Cote de Texas Interview




I sat down for a quick interview this week with the blog Hall Ready.  Well – that’s not exactly the truth – I actually sat down with my computer and answered a few questions sent to me via email.  Somehow pretending I was interviewed in a studio with lights and cameras sounds more romantic than just typing out a few quick answers.

Kate Shaw, a photographer, writes the blog Hall Ready which has a very interesting premise:  it is dedicated to showing how best to show art in the home.   Shaw writes about purchasing art, framing it, and hanging it.  So naturally my interview centered around art in my home (of which I have very very little!)




Look Ma – no art!!!!   Hall Ready ask me what was the newest piece of art work I had hanging in my house:   it’s my antique French barometer purchased on 1st Dibs. 



image Close up of barometer.




Antique mirror:  Hall Ready asked me what was the artwork I’ve owned for the longest period of time.  The answer is this mirror that once hung in my parents house.


To read the Cote de Texas interview on Art in the Home, go to Hall Ready HERE.   Thanks Kate!!!




And don’t forget, Wednesday is the last day to enter the great DOXA Design Group giveaway.  Go HERE for all the information on how to enter.

A DOXA Design Group Fabulous Giveaway!!!!!!



A few months ago I was thrilled beyond words when House Beautiful named Cote de Texas as the “go-to blog” to read all about what they called “The Ruralists” design trend.  Imagine being in the same company as Axel Vervoordt and Bobby McAlpine.  It was enough to make my head swell about two sizes bigger!   The buzzwords House Beautiful used to describe this design style are:  handmade, pure, sophisticated, global country and miles of linen.  Well, I do want to one day wrap myself up in miles and miles of pure linen – I can’t imagine anything better.


image DOXA Design Group


After the House Beautiful article,  Jaime Rogers who runs the online marketplace DOXA Design Group, took note of the Ruralists designation.  DOXA is a one stop shop for online purchasing of anything home decor related.  What sets DOXA apart from other online sites is how the merchandise is presented.    In order to simplify the process, DOXA has divided its goods into design categories.     For instance, there are the other House Beautiful Trends categorized – such as The Glams,  and The New  Victorians.   And there are Collections such as:  Positano, Hollywood, Santa Barbara, and Upper East Side.  Other sections are divided by color.   Each section is filled with the merchandise that goes with that particular style.  If you are looking to decorate a room in a “Glam” style – DOXA has gathered all the chairs, sofas, tables, mirrors, lamps, etc. that fit that particular style.     I love to go to DOXA when I am working on a new design project and see what’s available under a certain style  or color theme – it makes my  job so much easier to have it all already organized!    Here are a few of my favorite items from the new Ruralist Trend Collection on DOXA.



image Woven Lily Chair


imageWeathered Wooden Lamp




The Monarch Sofa Bench



imageThe Zebra Bench


Since the Ruralist Trend group is so new to DOXA, and in order to spread the word, DOXA is generously offering Cote de Texas readers a giveaway!   In addition, 3 Fine Grains is also contributing to the giveaway.   3 Fine Grains is a wonderful Etsy shop owned by Kymberley Fraser that specializes in grain sack pillows, furniture  and other goodies.  DOXA will soon be carrying some of Kym’s merchandise in the Ruralist Collection.  In order to see 3 Fine Grains merchandise, go HERE.   


image 3 Fine Grains:   offers a wonderful wing chair made with an original grain sack. 


1.  The Rules:

In order to enter the giveaway, simply go to DOXA Design Group HERE, pick out one item you would like for your own.  Then, come back to this comment section at Cote de Texas and let me know which item you picked!  It’s that simple.  I’ll pick two winners, randomly. 


image An example of the grain sack pillow to be on the giveaway.


2. The Giveaways:

There will be a first and second place winner. 

The first place winner will receive a choice between an Antique Grain Sack or an Antique Grain Sack Pillow ($400 Value) and a $250 DOXA Home Gift Certificate.

The Second Place winner will receive a $100 DOXA Home Gift Certificate.



DOXA also offers interior design services.  Check the web site for more information.


The contest closes at midnight this Wednesday, so hurry up and go to DOXA Design Group HERE, pick out your item, and leave me the comment.  Good luck to everyone!!!!!

Additionally, DOXA is offering a discount to all CdT readers:   For the next two weeks, on all orders over $500, there will be a 15% off discount.  Use the code CDT15.   And for more information about DOXA, please be sure to visit their blog HERE.

Lastly, Willow Decor, a design blog, has a great story about 3Fine Grains, to read it,  go HERE.

The Skirted Roundtable – Criticism in Design Blogging


We all get them – negative comments on our blogs.  Or, we all leave them – negative comments on blogs.  Stephen Drucker, Editor in Chief of House Beautiful, in the April Editor’s Letter chose to address this subject:  negative criticism in blogging and design in general.  Linda, Megan and I take up the subject where Drucker left off.  Like I said, I don’t think we’ll be getting the cover anytime soon. 

(OK.  Let’s be real here.  It’s not like I would get the cover for any work of mine anyway.  Who am I kidding??? But, it sounds good.)

To listen, if you dare, go HERE.

REVISED - Covetable Designs: Kristin Mullen


image Kristin and John Mullen’s house in Dallas.  Stone gates stand at the gravel drive.  The house is flanked by two wings. 


Do you know someone who is really talented and detailed oriented?  Someone whose house is beautifully styled down to the last accessory?    A few years ago when I asked readers to send me pictures of their houses, Kristin Mullen did just that – and my mouth dropped open when I saw them.  Does anyone really live like this???   Kristin’s house was gorgeous.  Her pictures looked like they came straight out of a magazine and her house stood ready to be photographed at a moment’s notice.  In short, it was very impressive.   It didn’t take me long to figure out that Kristin is a perfectionist, a talented one at that.   She enjoys fussing over her house and it shows.  It IS perfect - not a newspaper or piece of mail is out of place, nor is there a corner in her large house that isn’t finished or filled with grandma’s hand-me-downs.   It’s so wonderful that catalogues rent her house for their photoshoots!     And on top of all that, Kristin decorated it  herself.       It is all the more admirable when you realize she is the mother of three sons and one daughter!  Amazing.   I was in awe. 



The front door and main part of the stucco and stone house. 


After Kristin sent me the photographs of her house, I put her in touch with a scout who quickly got her in a magazine Beautiful Kitchens and Baths (not yet published.)   She deserves it.  Her house was designed to be published.   It was a lot of hard work to get it so beautifully furnished, but she did it, in spite of all her other responsibilities.   I had never meet Kristin in person, but last Round Top, there she was:   she stopped me with  “Joni, is that you?”   Of course she would recognize me.  I am not sure any detail goes unnoticed by her.   And of course she was out antiquing with a friend, shopping away.   She loves designing and staging for clients and charity too.   Besides being a full time mom and running a busy household, she has her own business, Covetable Designs.  It’s an interior design business, a staging business (which she is just perfect at!) and she also designs and sells luxury table linens.  Whew.  I’m exhausted just thinking about it!!  


Kristin and her husband John have lived in many different cities.  They moved around a lot but seem to now be happily settled in Dallas.   Looking at her life, her house,  her work, you would think that everyday is a fairytale for Kristin.  And it is to be sure, yet she stoically and lovingly tends to her special needs teen-aged daughter, Darcy.    Darcy has been sick for most of her life and this past year she has taken a terrible turn for the worse.    Kristin has written about Darcy several times on her blog and each time it rips my heart apart, knowing how painful it all must be.   But still, no matter how busy she is taking care of Darcy, sleeping at her bedside at home or at the hospital, taking her to endless appointments with doctors, she never complains.  She always has a smile on her face and she still makes time to create a beautiful haven for her husband and her children.   Kristin is a real gem, a true one of kind inspiration.  I hope you enjoy seeing her house and some of her recent design projects:




 Looking from the back of the property on to the house and the loggia.  A water rill leads from a fountain to the swimming pool.



The view towards the hot tub and swimming pool.  Kristin says the pool was designed for both family fun and for Darcy’s physical therapy.



 A closer look at the water rill leading into the swimming pool.  I love the ornamental grasses in the stone beds.



 One of the my favorite parts of the house is the entry and gallery that runs through the main section.  Here, looking through the front porch, to the gallery, and on to the loggia and swimming pool.  




A view of the entry hall with the staircase.  I love the gray painted trim and the skirted table.  Of course, the table is styled with accessories and an open book.  The loggia is through the French doors.




On both sides of the front door are gray painted benches, piled high with cushions.  Down the gallery is the dining room.



 The gallery is furnished with bookcases that are filled with accessories that Kristin loves to collect.




image At the end of the gallery is the dining room, entered through double French doors.





On each side of the French doors are a pair of gray painted chests with carefully selected accessories atop them.



 The dining room is a study in chinoiserie.   Red lacquer cabinets are built into the sides of the door leading into the living room (left.)  Oriental styled crystal pagoda chandeliers further set the atmosphere.   Notice the darling pillows in each red lacquered chair.  



A look back towards the gallery through the French doors. 



Along the right wall is a red lacquer chinoiserie chest. 




Connecting to the dining room, is the living room.  The walls are lacquered a deep brown-black.   Kristin loves bright and bold colors and patterns and she really outdid herself in his room.  A tall table divides the room into two sitting areas with matching red sofas, though each arrangement is slightly different than the next.  A crystal chandelier hangs over the center of the room. 




The sitting area nearest the dining room.



An interesting arrangement of mirrors and frames on the mantel. 



 The second sitting area overlooks the front yard.  I love the corner shelf unit!


image  The pine paneled family room is more masculine in design – after all five men live here!!  A large antler chandelier hangs over the room.



A detail shot of the bookcases in the family room.  Notice how Kristin covered all her books to make them more uniform.



 John’s study: notice the wainscot is made of wood, leather and nailheads.



The powder room – more chinoiserie styling with an Oriental themed wallpaper.  The sink is made of a large blue and white porcelain bowl.  So beautiful!





The covered loggia.  Kristin decorated it with lanterns and zebra patterned pillows.



Kristin Mullen:   Interior Design Project


BEFORE:  The staircase and entry hall of a project Kristin Mullen recently completed for a client.



 AFTER:  The entry hall.  Notice how Kristin wallpapered the entry hall using nailheads to highlight it and create added textural interest.  So pretty!!!  The newly stained dark brown/black hardwoods are so beautiful.  The dark wood really pops the staircase.



  Close up of the area under the staircase.




BEFORE:  The living room. 



  AFTER:  The living room after.   What a difference!!  Kristin completely redid the fireplace, replacing the black marble with a light white and gray marble.  She wallpapered the room and stained the hardwood floors a dark brown/black.  I love her KWID curtains, they really punch up the room. 



Looking the other direction.  I love how Kristin accessorized the shelving unit.   The room looks so different, it is amazing!



 One final view of the newly decorated living room.  Great job Kristin!




Details of Kristin’s Attention to Details!



After Kristin’s house was photographed for the magazine, she felt compelled to send me a thank you gift for introducing her to the scout.  Her gift was totally unnecessary but a very, very pleasant surprise.  I took a picture of the wrapping so you can appreciate her attention to the tiniest of details.  She used antique French household ledger paper, photocopied it, and then wrapped my gift in it, along with a special ribbon AND sealed it with hot wax.  OY!  But doesn’t the package look great next to my faux antique books from Tara Shaw?   I didn’t want to unwrap it, it looked so pretty as is,  and actually didn’t for a few days.  



Kristin describes her gift wrapping techniques HERE.  I TOLD you she was detailed oriented!!!!   She even talks about the process:  “Nothing other than the French ledger paper, the upholstery strapping, and duck egg blue ribbon were going to make the cut to wrap the gift that Joni gets.  I am this way about wrapping gifts - it’s a sickness and I can’t help myself…”   Kristin really demonstrates how such attention to details makes the common, uncommon.  


  image  Inside, the gift was so perfect:  a leaf sprig, an antique remnant – perhaps a gilded piece off a mirror frame or a cornice!  Attached to a piece of lucite, it looks so perfect mixed with my own collection of shells, gold framed antique prints and mirrors.  A huge thank you Kristin!  I love it. 

I hope you enjoyed seeing Kristin’s house and her client’s house and learning about her unique aesthetic.   To read Kristin Mullen’s blog,   Covetable Designs, go HERE and to visit her web site, go HERE.



Finally, here’s a sneak peak at my new paint color!  I recently got rid of all the yellow in my house - painting the downstairs a warm gray, Pratt and Lambert’s Feather Gray.   At first I tried a more traditional gray, but everything I own is so creamy, the gray went blue.  I know I’m a professional, but let me tell you – I spent all day with a crew of painters waiting while I tested over 15 samples of paint.  Paint is one of the hardest things to get right because the little sample cards do not represent the actual color!  In the end I picked a winner – only to find it out it was the color of my already painted trim!!!!!   Urggggh.   I could have saved myself hours of aggravation where I had almost pulled out all of my frizzy, curly hair (no great loss!)   But I’m thrilled with the new color.  Ever since I replaced the tile in my kitchen with the white Carrera marble, the yellow walls had been driving me crazy.  It just didn’t look right.   Now, I can’t even remember ever having the yellow paint, the gray is completely neutral and very soothing.  I’ll post more pictures of it later. 


AND:  I have three really great giveaways planned.   The first one will be this Sunday – so stay tuned!!!`

Tobi Fairley on The Skirted Roundtable


Tobi Fairley’s project on the cover of the March House Beautiful.


This week Interior Designer and blogger Tobi Fairley from Arkansas stops by The Skirted Roundtable to chat it up with Linda, Megan and me.  Tobi was recently honored with the cover of the March issue of House Beautiful and we couldn’t wait to ask her how that came about!  Yes, we admit it – we are JEALOUS that Tobi, a fellow blogger friend, was on the cover!!!   Or should that be envious????    All kidding aside,  we were thrilled for her and she told us all about itf. 




Tobi, at home.

As it seems to be with most everyone we interview, Tobi is a workaholic powerhorse.  Armed with a MBA, she started her stint in interior design with an eye on the business side, a real rarity.  Tobi talks all about her company and what drives her.   She’s been very successful running her own design business:  even in this terrible economy she hasn’t suffered at all.   I can’t speak for Linda or Megan, but hearing Tobi talk about her firm really motivated me to get more serious about my own business, which Ben likes to call my “hobby.”  Listening to Tobi, he may have a valid point.   Hmmmm.   I hate it when he’s right!!!



imageTobi is known for her vivid use of color.  Her interiors are always bright and packed with interesting prints and patterns.  


During her visit, Tobi discussed how she approaches each project, how she comes up with a design and how she then presents it to the client.    She has a 12 person team which allows her to work on many jobs at one time.   It is so interesting listening to other designers talk about their work ethic and business model and Tobi doesn’t disappoint.  She is open and honest with us, sharing many stories about her rise to the top.    



In the House Beautiful spread, this velvet tufted bench is found in the dining room.


 image The dining room in Tobi’s own home.


In this breakfast room, Tobi used the fabulous turquoise chandelier that the design blogosphere went crazy for.  I love the painted striped floor.



imageI adore this pink and cream damask Tobi used in a guest bedroom.  Her web site  HERE is filled with pictures from all her projects.  


To listen to Tobi Fairley on The Skirted Roundtable, please go HERE.   Coming next, the three of us dish on Stephen Drucker’s lament on the nastiness in blogging commenting in this month’s House Beautiful.   Uh-oh.    I doubt any of us are going to ever be on the cover of House Beautiful now!!!!