Hi Everyone!

Back to report my latest findings in what is happening in the world of colors and trends! Specifically as it relates to the interior design field. I recently returned from the  Design And Decoration Building in NYC where Stacy Gracia presented her concepts of macro trends and color within those trends that we may see in the upcoming years of 2013 and 2014.

The macro trends are:

Pattern on Pattern ie rooms being designed with the use of one pattern used everywhere on the walls, furniture and draperies. Think Dorothy Draper

Embellished items ie the return to craftmanship, luxury, laces, embroidery, damask, feathers, tufting and  a return to traditional interior design

Painted This is a look the evokes an artists work done by hand, brush strokes, unfinished beauty, decay,glazing, layering

Graphic The graphic trend is about bold use of color, color blocking in furniture. It is a happy trend

The color trends are:

Spicy This is a globally influenced palette that includes curry, paprika, poppy seed. Look for a shift in reds. Oranges are influenced by Coral while Oxblood becomes a rich anchor.

Off Black Black is veiled with color this season. Look for a deep forest green not like the one of old. This is a blackened forest green, also blackberry and night sky. These colors evoke a sense of mystery and are luxurious when mixed with embellished details.

Pastel The new pastels are dusted, powdered, waxy. They look great with neutrals. Adding black or deeper colors help to anchor the palette.

Optimistic This is what we have been seeing. Color is back as we yearn to surround ourselves with good feelings. The color ranges from hyper neons to saturated jewel tones. They look spectacular combined together.

How Do these trends affect the colors we will use in 2013 and 2014?

Light neutrals Oatmeal and flesh tones (which is like a rosy pink mixed with taupe. )Chunky knits are very important

Browns Are now surpassing grey. We are seeing camel, caramel, chocolate, the luxury of expresso.

Reds Oranges As orange remains popular ,we are seeing coral come back in style along with the color of ripe melons. Reds are making their presence known via the gorgeous scarlet reds and oxblood

Purple Lilac , think a chalky lilac combined with brown or grey. Blackberry

Blue The new blue is a water blue more of a demin blue. Indigo and navy remain strong

Greens Army green was mentioned, forest green ( the new blackened forest green) and the newest green is a sea green which is luminescent color comprised of blue and green

Yellows The yellow we are seeing is an ochre color.

For more on color and how to combine them to create interesting rooms, please visit my website at www.jstephensinteriors.com

Jo Ann Alston, Allied ASID,CID


Many times my customers  tell me they love the look of antiques but are unsure how they can use them to blend into a modern or traditional home environment.  Further, where do they buy them? what should they pay? how do they know what they are buying is real? This will be one of my first posts describing my technique on how to incorporate antiques into the design of your home. I am using one of the shots from my portfolio to illustrate my thoughts. You may visit my website at www.jstephensinteirors.com This interior was featured most recently in, Today’s Historic Interiors ,by Schiffer Publishing.

My goal in this room was to create a fresh traditional look I call Modern classicism. It is the new take on traditional.

This is where traditional is at right now. Gone are the heavy fabrics and dark colors. This room is a study of the shade of yellow/gold ( one single color palette , playing with shades of the color) which is complemented by the wonderful patina on the 100 year old hardwood floors.

The furniture is used as  sculpture in the room. Note the  antique English chair framed in the window. By keeping it open to the window you can truly appreciate the design in the back of the chair. An antique English ladies writing desk is right by the front door which allows the owner a  place to drop a  quick note or drop a package or their keys while coming or going. An adorable antique French chair serves as the resting place while writing that note. Pay attention to the fact that there are three chairs in this photo and none are of the same style, provenance, age  or wood finish. It is the art of the mix that makes a room special and notable. The different styles are cojoined by the coordination of the fabrics. Another aspect to keep in mind is balance and scale. One the interesting ways balance is achieved in this room is by the tall draperies at the windows.The custom made queen anne valances mimic the swoops of crystal beads in the chandelier. The rounded features of the some of the smaller scale chairs make the overall room soft and inviting.

One of the most prominent features and the focal point of the room is an Antique French crystal chandelier. It was found at an antique show and we moved it into this home and kept it non electrified. The candles are beautiful for a special evening but at other times table lamps provide the general illumination. This piece  provides a big impact, entering the house and descending the staircase.

Lastly, to answer the question about where you should buy you antiques. If you are shopping here in the US or abroad, I have been able to find special dealers with great taste that have managed to survive our most recent recession. Look for signs that they belong to Antique Dealer Associations. They must uphold a standard of ethics to belong to those associations. Buy at vetted antiques shows, ask them alot of questions, dealers love to talk about their furniture. The more you look and ask the more you will become comfortable. Study antique furniture in books and go to museums to see period pieces. Right now 18th century English furniture is a good buy as the prices are down in favor of the more modern French 20th  century pieces.

Thanks for reading our blog!!       Will write more on the topic soon       Jo Ann Alston, Allied ASID,NJCID www.jstephensinteriors.com




Recently, I designed a room for a client who wanted to capitalize on the space her dining room offered on a day-to-day basis. I took my lead from many new York City apartments and suggested she use her dining room also as a library! The primary use would be a library and the secondary use as a dining room, thus allowing the client to use the space every day and also entertain at the holidays. It has now become their favorite room !

Here is a brief description of what was accomplished. Although each person’s style may be different , the room offers a lot of ideas that can be borrowed or adapted to meet individual needs.

At the beginning of the project, we carefully discussed the clients needs and overall design vision. Next four to six floor plans were developed, each showing different options of furniture and mill work locations and associated lighting. Once the floor plan was developed, we began designing the room . Part of the process entailed designing the mill work.

In this case it was a wall to wall, floor to ceiling bookcase: new moldings around the doors and windows: creating a design on the ceiling using wood moldings: and creating custom wood and glass doors.

Next was the selection of furniture, finishes and lighting. This particular client prefers a modern sensibility with a mixture of other elements to make the room interesting. We used a grey pleated silk( featured in the photo above) wall covering to upholster the walls. This provides a luxurious look and fabulous sound absorbancy. On the floor is a cream wool rug that mimics the design of the moldings on the ceiling. A modern rosewood dining table was chosen with four tufted armless chairs upholstered in grey linen velvet . These chairs are clean lined but more  traditional than the table. In addition to the dining area, two other areas were developed in the floor plan. One area is for reading and features  two modern grey leather wing chairs  and ottomans with oversized nail heads. There is an interested origami shaped table next to the clean lined chairs and wall sconces above each chair for reading light. The second area is tucked in by a large window. Here a grey and cream marble top table with an iron base juxtaposes two traditional fret back chairs. On these chairs, a jolt of color was added in the form of  a dark rust satin upholstery which is repeated in the silk lampshades in the room.

The space with the marble  top table and fretwork chairs is used in the morning for coffee or to read. The children use the dining table and marble top table for home work at night. The parents often curl up in the reading area with a book.

Recently , the client has called me back to select art for the room. When the mill work was designed, we left a large area for artwork in the center of the bookcase and incorporated the correct lighting for the future art.  The client requested we  select an antique map for the room. Ultimately, we selected a compelling contemporary abstract for the bookcase . It adds a touch of brightness against the dark wood and draws the eye  of the viewer into the room. Then we found the perfect map and hung it across from the abstract piece. As with the marble top table and fretwork chairs, it’s the juxtaposition that makes this room interesting.

Please note this room is yet to be photographed. It will be done this year and added to my website. The living room of this home  will be featured on NBC House Smarts TV in May accompanied by a discussion of the design process. This is my first national TV appearance.

Jo Ann Alston, NJCID, Allied Member ASID


Product imageAs summer is quickly approaching, I thought you all would be interested in creating the perfect outdoor room. Today, realtors are advising homeowners that focusing on your outdoor space can bring extra value to your home. Indeed, it is expected in  higher end homes.

But don’t jump in until you consider all of the details! An outdoor room should be considered an extension of your home. Consider both the exterior architecture and interior decor as you develop a plan. It’s important to consider scale, proportion and the exterior design aesthetics of your home in this new space so there is a consistent point of view.

Think of what you want to do in this space. This will help in deciding what amenities your will need. For example, do you want a cooking area? How elaborate do you want it to be? It could be as simple as a grill or as elaborate as a kitchen complete with cook top, under counter refrigerator , ice maker and lots of storage.

In terms of the dining area, how many people would you like to seat? Do you want the dining table to be formal or casual? What does your home dictate? It would be incongruent to place a formal dining space off a log cabin home or a casual space off a formal Georgian home. What materials are you thinking about for the table top and base? Marble can be used for a more formal space or the client may want the designer to source an interesting antique table.

An outdoor fireplace is a desirable feature that extends the living space use from the spring to the fall. The fireplace can be  simple ( think fire pit) in a casual contemporary environment or more traditional ( think full-scale fireplace with a mantle and hearth). As inside the home, the fireplace becomes a focal point and should be Viewed from the dining area and the seating area. When thinking about the design of the fireplace, think about the material the fireplace will be made of. If it is a brick home, match the brick to the brick used on your home.

Are you thinking of other improvements to the landscape?  If you want to add an in ground pool, you will need a path to the outdoor space for easy access. This affects plantings and outdoor lighting.

Like any interior room, planning the space is key to a succesful design of an outdoor room.In addition to thinking about how it functions you need to be able to visualize how it looks from the interior of your home as well as from various points in your yard. A professional designer can provide you with perspectives to help in this area. This  will influence where you place permanent accoutrements such as a kitchen and fireplace.

The final step is a lighting plan. Today many manufacturers are offering chandeliers, table lamps and floor lamps that are safe to use outdoors. There are also a whole slew of gorgeous fabrics and trims to use on the upholstery pieces. Don’t settle for the ordinary!

Hope this has given you enough to think about, as with any room, it is best to contact a professional before beginning your design process.

Jo Ann Alston, NJCID, Allied ASID                                        www.jstephensinteriors.com

refrigerator,refridgerators,fridge,fridges,Refrigerator-freezers,bottom-mount,food storage,cooling,ice maker,ice makers,kitchen appliances

I just returned from a Continuing Education Course where we were introduced to the latest concepts  in refrigeration and I wanted to share them with you. CEU’s are a necessary part of an ASID designers practice and are also necessary to keep up to date for my state certification as an Interior Designer.

In refrigeration there are four areas you should consider. First is the refrigerator freezer configuration, the install options, the advantages and disadvantages of the components and lastly is food preservation.

 The configuration trends are the French door top and bottom freezer, refrigeration drawers, separate freezers, built in and integrated, wine storage and refrigeration extending to other areas of the home.

 The top mount freezer is a style that is really just a need vs. style. This unit can be freestanding and sometimes needs to be balanced.The bottom freezer is more popular and can utilize a single or double compressor. This model offers you larger capacity. The side by side or column units come in many different sizes and can use single or double compressors. The French door model which is very popular sometimes lacks the storage space for trays when you are having a party. The refrigeration drawers are great for kids to keep their juice boxes however, do not offer freezer capability. The counter depth refrigerator is also a new trend which gives you a built in look and saves money. The built in refrigerator is for clients that require large usable space and want the food to last longer. It is also for the client that is concerned about aesthetics. One of the latest trends is integrated refrigeration where the refrigerator is totally obscured.

 Other factors you may want to consider in your selection process are lighting, storage, control panels, hinges and the latest wireless monitor!

 The three types of lighting we are seeing in the refrigerator are incandescent, (we are all familiar with!) fluorescent and halogen. The fluorescent and halogen are becoming more of the trend. The difference being the fluorescent lasts longer than incandescent  and is a cool light. However it is trickier to install, can have a buzz and tends to flicker as we all know! The newest is the halogen. Wow is this a good look! The advantages and disadvantages are it lasts longer, captures the color, it can be expensive, it can produce heat although the manufacturers have developed a UV protected casing to cover the lights and have the lights turn off automatically so the food does not get hot.

 Another factor you should consider is the shelving. Do we really need to move it? The kitchen professionals think it is important to move door bins and some actually come with mechanical movement which can assist the elderly or handicapped. You want to look for drawers with full extension. The other item you should look for is the control panels. Most people tend to prefer their control panels in the middle of the refrigerator because they are easily accessible there. Another very important item you should consider are the hinges on the refrigerator especially if you intend on using a wood or stainless steel front and have large refrigerator. You want to look for durability. The newest models can take a 200 pound load on the door without sagging! Also these hinges can be adjusted to stop at 90 degrees or 117 degrees with a pin stop.

 In the old days we all had a single compressor refrigerator. Now the trend is toward double compressors. One compressor for the freezer and one for the refrigerator. The double compressor uses less energy and is a benefit over the single because there is no transfer of smell from the freezer to the refrigerator.

 One of the coolest new trends is wireless monitoring. The refrigerator emails you and the manufacturer when it detects a problem. Then the manufacturer calls you once they receive the email that your unit has a problem. It could be something as simple as you left the door open. This is also available on wine cooler which could save you a lot of heartache if the power goes out.

The last item to consider is food preservation. You want to look for a refrigerator that control s both temperature and humidity. Some facts you may not know are 20 % of all food purchased is wasted and it is filling up 26 % of our land fills. Further this wasted food contributes to  green house gas which is very harmful to our environment and us

 I hope this has been enough of an education! Please check out my website for some beautiful kitchens I have designed for my clients using many of these concepts. www.jstephensinteriors.com

 Jo Ann Alston, Allied Member ASID, NJCID