Home + Decoration

decorating: how to add dark elements to a room

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Last year I painted one wall in my living room a dark grey. It took a while to find the exact shade I had in mind. I went with Clark and Kensington’s Admiral Blue which was very close to what I was looking for.



The dark wall completely transformed the room. It highlights the tall ceilings, and add that drama factor that this large room with no architectural detail needed. I played it up by adding black and white striped throw pillows and a patchwork cowhide rug to the room.White lamps, doors, and decor pieces against the contrasting dark wall look brighter and reflect light.


Painting walls dark can be tricky and may not be for everyone, especially if the room lacks natural light. Here are 5 ways to for those of you wanting to introduce dark elements to their decor.

1. Furniture.

dti__jessica helgerson_2



2. Artwork


3. Throw pillows


4. Window trims and door frames


5. Rugs and lamps


 images: Emily Henderson, Martyn Lawrence Bullard, Pinterest

Eat + Drink Parties + Entertaining Social Diaries

Kinfolk Magazine Butcher Block Party with Tom Madrecki

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A recap of a lovely afternoon at Stoney Lonesome Farm with chef Tom Madrecki (Chez Le Commis) hosting a butcher block dinner for kinfolk magazine.









Tom showed us how to tell the freshness, how to scale, gut and fillet fish. I thought I was going to be a little squeamish but surprised myself and felt comfortable with it.





While our fishes were cooking, Tom served smoked salmon cured with salt and sugar which we enjoyed with fresh bread and wine.





Fresh flower arrangements in mason jars from the farm.



The entire meal was delish, we even made our own sides but my favorite was the smoked ice cream served with peaches. I might have helped myself to more than two servings, opps! :-)


There is nothing quite like enjoyed a meal made with the freshest ingredients from local farms, is there? I heart Summer!!

If you are in the DC area, sign up for Tom’s Supper Club at Chez Le Commis.


Eat + Drink Parties + Entertaining Social Diaries

Happy Summer Solstice Friday

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Summer is here bringing fun outdoor events around the city! My calendar is filling up with pool parties, sailing, wine tastings, beach time and so many events that I feel it will be Fall before I know it. And if this weekend’s plans are any indication, its going to be a fabulous Summer.


Tomorrow I join Sailstice Sailors for an afternoon of sailing along the Chesapeake Bay. Havent heard of Summer Sailstice? Summer Sailstice is the global sailing holiday celebrated on the weekend closest to the summer solstice.


This international event was founded in 2001 to connect the global sailing community in a fun, creative, multifaceted, multi-location sailing holiday.  Every year, Summer Sailstice connects over 19,000 sailors all over the world—cruisers, racers and recreational—to celebrate and showcase life under sail.


It has expanded to include participants from Asia, across the Americas and Europe. Sounds so fun, right? I cant wait to tour the  Leopard 39 catamaran with Allen Murphy and his crew tomorrow! Interested in going to one of their open houses? Get more details and find an event close to you here.


On Sunday I head to one of Kinfolk magazine’s famous dinners, a butcher block party by Tom Madrecki of Chez Le Commis at Stoney Lonesome Farm.


They have a super fun workshop planned where we first learn about how to identify and select fresh fish at the market, along with a brief overview of fish “issues” (sustainability, wild vs. farmed, quality vs. locality, etc.), learn how to break down a whole fish in an hands-on session followed by a discussion about how to prepare fish, with an eye toward providing a foundation more than specific recipes followed by a delicious supper of seafood and vegetables, hand-harvested by Tom and the owner of Stoney Lonesome just before the the event.


Im already drooling!  I dont know much about cooking fish and so this workshop is perfect and just in time for Summer entertaining! What are your plans? Wish you a sunny and fun weekend. xo

Ahoy! Summer

images: Leo Patrone and Micheal Graydon

Shopping Guide

Wishlist: Fashion Accessories

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Over the last week I have spent many many hours weeding out my closet, something I have not done in years! After nearly eight large trash bags full of clothes and accessories that are ready to be dropped off at Salvation Army, the clutter/disaster zone that was my closet looks somewhat sane. Yay! And is on its way to be organized. All I need is a new dresser, a garment rack, (ordered) and a few new accessories to give my current outfits a fresh look. Want a peek at what’s on my wishlist for this Summer?


1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

Eat + Drink Make Stuff Parties + Entertaining Styled by Manvi

Summer Beer Tasting Party

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This summer there seem to be more shandy’s, specialty pilsners, and craft IPA’s than ever before. What better reason, to fire up the grill and have friends bring their old favorites and new discoveries over for a beer tasting party.



Super simple to plan and execute, you will set the pace for this and the rest of the summer nights! A few quick supplies from your local hardware store will add an element that’s low on work and high and high on style.

Beer Tasting Setup

The Set-up:

DIY chalkboard table runner

Beer tasting set up

Natural fiber drop cloth with DIY checkerboard pattern as a tablecloth


DIY green and white beer and lobster pails


Succulents and herbs placed sparingly around the table create no-fuss pops of color.



Lots of craft and artisan beer!

Pail DIY:


3 aluminum pails

painters tape

neon green spray paint

white spray paint

1 – Spray pails with 2 coats of white paint

2 – once completely dry, apply tape one inch apart

3 – spray with neon green paint and allow to dry

4 – remove tape and voila!



Chalkboard Table Runner DIY


1 roll of craft paper

chalkboard spray paint

1 – cut sheet of craft paper the length of your table

2 – spray with chalkboard spray paint

3 – allow to dry completely, then set on table

*fun tip: use different color chalk for each different beer*


Small but hearty bites, pair well with beer and conversation

Cheese, tomato, and bacon puffs

Small but hearty bites, pair well with beer and conversation

A summertime beer tasting is just the sort of fun and casual gathering summer was made for.


ps: take a look at more ideas on hosting a couples shower with a beer tasting in our feature for DIY Network


Travel: Element Hotel Times Square

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Last month I was invited by Element Hotels (Starwood’s eco-wise brand) to a complimentary stay at one of their properties to experience their hospitality first-hand. After a quick look at their website I was intrigued by their claim to being much more than a “green” hotel concept that motivates guests to go and do!


As I was scheduled to attend BlogFest2013 in NYC I decided to check out the Element Times Square West location. At first I was weary of being in crowed Times Square area, but once there I was impressed with quiet zen-ish feel of the hotel.


A stark contrast from the bustling and noisy neighborhood, the hotel itself is designed to make guests feel instantly at home; spacious guest rooms each with a large king-sized bed, a work desk, a kitchenette with a full refrigerator and dishwasher, spa-like showers, and big windows boasting views of the city.  Rooms are stylish, sustainable and designed for comfort. Floor plans maximize flow and flexibility. Naturally lit open spaces invite conversation and inspire creativity. Best of all, (for me), they are pet-friendly! Dexter was given his own bed and food bowls and if his wags are any indication (they are) he also enjoyed his stay very much.


From their complimentary RISE breakfast spread, which guests can take back to their rooms to enjoy, to their RELAX beverage and snack to unwind in the early evening midweek, no detail in ensuring guests enjoy their stay was overlooked. I especially loved the sunny greenhouse in which they served their RISE and RELAX spreads. Im totally eyeing it for a private event.

Even their rooftop patio is equipped with comfy loungy seating with views of the Hudson river. A 24-hour fitness center, an on-site laundry room and bikes to borrow are some of the other amenities that add to charm of Element Hotel in Times Square.

Energy-conscious travelers take note: The flooring in each room is made using recycled tires, (super durable), the design of the windows allows abundant natural light and reduce dependence on electricity, and the appliances are energy-efficient. Hotels even have electric car-charging stations!

For a limited time some of their hotels are offering free second night. You can take a list of all Element Hotel properties here.