The mouth of your dwelling (a.k.a. the front door).

I’ve always been fascinated by front door color and design. It seems to be as individual as the people who live there- which makes it really interesting (if you’re nosey like me, ha).

In general, the door presents a great opportunity to add some COLOR and style to your exterior. I love a vibrant or very dark, rich, color to contrast a subtle earth-toned facade. The best part? You can experiment, paint, and repaint whenever you feel the urge- it’s a relatively painless day job.

We are all familiar with the classic red door having various origins and meanings. In Feng Shui, a red front door means welcome, good luck and financial abundance. Here are some additional colors and their symbolism according to my delightful, “Feng Shui your life book” (Jayme Barrett)…

pink- love, happiness, uplift
orange- enthusiasm, joy, exuberance
green- harmony, prosperity, healing
yellow- optimism, inspiration, sunshine
gold- wealth, wisdom, luxury
blue- imagination, calm, serenity
violet- intuition, devotion, peace
brown- warmth, practicality, patience
black- strength, elegance, sophistication
white- faith, honesty, grace

Go with the color you love! Here are some beautiful examples, happy Friday readers…

Need some help choosing a door color? Contact me anytime.

(thank you design, Painted Front Door 3, Tar Paper Crane,, Color, Design and Art, Certa Pro Painters, and Apartment Therapy for the photos)


No she didn’t… (a color confession)

Yes I did.

It was 2004 and my husband and I were planning our wedding. Well… I was planning the wedding, he was busy managing heightened states of emotion :) The seating chart blow out, the music coordinator who wouldn’t let me go all Marie Antoinette with the songs… Though it was mostly good fun with a few bumps in the road…

Time to deal with the cake and I r e a l l y love cake. Eating it, looking at it, it’s one of the many creative tangents I’ve pondered. To me it’s sculpture and a really impressive show of skill. So we went to visit Susan at Brookfield Wedding Cakes, of which we heard great things.

Of course I had this grandiose vision, including an assortment of Pantone color chips (no I’m not kidding) to match the cake frosting against. I wanted a single row of cakes, topped with sugared fruit. Each one in a slightly different hue, lined up on a long table.

When she saw me pull out the color chips, her expression turned serious as if to say, please tell me you’re kidding? And my husband sat there sheepishly as if to say, Susan I’m real sorry, and you know what, I don’t even like cake, but could you just give this a whirl? I really don’t want to hear about the matter further. Poor man, ha ha.

So, she thought on it for a moment and said frankly, your payment will not equal the effort this project requires but since I can picture this turning out nicely, I’ll give it a try! Oh thank you, thank you, Susan.

In rushed the wedding day, overwhelming and magic. I was greeted by my mother at the reception, who said- Jess, you will just die when you see the cakes. We are pretty dramatic about our visuals, okay people? There’s a lot of gusto there!

I opened the doors and there they were… shimmering in the night, with underlighting, in the middle of the ballroom. The colors dead on, the fruit amazing, oh it was just perfection.

The picture does not do justice and how quickly design changes (today I would opt for something like this). Aren’t these great?

But I will never forget the moment, when someone’s effort just quietly blew me away. That rare instance when expectations are just plain exceeded. Don’t you love it when that happens??

I was inspired by Susan and hope to share the same level of care with you. If you need a palette for your special event, or to carry around when shopping for your home (it works!), you know where to find me!

The cake tasted as good as it looked,


(thank you Magpie’s Cake for the images)

Let the Sun Shine In! (sneak peek of Cali. consultation)

I had the recent pleasure of consulting (online) for a California couple seeking a happy new perspective on their living area. Lighten, brighten, spruce it up we must- bring the California sun indoors!

When I heard they were shooting for a Hollywood Regency style with splashes of bright blue, pink, and yellow my ears perked up like my 3 year old’s when notified he’s headed for an ice cream shop.

Here is their living area-

This couple gravitates toward grays and yellow/creams. The are very happy with the rooms throughout the home currently painted in yellow tones.

They are interested in this look and feel (love it!)-

Here are my thoughts-

To put it lightly, I’m a fan of gray, but in this case I think we should steer clear. The room doesn’t get a lot of natural light and the long dark wall feels, well, a little sad (at least for now).

I feel a light tan, with yellow undertone coming on… for the majority of the room. It will relate to the yellow tones throughout the home without being a match, and keep things bright.

Next- let’s move the accent wall to the walls behind the couch and TV. Side note- furniture, decor, window treatments will be changing- so we have sort of a blank slate (love this too). The accent walls will act as an anchor for the seating area and add a minimal but vibrant splash of color (which they’ll incorporate throughout the room with artwork, decor, etc…).

We even discussed adding a pearl finish on top of the neutral paint color to glam things up a bit- though the rough wall surface poses a challenge…

So here’s what I came up with, 2 different color directions with furniture and decor ideas to inspire the beginning of a whole new look…



What do you think?

(thank you Apartment Therapy, Etsy, Room & Board, ZGallerie, and West Elm for the photos and fabulous decor)

What to do? (with wainscoting and chair rails)

I think we’ve all seen something like this…

and hoped to never see it again, right? That day has passed, thank you very much! However, trying to figure out what to do with wainscoting and chair rails can be a challenge.

This is one of the most common issues I help homeowners tackle. If I had to consolidate advice into a sentence, it would be- when in doubt, paint it white! But there are lots of options, so let’s roll with ideas…


I love wainscoting, it adds a classic, elegance factor. These photos represent 4 solid design options to consider.

The 1st photo reminds me of the many times I’ve heard, my sister, mother, or friend told me I must keep the top color lighter than the bottom! Not true my friends, throw those rules away, they’re no fun anyway. Actually, the stark contrast is a great way to create a dramatic room. Your eye is pulled upward instead of down to the floor. Add some artwork and you’re on your way.

The 2nd photo represents a tonal approach. Understated and clean, it just screams (or shall I say whispers) effortless beauty.

The 3rd photo is a great example of the unexpected approach. The picture ledge trim and photos really bring the look together. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

The 4th photo steps away from the paint can with wallpaper. Enjoy this combination in a small room that doesn’t require tons of paper.

Chair Rails

Chair rails are very common, I see them often during client visits. The biggest obstacle they pose is the wood color- usually oak. It sort of forces earth tones that the client may not necessarily prefer.

If they really bother you, just remove them- it’s not a huge loss. If you’re willing to do some painting, coat them in white- it takes years off your room, I’m not kidding. Better yet, double their width by adding an additional rail (1st photo). Love that idea!!

I’m smitten with the fact that chair rails can look modern, as in the 2nd photo. Also, notice there is only one paint color above and below! You don’t always have to pick two shades.

In the 3rd photo we see 2 completely different colors. Consistency throughout the room allows this approach to work in an interesting way.

Last but not least, in the 4th photo we see black under the chair rail. Don’t you love this look? A lucky child lives here :) I think the contrasting, light, chipper, blue keeps the room looking young and happy.

Well, I hope the ideas open your mind to possibilities… There are many! If you have a wainscoting or chair rail dilemma, contact me anytime.

(thank you, Decor Pad, Decor Pad,,,, Decor Pad, House Beautiful, and for the photos)

Fall Color.

Isn’t it funny how a change in season seems exciting and new each year?

When I finally get around to putting all the Christmas decorations away (beginning of February!), I say to myself- next year I’m going light on holiday decor! 12 months later, you will find me at Target, ogling over new holiday collections :) Somehow, it just happens…

It has been a lovely, HOT, summer in Wisconsin. Yet as Fall approaches, I’m ready to pull out the first sweater, go pick apples, pumpkins, spice… create the whole scene.

When it comes to color- I’m feeling more inspired than I have been in years! Typically, we think of maple red, green, brown, and orange in Fall, but the colors I’m seeing/loving this year are far more creative! I’m noticing a new color consciousness, breaking away from the norm with unexpected combinations.

Here are Color Zen’s 4 favorites for Fall 2010. Can’t stop looking at them… Hope you enjoy them too!

Photo 1- West Elm, what a luscious bedroom! Suddenly I’m noticing these off black shades, this one is Benjamin Moore almost black. It reminds me to mention, navy blue is back friends! We haven’t seen it in decor for some time. Are you a fan? I’ve always loved navy, but in a fresh, not so nautical way.

Photo 2- Once again, thank you to West Elm for providing visuals, rich enough to make me want to work at your store :) You see the shade, Benjamin Moore chocolate sunday. Brown has been a designer favorite for years, but the rich red/brown is a new take. Can’t get enough of this one. Take a look at Benjamin Moore wenge, another stunner.

Photo 3- Taupe, taupe, taupe. Have been hearing many a mention of this color in the design community. For one, it goes wonderfully with all the violet shades we see. Benjamin Moore brandon beige and Restoration Hardware’s graphite (more of a gray/taupe) are 2 great ones.

Photo 4- Last but not least, ethereal gray/blues… with white trim. Ahhh, so soft. Check out Benjamin Moore silver half dollar and metro gray.

(thank you West Elm, West Elm, Decor Pad, and Sacramento Street for the photos)