Modern, Warm, Livable – Thomas O’Brien

As a lover of architecture, I’m always as interested in the home’s history as I am by the interiors. Today I will have the privilege of meeting – Thomas O’Brien, designer and founder and President of Aero Studios in New York City. O’Brien’s passion to return to the past in his design process is inspiring. He has an incredible eye for the smallest of details that can guide a design within a project or an entire product collection. I love his focus on rarity, function, balance of modern and the warmth found in tradition…becoming one of my favorites I always look to his collections to add rarity and form in my projects.


Amazing detail nodding to the past is his Calliope Solitaire – inspired by Donald Deskey’s 1940s set of forged fireplace tools he birthed an entire collection from lighting to furnishings.


Calliope Solitaire – Inspiration

What bloomed from an idea…



Here is the first of my two favorite homes O’Brien designed…Litchfield




The second is The Academy – O’Brien’s personal home on Long Island. It was built in 1833 as a boy’s academy…eventually it was transformed into a residence.


academy-20 academy-7_web

To learn more about Thomas O’Brien visit or visit one of his stores in New York City – Broome Street or Spring Street

You can also find his products at WaterWorks, Hickory Chair, and Visual Comfort Lighting

(Photo Credits: Thomas O’Brien website)

Let There Be Light!

Please allow me to introduce my friend and colleague, who is just as smart as she is beautiful – Johnna Dobbs, Mastercraft Distribution. (Photo Credits: Rett Peek and Courtesy of Mastercraft Distribution)

Johnna and her family make great lamps that are a go-to for major retailers like Target, Walmart, Hobby Lobby and T.J. Maxx. Dear readers, designers and homeowners if want high-end lighting at an affordable price point look to Jonesboro’s Mastercraft Distribution. They are a company that take their lighting very seriously, never compromising on design and quality. If you purchase their lighting I am certain you too will see why they have become a solid go-to source nationwide. Please visit to learn more about Johnna and her family’s tradition of lighting that began with her grandfather.

Here are a few of her lamps that would make a great statement piece in your home:




Finding the Calm in Design

Let me officially say that if you are seeking answers to your design dilemmas then you need not look further than Design Confidential.


Allow me to preface this event by introducing you to my friend and creator/host Rachel Cannon Lewis of Design Confidential. Rachel and I met in Los Angeles at the Design Bloggers Conference. I agree as Rachel said, “we were instant friends.” Rachel’s formidable authenticity and wit is what made me adore her. She has a beautiful eye for design and believe her to be one of the best kept secrets in her design community. I am not sure how many people know this about Rachel, but she is a true Editor at heart. She loves the art of writing and has a keen eye for grammar. She is probably red marking my post as she is reading. But, I take it as a compliment because she is a great critic. I am proud to announce our sponsorship and participation on the Design Q & A panel for her Design Confidential workshop. We will address questions ranging from the perfect paint colors to helping you create a design plan to tackle your own design project. You will hear from experts who live and breath design everyday, giving you a rare opportunity to have a full day to “pick the brains” of leading designers with a combine 20+ years experience in one room. This designer’s workshop will take the dilemma out of design and put the plan of design back into your hands. There will be an abundance of design tips, expert design guidance and answers to your most pondered questions at your fingertips for a fraction of the typical design consultation. You will leave with a blue print to tackle your own project and the necessary tools to execute your design plan. We hope you will take advantage of this fantastic workshop to receive first hand knowledge and tips from leading design experts. Please feel free to drop us a line to introduce yourself before the workshop or ask questions. We cannot wait to meet you!

On This Day In History…



Jackson Pollock was born in Cody, Wyoming youngest of five sons.


Signed a gallery contract with Marguerite “Peggy” Guggenheim

Jackson created Mural for Peggy Guggenheim’s new townhouse


Cathedral, 1947


Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is.
– Jackson Pollock

B by Brandie – Interview with Brandie Gehan

untitled-1296-2I met and discovered Brandie Gehan recently at the Dallas Market – Sneak Peek. During market a favorite spot of mine is the Temporaries; the two mile trek usually pays off. And, this time didn’t disappoint.

As I came around the corner, there was B by Brandie a young spirited tabletop line that matched the creative behind it. I immediately knew I wanted to visit with Brandie to learn more about the story behind her tabletop collection.

On the day of the interview we met in her home, it was vibrant and welcoming – certainly a home where interesting and lively discussions take place. Her young, fresh and modern tabletop line certainly matches Brandie’s aesthetic in fashion and home decor. Although her style is modern; her values are traditional; from the beginning with the influence from her mother’s love for entertaining at an early age to her daily business dealings with her company today – family is front and center.


So, dear reader, without further due have a cup of coffee and visit with us for awhile….

Who and what is B by Brandie?

Founded in 2012, B by Brandie, presents high-quality home accessories that add a dash of fashion to the table. The brand’s fusion of distinctive design and modern styling with durability and practicality lends itself to a variety of settings, from traditional dinner parties, modern cocktail gatherings or every day use. With pieces from the brand, consumers can update everyday family dinners with sleek porcelain combinations or take out the bone china for more intimate gatherings. B by Brandie evokes the world of grand entertaining to everyday tableware. Each piece bears the name of renowned party mavens, such as Jackie O., Zelda Fitzgerald, Brooke Astor and more. The brand’s color options and varying patterns can inspire adventurous consumers to showcase their own take on entertaining by creating their own customized place setting while pre-styled suggestions provide an effortless option. “B by Brandie was highly influenced by my mother’s love of entertaining and her well known dinner parties.” With the new collection, I wanted to share my family’s love of gathering an eclectic mix of people for delicious food, lively conversation and a bit of bubbly paired with accessories that add another memorable element.” Each dinnerware piece will be sold individually, enhancing the mix-and-match component.

What were you doing prior to designing a tabletop collection?

I was working in E-Commerce for AT & T. I have always loved to entertain and saw the need for a tabletop line where you didn’t have to buy in sets.

What inspired you to design a collection where you can mix patterns?

The younger demographic uses paper plates for everyday dinnerware without knowing there are options besides how their parents or grandparents purchased tabletop. The model of buying a 10 place setting is not in the vernacular of modern living for the younger demographic; which is expensive to purchase and replace if one piece breaks. I created this line to provide everyday use, flexibility to purchase individual dinnerware, and allow the consumer to use their creativity to mix and match place settings.

What is your favorite tabletop setting that you designed?

The black and white collection; it was my first creation.


What are three things that update your dinnerware?

1. Personalization (monogramming) 2. New pattern or color 3. Layering your place settings (dinner plate, salad plate and bowl).


What should he/she splurge on in your collection? Where can they save?

Splurge on the charger; it makes a great impact but you can use it as a dinner plate as well. To save; the salad plate or glassware they are great small additions that are reasonable but make a statement.


When you were dreaming up your collection, what were your resources of inspiration?

Travel, tearing out pages of shelter magazines, patterns and especially color – I love color. But, I looked for inspiration everywhere I went.

Since you love to travel; What is the place that inspires you most?

Charleston, South Carolina – its easy and beautiful living…especially love the Rainbow Row Houses


Because you travel to NYC for business, what is one of your favorite neighborhood haunts in the city?

There is a great restaurant on the Upper East Side that changes its name as the seasons change – Park Avenue Summer becomes Park Avenue Autumn becomes Park Avenue Winter

2fbf1ea13a82db30bcb803c7c86c6fccA key distinction of B by Brandie is practicality. What are a few things that help you balance family and business life?

Time management is key and the support of my family.


What is your favorite thing to do when you aren’t working?

Spending time with my family, shopping and going to the movies – I love movies; as a child it was one my favorite things to do with my mother.


What is your guilty pleasure?

Cookies – my favorite are Animal Crackers

501c316c6a5fd7e2556c662cf2f9f5a0What makes you laugh?

My family, but I always try to find the humor in things I can’t control.

What are you most proud of in your life?

My family – I can go anywhere and be okay; they keep me grounded.

So, what’s next for B by Brandie?

Right now, we are trying out other color palettes to introduce into the line. For the future; We are looking to expand into flatware and eventually small home accessories.

Well, I am certain we will see more fantastic things from B by Brandie and I will be sure to post it here. Dear reader, I hope you’ve enjoyed our visit and as a special gift to you – B by Brandie is offering all my readers 20% off purchases until 3/7. Purchase B by Brandie pieces here and use Discount Code: ELLEBBB at checkout.

Please comment and let me know what collections you love…my favorite is Navy and White. And, for July 4th; I will be snatching up her red, white and blue collection, which will arrive in pretty packaging (see below).


img_6393(Just had to throw this one in….)



5 Spring DIY Ideas

Spring is one of my favorite seasons; everything is in full bloom and I can finally open the windows to let the cool breeze flow through the house. I enjoy the process of spring cleaning my home, changing out my decor and updating things around the house. Of course, I , like you- love that sense of pride that comes with tackling home improvement projects that doesn’t come with handing the task over to a contractor. But, since there are some complex projects that only a professional should do; I thought I would make a short list of ideas for those DIYers who just can’t resist a challenge.

1. Make Your Own Throw Pillows: Usually fabric stores have remnants of fabric they are selling at a huge discount; you can usually get a couple of yards out of a remnant for less than $30. With your time and labor at no charge; you’ve just scored yourself a heck of a deal for new throw pillows and a little pride as a bonus. Rule of thumb: 1/2 yard of fabric will make one 20″ x 20″ pillow; if you want a decorative trim you are looking at about 2 yards of trim for 1 pillow. Here is a great tutorial from Craftiness is not Optional blog.

il_570xn-3075631372. Update Bathroom Faucets: This is one of the least complicated parts to updating your bathroom. But, it will dramatically update your space. A great company that has quick delivery and reasonable prices is Signature Hardware. And, their customer service is excellent!


3. Let There Be Light!! Make your own lamp from a beautiful vase: Making your own lamp may seem a little daunting but its fairly easy. With the right tools and tutorial you can make your favorite vase into your favorite lamp. Tip: You will need a lamp pipe and a kit from a big box store that comes with the harp, socket and wire. If you are willing to try your talents; you can have a beautiful lamp on your night stand in a couple of hours without breaking the bank. Here is a great tutorial from Between Naps on the Porch blog to help you. However, if you don’t want to make your own lamp, take a tip from Centsational Girl blog to make an inexpensive lamp look great! (Image Credit: Centsational Girl)


4. Let’s Color: Paint A Room – Painting a room is the easiest and the least expensive way to give your home a facelift. I recently found this amazing tool on Sherwin Williams website called Chipit!! You can translate your inspiration image into colors that you can use in any room of your home. Once you use this tool you will not go back to choosing your paint colors from a fan…it is so fun!! Click to start your own paint chips. Below is one I did recently…


5. Gold Leaf Agate Coasters – Trending like mad this year is Agate. You see it in a variety of colors and applications from jeweled boxes to lamps. I always love to use natural stones in various applications when designing for my clients. So, I thought for a simple DIY project, Gold Leaf Agate Coasters would be pretty additions to your side tables that can be done in less than 1/2 a day or it can be simple but heart-touching retirement gift. Tip: I recommend going to your local rock barrel stores, they will usually have a variety of stones you can work with to make coasters if you want something different than Agate. Take direction from Desert Domicile, she will give you step by step instructions on gold leafing your coasters. (Photo Credit: High Market)


I hope this post has given you a little inspiration to get started on a DIY project for the Spring. If you’ve done or decided to tackle one of these projects please let me know. I want to hear from you and see your finished project!!