Creative Process

Posted on January 30, 2017 by dana gibson | 0 Comments

I'm heading to NYC for another trade show this week and I thought I'd bring along a chair to give my booth a residential feel.  I painted the chair below for the sole purpose of adding a little excitement to the display.  .



Sometimes the best way to hone a new design is actually putting it to use.   I'd used this design on a number of smaller surfaces but never in a 27" or so repeat.  After painting the pattern on this chair, I realized  the  pattern needed further definition.



Look closely  at the pleated lampshade and you can see there are only two shades of blue.            

So I added stripes in a a deep indigo which definitely gives the design  depth.



It's always important to try a new design out in real life to see what does and doesn't work.

Along with giving you a little peak in to my artistic journey, I wanted to share how easy this was.  Although I'm all about using beautiful fabric for upholstery and curtains, sometimes in a pinch and if the budget does not allow expensive yardage, making something on your own is a good option.   

 A kind friend introduced me to some very affordable dining chairs at World Market. They're great for casual use and we have a few like this around the studio.  



I'd been meaning to paint a fun print on the solid linen seat so with the trade show looming and the desire to make the biggest splash possible  in a ten by ten space, I dug my heels in.  

I started by opening up a can of white primer.


Any water based primer will do.   I used large brushes to brush a coat of primer on to the grey linen fabric creating a blank white canvas for  me to apply my design.  I used smaller brushes to edge the paint and also to paint the design later. Some people might tape off  the wood frame  but I'm not that particular.  When I smeared or dripped a bit of paint on the frame, I used a damp cloth to wipe it off.

While not everyone is in the business of making patterns, adapting  a favorite design that is simple also works.  One of my favorite pics on my Pinterest board is this one with dining chairs upholstered in what look like Mexican serapes.  


The dog is pretty cute too!

Even a bold multi stripe would be beautiful and so easy. Here's a quick sketch.


Life is an empty  canvas.  Paint!



All About the Desk-Gift Guide 2016

Posted on November 22, 2016 by Tracy Donovan | 1 Comment

We think paper and pen will never go out of style. Lured by fancy software and smartphones, we are missing out on quiet moments of reflection and thought.  Plus there is  always so much to stay on top of; to do lists, teacher notes, or a message to someone you love. We say "steal the moment". Clear a table. Claim an entire room. Design a beautiful  space for you and gather everything you need to get what needs to be  done.


  1.  Emperor Travel Bag  2.  Canton in Blue Cachepot  34. Bamboo in White Waste Basket   4. Bamboo in Navy Letter Tray  5.  Pink Stripe Pen Cup  6. Tucker Lantern in Pink  7. Leopard Tray in Assorted Colors

This years Gift Guide is all about the desk. We know friends and family also need a designated space to collect their thoughts and reflect on the year. My wildly popular Paper Waste Baskets  are a thoughtful gift. Our new Bamboo Letter tray organizes not only mail,  but pens and stubs.And a lantern hung just for you (or your loved one) is an enchanting accent.


Scissors from West Elm are a necessity. Spending a little more on Luxury items is worth it.


As are fresh flowers. I got these at  Whole Foods. 



My trinket trays have been a smash hit this year. Although I do them in several styles, my favorite  by far is the Leopard Tray, unique and fun.


Paper wastebasket? Check. Letter tray? Check. Scissors? Check . A pretty potted plant? Why not? If your desk, like mine has been a sight for sore eyes, take a cue from my design obsessed assistant, Julie, whose office is as pretty as a magazine.  Although she did let the plant die.


This beautiful office was designed by paige Minear at The Pink Clutch and features a great great print I did. 


Clear vases allow you to see which writing instruments you have.

I can't tell you how pleased I was when I finally took some time to dress  up my work space.  A favorite photo of my son, a blue glass vase with a sprig of boxwood (can't kill that) and a beautiful oil painting propped up reminds me of what I love.


Please use the code Desk Top Decor for 20% off this holiday season. Through Dec 30.





Ode to the Vase

Posted on June 23, 2016 by dana gibson | 2 Comments

    Have you noticed that Farmhouse Chic is all the rage these days.  I am the very first to jump on this trend and escape city living  for a simpler life.  Marie Antoinette is probably the most celebrated person choosing exile over the demands of the everyday. As I've mentioned before, my husband and I bought a cottage on a river and weekends there are like playing house.  I sweep the floor.  Hand wash dishes (although we have a dishwasher) and change sheets probably twice a season because we're only there on weekends.  I don't even mind doing laundry!  The decor is rustic, mixed with glamorous touches.  So when I decided to design  a vase for my Summer '16 Collection, I also decided to call it the Farm Vase; a  bright, chic complement for the most rustic of abodes.             


     My mother has exquisite vases which  I still covet: a lovely blue blown glass bottle and a cut crustal one I've adored since I was little.   In high school I read the poem Ode to A Grecian Urn.  I'm sure others of you remember this. Keats celebrates the immortality of figures etched into the urn's surface. Throughout the centuries, vases have been  a classic, decorative  element and once were considered the  highest form of  art. In a room that isn't used much like a guest room or a formal living room, a vase of fresh flowers is just the thing to beckon your guests in. 



          Different shapes are ideal for different flowers. I like a stubby vase for a posy of flowers.  Tall narrow vases hold long stemmed flowers.  A vase is the most  purposeful when it is holding flowers but vases do have other uses.  They are decorative in book shelves. In tablescapes, they can add a splash of color.  (See below)  Some people collect similarly shaped vases for a sculptural statement.  



           Another function of the humble vase is using them at place settings at a wedding or other important celebration.  My pen cups have traveled as far as Lake Como to celebrate some very special nuptials.


        But purchasing  so many vases, no matter what your price range, can be expensive.  I thought this was a nice idea when budgets are a consideration.


       Over the years I've designed some lovely vases that I hope will be cherished  and handed down. When in doubt turn a vase into a lamp.  A lamp is just more functional.  I'm not naming names, but I know a few individuals who have a closet full of vases!   When it comes down to it though, the simple activity of filling a favorite vase with fresh, colorful flowers is one of the most satisfying tasks of the homeowner. 


Drinks on the House

Posted on June 02, 2016 by dana gibson | 0 Comments

                       As the summer season approaches, a favorite passtime is sharing  cocktails and wine with guests and family. For the new home owner, a designated area with liquor, wine, soft drinks and mixers is  just what's needed to break the ice.


                               Last week Real Simple published a story geared especially toward new homeowners and offered tips on Seven First Apartment Essentials.  Lighting, fresh paint and linens were definitely on the Must Start With list.  Along with making the place comfortable, a hip bar cart is, to me, essential  for any new house.

                 My friend  Roxy at Society Social  has got the bar cart down flat.  She started her business only a few years ago with this single household item.  She now offers sofas chairs, tables and more. Everything she does is chic. Below is one of my favorite Society Social pieces.


                    I grew up in the seventies so any occasion was a reason for an "Old Fashioned" or a  "Dubonnet on Ice". Below is one of my absolute favorite pics from House Beautiful.  Doubling as a desk this bar looks as though it was deftly cobbled together on a whim for surprise guests!  It doesn't hurt that the wall behind is covered in a leafy chintz and the lamp is lacquer  black.  This bar is the epitome of  sophistication. 


                    Not every bar needs to be maximalist like this. A simple cart from Target or Ikea can hold your favorite mixers, wine and glasses.  The point is that unwinding over a refreshing drink is as  important a part of the day as breakfast or dinner.  Designating a spot can be as simple as loading up a wicker tray with the essentials or as elaborate as a mahogany bar in a paneled den.




Accessorizing is the Fun Part

Posted on May 23, 2016 by dana gibson | 0 Comments






I couldn't agree more with Albertina  over at Mimosa Lane Blog.  Accessories are the finishing touch for any room.  After the furniture is nestled in place and the floor plan  looks like it is going to work for a crowd or for only one, adding favorite pieces is the fun part.  Grouping similar  colored jars and vases is a great place to start.  It's also  useful to have fun patterned containers like this pencil cup that does double duty as a place to store reading glasses.


You want your rooms to be functional and your  accessories should not me,rely be  fussy additions. Lighting is essential as are pillows so be sure you nail these down first.  To avoid a tzchotzchke effect, keep your selection pared down and only use things that will create  impact and drama.  A tortoise shell box next to a lucite frame is so chic. Like wise art,  whether something dreamed up by your child or an expensive  painting, gives your room a personal touch. Books are perfect to fill empty shelves but what about a curvy ginger jar?



One of my favorite items for a generous sized coffee table-besides beautiful coffee table books- is a large, bold bowl. This one adds the splash of color my room needed.    


Playing around with accessories is the only way you will know something works.  Even experienced and seasoned  decorators make mistakes.

Below a room by William McClure who groups blue porcelain and echoes  taupes.


Hanover Avenue Giveaway and Collaboration

Posted on January 26, 2016 by dana gibson | 1 Comment



It was so much fun "filming" at Hanover Avenue with its founder Anne Tollett.  Anne asked me to collaborate on a video which meant I had to appear at her office at ten in the morning on a blustery ,wintry day.  The office was set up with about a hundred mirrors "to bounce light" she said.  Anne obviously  has more experience than I do in front of the cameras and knew how to make us both feel sparkly.

In the video we discussed how my living room came together and what challenges I was faced with. We also discussed how my business has evolved and some of the tricks I've learned to update and refresh a room. Along with a list of decorating tips, in each blog post she compiles a ton of  shoppable products, great when you are trying to put a room together.

I hope you will have a chance to view the video and even enter the giveaway.  Below is a pic of the frame I have chosen to ship to any lucky winner along with "a golden ticket" to a fabulous jewelry store here in Richmond. For more details click the link below.  Can't wait to see it live.



Unabashedly Color

Posted on January 09, 2016 by dana gibson | 1 Comment

It probably isn't noticeable to anyone else, but I've been veering neutral.  I realized this for the first time the other day.  My bedroom is all white with pops of blue and orange. My kitchen and bathroom  are white with some pops.  Just recently I completed the living room and guess what the dominant color is?  White of course.  There is a nice saturated yellow  on the wall and some creamy greys but something felt  "missing" and it  struck me just what that was the other day.

 Like a bee to honey, I am drawn to color.  My heart races when I stumble across a magnificent blue.  Pink  also moves me. The colors of a plum or a peach  are lovely, especially when sliced open .  I love the unabashed use of color by artisans in countries  like Mexico and Bhutan.  When I came across the image below in a recent House Beautiful, I could practically hear my heart thumping.



For the past few years I have been bowing to the design gods and suppressing my natural inclinations to use color in my own home!  My living room, lovely as it is, is a bit of a calculated combination of yellow, pink and grey. Which is not a bad thing. I've been saying for years that neutrals  are a great place to start a redo. But when I woke up the other morning I could just tell something was missing.  A room with out color is like a picture of balloons in black and white. The exuberance that color brings, be it a festival , pageant or a room was not there.   I had been too careful.  It was time to have a little fun.


The first remedy that came to mind was a print I developed years ago.  It blends beautifully with so many patterns and adds the punch bowl effect I think I am after. Below is the  photo shopped  "after" version. 



   Color is such en essential part of what I do as an artist and as a designer. It always has been. I've  learned a lot about why someone would choose the soothing tones of a neutral room.  But it is never too late to layer in some color.  The choice is yours. And I choose color. 








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