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Making the morning rounds.

3 Jul

This morning I stopped by a client’s house in Columbia Heights to take a look at a design dilemma on their front porch. While there, I snapped a photo of their living room, which was recently painted according to the recommendations I made during a color consultation. I LOVE the blue-green with the original red-brown woodwork!

A few things about today...

Since I’m a strong believer in not “prescribing” colors based on what they look like in other people’s homes or magazines (and because I tweaked this one in Photoshop a bit so that it more closely resembles the actual color and not what I photographed on my phone) I am not going to disclose the color name other than to say that it’s Benjamin Moore and it’s perfect. Look at the color combination rather than the photo quality or styling, please…it’s the definition of “complementary” for all my color-theory people. 

From there I went on to another client’s house to receive a delivery, specifically, a table that is just the right balance of traditional and contemporary…and just the right amount of weird. I love it. Thanks Daren at And Beige!

A few things about today...


When I was at this house the delivery guys couldn’t get enough of the ceiling in the front room. So I guess I’ll give you a sneak peek:

Making the morning rounds...


I really hope to have this project photographed soon when it’s complete so that I can show it off. It deserves some serious showing off.

Now the rest of my day is reserved for preparing for a class I’m teaching that begins next week. I haven’t been in the classroom since May and I can’t wait to get back! Have a great rest of the day!


Design consultations for all styles and budgets: JGB Interiors.


Rainbow Church Wins the Weekend!

11 May

This is the coolest thing I’ve seen in DC in a while. We spotted it this morning, on the way back from Pentagon City (we took a little detour thanks to the race).

Rainbow Church Wins the Weekend!

This is the work of painter Alex “Hense” Brewer, an Atlanta-based artist, who was commissioned to paint this vacant church at 700 Delaware Avenue, SW. The building, formerly Friendship Baptist Church, was built in the early 1900s and was designated a historic site about 10 years ago. The painting was done in November of last year.

Here’s another shot of it, courtesy of the artist’s website.

Rainbow Church Wins the Week!

And another (via Miguel Martinez and Alex Brewer via

Rainbow Church Wins the Week!

We need more of this stuff in DC.


Design consultations for all styles and budgets: JGB Interiors.

Artist Brendan O’Connell paints Walmart interiors. He makes them look fantastic.

28 Apr

Brendan O’Connell, an American painter born in Georgia but now residing in Connecticut, likes to paint the interior of Walmart stores.

Brendan O'Connell paints Walmart


In addition to sweeping scenes which capture – pretty accurately – the bad fluorescent lighting of these vast warehouses, he does a lot of vignettes that prominently, though sometimes very abstractly, feature grocery store branding that we’ll all recognize. I’m a sucker for branding; food branding especially.


Brendan O'Connell paints Walmart


R.I.P Wonder Bread!


Brendan O'Connell paints Walmart


I really love this highly abstracted painting of a Crisco cooking oil display, which you may also recognize if you frequent a grocery store as much as I do.


Brendan O'Connell paints Walmart


According to his website, his work ranges from photo-realistic to abstract expressionist painting (which is what I’d say is most fitting to this series), and he studied his craft in Europe before returning home to America. His wife is also a painter, so that must be a house with very adorned walls!

You can purchase originals here.


(All of the images above are via the artist’s website, which is linked to throughout.)


Design consultations for all styles and budgets: JGB Interiors.

Stunning Swatches!

21 May

Testing paint colors is a really fun process!

I feel a top of the stairs project coming on…  (image via ApartmentTherapy)


Well, it is for me at least. I can’t always say that’s the case for my clients, who have called/emailed/texted me at all hours of the day to tell me how stressed out they are about the crazy test patches on their walls. Thankfully I’ve never had a client who didn’t find the perfect color…even if it took four trips to the paint store for $8 sample quarts, and the very-infrequent, sometimes very-necessary do over. 

Part of what I love about the process is the imperfection of all those blobs on a wall. You know: the spot on the wall where you haphazardly paint six colors, hoping that one will jump out at you? Hopefully, you use primer if the existing color is dark or bright (most of my clients do this, or let me do it). And hopefully you use a real paintbrush like a grown up and not a tiny brush from a craft kit or a spongey-stick thing (you know who you are). Because when done right, test patches are really informative and crucial to the process.

Sometimes I have people tint samples if they find the right hue that’s not quite the right value. Sometimes we mix sample colors together to try to achieve the right feel before choosing another round. And sometimes – sometimes! – we get it right on the first try. But that’s not as fun, is it?

Here are some beautiful color swatch images that get me excited about painting. Admittedly, most of them aren’t done correctly for real swatch tests (at least 12” x 12”! on a white base! two coats!), but many are beautiful enough to leave as a permanent wall treatment. Some of them aren’t even house paint, but are watercolors instead. I’d love to have an office like the second image one day, where I can test anything and everything…and leave it there forever.

Enjoy the rainbow!

Watercolor grid – fantastic! (image via


I love this application. Just LOVE it. (image via a source I’ve misplaced…bad blogger!)


Candy-colored paint and spoons! Love it! (image via


An acrylic sketchbook exercise. (image via


I love this image from Flickr user “angrypirate” – it’s an exterior wall, but shows the right scale for test patches! (image via


A watercolor sketchbook exercise. (image via



Design consultations for all styles and budgets: JGB Interiors.

Half Painted!

15 Mar

This morning as I checked my regular blogs, I woke up to a lovely image of a whimsical room that has been painted only halfway up the wall. I also woke up to a door being flung in my face, specifically my nose, but that’s just one of those perks that comes with being the parent of a little boy with lots of energy and little consideration for your vanity/pain tolerance (in all fairness, he did bring me a bandaid after the fact).

(image via Apartment Therapy via Deuce Cities Henhouse)

I love the basic white paired with bright aqua; it’s clean yet has a great pop! Normally, we see this technique all the time when there is a chair rail in place, but here, the homeowners just decided to fake the architectural elements as they went along! To see a little bit more about this room, which belongs to a little girl named Elsa, head over to Deuce Cities Henhouse.


Another space that I’ve been loving which applies the same “half painted” technique is this one.  It’s a version of molding, and it’s very modern and super lovely. The image is from Farrow and Ball, makers of fabulous paint and clearly purveyors of good ideas!

(image via Farrow and Ball)


Here’s yet another one, which uses an eggplant jewel tone that makes the room both sophisticated and irreverent. I love how they just painted over the door paneling as if it weren’t a big deal at all.

(image via Remodelista via French by Design)


And finally, for those of you who are truly daring, here’s a fantastic room that is basic white with a touch of color…in the form on a random rectangle that overlaps trim, window detailing, and the wall. Talk about breaking the rules!

(image via newlightredesign)


Do you dare try any of these techniques on your wall? Or do you prefer to just lust (or look quizzically) at them via photographs?


Design consultations for all styles and budgets: JGB Interiors.

A Few Words About Chalkboard Paint…

22 Feb

Chalkboard paint in a work- and child-friendly space! (image via Elle Decor)

Last night I met with clients who had just moved in to their new home. Literally, they’d moved in hours ago, and I ended up finalizing interior paint selections amidst moving boxes and hungry, excited, adorable children. Lucky for the little ones in this house, their parents were very open to letting the kids play a role in their wall colors. I’ve had many clients who “let” the kids pick a color, but when the child says “I want green!” what they hear is ” We’re going to go with this understated olive from the sophisticated historical palette, ok?” If you can bear it, sometimes it’s ok to let the kids go with what the kids want. After all, it’s my job to make sure we can make that neon yellow work, and work it will. Anyway, last night, we also ended up incorporating chalkboard paint into the kids’ rooms in restrained but still very fun ways – both near desks, and both only on portions of the wall.

I love infusing kid’s spaces with novelty, and chalkboard paint is a great way to do it (you’ve heard me say this before). That said, chalkboard paint can come with some issues, so allow me to lay out some ground rules that will save you headaches should you choose to use it. Pay careful attention!

Chalkboard Paint DOs

– DO choose a small area to apply the paint to. There’s really no need to make every wall a charcoal colored art surface, so choose a small nook by the desk, tape off just a section, paint on the back of a door, or apply it under a chair rail.

Painting a piece of furniture is a good intro to this concept. (image via ModernChicTots)

– DO monitor how your kid uses the wall for a while after you implement it. Start slowly by giving your kid one piece of chalk, or by storing the chalk in another room or a high place. To be super clear: don’t give your four year old a jumbo chalk bucket, lest you actually WANT to end up with six million broken stubs of chalk and marks all over surfaces that are painted with interior flat white. 

Needless to say, a child that can be trusted around white floors and many large and heavy propped up things can probably be trusted not to destroy the walls. Where do you find this breed of child? (image via spicerandbank.blogspot)

– DO place a play mat or cheap rug under the surface if you’re worried about dust. Truth be told though, if there’s chalk dust it will probably land on the molding (which is likely high-gloss, so just wipe it off regularly).

This Ikea bench allows a(n older) kid to climb up and utilize more of the drawing surface, while protecting the floor and maybe even providing a place to store (and put away) chalk and the eraser. (image via OhDeeDoh)

– DO explore other uses for this fun surface. I used it in my own home on a wall behind the kitchen where the fuse box is located: it camouflages the ugly box AND the surface is magnetized, too! If you’re tired of chalk clean up, I recommend giving your child a teeny tiny cup of water and a paint brush to “paint” the wall. Monitor this activity so you don’t end up with a soppy mess.


Chalkboard Paint DON’Ts

– DON’T use those chalk markers. They’re very hard to erase.

Just use chalk. No markers. Lots of chalk. Like this girl! (image via Green is the New Black.)

– DON’T use extra hard chalk: you may think this will prevent dust, and it will, but if you press too hard it can leave indentations in the drywall. (You say you have plaster walls? Lucky you – press away!)

If you're starting to become chalk-phobic, you can also use a magnetic primer to create a magnetized surface, like this fireplace guard! (image via http://pinkgreenandzebra.blogspot)

– DON’T paint above a crib, bed, or near an upholstered piece. Your bed/seat will just be a depository for colored powder. Young, mobile creatures have been known to reach out of the crib, touch the wall, and rub the powder all over themselves and their surroundings. And they eat it, too.

Looks very cool, but NO CHALK ON THE BABY! (image via Stylehandler)

– DON’T incorporate chalkboard into stripes unless they’re very wide (10” or greater). You’re just asking to mistakenly color outside of the lines.

– DON’T freak out about erasing it! Use a lightly damp sponge or paper towels. Also, know that it’s not ever going to look perfectly clean. …and that’s part of the charm.


Do you have any other fun uses for chalkboard paint? If so, share in the comments!


Design consultations for all styles and budgets: JGB Interiors.

Color Friday is: Red! RED at Arena Stage, that is…

27 Jan

Last night I was treated to a performance of Red, the acclaimed Tony Award winning play that just opened at Arena Stage. The play is about Mark Rothko, the Russian-American, abstract expressionist painter who was active in the mid 1900s. You know: the colored squares guy.

(image via Arena Stage)

I don’t refer casually to him as “the colored squares guy” to be sinister or suggest his work is silly. In fact, I’ve come to really appreciate and enjoy many of the seemingly mundane subjects of abstract expressionism over the years. In the play, Rothko’s character discusses his paintings as being highly vulnerable objects that pulsate, glow, and he even goes so far as to suggest that they have emotions. This hour and forty minute long show has only two cast members, and focuses on the relationship between Rothko and his fictional assistant, Ken, as he works on a commission for the Four Seasons restaurant in Philip Johnson and Mies Van der Rohe’s Seagram Building; three of these paintings are on view at the National Gallery of Art right now. As the title if the play may suggest, the works are largely in red tones.

I chuckled when Rothko’s character mentioned that he rued the day that his paintings would grace living rooms as decoration, or that people would pair his thoughtful, serious color blocks with chips from the Sherwin Williams fan deck. I can’t say I recommend matching art to your throw pillows, but as a designer, I advocate some semblance of purpose or cohesion. I’m guessing he wouldn’t like these much:

(image via Design Crush)

The art history student in me was thrilled to hear the names of so many artists: the characters discuss Caravaggio, de Kooning, Matisee and others throughout, and if you are at all familar with the history of art you’ll be reminded of many favorite images (and appreciate the dialogue on a much deeper level). They talk about what red means to them, what black represents, and what white connotes. There’s back and forth between the men about different shades of red that lasts a few minutes, and the color theorist in me was thoroughly entertained. There’s a gorgeous set, wonderful lighting, and real painting action happens right on stage mid-performance. If you sit in the front row don’t wear anything you like too much (you’ve been warned).

(image via Arena Stage)

The discussion of the point of abstract expressionism — more specifically, Rothko’s work; or to generalize, art on the whole — is a central theme. Rothko, as the artist, obviously has a stake in making his work mean something important. His assistant, on the other hand, suggests that “Sometimes, you just want a f*cking still life.”

Feel free to form your own opinion sometime over the course of the next five weeks: Red is running at Arena Stage, in the Kreeger Theatre, until March 11th 2012. You can purchase tickets here.


Arena Stage provided the tickets to this performance.


Design consultations for all styles and budgets: JGB Interiors.