Saturday, April 16, 2011

Furniture-style cabinetry continues to be a desireable amenity in new custom homes. In the kitchen, the simple touch of adding barley-twist engaged posts to the corners give this island a furniture feel. Across the room, the usual built-in media cabinet is abandoned to be replaced by a custom-sized armoire that just fits into the alcove. Changing to stain grade wood for some pieces adds interest and builds on the furniture theme. Read more!

Many architectural styles share the same lines and features, with the materials, colors, and details making the difference. These photos are of the same house and show a "Hill Country" update of a formerly Colonial-styled ranch house. The "bones" of the house stayed the same, but by updating the finishes--Austin stone instead of red brick, rustic cedar posts instead of smooth columns, Knotty Alder and iron front door instead of white metal, bronze full-lite windows instead of white divided lite, and a standing seam metal roof replacing the asphalt shingle roof--the result is an amazing home makeover.
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This armoire was custom-made by my cabinet man from a wood called Pecky Cypress. The goal was to create a new piece that looked 100 years old. The interior of the armoire has new smooth maple wood lining it to protect the clothing stored inside. The side units have a stained glass inserts based on an old time window pane.

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Dallas artist Carol Pankratz created this wall design, using the decorative accessory for inspiration. Special custom touches like this can take your room to the next level of design. Read more!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Southern Accents showhouse

The Showhouse at Riverhills
Fort Worth, Texas

Come experience a bit of the English countryside in Texas. For our 2009 Showhouse, architect Larry Boerder designed an English-style Cotswood manor perfectly suited for the Riverhills community. This 8,500-square-foot luxury residence is fully furnished and decorated in true Southern Accents style by renowned designer Joe Minton.

The Showhouse will be open for tours
Thursday/ Sept. 24 though Sunday/ Dec. 6

Tour Hours:
Showhouse Hours:
Thursday - Saturday: 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sunday: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Monday - Wednesday: CLOSED
Tickets: $15

Project Team:
Interior Design by Joseph Minton, Inc., Fort Worth, TX
Architecture by Larry E. Boerder Architects, Dallas, TX
Construction by Period Homes, Inc., Fort Worth, TX
Landscape Design by Jeff Hallum Associates AIA, Fort Worth, TX
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Friday, September 18, 2009

Master bath ideas

Treat yourself to a luxurious master bath make-over. Start with relaxing, spa-like colors on the walls, such as this soft sage green. Upgrade the tile with accents of travertine and glass tiles in a mosaic border. Change out old plumbing fixtures, and replace the faucets with new finishes like this oil–rubbed bronze. Try a faux finish to give an aged patina to the cabinets. Hang new, framed mirrors to replace old sheet mirrors over the vanities. Bring in some sparkle with light fixtures highlighted by crystal. Finish off the space with accessories that play up these new elements, and enjoy.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Light bulbs - making artful changes

Using a higher watt light bulb in some fixtures can highlight special items with light that is brighter than the surrounding area, giving them importance. Recessed can light fixtures that are located in proximity to artwork or decorative objects, can be retrofitted with a directional trim kit or directional light bulb that will refocus the light from shining straight down to beaming onto a specific location.

Another way to make recessed cans more interesting is to change some of them from flood lights to spot lights, just by changing the light bulbs, to create accents of bright and shadow. This light play gives a more rhythmic flow to your space. You can even highlight a particular furniture piece, if it is located beneath a can with a spot in it. The Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas used this treatment in their lobby to great effect. They had a spotlight above the floral center piece on the table in the center of the lobby. And, they highlighted a beautiful round ottoman in their sitting area, that was upholstered in a really special fabric. Using light, they drew your eye to these lovely accent pieces. Spotlights are also very effective down a long hallway. They create pools of light that lead you down the path like stepping stones, making a boring hall space more interesting.

Everything you need to update your light bulbs and refit your recessed can fixtures can be found at local lighting showrooms like and It is a very inexpensive way to bring high-end interior design to your home decorating.

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Bathroom mirrors

Mirrors with frames are the upscale trend for bathroom vanities. Most commonly done in wood or metal, framing the mirror has become the expectation for bathrooms in new or renovated homes. Adding a framed mirror can instantly update a bath in an older home. This photo shows an interesting alternative to wood or metal, using a tile border to frame the mirror.

The tile frame in the photo is made of 4” x 4” tumbled marble in “Noche” that is also used as accents on the shower walls. This bathroom is in a builder spec home that had to remain neutral, in order to appeal to a broad range of buyers. But, when selling the home is not the immediate goal, the design can be more personalized. There are nearly an unlimited variety of tile options and combinations available. Pattern, texture, and color can be coordinated to tie in with other bathrooms finishes and create a one-of-a-kind look.

Creating a frame of tile around this mirror highlights the distinctive architectural feature of the arched inset surrounding the vanity. Using a single row of tile, as shown, can be a lot less expensive than a wood framed mirror, but gives a high-end designer touch. Wood frame mirrors can limit the size of the mirrored surface. Tile surrounds allow the entire wall above the sink to be mirrored, expanding a small space. Tile borders allow for customizing the frame to fit unusual shapes like this eyebrow arch that could not accommodate a straight lined wood frame mirror. The tile is installed in the shape and size desired, then the mirror is custom made to fit into the opening inside the tile design.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Kitchen design

It is surprising how easy and affordable it is to bring custom elements into your home decorating. Using unique, one-of-a-kind finishes adds value to your property and enriches your experience living in the space. This copper hood gives a dramatic, old word touch to this kitchen design, but did not come from a high-end kitchen resource. It was made for this client for a fraction of the price at a sheet metal shop.

The accent tiles used in this kitchen backsplash are from Color Bakery, a company that creates hand painted tile designs on a selection of bases ranging from tumbled stone to glass tile. They have a variety of designs to choose from, or you can have something new created from your artwork for a very reasonable price. Using just a few specialty tiles mixed in with an affordable background field of ceramic tile, travertine, or even glass tile can give a custom, designer look without the upscale cost. Find them at

Check back for more ideas on how to use specialty materials and finishes in your interior decorating.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Fireplace ideas



When it comes to fireplaces, think outside the box, literally. This fireplace began as a large, uninteresting rectangular mass of old red brick. When it was redesigned into stone, instead of going back in the same shape, I created the stepped back sides and the stepped up top giving it a more interesting silhouette with strong lines and bold impact. Adding the sculptural light fixtures tied in the large scale art work and dark accessories. It was important to include a mantel that was massive, solid, and in scale with the grandness of this stone fireplace. The step back profile of the corbels repeats the stone detail above the mantle.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Custom copper panels on cabinets

Embossed metal panels were applied to these traditional raised-panel cabinet doors. This treatment not only breaks up a long wall of built-ins, but also adds an old vintage charm to this modern utility room. This same treatment could be used on a flea market cabinet to give it more style and interest. The panels are available from home restoration suppliers, and come in a variety of metals, including tin, brass, and copper. The tin panels can be left natural or painted. The copper and brass can be sealed to stay bright and shiny or allowed to oxidize over time. We chose not to seal the copper panels on these cabinets so they will eventually darken with age and acquire the soft green patina of weathered copper pipes, blending with the new washer and dryer that are in an Aspen Green color.

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Vintage mirror

I use vintage looks whenever they suit a project. This master bathroom photo is of a newly remodeled home where we added a entire second story, utilizing 2,000 square feet of wasted attic space. This home sits on an 80-acre ranch south of Dallas where old west vintage décor fit the setting. In order to make the best use of the space dictated by the existing roof lines, we nestled this vanity under the sloped ceilings, giving the room character. To maximize the look, I wanted an old hinged three-piece dressing table mirror for this spot, that I would not be able to find new. But, whatever I used needed to blend with the two new matching mirrors that we were putting over the his and hers sink areas. I found this great old mirror buried at the back of an antique store in McKinney. It was a bright, shiny, and gold, but I loved the lines, the bevel, and the size, which was perfect for the space. My refinisher was able to make it match the new mirrors, and the client was thrilled with the results of mixing old with new. Read more!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Outdoor fireplace style

An outdoor fireplace is a great place to gather and entertain. We heated up the style on this one by bringing in some special elements. Using two different types of stone colors allowed us to create the sunburst design around the opening and to highlight the mantle and hearth. The Texas motif accessories emphasize this great ranch setting. Furthering this theme, the custom-made lanterns have a warm, rustic look that evokes images of cowboys, campfires, and the old west.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ceramic tile bathroom mirror

On a shopping mission at the Ann Sacks tile showroom, and my client, a ranch owner, fell in love with this cow face. This custom made piece was so unique and special to her, we designed this ceramic tile frame for the bathroom mirror so that she could work this cow head into her decor. The border of 4" x 4" ceramic tiles is a random mix of all the colors you see on a ranch, hues of terra cotta, earth, hay, and denim. At the top of the frame, like a keystone, we placed the only animal head you'll ever see mounted on a wall at this animal lover's ranch.

For more details on this tile go to
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Monday, January 19, 2009

Jungle Fever

The furniture and accessory markets have been going on this week-end at the Dallas World Trade Center and Dallas Design showrooms. Store owners, buyers, and design trade professionals are pouring in from all over to purchase the newest merchandise for their stores and to get in step with what’s happening next in decorating style. I will be giving you previews from market of the new furnishings that will be in your stores in the coming months, just to get you excited and ready to update your interiors. This is one look that is leaving its mark—animal prints, either being used in bold statement pieces or in small doses on traditional items and in combination with classic elements. As you can see here, you don’t have to go all out and create a whole safari themed décor to key into this trend. Just bringing in touches of exotic animal patterns such as this hair-on-hide zebra and mixing them with more traditional fabrics like these chenille patterns and leather like you see on this sofa, will give an exotic flavor to your room without screaming Tarzan lives here.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Kids' Study Spaces

Competition to get into private school, the need to make good grades to get into a decent college and parental pressure to keep grades up, make it vital for students to have a good place to study.

There are five points to consider when creating a functional study space:

1. Start with a desk that has plenty of space to spread out papers. Make sure you include an ergonomic desk chair. A dining room or kitchen chair does not provide the right support and flexibility.

2. Set up the desk in a room or a part of the house that isn’t isolated from everyone, yet isn’t in the main flow of traffic. As you can see here, a storage closet can be converted for a compact study nook, that can be out of sight when not in use.

3. Equip the study space with a computer, printer and school supplies. Keep extra printer cartridges available at all times…rather than dealing with running out at midnight to find a replacement cartridge. Kinko’s and CVS pharmacy carry a wide range of cartridges. I learned that the hard way.

4. Make sure the area is well lit. Tasking lighting is very important.

5. Avoid having a television in the room or at least make sure it’s not on during homework time.

Creating a study space for your child won’t guarantee a spot at Harvard, but it’s a good start.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What's In A Frame?

Putting the right frame on artwork can completely changes it’s identity and elevate it to the look of fine art. This small watercolor was done by my late mother-in-law, and for years my husband had it with a dark khaki matte and a basic thin frame, leaving it to sit in his office looking insignificant and very 80's. Recently, I needed a small piece of art for a tablescape and decided to give this little work a face lift. I re-matted it in a neutral off-white with a gold outline to allow the colors in the artwork to take center stage. Then I chose a heavy, carved frame that had a pattern of graceful strokes that repeated the line detail of the artwork itself, for emphasis. Choosing these new materials gave this simple botanical an updated look and a much greater sense of importance.

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Eyesore or Asset--Selling Your Parents' Home

Despite the popularity of “extreme makeover” shows, this term takes on a new meaning when baby-boomers are faced with selling their parents’ homes. It is a daunting task that most of us will inevitably face. I’ve not only been through it with my own family, but also with my husband, my friends, and several of my clients. What I’ve learned is that at a time when sons and daughters are grieving the death or debilitation of their parent, often completely overwhelmed and exhausted, they have to take on the responsibility of having to sell their parents’ homes. For most it means culling through thirty to forty years of emotionally-charged accumulation, where cherished family photos or important papers are found amidst dusty piles of magazines, and every object holds a memory. It also means coming to grips with the reality that their once competent parent has been slowly declining for years, lacking the energy, means, or mobility to care for their home, so the house is in need of a major overhaul before being put on the market.

The problems I see are fairly consistent from one house to the next, beginning with years of neglect of the basics such as cleaning and household repairs. Next, the once beautifully decorated homes have interiors that not only show years of wear, but are out-of-date, usually accompanied by furniture and accessories being arranged and displayed in an old-fashioned manner. This can send a subliminal message to a potential buyer that the home’s maintenance is also seriously out-of-date. Further complicating the situation is the over-accumulation of “stuff” that has not been sorted, organized, or discarded in years. Often, this is the family home where the adult child grew up, so their familiarity makes them unable to see the gradual deterioration of the home until they need to put it on the market. Unfortunately, heirs can first face these realities when grief and sentiment cloud their judgement, and pressure from finances or other considerations compel them to make decisions quickly.

In my experience, there are things that can be done in advance that would make this transition in life easier for everyone including the elderly parents. I would suggest stepping in earlier and helping your parents manage their home. Assess the condition of the home, now. Make sure the house is clean even if it means hiring a maid to come in. See that repairs are done. Take over the hiring of contractors and repairmen yourself. Often, seniors are too trusting and overpay for shoddy work. Accept that these are things your parents can no longer handle.

Start pre-organizing by locating important documents and files while eliminating junk. Removing excess furnishings and rearranging others can improve your parent’s mobility and prevent falls. These improvements will not only enhance the quality of life your parents, but when the time comes, the house will be closer to being ready to show. This is the time to decide the eventual disposition of the home.

Reverse mortgages have grown in popularity with seniors, but they can represent a problem for heirs if there is a substantial amount to be paid back on the house. Because interest continues to accrue, the time it takes to sell the house becomes a major factor. The longer it takes to get the house into marketable condition and sold, the more money is wasted in interest.

I highly recommend using the services of a good realtor, even consulting with them before the need arises, to have a plan successfully in place to keep the property in line with the market. They can tell you the value of the property based on the current market and the surrounding neighborhood conditions, and help you set a realistic sales price. Get a referral for someone who has been successful selling the properties in that neighborhood. Using all the good, professional resources that are available to you such as licensed contractors, packing and hauling services, and real estate stagers, etc. will minimize the burden on you, shorten the home’s time on the market, and maximize the financial success of your project.

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Once Is Not Enough

“REPETITION” is one of the a principles of design, and this kitchen demonstrates the principle so well and how it can be used to create a dramatic interior. The cabinet door style is a series of rectangles. The artwork on the back wall is framed to repeat the framed style of the cabinetry. Then, the rectangular shape of the barstools continues the pattern. The backsplash features an inset tile mosaic listel of rectangular shaped natural stone. Even the cylindrical pendant light fixtures over the bar appear to be rectangular, and their shape and material repeat the look of the stainless steel venthood.

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Turning Over A New Leaf In '09

Hello, my name is Melinda, and I am addicted to dishes. Whether it is Majolica, Spode, Mikasa, or Pier I, I admit I am powerless over my desire to own gorgeous ceramic ware. I buy dishes I don’t need just because they are beautiful. My cabinets tell the sordid tale. They are all stacked full of place settings. Four sets of china, six sets of stoneware, shelves of serving pieces and cache pots, old and new, stashed everywhere, and yet I keep buying. Not to mention all the special holiday dishes. Glazed pottery has taken over my life. I can't resist the urge to mix and match them all together, never doing the same look twice. The leaf pattern Majolica pieces, and myriad copies that I have, are just too easy to blend with all the other patterns that I have, tying the look of my tables together.

My New Year’s resolution for 2009 is to work on just admiring plates from afar, without giving in to the constant cravings to possess them. I rely on a power greater than myself, American Express, to help me stop this insanity.

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