the art of interiors

John's Island living room by Abney & Morton Interiors

John’s Island living room by Abney & Morton Interiors

Creating a casual, family friendly home doesn’t mean one needs to forgo beautiful furniture and art. We always have clients that say, oh but I will just wait to decorate the house after the kids get a little older. What are you waiting for? Decorate now and enjoy your home. There will be unexpected spills and stains on rugs and upholstery, but so what. This is life…a mess at times, a perfect picture at other moments. The point is to live.

Lisa Fine Aswan in ink indigo mixed with a vintage textile upholstered sofa with a Michael Moran side table

Lisa Fine Aswan in ink indigo mixed with a vintage textile upholstered sofa with a Michael Moran side table

We first helped decorate this home pictured in this post years ago when the family built it on John’s Island, South Carolina. The owners have an amazing art collection and needed help with upholstery and working out the details of floor plans, some furniture design, the general feel of the place. It was a collaborative effort that we are very proud to be a part of and continue to be.

Window seat pictured in light blue green linen with pillows from Tulu and Zak + Fox. Abney & Morton Interiors and Michael Moran designed daybed with oversize pillows of various shades of blue linen and Walter G huts fabric.

Window seat pictured in light blue green linen with pillows from Tulu and Zak + Fox. Abney & Morton Interiors and Michael Moran designed daybed with oversize pillows of various shades of blue linen and Walter G huts fabric.

We recently were called back on the job, the family was expecting a baby and well, mother’s tend to nest and get organized. We were called in for a fresh perspective and  the owners wanted more seating but didn’t want the upholstery to look too new or decorated. We upholstered this sofa above using a Lisa Fine textile we ordered and a vintage textile our client had been saving…we created a sort of horizontal stripe on the back of the sofa with these two textiles, one new and one old. It infuses a bohemian spirit of the home, perfect for this family of five.

Abney & Morton Interiors

Abney & Morton Interiors

Abney & Morton Interiors

Abney & Morton Interiors (all photos courtesy of Julia Lynn photography)


Mother’s Day

Mom and me at the beach

Mom and me at the beach

There is a night heron who is building her nest in the oak tree whose branches grace our back yard. She has been bringing sticks and leaves to build this nest for the past six weeks. Her partner has helped her and they take turns sitting and waiting. And it reminds me what longing there is for the arrival of a child…whether bird or babe. I waited a year and half to have my first child, not on my own accord; but that was what was meant to be. I think of women that have and had it much tougher than me. Sometimes they wait years for fertility trials and adoption, and I think how happy they are once they finally have a child to call their own.

I also have friends who became mothers simply by surprise. They felt they had been knocked over and their lives forever changed within 9 months time and it indeed had; yet once their children came to be, they found what they were really made of and proved to be the best mothers I know: ready for anything, bothered by nothing; the surprise became their joy.

A handful of friends have had miscarriages. And I mean two handfuls…too common and private to discuss. Though to carry a child and then to lose it, I have never been through that mourning; but I can imagine the sadness, although, honestly, not really. Loss like that wounds too deep to imagine. But I feel for them. And at the same time I want them to know they will have a child someday and they will love and care for it. The important thing is to believe they will do so.

Me and the kids Mother's Day 2013

Me and the kids Mother’s Day 2013

To be a mother is to love unconditionally and have patience. Plain and simple and pure. that’s it. But to be a mother is also to teach. Every single thing: hot and cold, to share, to love, to wait…on and on and on. The most difficult lessons are sometimes the most simple of tasks; but to a child, proves to be too challenging to accept, to learn, to adopt. And to a mother, a new mother, proves to be as challenging to teach the task, the skill, as it is for the child to learn.

This I know to be true, the life of a mother is often unacknowledged, unappreciated except for on this day, Mother’s Day, when all glory and gifts and sentiment is given to those that gave this life to us. But there are all kinds of mothers, and women, out there that should be recognized and appreciated. It is not easy to bring a child into this world, to carry, to hold, to teach, to love. There will be kicking and screaming and hurt feelings and sadness and disappointment; but there will be this overwhelming joy and happiness that seems to outweigh it all. I could talk for hours on this subject of motherhood.

My own mother raised my brother and I and taught us everything good and wholesome; but at the same time she worked a full time job and struggled with the balance of it all. I remember purposely hiding from her when she was late for work, causing trouble so she might stay home a little longer just so she would be with me. That desire of longing never goes away. I look back now and think what I put my mother through and I realize all I wanted was her attention. And she gave me that plus so much more: confidence and appreciation for the arts, music, and literature and the love of the unexpected. She taught me how to live, she instilled in me a love so deep that will never go away. And I want to thank her for that.

So on this day, I commend all the mothers: past, present and future. We should hold onto the past because we are who we are because of our mothers. We should live in the present because life is meant to be enjoyed. We should look toward the future because our dreams will lead us in the right direction. What we teach our children is essential, how we teach them is even more meaningful. Every word and direction is important. Every mother is valued and true. Every mother and child relationship is a constant blessing. Just realize the value of it all and embrace it.

A New Year


The early 20th century interior decorator, Elsie De Wolfe once said, “I’m going to make everything around me beautiful – that will be my life.” She left the clutter of the Victorian era behind and created interiors that were fresh, feminine and airy, brimming with color and positivity.

A new year is a new beginning…may this year be filled with beauty, spirit, joy and love.

This Thanksgiving…

I love a seated dinner or lunch, for that matter. I like a cocktail party, but I prefer a more intimate setting, somewhere you can actually eat and converse and not just chit-chat.  I can’t believe Thanksgiving is almost here and as I walked through the grocery store aisles today and prepared my menu, I thought about one thing and one thing only and that was who I get to share this special meal with. There are moments of panic and rushing around town for the flowers and turkey and all the fixings, and then there is this deep love and respect for the holiday itself and of sharing a meal with people you care about. It goes beyond all worry and beyond all pomp of the day to day.

My mother has taught me everything I know to be important…how to treat people, responsibility, loyalty, love, forgiveness, hospitality and about setting a table and serving guests.  I always think of her when I sit down to a table. She always sets the most beautiful, effortless tables. When I turned 16 years old she cooked and served me and 8 of my closest girlfriends dinner on our screened porch. I will never forget it. It was a beautiful setting and it was good food; but most importantly it was the friends and family that shared this meal with me that mattered most.

I have always set a table for dinner…even on a Tuesday night at 8pm…if my husband works late, I cook late and set the table with candles and flowers. I have been teased before for this by friends, but it means something to me. I can’t do it every night…sometimes there are soccer games or birthday parties and sometimes I am just too tired, but we always sit down together as a family at some point throughout the day…breakfast or dinner.

The shared meal is  the best meal. My family arrives tomorrow afternoon. I actually don’t even know how I will dress my table tomorrow though I am inspired by the picture above. I am heading to the flower market with two children in tow (this should be interesting) in the morning and might gather other odds and ends in the park. There have been thoughts of place card embroideries, but don’t know if that will actually come to fruition. One can always dream, right? Thanksgiving means so much.

I am thankful for my friends and family, both near and far. I am thankful for food and thought and kindness. I am thankful for health and happiness. I am thankful for the future and all that it bestows and holds for me and my loved ones. I am thankful for all my blessings and health. To you and yours…may you dress your table and share it with the people you care about. Be thankful for this meal, this love, this Thanksgiving.

Ahhhh Gallery

I do love a gallery wall. To hang all of your favorite artwork in one place on one wall in one well curated grouping…is inspirational. A mood board for your home, your life. It all goes back to what inspires you: makes you get up in the morning…sentiment, loyalty, beauty, joy de vivre. But like in life, it’s about finding a balance. A balance of the mood of each individual work and then working it as a whole, the framed pieces and the unframed, the geometry (the shape of it all and the shape of each piece), and of course my favorite, the color or colors. Do you keep it neutral or stay with a few color ways, or mix it up entirely and find a balance within the mood as a whole?

I am a huge fan of Thomas O’Brien and love how he curates a gallery wall with neutrals, objects and photography all set surrounding a marble and wood encased mantle and one single tiny picture of color up at the far right. Your eye moves and gazes at the whole, then back at each individual work…a symphony really.

designed by Roman & Williams

And then this home above at the beach, I am assuming. With a beautiful grouping of coastal paintings and one goat(!?!) to keep the humor alive, which I get and appreciate. White walls and gallery walls always work at the beach.

designed by Celerie Kemble

I love how Celerie Kemble anchors this gallery wall with this beautiful ornate console. The grouping with sconces against a pale pink painted wall proves to be elegant without being pretentious.

Hiding your tv on the wall not right over the mantel but a little off center amidst a wall of fine oil paintings is brilliant. I have yet to talk a client into doing this, so I am going to do it myself; not over a mantle but a sideboard on a wall in my living room. Mine won’t be quite so dramatic and moody, more playful than serious. But I must give this a try. The key is to have one or a few pieces larger than the tv. I would rather stare at artwork anyway.

designed by Michael Deperno

A soothing blue palette is the focus in the above room by Michael Deperno. The gallery wall hung behind the sofa is peaceful and serene, simplistic without being boring.

Full of color and light with a nautical gallery wall consisting of paintings and drawings of boats and fish and the ocean all set above a crisp white table with bright sunshine-yellow director’s chairs…I adore this room above. I love that a wall can be curated over time, starting with a few pieces of work, searching for each piece at yard sales, antique stores and galleries. Some are more costly than others…some more meaningful, but each unifying the whole. A true collection of what makes a home sing, what interests the home owner beholds…the sea, a favorite color, or something more abstract that only the curator knows to be true…

Happy Halloween

To all the young and young at heart out there…Happy Halloween. It’s always fun to dress up for a day of eating candy and make believe. Here are my little ones from past and present Halloween days…


Sam as Elvis…he watched Elvis concert DVDs to prep for the big day. Sam is a huge fan.

Celia Flower and Fireman Sam

Pocahontas and Spider Man (this year)

Bunk it up

via kellyharmon

Recently my mom asked me to help with the design of a bunk room for her grandchildren. It has been such a fun project. It seems all children’s eyes light up when they see bunk beds. It is like sleeping in a boat, spaceship, or secret fort. Adventure and fun are sure to happen with your bed is a bunk…


Bunks are great for a lot of different reasons. The obvious being – space. You can definitely have everyone home for the holidays if you put all the kids together in one room. Makes sleeping a lot nicer for the adults as well when your child is not snoozing in the bathtub or closet next to you.

via house beautiful

Since bunks are great space savers they are great for so many different places… a summer home, log cabin, grandparents or when you have 5 children under one roof.

via pinterest

I was one of those lucky kids who had a bunk bed. I shared it with my younger brother. I was a bit of a scaredy cat and took the bottom. It was perfect for me, cozy and safe.


The bunks above would be perfect for a mountain home. I love the rustic wood material and ladder placement. The beautiful detailing on the railing makes me think of a Swiss chalet.


The two sets of bunks above and below would be great for a summer beach house. Bring all the kids and stay for the weekend.

via marie claire

via m-elle-design

Whether it is bunking up with camp buddies in the summer or cousins on a holiday or sharing it with a sibling in a room, these beds are fun and quite practical.

A Refined Welcome

To me, a home truly lives and sings and breathes when it is free of clutter and honestly portrays it’s inhabitants. It all comes down to the simple task of editing. I remember having completely empty rooms when we first bought our house. To some, this void would drive them crazy…to me, the spare, empty rooms invited me in and that is where I began the wonderful journey of decorating…these walls and rooms…the places where my children will grow. How do I choose to surround them…myself, my husband?

Diana Vreeland once said, “Elegance is the art of refusal.” We have so many clients that are handed down furniture or art that does not reflect their taste or sense of self. I have to remind them whose home it actually is…it is not their mother’s or father’s or grandmother’s; but their home. I listen to them and almost always they say what they want to do, but need to find the courage to do it. I guess that is where the decorator comes in…we can see what they are missing or see what it is they want but don’t know yet. I like to tell them to look deep inside themselves and discover what they love, what inspires them? It can be liberating and I can always see it. My mantra: keep only what you love.

An easy place to start is the front door and the entry. Make it clean, simple, elegant. There will be plenty of people that enter your home and color your interior. There will be book bags, purses, shoes, briefcases and mail afoot, and dogs running about. Keep it fresh and airy. Let the entry and front door breathe…give it space by keeping it straightforward. A threshold of beauty and grace. Display your collections or keepsakes you hold dear in an orderly, beautiful arrangement.

Sometimes the best entryways are the most minimal…inviting you to come inside and see what else is there. The entry devoid of clutter or too much ornament, beckons you to stay and decompress…as if almost saying, “It is calm here and soothing. Now come inside and relax…and by all means, stay.”

The above photos are to inspire you. Take some furniture away, go through your mail and get rid of the junk. Ask yourself questions and listen to your instincts. Then see how the room feels…how the room makes you feel? Is it beckoning? Is it entrancing? Is it serene? Have you come home yet…to your home?

Cooking Color

Melissa Ervin design

We are working on a new kitchen design with a client and are loving color added to the often expected white kitchen. With the surprise of color on the floor or ceiling, everything else can be crisp, stainless and white.


Design Crisis Blog

Sometimes, the beauty lies within a space that envelopes you once you walk in the room…cabinets and doorways painted a beautiful blue or gray…or in subtle soothing shades whether cornflower blue, gray or light blue.


Coco Cozy


My Paradissi


Tobi Fairly design

The color can define the kitchen (whether soft and comforting or bold and energetic) and draw you in, while making the job of deciding hardware, countertops, and appliance finishes effortless. Look at this simple white cottage kitchen below…and that blue range…just screaming, “Come cook with me!!!”…here in this calm, clean, but lively kitchen.

House and Home

And sometimes color in a kitchen can be found in just a simple light fixture or in both the tile and kitchen cabinetry. The design below is brimming with sophistication and high gloss while still retaining the warmth of what a kitchen should be…having the feeling of “I want to cook all day here, right here, with plenty of room for friends and family.” To be an open, welcoming space that has real spirit and merriment.

Lars Bolander design

Grey Days

via Elle Decor

It has been rainy and dreary here for the past few days… Usually I welcome the rain but this particular time – it has kind of but me in a drag mood. Maybe it is not the rain and just me but the equation is quite grey. Bringing light upon all this rain, I thought I would show you some beautiful grey interiors.


Although sometime these continuous grey days can get me down – I actually really love the color. Most of the rooms in my house are a subtle grey. For me it is the ‘other’ white. In the right space it works better than a pure white. It tends to softens a room. It works beautifully in a monochromatic scheme or mixes well with all colors.


I love both kitchens below with their beautiful deep grey cabinets. Each create such a different feel. While the one to the left offers a clean crisp feel set off the stark white and natural light, the one on the right is much deeper and moodier – more masculine and bold.


The two textured grey wall papers below are quite exquisite. I love the metallic shine of the one to the left and deep grass cloth on the right.


These grey plastered walls take you back to a place and time – there are far and few – but oh so special.


via pinterest

So with all this grey – there is light and beauty. As I want to cozy up on the comfy chair above – tomorrow the sun will come out and as Van Morrison says, “When it not always raining there’ll be days like this.”