Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Everyone Needs a Little Space

Most people will read the title of this post and assume it means we all need more space in our homes. They would be wrong. What I really mean is everyone needs a “little” space.

In the age of McMansions, open floor plans, and two story ceiling heights, interior design seems to scream bigger is better. Bigger isn’t bad, but we all need smaller, more intimate spaces too. It’s in the smaller spaces that we feel safe and find comfort. These are the places where we can curl up and get lost in a good book or sit with a friend and catch up on life.

This room is a great example of the perfect “little” space. It is only 7 feet wide and 12 feet deep. My clients wanted to use the room for reading, conversation, and to display their daughter’s photography. It is one of my favorite rooms in their house, and my client said it is the place she and her daughter go to when they want to just sit and talk.
A little space doesn’t have to be a separate room in your home. It can be an area in a room meant for one or two people. It can be a comfy chair and ottoman in the corner, a banquette in a kitchen, or a desk in a wall niche.

If you don’t already have one, I hope you create your own perfect “little” space.

Friday, August 29, 2014

An attic renovation

I stopped by a client’s house today to drop off some accessories and took this quick iphone photo. This guest bedroom and sitting room are in the attic space above a garage. I designed the space this summer and for the renovation we added hardwood floors, wainscoting, new paint, and new rugs/furniture.
I love how it turned out and wanted to point out a few things in case anyone might be doing some painting, room arranging, or design day-dreaming over the holiday weekend.
Rooms with angled ceilings can have a lot of character, IF you paint them the right way. I love all the angles in this space. It’s not your typical “rectangular box” room. In a space like this, most people paint the little strip of flat ceiling white. Don’t do this! It just creates a long white stripe down the center of the room. By having the wall color wrap all the way around, the ceiling seems higher, the angles look softer, and instead of a tiny white ceiling jumping out at you, the furnishings are the stars of the space.
In some rooms the best place for the bed is in front of the window. This concept can scare people, as if doing this breaks some kind of interior design law. I promise you there is no law against having the bed in front of a window. The gables and window in this bedroom draw your eye to the bed and make it the focal point of the room. I chose an upholstered headboard that is a few shades lighter than the wall color, and it is low enough to only cover a few inches of the window.
I hope everyone has a great Labor Day weekend!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bathroom redos on a budget

In my last blog post, I showed a photo of the blue kitchen door from a recent project for the daughter of one of my clients. This pink bathroom and this blue bathroom are from that same project, and we wanted to update them on a budget.
Pink bathroom BEFORE:
Pink bathroom AFTER:


 Blue bathroom BEFORE:
Blue Bathroom AFTER:

What we did:

Not all bathroom renovations require a complete gut job. Removing/replacing the wall and floor tile would have been a major expense. Instead, we reglazed the wall tile in a glossy white to make the spaces seem larger and lighter. It neutralized the “pink” and “blue” of the bathrooms.
The walls and ceilings were painted a medium gray, and we added new light fixtures, mirrors, and window treatments. In the pink bathroom, we replaced the old, damaged pedestal sink with a cabinet sink to give more storage and add some contrast to the room with the dark stained finish.
I hung the window treatments close the ceiling to add height to the rooms. The window treatment fabrics have pink/blue in them so that the floor tile color ties back into the room, but in a subtle way.
I used FLOR carpet tiles as bath rugs. These are my new favorite bathroom rugs…you can create any size and shape you want, they have a rubber back so they won’t slip, and they come in great patterns and colors…way more interesting than your standard bath rug.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Power of Paint -- Part 2

Here is another example of what a little bit of paint can do for a room.

Here is the before shot:


And here is the after shot:


 One of my clients asked me to help their daughter with the design of her first home. The kitchen had been recently updated, but all the white cabinets and door did not give much character to the space. Adding a pop of color to the back door livens up the space in an unexpected way.



Monday, June 30, 2014

Thomas Jefferson: Author of the Declaration of Independence, President, and Interior Designer

My family and I spent last week in Virginia, and one of our stops was Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello. If you ever have the chance to visit, I highly recommend it. Monticello and its surroundings are absolutely beautiful.  http://www.monticello.org
Jefferson was not only a founding father of our country, author of the Declaration of Independence, and our third President, but he was also the architect and founder of the University of Virginia, a philosopher, scientist, inventor, and spoke five languages. I am amazed at all his accomplishments, and that he still found the time to oversee the design of his home down to the smallest detail.  
My daughters and I found it interesting that he chose a pink silk fabric and tassels for his bedding. We learned pink was popular with men in Jefferson’s day because it denoted wealth. Many wealthy men wore pink and used the color in their bedrooms. Goes to show you color trends have been around for centuries.
Another design choice Jefferson made was to use alcove beds. He saw them when he was in France and incorporated them into the bedrooms at Monticello. Jefferson felt like putting a bed in the center of the room used up valuable floor space. I have to agree with him! There are times when putting the bed in the “usual” place takes up so much room that there is little space left for anything else.

For one of my design projects in Florida, I placed twin beds against perpendicular walls to create the look of a sectional. It allowed space for a TV on open shelving, and the room now functions as a den as well as a bedroom.
Jefferson’s entrance hall displayed Indian artifacts, natural history specimens such as antlers and bones, maps, paintings, and busts of men he admired. When visitors walked into the entrance hall, they would immediately see Jefferson’s passions and interests.

Jefferson showcased what was important to him in his home, and I think that is a wonderful example to follow. Display what you love…incorporate it into your home’s design. It could be maps of your favorite places, photos of your family, seashells from trips to the beach, or any type of collection you may have. These are the things that give life to your home’s design and make it special.
I have clients who are avid bird-watchers. We were designing their dining room and looked for a wallcovering that had birds in it. We couldn’t find one we loved, so I found a wallcovering that had all the right colors, vines, and butterflies. We then brought in an artist who painted my client’s favorite birds onto the wallcovering. It was a subtle but fun way to bring their personality and interests into the design of the room, and their home was featured in Atlanta Magazine Home.

I’ll bet you never thought of Thomas Jefferson as an interior designer, but he was quite the Renaissance man. The next time you are working on the design of your home, don’t go to Pinterest for inspiration.  Ask yourself, “What would Jefferson do?”

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Power of Paint

I am currently working on a design project that demonstrates what a little bit of paint can do for a room.
Here is the before shot:
And here is the after shot:

This mantel practically disappeared when it was painted white.  It blended in with the white tile and white trim, and the detailed carving was lost in all that white. Painting the mantel several shades darker than the wall color makes the mantel really pop and become the focal point it needs to be in the space. I had the walls painted a pale gray that makes the room lighter and is a much fresher look than the original paint color. When selecting paint for a space, ask yourself what you want to highlight in the room. Some architectural details need to be painted a different color from the trim so they stand out. It could be the ceiling, the doors, or in this case the mantel.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The perfect accessory is right outside your door.

This is the time of year when a lot of people entertain. From graduation parties, engagement parties, baby showers, end-of-school dinners, even just having friends over to enjoy the beautiful weather, so many people are opening up their homes and looking for ways to spruce up their interiors.

I think one of the best ways to add color and interest to a room is with flowers. There was a time when all the questions involving a flower arrangement put me into a state of panic. Did I want to go to the expense of having a florist create an arrangement for me? What should I order? Should I try to run to the local grocery store and attempt to make something myself?

Over the last several years, I finally realized the best flower arrangement I can find is right in my own yard. Don’t get me wrong, I still break out into a cold sweat when the ladies in my garden club have a meeting that involves creating a flower arrangement.  These women know what they are doing, and pull all kinds of flowers together to create absolute masterpieces. I am not in their league, and I don’t pretend to know what I am doing. Instead of creating masterpieces I have to rely on simple, basic arrangements that generally involve one type of flower and one type of greenery.

These pictures are of my living room, and all the flowers and greenery are from my own yard. I literally put all of these together in about 15 minutes. There is nothing elaborate about these pieces, and anyone can create them. I used day lilies, magnolia leaves, hydrangea blooms, azalea leaves, cast iron plant leaves, and shells we have collected over the years.
The next time you are thinking of adding to your home’s landscape design, ask yourself what types of plants would not only look great in your yard, but also work well inside your home.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Spread the word about my new blog and win a free design consultation

If you are interested in home design, I would love for you to follow my new blog. To help me get the word out about it, I will have a drawing and the winner will receive a free 15 minute design consultation over the phone. I have worked on projects around the US including Colorado, Washington DC, Florida, Virginia, South Carolina, and as far away as Barcelona, Spain, so I am used to working long distance on a project. You would be surprised what we can accomplish over email and the phone! The winner can ask me any design question or design dilemma they have, and I will answer it. How do you enter? Share this post with your Facebook friends, comment on my blog, or add one of my blog photos to your Pinterest page and your name will be entered in the drawing. Follow my blog and your name will be entered in the drawing twice. The drawing will be held on June 8th. Hope you enjoy reading my posts and thanks for helping!

Friday, May 23, 2014

When you can’t find that perfect piece at a perfect price…cheat.



This house in Navarre Beach, Florida is one of my favorite design projects. Since it was a second home for one of my clients, and it would also be used as rental property, we were working with a budget. This was new construction, and we needed to furnish the entire home. Some of the items I wanted to use in the Living Room included:

A large piece of art on canvas for over the sofa

A large, square wood plank coffee table

Tall end tables with glass tops

Oversized area rug

I found lots of options for all the items listed above that looked fantastic…and were WAY over budget. I had to be creative and think of ways I could get the look without breaking the bank. Here are my solutions:

1.        A large piece of art on canvas for over the sofa

I knew the budget would not allow me to select an original painting, so I searched for art that looked like an original painting but was actually a copy of an original printed onto a canvas. You see them at places like Pottery Barn, Ballard, Homegoods, etc. I still couldn’t find what I was looking for, until I searched the art aisle at World Market. I found this piece and the colors were perfect. The problem was one would be too small, and there wasn’t a similar canvas that went with it to make a pair. Since it was an abstract piece I decided to buy 2, but turn one upside down. You get the look of a pair of paintings, but it is really the same exact piece of art.

2.        A large, square wood plank coffee table

We needed a large coffee table that wasn’t a typical, standard size. A custom-made table would have been too expensive, so we used 2 smaller rectangle tables and pushed them together to look like one large, square table.

3.        Tall end tables with glass tops

Just like the coffee table, we needed end tables that were not a typical, standard size. I found dining table bases at Pier 1 that gave me the height I was looking for and ordered glass tops in the size we needed.

4.        Oversized area rug

The price of a rug jumps significantly when you need something over an 8 x 10.  I ordered FLOR carpet tiles to create the exact size we needed. They are 19” squares of carpet with a rubber backing that you attach together with adhesive dots. A benefit of carpet tiles over a traditional rug is that if there is a stain (which is more likely to happen with rental property), you can cut the adhesive dots to remove the stained tile and clean or replace the one tile, versus cleaning or replacing an entire rug. 

Sometimes you have to think outside the box when looking for furniture. Get creative and don't get stuck in how a piece of furniture is labeled. A desk can make a great console table or even a beside table. Dining tables can be end tables. For the entry hall in my own home I took an old console table with a scratched top, cut the legs down to make it 18" tall, and then upholstered the top. It is now a great looking bench. For my daughter's bedroom I took small scale china cabinet that once belonged to my grandmother, removed the doors and painted it.  It is now a bookshelf.

Smaller items used together can give you the look of one large piece and make a big impact in your room.  And even artwork can be hung upside down. Here is one more photograph of a bathroom where I used the same trick with two canvases of the same piece of art.

Be creative, have fun, and don't be afraid to cheat!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Designer Challenge: The $200 Porch Makeover

I have a love/hate relationship with reality TV design programs. I love seeing all the great design ideas, but I hate all the drama between the contestants or the designer/homeowner.  All the bickering and yelling doesn’t happen in real life (at least in my experience), and watching them argue with each other just stresses me out. Several years ago I was on the HGTV show Designer’s Challenge. It was a great experience, and I loved working with everyone from the show, but it was one of the calmer/no yelling at fellow design contestants/no crying during your exit interview shows.

Since I don’t plan on participating in another design show any time soon, I decided to create my very own design challenge…minus all of the drama of reality TV.

The Challenge:  Turn my neglected side porch into a fun and inviting space for the entire family with a budget of $200

Most people think you can’t do very much in world of interior design for $200, but I wanted to be creative, use as many existing pieces as I could, and then hunt down some bargains. 

This porch has seen happier times.  Over the last three years we welcomed two new puppies into our family. Even though we bought every chew toy on the market, they preferred the wicker coffee table and chair cushions.  After the dogs had their way with the space, we started treating it as a storage unit for things we were too lazy to put in the proper place.  You may have noticed the Christmas tree stand in the corner.  It is now May.  I am not proud…please try and forget you saw this photograph.

The Transformation: How I designed this space for under $200
The wicker loveseat and chairs had some fading and a little damage, but nothing black Rustoleum spray paint couldn’t fix.  I found new seat cushions and pillows at an outlet store.  I kept the rug, but I turned it over to the opposite side…it is actually the wrong side, but I liked it better since it was lighter. 

I have three children, so I wanted to create an area on the porch just for them.  Bright green spray paint gave new life to their old chairs.  My daughters love to draw with sidewalk chalk, so I found the square table at Big Lots, left the ugly tile top that came with it at the store (the clerk said they could reuse it in another table with a damaged top,) and I found a piece of ceramic tile at Lowe’s that fit the table and acts as a blackboard. The girls can draw pictures, play tic-tac-toe, or write messages with chalk and then have their snack on the very same table.

Since my budget was so tiny, I had to shop in my garage.  This was not fun because my garage is a scary, messy place.  But there were some great and FREE pieces I could use.  I bought the yellow chairs and table for the breakfast room in my first house.  These chairs are the most uncomfortable chairs ever made, but I loved the color so I used them for a few years until I couldn’t stand to sit in them anymore.  For six years they have been sitting in my garage.  I know there will eventually be some damage to the finish (plus the carpenter bees have been snacking on them) but at least the table and chairs are being used, so I am okay with a little wear and tear.


I needed a coffee table since my last one had been turned into a doggy snack.  I love the look of galvanized metal, and I wanted a round table since the space is small.  I decided to use the galvanized metal drink tubs we have for parties.  I turned the tubs upside down, the smaller tub on the bottom, and then used an old planter in the middle to raise up the larger tub. Now I will no longer need to drag the tubs out of the garage for parties…I can just turn them over and have instant drink coolers on the porch. Plus there is the added bonus that this coffee table should be dog-proof.

I found the window frame with a metal screen at a salvage store.  I pinned one of my daughter’s abstract paintings inside the frame. I liked how the screen gives the appearance of a mat in a framed piece of art.  The kids liked the idea of changing out the art, and since our house is overflowing with their original creations we will have plenty from which to choose.

Finally, since I wanted the entire family to help out with this project, the kids and I planted some ivy in a black planter and inserted handmade paper flowers.  The kids made the flowers from coffee filters dyed with food coloring then cut into flower shapes and glued to wooden dowels.  This is an area we can change out with the seasons – replacing the flowers with flags for July 4th, ghosts for Halloween, and glass ball ornaments for Christmas.

The Budget:

Seat cushions – 40.00
Pillows – 35.00
Square table – 25.00
New tile top – 2.00
Spray paint – 26.00
Plants and planters – 47.00
Window frame with screen – 16.00
Paper flower supplies – 5.00

TOTAL – 196.00


Thursday, May 1, 2014


Hello and welcome to my blog. My name is Jennifer Eanes Foster, and I have been an interior designer for almost twenty years. I absolutely love what I do, and it is such a privilege to be asked to help someone with their home.

Your home is one of the biggest investments you can make with your time and your money. Your home is not just a shelter.  It should be your sanctuary, your refuge, your happy place. It's where you, your family, and your friends make memories.

I started this blog because I think every room design has a story behind it. I love looking at Pinterest and Houzz, but many times the photographs don't have the background story to go with it. Why did they choose that paint color? What did the room look like before? Did they have to buy every single thing in the room, or did they repurpose/reuse some existing pieces?

In this blog I will share the stories behind some of my design work. Maybe it's just me, but I love before/after pictures. They really show you that every single room has potential. I will include some before/after photos from my projects as well as share some design principles/tricks/tidbits you might be able to use in your home. I will also feature items I see when I am out and about shopping for clients.  So many times I see a great piece of furniture/unique accessory/fabulous sale that just doesn't work for one of my clients, but I wish someone could benefit from it. Hopefully, that person will be you!

My first design story is about the kitchen you see above. It has recently been featured in Better Homes and Gardens publications, their website, their Facebook page, their Pinterest page, and many blogs around the internet. There are three things I would like to point out about this kitchen:

1. I designed this kitchen renovation over 10 year ago. I repeat, this kitchen is over 10 years old. It was photographed by Better Homes and Gardens about 5 years ago, but it still pops up in their publications/websites today. Good design is timeless. It shouldn't look dated in a year or two...especially for major investments like kitchen and bath renovations.

2. You don't have to have a complete gut job to have a great looking room. We kept the existing cabinets and layout, but changed the laminate countertops to honed granite, replaced the laminate floor with hardwood, added new subway backsplash tiles, new faucet/sink, new appliances, new window treatments, and a new paint color. The cabinets were in good shape and the layout worked...there was no need to change them.

3.  Don't be afraid to paint the ceiling a color.  I will talk more about this in another post, but if this ceiling had been painted a basic "ceiling white" it would have jumped out at you and ruined the space.  I didn't want people to notice a bright white ceiling overhead. I wanted them to see the warm colors and textures in the space. 

Thanks for reading this post, and if you liked it, I hope you will share it with your friends.

All the best,