One of My Favorite Interior Design Tricks {it’s cheap and easy!}

Special treat today. New photos from the Bronxville kitchen.  Before I get into one of my favorite interior design tricks that’s cheap and easy, I just want to say that I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to work on this magnificent home!


The kitchen except for a few accents is done! Now, mind you, these shots were taken with my phone and in low light since it was very late afternoon and this is facing south and east. Therefore, the photos are a bit grainy. Alright, they’re horribly grainy, but it reminds me of that magazine from about 20 years ago which I can’t remember the name, but the pics were kinda like this.


Below is a photo from last week when the table and sideboard were delivered.



 And here is the kitchen now.



In the back you may notice we have our cafe curtains up. I was a little nervous about them, because the last thing I want to do is muck up these exquisite new windows. For those of you who haven’t been following along. The windows you see were custom-made to match two existing windows created in 1910! And I mean they are EXACT replicas!

indo day_23

The fabric is Barbara Barry’s Indo Day for Kravet.



A closer view of the cafe curtains.


The skull is all that’s left of the GC. [really joking, he’s still hard at work as you may have surmised based on the purple porto-potty outside the window. hahaha!]

Then, the chairs. You know, they were ordered so long ago, I forgot at first where they came from. They are tres French, n’est pas?  Every time I look at them, I’m craving a Napoleon. Butttttt… that FABRIC! I’m absolutely kvelling over here.

And YES! The fabric placement chair is different!



Brunschwig et Fils Le Lac


Please don’t ask me how much this costs. If you have to ask, you can’t have it. ;] That’s how expensive it is!



As you can see the repeat is immense and I wanted to see all of it. Making each chair different also gives it a bit of a modern edge. So don’t be afraid of using a large pattern with a large repeat for something small.

OH! yes. Alright. Yes, yes. The fabric IS laminated. It is very matte and not at all noticeable, but, no worries. Go ahead. spit out your coffee. Spazz out with the ketchup. Go grab a sponge and you’re good to go. I do this all the time and everyone at first goes, huh? and when they get it they practically kiss my feet.

You may notice that I’ve only been photographing this one angle recently. We do have plans to have the room professionally photographed.

This brings me to our subject matter.


One of my favorite interior design tricks.


It’s about the chandelier. I bet you already noticed sumtin’ up with that?

In the first photo, it looks nearly black. right?

In the photo with the skull, we see up close that it’s really a bronze-y color.


nygiftshow(nynow)summer2013 068

This is the chandelier when I saw it at the New York Now Show in August 2013.


It looks to be antique gold, doesn’t it?


Well, apparently, it’s not and it was bugging the hell outta me, because I think it looks too durned dark. So what to do, what to do. I said to S casually last week that I could brighten it up a bit if she was cool with that.

She was VERY cool with that.


Alright, I suck at tutorials.


For y’all who don’t suck at them and painstakingly take your photos of every step, I think that’s great, but I just needed to get on with things. Therefore, you’re not going to get much detail, but when you find out what a ridiculously easy interior design trick this is, you won’t even need this much.

Here’s the chandelier before up close. We were fine with it not matching the antique gold sconces, but again, too dark.


I tried to take a selfie of me painting, but when that proved to be impossible as I left my third hand at home, S said that she would take the photo. Well, she got a bit of the brush in there, anyway. :]




What did I use? Sorry, but I have no idea, lol.


It’s some water-based gold paint I got at the hardware store. You can use lots of different things. Any kind of craft paint will do. McCloskey makes a very nice one as part of their special effects paints. One hint though is that if you are painting over dark and wanting something to be a warm gold, go for a nice red-gold as the dark surface will make the color go green and it’ll end up looking cheap and brassy. In fact, sometimes we  use the copper color for our gold drapery rods. It looks like a lovely warm gold on the wrought iron.


Is there a special technique I use?


Oh, Yes! Please pay very close attention as this is quite important.

I randomly smoosh on the paint with my brush little by little not putting too much paint on the brush and move it around until it looks good.  If necessary, I’ll go over some parts and if it looks too heavy and fake, scrape some off with a finger nail. But, the idea is to not make it look too even. So, it’s fine if some areas are more gold and others are darker, just as a true antique gold piece would be.

Do you need a primer? naaaahhh… But do a test first; it usually sticks just fine.


et voila!

Well… almost voila!

We’re not too fond of the candle covers. Too dark. Don’t you think? Sooo… have you seen these?

They’re actually made of beeswax and they come in standard and custom-sizes.



These are from Lighthouse Industries. I’ve left them a message. We’ll do the cream, I think. That will be pretty and will also lighten things up even more.

I’ll finish off with one more grainy image taken with the lights on dimly.



Imagine this staged and beautifully photographed. I’m so grateful to all of the wonderful artisans who made this all possible!

More coming soon! Wait until you see the media room occasional chairs and more!





16 Responses

  1. Have just found this very fabulous blog and love it! Love the way you write, can really relate. So excited to have signed up and really look forward to seeing you in my “in” box.
    Best wishes from Australia.

  2. Ballard Designs offers a chandelier very similar called the Claire chandelier in three sizes and three colors: Etruscan Gold, Bronze or antique silver. Prices range from $199 to $499.

  3. Is that really tv in the dining room??????????? Or some kind of modern art piece?
    Either way. I’m shocked, just shocked.

    1. Hi MJ,

      Yes, it’s a TV– but that’s the eating area of the kitchen, not the dining room. I have a philosophy as a designer. It’s not my house. It’s their house and if they want something and it’s feasible, they shall have it.

  4. Concerning the Rustoleum spray, yes, this can be sprayed on fabric. It comes in a blue bottle and can be purchased from any big box store. I have sprayed it on paper, (both sides) and the paper was truly waterproof. I would spray the fabric on both sides. Don’t need to tell you to do a test first.

  5. Your site is always exciting to read and see your wonderful work
    I use rust oleum waterproof spray on everything. Never can water penetrate it and it doesn’t discolor fabric. Please check it out. The old scotch guard can’t compare to this.

  6. I loved the laminated fabric idea and using different parts of the print on each of the chairs. Where might one get fabric laminated? Thanks. GG

  7. Hi, Laurel.

    Love your blog. I look forward to it! We are redoing our home including the kitchen. I, too, am leaning towards white cabinetry on the perimeter cabinets but am wondering how you feel about white with a light pewter glazing? I love the look and the sample, but I’m worried that it will look dated (and dirty!) once it’s complete. Thoughts? Thank you so much.

    1. Hi Laura,

      Thanks so much Laura! I’ve never seen that. I guess it looks pale gray over-all? My feeling is that it’s trendy and in 10 years or so, may begin to look dated. I’m always thinking of that pinky pickled stuff that was all over the place in the early 90’s.

      However, that is just my opinion. I’ve always loved white cabinets. If I were designing a kitchen for myself, that is the only color I would consider. And I wouldn’t have any upper cabinets that were over the counter. I want to do a post about that sometime soon.

  8. Hi Laurel,

    Just found your blog – it has a lot of personality! 🙂
    The kitchen looks good, happy to see it with the chairs and table.

    We’re having a trade-only open house this Wednesday (Oct. 1st) from 4-7 at our Greenwich showroom, I would love for you to stop by! We’re giving all attendees 5% off their next order and showing our new additions to the line.

    Hope to see you there!

    Matt Cohn
    Vice President
    Decorative Crafts
    50 Chestnut Street
    Greenwich, CT 06830

  9. Hi Laurel…

    Beautiful job!!! Love the whole look – stunning kitchen. I paint chandeliers all the time. Clients (and me too, I must admit) sometimes buy light fixtures online – and the finish or color looks so different when you finally get the order. So – out comes the paintbrush!

    What is the name of the fabric you used on the chairs! Love it!



    1. Hi Linda,

      Thank you so much! And yes, this is one of those rare jobs that we all hope to get. Fabulous contractor and subs. I mean REALLY fabulous!!! How rare is that?

      There is a link on the page for the chair fabric. It’s B&F Le Lac. This is the green/aqua colorway which is really a rich teal. Difficult fabric to photograph, but it truly makes the kitchen! Truth be told, my personal taste runs more tailored over-all. And that came out in the table and sideboard, but the chairs make a wonderful contrast with that. My client HAD to have caned chairs. And she wanted lots of sparkle and that’s what she got. It feels transformative being in this room!

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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