A 21st century dining room is all about embracing our love affair with sociable eating, cutting edge furnishings and old favorite pieces as well – blend them all together for a perfect recipe for modern dining.

By | October 21st, 2014|Uncategorized|0 Comments

INTERIOR DESIGN: Fabulous Kitchen backsplashes

How you design your kitchen backsplash can make or break the room.  It’s a critical element of kitchen design.


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1.  The focal point in the kitchen is often the stove and hood and the backsplash centered between them. It doesn’t get much better than this gorgeous slab of Calacatta Oro marble.

Source: unknown

Source: unknown

2.  This geometric glass , metal and stone abstract backsplash is definitely a scene stealer.  If you can’t find this mosaic (unfortunately I don’t know whose it is) you can mix and match and create your own.

Source: via

Source: via

3.  These bronze tiles (real metal coating on them ) are from Crossville Ceramics and make a very elegant understated backsplash that could work in rooms other than kitchens as well.

Source: via

Source: via

4. Large subway style tiles are available from Fireclay Tile and are offered in many beautiful and bright colors.

Source: via

Source: via

5.  I designed this hand carved limestone medallion and hood surround for a client a few years ago and it’s stunning!  The more yellow colored background is Jeresulem Gold limestone, which sets it off beautifully and compliments the granite countertop. Hand carved limestone is expensive but well worth it when done by a true artist and craftsman like Oleg Lobykin!


Source: unknown

Source: unknown

6.  Sometimes the kitchen needs a strong pattern to pick it up and this is a good example.  Using a light and dark color combination with a nice geometric shape is just right to finish the look and make it unique to your own home.


Source: unknown.

Source: unknown.

7.  If you want an arabesque pattern, several companies make them including Fireclay Tile, who will custom color them for you as well.  The added banding finishes off the top and sides of the field tile to unify the entire kitchen.


Source: unknown.

Source: unknown.

8.  Framing and using a large medallion like this is a great way to bring attention to the large open space over the cooktop and break up these subway tiles.  I’m not sure whose medallion this is but it could be Sonoma Stone.

Let’s make those backsplashs FABULOUS!


By | August 25th, 2014|Uncategorized|0 Comments

INTERIOR DESIGN | Bring on the Red, White & Blue  Independence Day or Fourth of July is this week.  I always associate it with red, white and blue so why not look at new ways to use this color combination in Interior Design? Via

 tobifailrey.com_-_red_white_&_blue-resized-6002.  This color scheme doesn’t always have to be patriotic in theme.  This room has a nice crisp clean look just by using the colors appropriately.  Via

museinteriors_-_houzz-resized-6003.  Bedrooms can look great in red, white & blue too – with no trace of a flag in site!  Via

inthralld.com_-_r_w_&_b-resized-6004.  This bedroom boasts bold blue walls and the red chair with the touch of red on the pillows is just the perfect accent.  Via


 5.  White walls make the living room feel expansive and airy but the pops of blue and red give it life.  Via

lushhome.com_-_r_w_&_b-resized-6006.  Traditional rooms can use red, white and blue themes as well.  Here the rug colors set the tone and the bold red wall adds impact.  Via,_w_&_b-resized-6007.  Navy walls, a generous amount of white cabinets and small touches of red make this room very sophisticated but still carries out the red, white and blue color scheme.  Via

As we celebrate our independence this year, let us give thanks for our families, friends and all we have.  Share your joy and prosperity with others!

By | July 2nd, 2014|Interior Design|0 Comments

INTERIOR DESIGN | Yellow is Like Sunshine!

If you are afraid of using color in your interior design projects, I have just the right one for you to start with – Yellow!   It is a magical color that can make any room sing when used correctly.

bellemaison23.com_-_yellow_pastel-resized-6001.  If you have a dark and dreary room in your house, painting it yellow can make a world of difference.  Soft yellow walls transform this bathroom into a little bit of sunshine to start the day. Via


2.  If you have a large room that is on the dark side you can magically change it with the use of varying intensities of yellow.  It will feel light, bright and much larger and happier. photo source unknown.


3.  Traditional homes have used yellow for centuries and they have stood the test of time. Via

yellow_in_classic_room-resized-6004.  Here is a perfect example of yellow walls in a very classically decorated room.  The pop of red chairs brings a little needed contrast but the rest of the room is quite calm.  photo source unknown.

yellow_&_gray-resized-6005.  Yellow is used here to add life to a neutral gray color palette.  It’s a nice balance and keeps the gray from being too boring.  photo source unknown


6.  Here is another example of how well yellow and gray work together.  Since gray is the new neutral these days it’s good to keep yellow as a companion in your basket of tricks. photo source unknown

yellow_chairs-resized-6007.  Just the simple use of a strong yellow upholstery on these dining room chairs makes the room exciting.  It is all the room needs to be stimulating and dramatic.  photos source unknown

yellow_green_&_blue-resized-6008.  As you can see here by adding blue and green to the mix the impact of the yellow is diluted but is still a cheerful background for the room.  Via

My philosphy about the use of color is that if it is paint or accessories, it’s easy and inexpensive to change so don’t be afraid to try something new.

By | June 27th, 2014|Uncategorized|0 Comments

INTERIOR DESIGN – Architectural & Interior Design Definitions “S” cont. 4

interior_design_mug-resized-600Every profession has it’s own language and Interior Design, Architecture and Construction are no different.

Each week I will be giving you definitions for words beginning with different letters of the alphabet and will continue through the alphabet until we are done with all the letters.

Here are the final words beginning with “S”



In interior design striae refers to close parallel lines repeated thorughout the item.  It is a term used in faux finishing and also as a descriptive word in fabric and texture. You could think of it as small close stripes which create a straight pattern like wood grain or woven fabric.

 Strike Plate


The strike plate of a door is the opposite side from the hinge.  It is the metal plate where the latch hits the “strike” before it engages.



 Stringers are found in a lot of places.  On stairs they are the zig zag cut out piece that holds the risers and treads and holds the stair together.  On furniture they are the stringers or stretchers which hold the legs of a chair together for structural support.



A substrate goes beneath something in preparation for the final decorative surface.  The word actually mean “beneath” and “layer”.  Substrates are critical in getting a smooth final coating on surfaces and any imperfections in them will telescope through the finished material so it is important they are in good condition and properly installed.



A swatch of fabric, paint, wood finish, etc.  is a small sample of of the actual product.  Designers order “memo” samples (swatches) when ordering fabric to be sure the actual bolt being used has the proper coloring and texture desired.  These swatches can also serve as pieces of the finished room that can be saved and used to match up future items in the room.

By | June 23rd, 2014|Interior Design|0 Comments

INTERIOR DESIGN: Happy, Happy Easter!

Easter is back and I have some fun ideas for you.  This year you are allowed to play with your food!








All photos sources unknown. Use these for ideas.

Hope your Easter is filled with joy and good things to eat!

By | April 18th, 2014|Interior Design|0 Comments

INTERIOR DESIGN | Five Ways to Personalize Your Home

Five Ways To Personalize Your Home

After a new home purchase, it can feel tricky to make the brand new space feel as homey as your last place. While the entire home is a blank canvas ready to be filled with personality, it can be an overwhelming task to undertake.


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Personalizing a home is all in the details; it is the little things that can dramatically transform the home from cold and impersonal to warm and charming.

1. Textures And Patterns

One way to completely transform the character of a new house is in mixing and matching different patterns and textures. Whether it is mixing a striped throw pillow with patterned curtains or mixing sleek metal spiral staircases with warm wooden furniture, the different concepts put together turn out unique to the homeowner as an individual. So the home can begin to take shape.

2. Walls

Often times white walls feel too formal or office-like. Adding a new coat of paint that reflects personal taste will bring life to an otherwise plain space. Just as when mixing textures and patterns, do not be afraid to mix paint colors by making one wall an accent wall while the rest of the walls match.

 As soon as possible, place pictures and decor items on the walls. Even if the pictures end up being moved later, having homey pictures and fun, whimsical items on the walls makes the house feel like a home instead of a temporary place to stay.

straie-resized-600image source Timeline Photos

 3. Paint

Paint is not only useful for walls; it is an incredible practical way to spruce up a kitchen, a floor, or old furniture.

 Although not traditional, painting kitchen cabinets in a fun jeweled tone or incorporating shabby chic old furniture pieces by sanding them down and painting them can both be fantastic ways to incorporate a vintage trend while nesting in a new space. Paint is an inexpensive and a quick means to add extra charm into any area.

 4. Thrift Shop

Thrift shopping or flea market picking can do more than find an incredible deal. Many of these stores harbor amazing treasures that need just a little elbow grease to restore them to their former glory.

 From unique tables and chairs to quirky decor items, there are plenty of big-ticket items for inexpensive prices hidden underneath the junk. With a little bit of patience and digging, a homeowner can easily find one-of-a-kind items that will bring an allure into their home.

artful_display-resized-600image source unknown

 5. Make A Scene

Do not be afraid to kick the decor up a notch by being untraditional about it. Balance the decor by placing personal family photos next to some cast-iron candlesticks. Or place a signed baseball next to antique books. Mix homemade with store bought, inexpensive with pricey.

 Unique decor is all about visual interest. While traditional decor is classic, adding small surprises in the decorated areas truly pulls out individual character which is ultimately what defines a house as homey.

 When decorating a home, have fun with the style and don’t be afraid to veer off from the normal in order to create a space that truly reflects your own personality.

 Jessica Socheski is a writer and design enthusiast. Currently, she is infatuated with open concept ideas, and you can find her on Google+.

By | April 14th, 2014|Interior Design|0 Comments

INTERIOR DESIGN | Happy Saint Patrick’s Day 2014

Spring is here in full force in California and that means St. Patrick’s Day and the wearing of the green!

2013-02-27_1417-resized-600I recently had my DNA tested and found out that I am 36% Irish.  From my house to yours –Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

2012-03-09_1231-resized-6001.  Decorating for holidays can be lots of fun and that includes St. Patrick’s Day.  May the luck of the Irish be with you and may you find your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

corned_beef_and_cabbage-resized-6002.  Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional way to celebrate in our house, as in many houses around the world.  I serve it with mustard (Dijon or coarse ground) and Guiness stout.  The whole family really looks forward to it each year.

It is best boiled or cooked in a slow cooker.  Just follow the directions on the package or use  one of the many recipes online.

Here’s a recipie:


3.  Here is my favorite way to use the leftovers – A Reuben Sandwich! Here is a recipie:

Have a wonderful time celebrating our Irish heritage and stay safe my friends.

By | March 16th, 2014|Interior Design|0 Comments

INTERIOR DESIGN | Designing with Irish Green


Want to use green in your home decorating? Green has long been associated with Ireland and if you have ever visited there you would understand why.  The lush green hills are beautiful and enchanting! via


1.  The easiest way to use a strong green in your decorating scheme is to use it on the walls as paint.  It’s bold and dramatic but easily changed if your tire of it. Via


2.  If this is your absolute favorite color, go for it in more permanent ways like carpeting.  It works beautifully with a black and white color scheme.  Via


3.  Or you could perk up a quiet white kitchen by painting some of the cabinets bright green.  Did you notice in these first few pictures that by pairing the green with a lot of white it has a very fresh and clean look? photo source unknown

green_kitchen-resized-6004.  On the other hand, if you just can’t get enough of this color, go for it in the entire kitchen with high gloss cabinets.  They are contemporary and sexy but be sure you are comfortable with this strong of a statement as these cabinets are a costly part of the kitchen and not easily changed.  via

green_4-resized-6005.  If you need to tone the green down a bit, use it in fabric for the upholstery and window coverings.  The use of a lot of neutral beiges or straw colors softens the intensity of the green so it’s not so dramatic and more romantic.  Photo source unknown


6.  A large scale trellis pattern in bold green and white evokes a garden feeling that’s airy and inviting.  It is more airy than a solid green fabric would have been and compliments the outdoor space or sunroom’s natural greenery and flowers.  Photo source unknown

Go for the Green!

By | March 10th, 2014|Colors, Interior Design|0 Comments

INTERIOR DESIGN | Glass Tile vs. Ceramic Tile in Bathrooms

Fireclay Tile Blog

Tile vs Glass in the Bathroom:  Which is Best For You?

Our Glass Tile shown in Forget Me NotIcicleDusty OlivePlankton, and Island Flower

There are endless decisions to be made when remodeling a bathroom, and we know that a good chunk of those decisions you are trying to finalize have to do with tile.  There are so many different products  out there, not to mention the vast amount of colors, patterns, and designs available, it can be difficult to figure out exactly which type of bathroom tile is going to work best for your needs.  Thats why we decided to make your life a little easier by covering the pros and cons of using our top bathroom contenders,  ceramic tile and glass tile.

So let’s start with Glass

Pros of using glass tile in the bathroom: 

  1. Glass tile is beautiful and offers your bathroom a unique visual appeal, and with an enormous selection of colors and mosaics to choose from, your design options are literally limitless.
  2. Glass reflects light, making your space apear brighter and oftentimes, larger.
  3. One of our favorite features is that glass tile is relatively low maintenance, all you need to keep it clean is window cleaner and a cloth.  Because of its low maintenance factor, we suggest using glass tile in the shower area where you will experience soap build up that needs to be cleaned regularly.
  4. Glass tile is translucent, therefore, unlike any other surface material, that beautiful color you picked out will show all the way through the tile, providing an additional sense of depth and dimmension.
  5. Fireclay Glass tile is also made from 100% recycled Window and Solar glass in San Jose, CA.


Our 1×4 Glass Tile shown in Juniper

Cons of using glass tile in the bathroom:

  1. One of the biggest challenges with glass tile is the level of difficulty during installation.  Installing glass tile is not easy, and will almost always require a professional tile installer.
  2. Glass tile starts at $28/sf, where ceramic Tile starts at $14/sf, if you’re on a tight budget, you may want to consider using glass as accent, rather than covering large surface areas.  Using glass as an accent will also help colorful mosaic blends from overwhelming the room.
  3. Although glass is easy to clean, its reflective surface highlights imperfections.  This means all those little finger prints will be more apparent, so if you’re not one to clean your tile frequently, glass may not be for you.
  4. Glass’s slippery smooth surface may not be appropriate for all floor applications.  If you really want to use glass on your floor, use a matte finish tile in a s smaller size for more traction, and try adding a non-slip sealant for increased slip resistance.


Our 3×6 Tile shown in Shell

Next up, Tile

Pros of using tile in the bathroom:

  1. Price is one of the biggest pros when it comes to ceramic tile.  Ceramic tile is more affordable, starting at only $14/sf, making it a great choice for larger surface areas such as the floor, ceiling, and a walls.
  2. Ceramic tile is DIY friendly!  We always recommend using a professional tile installer for the best possible result, but if you’re up to the challenge, ceramic tile can be installed without professional help.  Just make sure you are prepared.
  3. Ceramic tile is a very durable choice for your bathroom.  It will stand the test of time against daily wear and tear, and with the right grout and the right cleaning supples it will be fairly low maintenance.
  4. There are hundreds of tile colors to choose from, each one offering unique texture, finish and color variation.  To match these beautiful colors, there is a large selection of tile patterns and shapes to choose from, adding more visual interest to your design.
  5. Ceramic tile has many trim options which allows you to add the perfect finishing details. Bullnose pieces create the perfect clean edge to a shower surround and quarter rounds help finish edge details such as an inset shelf or a shower pan.
  6. Fireclay ceramic Tile is made in Aroma’s, CA with extensive color options made on our 70% recycled clay body.


A bathroom floor shown in our ceramic tile color, Basil

Cons of using tile in the bathroom:

  1. Ceramic tile can be very cold underfoot, especially during the cooler months.  Adding a rug to your tiled bathroom floor will work wonders and if you have a few extra bucks, consider installing a radient heated floor mat such as Nuheat.
  2. Not everyone will feel comfortable installing tile on their own, therefore a professional installer will sometimes be needed.  Hiring a professional will increase the overall price of your project.
  3. Cermic tile is handmade which means slight irregularities should be expected, this adds character and an artisanal feel but generally means it’s best to hire a pro to handle an intricate bathroom installation.

Want to see more bathroom inspiration?  Check out our Gallery!

Hand crafted and timeless inspiration from Fireclay Tile.


By | March 7th, 2014|Interior Design|0 Comments