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Changes at My Design Secrets

November 22nd, 2013

We’ve made some changes here at My Design Secrets and as a loyal fan, we wanted to keep you in the loop.

My Design Secrets launched in 2007 and since then we have provide secrets and sources to help you decorate your home like a pro!  During that time we’ve received oodles of comments and fan mail that showed us how industrious and appreciative you are and for that, we are very grateful.

For now, the website will still be home to over 300 posts on how to do “all things decorating” but after careful consideration we have decided to shut down the “My Secret Database” portion of our website.  It takes a lot of time, effort and money to keep the source list up to date and working properly.  And as we all know, new sites appear and go out of business each and every day.  So it just doesn’t make sense for us to do what Google can do much better at this stage in the game.

We are also ending the e-decorating services.  While we’ve enjoyed helping many of you, we find our hands full with in-person decorating:)

Please continue to use the articles as a source of expertise and inspiration and I’ll aim to post again soon.

Thank you for your support and Happy Holidays!



Choosing the Right Size Dining Table

February 7th, 2013

The Saarinen Dining Table is a true classic coming in many sizes and finishes. I would love this one in my dining room.

With the holidays just around the corner, now is a popular time to purchase a new dining table.  Before you fall in love with that modern mahogany number on sale at West Elm, it makes sense to assess your wants AND your needs.  Many people shop for a style and then make due with the size which is not a good idea.  A “too large” table has guests plastered against the wall trying to make a discreet exit to the ladies room and a “too small” table has one of the kids sitting in the extra chair at the corner.  So let’s go by the Goldilocks rule and find one that’s just right!

The guidelines:

  • Each person requires about 24″ of width so they can comfortably eat and avoid bumping elbows.
  • Allow 32″ between the table and wall to allow people to get up and sit down easily.
  • Allow 38″ if people are also going to be walking back and forth behind the table.
  • Allow 42″ if you are going to serve people from behind their chairs.
  • If you have a china cabinet or buffet table, take your measurement from there, not the wall.


The Fredericksburg Oval Dining Table from Thomasville is a great classic piece and love the contrast of the darker chairs.

The Fredericksburg Oval Dining Table from Thomasville is a great classic style.  I love the contrast of the darker chairs.

Here is a rundown on popular table sizes, the number of people accommodated and the recommended minimum room size for round and rectangular tables. I would advise against square tables unless you have a very large room because you need a little more space in the corners to make it comfortable.



Base your decision on the number of people you usually have at dinner and then add two.  It’s nice to have the extra room for impromptu guests.  Of course, things change when the holidays come and there is always room for everyone. :-)   The rules are easy, your dining area will look welcoming and your guests will be comfortable.

Shop for the perfect Dining Table in My Secret Database!


5 Ways You Can Add Value and Style to Your Home

April 26th, 2012


Small Budget Ideas That Add Big Value and Style to Your Home

Post contributed by Lucy Massey on behalf of Empire Carpet.

If you have a small budget and big home renovation dreams, start with a handful of small projects to add value and style to your home without overspending.


1.  Upgrade the Flooring in Key Rooms

The first way to add value and style to your home is to upgrade the flooring in one or more key rooms of your home. Keep costs down by working in one room at a time, or renovate several areas to bring a consistent look and feel through different rooms.

When deciding on what type of flooring to install, consider the ages of all your family members, the climate where you live, and your preferences for color and easy maintenance. Families with youngsters may fare better with hard surfaces such as wood, tile or laminate (especially if someone has allergies or asthma). Rainy or snowy climates are hard on carpets, and tiling high traffic areas may lead to dingy-looking grout lines. Rich colors are available in almost all types of flooring, but carpet offers a rainbow of hues you won’t find in natural materials.



2.  Update Drawer and Cabinet Hardware Throughout Your Home

You’ll feel as though you’ve done a whole house remodel if you simply replace every drawer pull and door knob throughout your home all at once. Splurge a little in the most-used rooms such as the kitchen and main bathrooms, and get more basic streamlined hardware for out of the way storage areas like medicine cabinets. Don’t replace the original knobs on your antiques, however; that would reduce the value of the piece.

Donate your old hardware to the local thrift shop or Habitat For Humanity Restore to keep these items out of the landfill and help another homeowner out.


3.   Add Efficient Storage to One or Two Closets

Built in storage units for closets can cost more than a few pennies. You realize they’re worth the money when your things are neat and organized, though. Do one closet at a time and you’ll conserve your home remodeling budget.

Turn a hall closet into a pantry. Or, turn a hall closet into an extension of your master bedroom’s clothes closet. You don’t even need to convert a present space into something else; sometimes just pulling everything out, installing a sensible system and returning items to the space frees up an amazing amount of room.


4.   Splash Color Around

New color adds a breath of fresh air to mundane rooms, and colorful accessories rarely cost an outrageous amount. Change them out seasonally or when you grow tired of the new look.

Curtains, rugs and throw pillows are easy to change and bring joyful color into your rooms. Get a whole new set of bath towels and retire or donate the old ones. Framed prints or paintings can establish a whole new theme. Accessories such as candles and knick knacks are usually colorful and fun and add that last expert touch to your decorating style.


5.   Take It Easy on Your Budget and Yourself
New flooring gives you the biggest impact for your home remodeling dollar, by far. Smaller projects like updating your hardware, installing closet systems, and spreading fresh splashes of color throughout your spaces are fairly easy DIY projects that can be accomplished in less time.

Look around: the possibilities for updating your home are endless. Add value and style to your home with each project and you’ll soon have the home of your dreams.

Pool Table & Dining Table Combo – Part II

April 2nd, 2012

In September of 2008 I introduced you to Fusion Tables when I wrote an article titled Pool Table & Dining Table Combo.  Well, I was lucky enough to purchase one recently for one of my clients and wanted to share some photos with you.  These photos were taken with my phone, so please pardon the poor quality.


The installation process took about 3 hours from start to finish. My client’s (a younger couple) absolutely love the table and use it for dining and playing pool quite often.

2011 High Point Market – Trends for 2012

December 14th, 2011

Interior designers and home furnishings manufacturers at the High Point Market discuss the importance of color to homes and product designs. In 2012, expect products hitting retail floors to offer more texture, patterns, and colors.



Pantone Names ‘Tangerine Tango’ 2012 Color of the Year

December 8th, 2011



According to the official announcement, the deep red-orange color is intended to give us all a big energy boost; a refresh and a recharge. Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Institute tells us more about the choice for 2012:

Sophisticated but at the same time dramatic and seductive, Tangerine Tango is an orange with a lot of depth to it. Reminiscent of the radiant shadings of a sunset, Tangerine Tango marries the vivaciousness and adrenaline rush of red with the friendliness and warmth of yellow, to form a high-visibility, magnetic hue that emanates heat and energy.

And keep an eye out for the Color of the Year beauty collection, part of a new partnership between Pantone and cosmetics retailer Sephora. Launching in March at Sephora stores in North and South America, the limited-edition collection will include eye shadows, lipstick, lip gloss, and nail polish.

Instantly Redecorating a Living Room

December 5th, 2011

Have you ever wished that you could instantly change your decor?  Using an all-white living room set as their canvas, the Dutch lighting team of Mo Assem and Ruben van Esterik (a.k.a. Mr. Beam) make the impossible… possible.



Durable & Functional Dining Table

September 27th, 2011


To me, a dining table’s value is directly linked to the many uses it can provide with a minimum of maintenance and worry.  This is especially true if your dining table is your “everything” table like it is in our home. It’s used for eating, artwork (including glue and paint with my niece and nephew), wrapping and occasionally a pedestal for our thunder scared dog (don’t ask). The table we currently have it made of reclaimed oak and the more scratches and wear it gets, the better it looks.

But if you’d like to take it a step further and not even worry about scratches, stainless steel is a great option and this one fits the bill.  It’s the Quentin Dining Table  by Bernhardt Hospitality, which means it made for restaurants and hotels, another tip-off to its durability.  I enjoy the contrast of the traditional weathered driftwood finish trestle bottom with hammered top. Modern and classic all at once.  It retails for $1,210 which is pretty reasonable for this unique look.  Do you think you could make it work in your home?


Selecting Multiple Paint Colors

July 7th, 2011



I know it’s been a while so I hope you’ve all been enjoying your summer.  I’ve been very busy with lots of design projects and updating my Lorrie Browne Interiors website, which are the things I normally juggle.  But you know what really keeping me busy?  Dog Rescue work!  We adopted our dog, Roxie, from Big Dog Ranch Rescue last year and I loved the group so much I started doing some fundraising.  One thing led to another and now I am helping them with their website, fundraising and I have a foster dog named Brewster sitting in my office!  But that’s how life goes sometimes and as I get older, I am learning that rolling with it is not only a more healthy attitude but more fun too!  So I knew you wouldn’t mind if I took a little summer vacation from My Design Secrets.  But now I am back so let’s talk about Paint!




Selecting multiple paint colors can be pretty tricky if you have a home with an open floor plan or many rooms close together. Some of you are willing to take your time and do your homework and that’s why I wrote my Paint Primer post a while back.  But I know that many people are overwhelmed enough to shelf the project and go have a fruity drink (which is also a very good option, but it won’t get any closer to you goal!)  So since it’s a quick weekend project and the makeover potential is awesome, I’ll share some tricks to get you on the fast track to coloring your world.


Easy but Effective Approaches to Selecting Paint Colors


Same Color, Many Shades - Living and Dining areas with an open floor plan are a good place for this method.  I know many people are tempted to choose 2 complementary colors but that can really chop up the space and make it look smaller.  Architectural details (columns, moldings, corners) allow you a logical place to transition from one shade to the next.

The Easy Way to find these colors? The Benjamin Moore Classic Colors.  When choosing your colors,  I would skip a shade or two in between.  For example:  482 and 480.


Benjamin Moore Paint Colors

You probably learned this in art class when you were young. If you keep adding white to any color, you get lighter and lighter shades which eventually lead you to a pastel tone.

Different Colors, Same Family - One of the best ways to paint closely located rooms but add a little drama is go with a color family.  Use the darkest color in the brightest space and the lightest color in the low light areas. It helps even things out.  For example:  My living room has 2 full walls of French doors so I went bold with a medium brown on the two remaining walls.  But my powder room, which is very small with one window, is a buff color which opens it up a bit.  It’s a simple to way to get a designer palette without the stress of choosing multiple colors.

The Easy Way to Find These Colors? -The Benjamin Moore Historical Colors. You will see more of a distinct change from color to color unlike the classic colors that offer subtle steps of color.


If you want to go a little bolder, the Historical Colors allow you to find complementary colors but each still has a distinct tone.


Wall color is a critical element in a well designed room but I think many times, homeowners take things a bit too far.  The terms “Bold” and “Fun” are warning signs and it’s easy to grow tired of these colors quickly.  Don’t lose sight of your original goal: to pull together all of the furnishings in the room.  The walls should not take center stage but rather provide a lovely backdrop.

Whether you gravitate toward blue, brown or pink there’s a world of color that will get you where you are going and leave room for colorful accessories and most importantly, some updates down the line. I hope these tips help you choose wisely!





Ready to Invest in a Great Lamp?

May 31st, 2011

Amber Lamp, Jamie Young

As a designer, one of my ongoing challenges is finding the perfect lamp and I bet it’s not easy for you either.  Lots of people have sad, non-committal lamps that they bought because they would “go with everything”.  But the right lamp is such a critical accessory. So I am proposing that you consider making an investment in a lamp that you love.  Nothing crazy or outlandish, just a beautifully balanced lamp with good bones and a little bit of wow factor.  This type of lamp will be around for years to come so here’s how to find one…

Motegga Lamp, Green


Lamp Basics

Size & Shape

  • To keep things proportionate, your total lamp height (including shade) should be approximately the same height as the table it is sitting on.
  • Tall and thin tend to be more modern. Wider, bulbous shapes are more traditional.


  • Your shade height will be about 3/4 the height of a traditional lamp base.
  • Shades for modern lamps are more extreme and may be as small as 1/2 the height or as large as 2x the height of the lamp base.

Color & Pattern

  • I tend to favor solid color lamps in everything from ivory to fuchsia.  Use pattern on the shade for a change.
  • Base patterns are great but don’t try to match your fabric. Go for a smaller or larger pattern.  Texture is always nice too.

Arteriors Kermit Green Metallic Luster Glass Lamp

And the shape of your shade will change the look dramatically so you may want to consider buying them separately.  Either way, I think it’s time you bought a lamp that you love and will hold onto for years to come!

Here are some of my favorite online lamp stores:

Mottega – Design your own lamp and receive it 2 weeks.  Sleek styles and bold colors.

Layla Grace carries Jamie Young lamps. Very hip and wonderful shade options.

Candelabra has a wonderful selection of modern and earthy Arteriors Lamps.



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