Kitchen Cabinet Makeover

There just was something not harmonizing with my client's existing kitchen.  The parts and pieces on their own were great however in unison nothing seemed to go.   Mixing wood and styles of cabinets work well in large kitchens, but this kitchen was just too small to handle the mix of cabinetry finishes and color tones.  For inspiration, on the opposite wall from the kitchen in the family room is a beautiful wall to wall stone fireplace.  Working with the stone colors as well as the granite counter tops, we selected Benjamin Moore's Taos Taupe and united all the cabinets in this color.  Working again with the granite, we pulled out the deep red veining and went with Benjamin Moore's Arroyo Red for the bead board back splash.  The results:  A more cohesive look with a positive impact on the flow of the overall space.



1970s Kitchen Renovation with Life Style Change

When the Cooks hired me to help them design the renovation of their Vienna home, I knew I was undertaking a project that would greatly enhance their life style.  The kitchen in the rear of the home had a limited view of the beautiful woodlands and outdoor living space.  Their goal was to open up the back wall with a large picture window to bring the outdoors in.  Additionally they wanted the materials in the new kitchen to reflect the natural elements of the outdoors.   The Cooks love their new kitchen and living space,  a floor plan with ease in entertaining from the indoors to the out. Take a look at the before and afters, a transformation that truly tells their story. 


The side door was completely removed and drywalled

  While this window let in a lot of light, it took up much needed wall space




Photography:  George Brown, Rights Assist
Contractor:     Rob Van Den Assum

Vintage Olive Buckets at VanEch Studio

One of Thomas Jefferson's favorite food items. He referred to the olive as "the richest gift of heaven," and "the most interesting plant in existence." If you are looking for an accessory for the home that tells a story of Tuscany, a French Provence, or a Greek mountainside villa, get your hands on a vintage olive bucket. These galvanized metal buckets are full of function as well as decorative aesthetics. You can use them for storage, to display flowers, and also as a light fixture or accent lighting feature. We have vintage olive buckets for sale in our shop.


 As a paint consultant for Certa-Pro Painters, I have helped many of their customers choose their wall colors and one of the challenges many face is determining where and if a paint color shift is appropriate. Continuity is important on the ground floor, but color can help "zone" a big open space, separating the kitchen area from the great room, for instance. There's no need to stick to a single color or even a single color palette that is either all warm (reds, oranges, yellows) or all cool (blues, greens, bright whites). How­ever, if  dustier, muted values of colors are selected,  there's a better chance the colors you choose will flow into one another throughout the space.  A good rule is to lean toward colors softened by a bit of gray.   Save those brighter saturated colors for accents and introduce them in small doses in the furnishings.

Vintage & Market Finds - Wooden Dough Bowls

Containers of all sorts fascinate and inspire me so when I recently came onto a lot of old wooden dough bowls in an assortment of sizes I scooped them up.   In the first half of the 20th century, Magyar bakers at farmhouses in Hungary and other Eastern European countries used these hand-carved, antique wooden bowls to make bread each morning.  Each bowl is an antique and bears individual marks of use and history.  So no two are alike and they come in all sizes and wood finishes.

 The enormous vessels shown above, some measuring 60" long, make fabulous outdoor centerpieces and that's what I had in mind before writing the check for my purchases.

 Find plantings and clippings from your garden or grocer.   I've used boxwood and fresh flowers, moss and antlers to create these natural outdoor arrangements.  Gourds and cabbage would be a lovely combination for a fall look.  The sky is the limit but keeping it simple and balanced can have the most aesthetic impact.

 Contact VanEch Studio for a custom centerpiece for your next garden party..

Slip into Summer with Slip Cover Couture

In the days before home air conditioning was available, it was common to put slipcovers on upholstered furniture in the hot months of the year to protect the upholstery fabric from sweat.  In some cities in the northeast, slipcover tailors were sometimes given the nickname "summertime millionaires" as their busy season was in the spring and summer.  In the 1960s, technology and production techniques made it possible to manufacture furniture that could be sold at prices at or below the price of a custom-made slipcover, and the practice of custom slip covering for a time declined.  In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in custom slip covering driven by the interior design industry and the popularity of the very casual shabby chic design style. 

Creating a beautiful slipcover for your furniture is akin to having a well tailored dress or suit.  Covered buttons, pleats, ruffles, epaulets and embroidery are some of the couture details I like to bring out on a slipcover the that can dress up or down your furniture. 

VanEch Studio now offers custom monogramming on slipcovers as well as pillows and table linens.

Crisp fabrics such as linens and cotton chitz hold up well in slipcover construction.  Light weight wools and wovens work well too.   In selecting a fabric consider the texture and color of the fabric on the upholstered piece to ensure that it won't show thru to the slipcover. 

The labor to make a custom slipcover is much the same as upholstery.  The cost savings may be in the fabric choice.

Repurposing Old Luggage

I recently handed down a vintage suitcase to my niece that my great aunt carried with her from Greece to Ellis Island.  I love the stories these old cases tell.  I recently picked up 3 that had the old destination stickers from depot stations.  These are not exactly pieces of luggage we want to check thru the airports today however due to their sturdy almost wood like construction, they make for wonderful functional accents in the home.  This chunky stack of three makes for a great end table, sturdy enough to hold a lamp, and let's not forget their storage features.  Check out these other ideas for inspiration.

A tower of vintage cases makes for an eye catching foyer arrangement

 Cutting off the back end allows for easy hanging with a couple of angle irons

Visit VanEch Studio in Occoquan for a selection of vintage luggage
for your decorating projects

VanEch Studio Resources - Tony Silva

I first met Tony when I worked as a junior designer at Honeycutt Interiors in Falls Church.  I would wander back into the workroom where he oversaw 4 other workers and watch the skilled labor.

Twenty five years later, Tony upholsterers furniture for the white house and embassies, and many of DC's interior designers. I estimate Tony has reupholstered over 300 pieces of furniture for my clients over the past 25 years, and many of them he has done 2 and 3 times over.  He is a master at what he does, a good friend and I am grateful to have him on my team.

The Art of Re-Purposing

When I was growing up, it wasn't at all unusual for me to snatch up from the ground a brightly colored glass shard, an old bead or rusted bolt.   These were abandoned objects and in them I saw all sorts of re-purposed possibilities. Today, when time permits, I seek out the studio space in my basement and pour over my plastic bins and the layering of found objects begins as one item leads to the placement of the other.

 An old plinth block was the canvas for "A Wish and a Prayer"
The heart is an old tart tin mounted to a 19th century photo case

This was a vintage biscuit tin can embellished with this wonderful
 old prairie photograph, drawer pull and celluloid farm toy from the 30s.

 The bezel for this necklace is an old faucet valve

 An artist brought these to me in my store, she created these cuff
bracelets from old license plates, just fabulous!

 Vintage clip earrings repurposed into a bracelet. 
Popular sellers in my shop.

 An old Victorian change purse

 Tin types, haunting and beautiful

"A Lock on My Heart"

"Eat Cake"

All images the property of VanEch Studio.