Hello Amanda!

We are expanding our design team…happy to welcome Amanda Jordan to Tuscan Blue Design!

Amanda (2)

Hi everyone!  I’m Amanda and I am so excited to join Tuscan Blue Design!  In my previous life, I earned a degree in Equine Management and was a horse nut!  When my future husband and I bought our first home, I spent many, many hours painting and decorating it.  I had always been interested in design, I just did not realize the extent to which I was truly passionate about it until I had those new house keys in my hand.  I was so excited about design that I decided to enroll in design school and earn a design degree.  I graduated a couple of years ago and joined ASID.  My previous experience includes working for a decorating firm, a small furniture store and a showroom for interior designers.  When I am not immersed in the world of design, I enjoy hanging out with my husband & our two cats, dining out with friends, watching sports (go Broncos!) and making hand crafted journals.  I am really looking forward to helping Meredith with all of the lovely projects coming into Tuscan Blue Design and I can’t wait to meet all of our current and future clients!  


The Art of Salvaged: Blending Vintage Pieces into Your Spaces

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{Note: This month I interviewed Amy Marathe, owner of Salvaged, for my monthly design column, Design Blue Book. We discussed the basics of salvaged furnishings. Click here to see the interview  in The  Urbana Courier…}

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What I want to share with you today are a couple of questions that didn’t make it in the Design Blue Book article due to limited space. Thought it would be fun to share Amy’s extended knowledge about ‘a day of picking’, attending auctions, and discovering the history of a piece.  I love her enthusiam!

What is a day of ‘going picking’ like…where do you find the best bang for your buck? 

Amy: A day of picking can be fun, stressful, and full of surprises. It is a full day of emotions and I love every minute of it. Every week or two, we hit the road and go to a few antique malls up in Pennsylvania that we know offer good deals on furniture in the rough. We might also attend an auction or estate sale and when the weather warms up, we’ll hit the road for some longer trips to some of our favorite flea markets.

Flea markets are the most fun and you can get amazing deals, but for us, we need to get more quantity for our money and wandering through a flea market to find two or three pieces can be a wasted day. I think auctions are the best bet for getting the most bang for your buck. Depending on the crowd, you can really score big on furniture and small items.

What do you look for as you hand-pick pieces?

Amy: When picking, we look for hand dovetailing, hand-made peg nails and that fabulous old, wavy glass. We look for cherry and walnut woods. Those are harder to come by and in high demand. With mahogany, we try to find inlay in it or unique detailing on the legs or trim. We also look for major damage. Large splits in the wood are a no-no for us and if it isn’t dovetailed, we pass. I also ask myself two questions every time we find a piece – is it special and is it functional?

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  When you go out ‘picking’ are you able to find out the history of certain pieces?

Amy: Yes! This is very important to us when looking for furniture – ASK QUESTIONS! We always ask about the item. Sometimes we get a blank stare and are told the location of where the piece was bought and that may be all we have to go on. Other times, we get a full-on history lesson about it or the family it belonged too. I absolutely love estate sales. We went to a few last summer on farms with big, beautiful farmhouses where everything was for sell, including the house. We met some of the relatives and learned about some of the pieces from the auctioneers.

Always look under the furniture, the back of the furniture and on the backs of cabinet doors and drawers. We have found so many wonderful hidden treasures that tell us about a new piece. One library table we found had signatures on the back of each drawer noting when the school closed every year and how many snow days they had. It dated back to 1902 and continued to the early 1970s. Another washstand was signed on the back. We searched the name on the Internet and found out that this person was a cabinetmaker before the Civil War, but during the war, made coffins. He lived in Gettysburg, PA. Now, how cool is that?

Thanks for all the great info Amy…aka, vintage furniture maven!  It’s always a joy and an inspiration to see the beautiful pieces you find and transform.

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One last note: here are a few thoughts on incorporating vintage pieces into your spaces.

The Setting: Find a specific place for your vintage piece. Set-out to create a focal point.

Juxtaposition: It’s always fun to juxtapose styles in a space — showcase a modern piece in a more traditional home or just the opposite, blend a traditional piece in a modern setting.

Function: Put your antiques to work. Originally these pieces were meant to be functional and part of a home — not just display pieces. Use them and enjoy them.

Tell a story: A vintage piece can be used to house a much-loved family collection (old photographs, vintage dishes). Or accessorize it with other vintage pieces to create a vignette.

Cheers – Here’s to creating splendid spaces!


A Second Look at 2012

It’s almost 2013…the days passed by quickly this year as we stretched our wings and settled into our studio-office in downtown historic Frederick, MD. We’ve enjoyed all that downtown has to offer from getting to know the merchants to enjoying lunch-out at many yummy restaurants! It is a welcoming place as we continue to build business and client relationships…we love visitors, so please stop by and say hi.


 Our studio space…this was taken when we first moved in…seems very tidy!


What Kept Us Busy – Kitchens!

This was our year for kitchen renovations…a tremendous design and learning experience. We teamed with an amazing Builder, Harmon Builders, on 3 kitchen successful projects…perfecting the Client-Interior Designer-Builder relationship.

Polishing a Gem in Garrett Park, MD

The client’s love of warm colors + arts-crafts details generated the kitchen design

Crafting a breakfast nook + storage along one wall

Expanding the View With a Garden Window

A Retro Kitchen in Frederick, MD

Creating a functional floor plan and focal point with the Big Chill range-hood generated this kitchen design.

Orange is our accent color

With the new floor plan we were able to add much needed storage with a new kitchen hutch

A Kitchen that Cooks in Kensington, MD

A narrow-long kitchen space…the client asked for ample prep space, a functional work triangle, and more natural light. Their style leaned towards clean-contemporary with craftsman-style details.

Larger windows, a continuous counter top, and base cabinets filled with deep storage drawers.

Under counter microwave and specific storage for a toaster oven and cookbooks

Vintage ribbed glass pendants


Expanding our Design Process - A Diverse Approach to Collaborating with Clients

Another design avenue we offered clients this year was to collaborate with them and their Builder…providing design, detail drawings, and consulting through the design-build process. This project has not been ‘photographed’ yet, but I wanted to share the drawings to show how we work through each space to provide detailed design and selections for a large design-build project.

Project #1 Scope: Two-Story Addition to include a Family Room, Master Bedroom/Bathroom and Kitchen Renovation

 Concept Sketch for the Kitchen Design

Final Kitchen-Breakfast Room Design

Cabinetry Details

Kitchen ‘in construction’

Family Room-Keeping Room Layout

Master Bathroom Tile Design-Layout


Design-Decorating Projects

Below is a sampling of images from smaller projects where we focused on layout, scale, color, fabrics, furniture, and finishes-textures…even a few exterior paint consultations.

Pops of Blue

Creating detail with mouldings

A Foyer

Mixing in a client’s antique chairs

Built-in…finding a place for much needed storage

Breakfast Space

Upholstery Details

Window Treatment Details

Exterior Paint Color Consultation


Giving Back – Working with the Frederick Community

Habitat for Humanity ReStore:  We continued to collaborate with Habitat for Humanity ReStore of Frederick Cty…working with their marketing director on projects to boost awareness about ReStore in Frederick Cty.  Over the summer we designed a porch using materials and products from ReStore…reimagine and reuse were our concept words. Beyond the great pieces we always find there, we love that all of the money spent at ReStore goes back into the Frederick community to help fund Habitat for Humanity building projects. The project was highlighted in the June issue of Frederick Magazine,  http://tuscanbluedesign.com/documents/FredMagJune2012.pdf

Celebrate Frederick: In December we were part of Celebrate Frederick’s Candlelight House Tour…an annual fundraising event. Tuscan Blue Design and Salvaged (a downtown Frederick merchant) adorned the grande foyer of the historic Tyler Spite House that was transformed into a designer holiday show-house.

Cream, Green, and Purple Color Palette

A Simple Combination: Fresh greens and Craft Paper


We Even Dabbled in Event Planning…

We teamed with Amy Benton of Want2Grow Marketing on the design-decor for an outside wedding reception in the spirited theme of a Vintage Kansas City BBQ. Quite fun for all!

Entrance to the Reception…a place to leave the bride & Groom a little note…

Muslin. Calico. Sunflowers.Hay Bales


One last thought…a big thank you for reading and sharing Design Sense and Sensibility this year.

Here’s to Creating Splendid Spaces in 2013

For an expanded portfolio of the projects discussed above (and more!) visit our website

Please continue to share Design Sense and Sensibility with others.

Play with the Basic Building Blocks of Cabinetry

It’s as simple as this…cabinets come in basic sizes and dimensions…take these basic building blocks, mix-n-match, and create custom-look accent pieces for your space.

The Basic Building Blocks

Read on for examples!

Idea 1: Basic Building Blocks for a Furniture Style Hutch

3  base cabinets + 3 wall cabinets + an arched decorative valance +  base board.

Kitchen Furniture-style hutch


DESIGN TIP: Think symmetry and in blocks of three. Pull out the center base cabinet a few inches from the wall to give added dimension. Add decorative moulding on the exposed end panels for a ‘finished look’. For additional detail use textured glass in upper cabinet doors.Top it off with crown moulding.

Idea 2: Furniture Style Hutch…same idea…just a different configuration

The Basics: 2 base cabinets w/ drawers + 2 wall cabinets + decorative valance + baseboard

English garden style kitchen hutch


DESIGN DETAILS: open shelving, bead board, crown moulding and arched  doors

Idea 3: Simple Construction Detail Creates a Hutch-Look

The Basics: A standard run of cabinetry: 3 base cabinets + 3 upper cabinets


DESIGN TIP: A simple construction detail..we pulled out the center base cabinet and center wall cabinet a couple of inches…to create dimension. The deep crown moulding follows the line of the center cabinets. Adding the decorative valance to the base cabinet and glass doors to the wall cabinet completes the final details.

Idea 4: Linen Cabinet-Storage ‘Armoire’ for the Bathroom

The Basics: 1 double door base cabinet w/drawers + 1 double door wall cabinet + 2 drawers + decorative valance


DESIGN DETAIL: Here we used a piece granite (that matches the vanity) as the ‘counter top’ and placed the wall cabinets on top of the counter to give it more of an armoire-style look.

Have you created an accent piece using standard cabinetry? Share your ideas.

Please continue to share Design Sense and Sensibility with others.

Here’s to creating splendid spaces – Cheers!



Blogging in Bethesda!

A quick share:

Earlier this summer, Josette at Bethesda Buzz (bethesdabuzz.com), asked me to be a guest blogger on her Real Estate Blog, Life in Bethesda.  I said, yes, and today posted my first guest blog on her site. Bethesda  neighborhoods (and the DC Metro) are full of quaint older homes…many with charm…and many others with potential charm! I am going to be blogging about how to see the vision in some of these older homes.  We started with a kitchen renovation…the heart of the home… where many homes in the Bethesda area are in need of updating.

Click on the link to take a look at the blog post…




My Quirky Obsession with Tea Towels…


OK, yes, I love tea towels. The obsession started when we lived in England…where there is a tea towel in every gift shop and for every occasion…what’s not to love?!

Pinterest has fueled my obsession…I get giddy when I pin to my Terrific Tea Towel board…

Contemporary designs and patterns go beyond your Grandmother’s vintage tea towels with cherries and flowers (and yes I love those too!). Tea towels are the perfect canvas for artists and designers  to express themselves…and in return we can express ourselves.

Take a look…(images are from Pinterest)






Less is More

Favorite Sayings

Graphic Color and Pattern

Catch up on your literary quotes

A bit of humor

So sweet, a tea towel calendar…reminds me of home

Back to where it all started…England!

If you’re not sure what to do with your perfect tea towels…

Hang one or two in a window…

OR make a pillow…

(The Pleated Poppy, http://thepleatedpoppy.com/2011/03/how-to-make-a-pillow-from-a-tea-towel/)

OR…put them on the wall…

(wrap them around a canvas frame…staple…and hang…or prop on a shelf)

But most of all USE THEM…to wash-up or display!

 My well-worn, well-loved, washing-up tea towels…

My  kitchen window…

Do you have a favorite tea towel?  Post a photo or leave a comment…I would love to see it!

Please continue to share Design Sense and Sensibility with others.

Here’s to creating splendid spaces – Cheers!


Classic Color Palette – Soft Yellow + Linen White + Graphite Black

A foyer face-lift for a standard ‘center hall colonial’ foyer…my foyer!

As the age old saying goes, ’the cobbler’s children have no shoes’, in my life that translates to, the interior designer’s house never gets any attention!  So I am  pleased to be able to share a few photos of my foyer ‘face-lift’. Finally, finally I decided on a color palette (yes I too have issues with making decisions about my own spaces!)…classic soft yellow, soft white, and graphite black…replaced a couple of light fixtures…and did a little editing-rearranging.

The space is simple, comfortable, inviting…and best of all…it makes me smile!



Many of us have what is called a ‘standard center hall colonial’ entry hall…in other words…a blah-bland space. Here’s how I infused a little personality into the space.

1. New Light Fixtures:  Big impact and often very budget friendly. You need to be careful of size…depending on your ceiling height. I searched and searched for the right size light fixtures for the 8′-0″ ceiling that had a bit of a whimsical style…I finally found an art glass pendant (on  clearance at http://www.lampsplus.com/) and paired that with a simple ‘school-house’ style fixture I found at Lowe’s.

2. Accent Furniture/Storage: Every entry hall needs a storage chest…it can be a family antique or something you find at a thrift store, paint a fun color, and re-purpose. I used a chest we’ve had for many years (actually it was once my 2nd daughter’s changing table!) that fit perfectly in the space and gives us storage for hats, gloves, scarves, etc.

3. A Rug: A rug runner add texture, pattern, and color. A indoor-outdoor rug-runner would be a good choice if you have a high traffic area in your foyer.

4. Paint Palette: As you know there is power in paint. This is where you can add your favorite color or keep it neutral…think about how much natural  light comes into your foyer…if you have a two-story foyer with an abundance of light think about using a medium tone color…something that will fill the space and make it feel a bit more inviting. Our front hall doesn’t get much light so I used a light warm-neutral on the walls and added the black on the staircase to create a little contrast. All the trim  is done in a linen white…keeps the palette soft and warm.

5. Bring in your Personality:   This is the most important element…bring in what you love. Don’t be afraid to fill your walls. Find large pieces you like (artwork, architectural salvage?) or create vignettes out of smaller pieces. Think outside the box..can you hang something in a different-fun way?  I am a collector…I like to create vignettes. So my front hall was a great place to hang some of my favorite things. Think outside the Pottery Barn box!


Add your personality to the space: the vignette over the chest…an old frame creates a perfect place to ‘hold’ your treasures.

A few of my favorite things…vintage postcards to a watercolor I did in college…

Hang a favorite poster (this one is of the faces in Goya’s paintings…I got it in Madrid MANY years ago) by strips of wood and then use a ribbon.

I finally said good-bye to the carpet on the stairs (whoo-hoo!) and had them painted. The painter sanded down the existing treads and used a ‘porch and floor enamel’ paint for durability.

Walls: Benjamin Moore. HC-30 Philadelphia Cream

 Railing and steps: Benjamin Moore: 1603 Graphite (porch enamel paint)

Trim: Benjamin Moore. 912 Linen White

Have you infused a little personality into your entry hall-foyer space? Please share…I would love to see what you’ve done!

My next step is to replace the brass door knobs with glass knobs…baby steps…

Please continue to share Design Sense and Sensibility with others.

Here’s to creating splendid spaces – Cheers!

Discovering the Unexpected…in a Lighthouse…

The Industrial Vintage Revolution…


Last week I spent a muggy Florida afternoon exploring a little gem…a late 19th century lighthouse.  As I climbed (and climbed!) up through the light house, others were enjoying the beautiful ocean views out the small windows, but I found myself taking note of the industrial style architectural details of the building. The first thing that came to my mind were the many industrial vintage style images I’ve been seeing in current home-catalogs, on the web, and shelter magazines…from tables constructed out of  steel and old telephone poles to industrial light fixtures. What fun to see the origins of these industrial details in this 1883 light house. So armed with my iPhone camera, I took a few photos documenting the details. 

Looking up from the first floor…a metal spiral staircase in black and white.

The soft curve of the metal staircase that leads to the beacon…love the rivets in the metal cased walls!

The metal structure

A honey-comb pattern in the floor grates.

Industrial light fixtures…look familiar?!

Even the ever-functioning beacon is a beautiful piece of art…with its’ layers of glass and decorative metal.

Ponce de Leon Lighthouse 1883…a beauty!

And…here’s that gorgeous view!

Are you drawn to the industrial vintage style?

Please continue to share Design Sense and Sensibility with others.

Here’s to creating splendid spaces – Cheers!

Habitat ReStore Porch DIY Projects:’ How-to’ Transform a Shiny-Brass Chandelier into a Candelabra

In the spirit of the ReStore porch project, I’ve decided to write a couple of  ’How-To’ Blog posts about our DIY adventures.

The Inspiration

As part of the porch design I knew I wanted to include hanging candelabras. I saw this beautiful rope wrapped chandelier in a Restoration Hardware catalog…this became my inspiration piece.


When I saw these shiny-brass chandeliers at ReStore (and there are so many of these lovely fixtures!), I remembered the rope wrapped chandelier from the catalog…similar lines…now to re-imagine!


The First Step: Take apart the chandelier and remove all electrical bits and pieces. It was easier to take apart than I expected…just start pulling it apart and clipping wires…you’ll end up with something like this


NOTE: Make sure you keep all the bits and pieces (washers, nuts, screws) as you will want to re-install the ‘cups and saucers’ on the ends of the arms to hold the handles. Make mental note of how all the pieces go back together. NOTE:  I did find out that you can find specific light fixture hardware at Lowe’s or Home Depot if you lose a washer, etc.


The Next Few Steps:

1. Spray paint all pieces. First give the fixture quick sanding with steel wool to roughen the shiny finish. I used a black spray paint (one can per fixture). Don’t forget to turn it upside down to get the underside of the fixture

2. Wrap sisal rope around the arms…tuck ends under or tie a small knot. We found the sisal rope at Lowe’s. We decided to  use two different sizes of rope for different textures. The thinner sisal twine worked really well on the curved arms of the chandelier and was much easier to work with in general.

3. Put all the bits and pieces back together…add votive candles (look for the smaller glass votive candle holders…to contain the melting wax.)



The finished products hanging on the porch!

Please continue to share Design Sense and Sensibility with others.

Here’s to creating splendid spaces – Cheers!