Mad for Plaid

Plaid skirt

As we head full steam ahead into the Holiday Season, it makes sense to cozy up with some Plaid décor. One of my favorite holiday movies is “The Holiday” with Cameron Diaz and Judd Law. Gotta love everything that has to do with romantic English films. With that said….the countdown to Downton Abbey season premiere Jan. 5th is on the radar as well! We are so ready!

CastleInveraray Castle

A designer friend of mine, Sophia Burkart, designs custom luxurious robes and lounge wear. She also happens to be British. We had a chat about her friend’s home project in England. Here is her commentary, “Turkeys & Hummingbirds“.

Skirt and pillows1|2

After reading her post, and after considering multiple photos for English décor, here’s my conclusion: No one does plaid better than Burberry and Ralph Lauren, and our friends across the pond. Plaids and tartans evoke a certain level of warmth, coziness, style, and comfort. So of course they make sense for hearth and family rooms during the holiday season.

Burberry and Ralph Lauren1|2

Everyone is Mad for Plaid this season in fashion, accessories, and the home. So go for it. A little goes a long way. All of our favorite fabric Designers, Romo (a British company mind you), Brentano, and the like have come out with menswear plaids that well, we just love. I keep saying I am going to make a blanket out of them…for my clients (read…myself!).

Plaid coat and skirt1|2

As Sophia says…”An Englishman’s Home is His Castle”, so put your luxurious robe on, grab a fancy coffee or hot tea, and cosy up in some plaid and give yourself a break this Holiday season, you will be so glad instead of mad!

English HomePin Lovely


Opening Image Photography: Chris Nicholls


{ 1 comment }

Entertaining By Design II: Setting the Perfect Table

Dawn Cook-Wide Shot

The Entertaining By Design Event at the Ohio Design Centre was a huge success! We were in very good company with designs by 30 different Designers all putting their unique spin on setting the perfect table. With very different themes, we all pulled out the stops and excelled at what we do best: being creative! I was so impressed with the inspiring and original energy my fellow Designers represented.

Dawn Cook Design was honored to win the Best Over the Top Award for our Bohemian Chic wedding design and our Intimate Wedding Affair theme in the Baker Showroom. Three awards were presented for Best of Show, Best Over the Top, and Best Execution of a Theme.  Three different tables won Peoples Choice awards. With over 800 people attending the 2-day event, the turn out of friends, clients, and the public was spectacular. We were honored so many of you joined us for this terrific event.

Dawn Cook-Detail shotTuxedo napkins with vintage hotel keys and rosemary boutonniere inspired by Alexander McQueen and a Birdcage centerpiece accented with floral, Dawn Cook Design

Monarch Interiors

Sizzling Havana Nights in the Jacque Garcia room at Baker, Monarch Interiors

Creating the perfect table, requires some thought. I noticed many of the Designers worked off of basic Design fundamentals, and then added their special zing to their table scape. Here are the three most common trends among all the creations. Follow these principles and you are on your way to Holiday Entertaining.

1) Be Unique: Pick a different Color Palette or Item to Highlight 

I chose plum, navy, blush, coral, and chocolate as my pallete for the wedding. Everyone commented on how “warm and fallish” the design looked. We mixed in moody lighting, lots of was a big hit. Those are not necessarily “fall colors”, but it worked well with the Design. Fellow Designer, Jennifer Monachino, of Monarch Interiors had to work around a shocking yellow room for her Havana Nights theme. Electrified candles added the necessary glow to reflect this color amist the man’s world of cigars, vintage leather luggage, zebra print rug, and barware, pulling it all together with a touch a moustache panache.

Weave Ideas-Wide Shot

 Polynesian dining at this organic feast with woven linens, rugs, and asian elegance, Weave Ideas

2) Represent Organic: Materials Matter

Sandy Varelmann of Weave Ideas, won Best Interpretation of a Theme based on her authentic table from Bali from  the movie “Eat, Pray, Love”. With the bamboo structure, natural linen floor pillows and placemats, gauzy panels, the natural materials pulled off this theme perfectly. Reflections had a gorgeously decorated Enchanted Forest theme. Their organic moss, wood chargers, and even water ball hanging accents, made you feel like you were in the middle of a Mid-Summer’s Night Eve. This table appealed to the masses, winning the Peoples Choice Award. Natural materials will add the authenticity to your table, the natural texture adds design interest.

Reflections-Detail Shots

 Evening in the Enchanted Forest, Reflections Interiors


Barrie Spang

Bubbles and La Boheme, Barrie Spang, Lee Meier Interiors 

Have a Focus: What’s your Wow?

Whether it’s the centerpiece, the buffet, or the artwork behind the table, have something truly be the masterpiece of your table design. My table had fabric ribbons dressing up a traditional chandelier and a birdcage as the centerpiece. Barrie Spang, of Lee Meier Interiors, had a gorgeous original artwork mural behind her buffet, and then place settings with hand painted mini canvases of each of the guests at her La Boehme table. And sometimes it can be understated and still be a wow. Her attention to detail won her the Best of Show Award.

Overall, great ideas were shared by all, so try something a little different with your table design this Holiday Season. Learn from the experts, you will be gathering in style!


Opening and 2nd Image Photography: Linda Smith of Blulens


Entertaining By Design: An Intimate Wedding Affair


 No Sophie has not magically come of age for a wedding. But I have had fun getting to know all the hot trends in Wedding décor the last few months. I’m planning a boho chic wedding in the Baker Showroom. The Ohio Design Centre is hosting a huge table event this Friday, November 8th and Saturday, November 9th.  30 Designers are decorating tables to fantastic themes such as “Eat, Prey, Love” and “Carnivale”. Linda is hostessing a Midcentury Madness party in the Bello Design showroom. You must come visit us, it is going to be fun.

Flower ChandelierImage Source: Paper and Stitch

The Design Centre approached us back in January to begin preparing for this event. The bespoke wedding theme really spoke to me. Weddings are so personalized these days. If you look at the top wedding blogs, ruffledblog, stylemepretty, and 100layercake, everything is so personalized, unique,…its not about how grande the décor is, its about how eclectic and handcrafted the design is…very intimate. Very individualized.

Party favorsDesigned by: Christine Wisnieski

Quickly realizing I was out of my design element, I partnered with Ann King, of Borrow Rentals. She stylizes wedding with vintage finds, antique furnishing, and her own sense of style. I had a look in mind; warm fall colors, plums, navy, ochre, charcoal, and gold, with vintage table décor and settings. My table is set on Laura Kirar furnishings in the Baker Showroom. My theme works perfectly with her artistic sense of style.

“I’m attracted to the juxtaposition of raw earth and manmade splendor, it implies a history, a kind of interrupted formality that is casual luxury in its truest sense.” – Laura Kirar.

EBD-Color schemeImage Source: 100 Layer Cake

I have excellent vendor partners for this event, Hummingbird Bakery, Miranda’s Vintage Bridal and Alterations, and Molly Taylor Floral Design. If your planning a special event or want to try something new this holiday party season, these ladies are where it’s at in CLE these days.

Wedding CakeImage Source: Style Unveiled  Photography: Jamilah Photography

It’s been so fun being a part of this event this year, and thanks to the Baker Showroom for choosing me to participate!

FlowersImage Source: Studio Blush

My intimate Wedding Affair, is boho chic, elegant style that’s so unique its classic. Just what you would expect out of me! See you there!

AMDesigner: Alexander McQueen

For a special treat, visit between 12-2pm on Saturday for sounds from a string quartet from the Cleveland Institute of Music tutored by Annie Fullard, of the Cavani String Quartet.  It is a wedding after all!


Opening Image Source:Sbdigs  Photography: Jose Villa


Paying It Forward…. Random Acts of Kindness

Princess Diana Quote

When I started this blog, I wanted to discuss more than just Design. I needed to speak about what is important to me. After being where I have been, see (Be Still My Beating Heart….), it’s hard not to be continually floored by how kind and generous people can be. Random people. Everyday people. Yes, we all complain about “those people”, the ones who bother us, drive us crazy, or even those we are just a little bit jealous of. But in reality, there are so many just great people out there. When do we celebrate them? If your life is touched  by a few of them, you are blessed.

And I don’t come at this from a religious or spiritual position. It’s just life. Think about it.

The other day Brian was in the grocery store with the kids, he overheard a woman behind him getting some unexpected bad news on a call. After the call, he asked her ‘How is your day?” When she replied “Horrible!”, he gave the cashier extra money and paid for her groceries, and left, never waiting for an acknowledgment or thanks. How did I hear about it? Sophie told me. So happy she watched, and learned this lesson.

Big or small, you remember these moments. When in the Cardiac ICU, I will never forget the nurse Nancy, who mothered me, and let me grip her hand until it was white, who looked after my parents, calmed my fears.  Now this wasn’t a random act of kindness, you many say it was her job, but she truly cared about me and my family’s well-being. It was much more.

Last night at the Blossom Music Center for the Pixar Concert by the Cleveland Orchestra (which was fabulous by the way…) we had lawn seats and a picnic to celebrate Sophie’s 8th Birthday. While we chatted with the couples wining and dining next to us, the sky opened up and thunder and lighting ensued. Sophie, who still has fear of storms, was not pleased. The couple handed us their four pavilion tickets and said “Happy Birthday” and continued on with their party in the elements, while we enjoyed the sounds of the orchestra in the comfort of the amphitheater.

Friends, and teachers, and mentors, and work associates all influence us with kindness. We all have people we respect in our circles. But think of the randomness. Think of the souls that we are all connected too in some way. I do believe that things all happen for a reason. Good or bad, large or small. Just think about it this week, and take the time to do something a little uncomfortable, a little unexpected, a little kind. But most importantly, remember to be kind to yourself….that’s the hardest part!

What unexpected acts of kindness have you experienced in your life?


I {Heart} Cleveland – Reclaimed Style

Reclaimed Cle stamp

Recently, I had the pleasure to make the acquaintance of Deej Lincoln, President of Reclaimed Cleveland. While this company has evolved over the years, their mission is strong and oh so important to the redevelopment of our lovely city.

From their website,, states:

Reclaimed Cleveland is a retail and custom furnishings company, which re-purposes local materials that would otherwise be bound for disposal. The goal of the company is to serve Cleveland’s progression into a sustainable 21st century, while preserving its history in heirloom quality furniture.

Well how cool it that. Clearly, one man’s trash is another Designer’s treasure. Deej and company salvage old hardwood timber from homes, schools, factories that are slated for demolition and upcycle then into objects of beauty. With skill and craftsmanship, they know what they are doing too.

Wood locations

Located in the hip Tyler Village commercial development in the rebounding Superior/St. Clair neighborhood, This is where it is at. Hosting the Cleveland Flea, a monthly market of upcycled finds, this neighborhood is hot. Truly earning the name “Rustbelt Chic”, this community eludes what this new Cleveland book is all about. It’s cool to live in Cleveland, and hey if your from here, own it!

Outdoor Shot

From Burning Riverfest, Made in the 216 artisans, to an unbelievable foodie network of chefs, it’s a great place to live, work, and play….OK, so I digressed….

Reclaimed Cleveland runs it saws and does their thing all right there where it is happening in town, and my client and I got a personal tour by Deej himself who lives and breathes what I wrote above.

Factory Shot


From super cool foundry pieces from old factories to planks upon planks of gorgeous wood, it’s truly a Designer’s dream to imagine what can be done. And the best part, is each finished piece is stamped with the origin of the harvested wood. It seriously is like being a kid in a candy store, limited only by our imaginations.

Foundary and planks

With light reflecting from the Lake, and sawdust in the air, we created a custom kitchen table: whitewashed wood planks, that look worn and used, buffed to a functional polish, and painted refashioned foundry pieces used as pedestal bases to give it a more eclectic look.  I am so happy my new to Cleveland clients get this custom piece of Cleveland to add to their collection of furnishings!

Client Table Install

These guys are growing, and its rewarding to be part of the process. You’ve probably eaten on their tables in restaurants, and shopped from fixtures in your favorite retail establishment. And while Restoration Hardware can mass-produce a reclaimed look, why not order up an original, from your hometown nonetheless?

So even if this isn’t your look, the whole industrial thing, it’s in, it’s hot and it’s not going away. So mix it up and mix it in. Be a part of the process. Shop local, and our Green City on a Blue Lake will be better than ever.



Pattern Play #4: Sweet As Honey: Hexagons


I know I have blogged about patterns a lot lately, I can’t help it, the geometric pattern play is hot for the moment in design. Right now, it’s all about the hexagon, or honeycomb pattern. After the lavender farm visit see “Lavender Dream: Our Visit to the Farm”, and talking to some of my beekeeper friends, the sweetness of the honeycomb pattern is more complex and yet engaging than ever before. Represented with six even sides, the hexagon is a symbol for efficiency and community.


As traditional as can be, many of our classic 1920’s style homes in the neighborhood have hexagon tile patterns in halls and bathrooms. Yet now, the shape is rendered on carpets, rugs, and fabric patterns. Every room needs some geometry, and a geometric pattern is evident in the hexagon. Recently, I shopped for a hexagon shaped table lamp for my client, the hexagon was just the shape we needed. We didn’t want any sharp corners and we needed to get around it easily, but have some visual interest.

Table and Stair runner1|2

Traditional, Classic, or Modern, everyone can make this shape work in their design. Take a little tip from the bees, it will be sweet as honey!

Hex floor in kitchenImage Source: Flourish Design + Style

To learn more about beekeeping, read this quirky post from Gardenista: The Beekeeper Diaries: Rob Keller Does Not Get Stung (Today)


Opening Image Source: Gardenista

{ 1 comment }

Going on a Man Hunt: Showing your Masculine Side

BedroomYes, I’m a Daddy’s Girl. I love my Dad. We are very much alike, Type A, assertive, OCD, and the like. My Dad is the quintessential good guy, Italian father. Where he can be a hot-headed Soprano mess, he also is the most generous and charismatic guy I know. And he’s totally into “manly” things…a candy apple red Porche, a fly-fishing retreat in Lake Chautauqua….. I could bury him in his vintage Car and Driver magazines and fishing paraphernalia.

In honor of our Dads, let’s think about how we can incorporate some masculinity into our design. Now it’s not all man caves, TVs, and black leather. You would be surprised how many clients crave a more refined version of this design. Rich tones, warm earthy textures, crisp woods mixed with cool stones. Clients ask for the colors of slate, and articulate a more masculine approach to their design. Even women prefer this, not all are frilly, sparkly creatures.

Striped ChairImage Source: Dunlap Design Group

So how to be a man in design? Its present in paint colors, the mixing of ambers, flannels, and cognac. It’s in the fabrics chosen, woolen pinstripes, houndstooth, buttery leather and plaid. In the lighting, chrome and steel structures that exude power, strength, and masculinity. These may be male stereotypes, but they are present today in design in a big way.

OfficeDesigned by: Jeffers Design Group

Many of you probably believe that Design is a woman’s world. I say no way. My clientele is decidedly male. They call me, we get along, and I shop with them for an hour selecting the perfect chair to settle down with a scotch and cigar at the end of a long day.

I also work with a high-end custom home builder, who happens to build a fine home. And I would say that his very beautiful homes are filled with masculine design. From the oil-rubbed bronze fixtures, to the custom wrought iron railings, and the Cosmic Black granite countertops, the absolute gorgeous millwork in these homes sell his houses. Filled with iconic masculinity.

Kitchen with Black Granite

So even though we are all cool, and neutral, and clean, and open spaces these days, many still prefer the rich warmth, the comfort, the power, the assurance of masculine design…maybe a little reminder of dear old Dad?

Happy Father’s Day to all our Dads!

Dawn and DadPhotography: Linda Smith of Blulens Design

Opening Image Source: Faith Cosgrove


Remembering Why…Happy Memorial Day!

A little patriotic...the Palamar Hotel Embassy Row, DC.

As we enjoy our day off today, I like to remember all those who have served our nation, known and unknown. Our community, Shaker Heights, does a great job with our local parade, and there is much reverence and silence as the armed guards lead the way passing us by.

I always remember my grandfather who served in World War II. Brian tells me all the time to watch more Ken Burns to understand why he received the honor of a Bronze Star. Also, Brian’s sweet Uncle Don who served in Korea and recently unexpectedly passed. The formality of the Honor Guard at these services, the shots fired, and the flag displayed is a memory that will be with us forever.


Cooper at Shaker Memorial Day ParadeTo understand this, we like taking the kids to D.C. We went a few years ago for the 4th of July. You feel such a sense of wonder and awe when you are there. Our kids learned so much and enjoyed it as well. Walking through the Vietnam Memorial and explaining to them all those names…its stunning. And the gripping honor of Arlington and the tomb of the unknown solider.

So as you kick off your summer projects around your home, take a moment to reflect, then pick up the paint brush, the garden hoe and dig in!

More design next week!


Follow My Own Advice: Take A Breathe

Black and White Blowing

When I started this blog, I planned to use it as a means to release through words. Yes, I want to pass on insightful design knowledge and foster my business. But I truly gain great joy from writing…and sharing. So once in awhile, you may just get something a bit different.

With all the craziness of the Communion, Mother’s Day, the month of May events, end of school activities, work, and everything else, I often forget to breathe. We all do, literally, and figuratively. My poor Cooper can’t breathe from seasonal allergies, I can’t breathe from stress.

Yet I am thankful for every breathe. After my surgery, I literally could not breathe. It hurt to take… A. breathe. Just one breathe. My lovely yogi friend Carrie taught me how to breathe again.

PausePhoto Source: Valued Based Leader

I need to continue to remember this.  Yet despite all the years of yoga practice, I still have locked up issues that keep me from mastering many poses. But most importantly during each session, I remember how to breathe during that hour of bliss. Remember, just breathe…in…out…it sounds cliché, but so true.

During all the commotion this past week, Brian (the hubby)  told me I should become a Buddhist. You know “accept for what you cannot change”. According to the Buddhist Centre…”An enlightened being sees the nature of reality absolutely clearly, just as it is, and lives fully and naturally in accordance with that vision”. This does have its possibilities. Especially given that I come from a long line of hyperactive, OCD, Type-A personalities.

 Relaxing in chair

Photo Source: MP Greek

Continuing on that note, yesterday for Mother’s Day, we took the Moms for a visit to the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the visited the new Focus Gallery which has an amazing Tantra in Buddhist Art exhibit. Sophie proceeded to tell me what the eight limbs represent, Cooper tells me the fundamentals of the culture….enlightening! This gives new meaning to being “mindful in the moment”. I realize I need to listen a little better. Be accepting. Start mediating….breathe.

MeditatingPhoto Source: Clean Cuisine

So, take my advice. And I will to. Take a breathe. Every single one counts. Good or bad. The next one will be better. Enjoy the house in disarray, the leaking faucet (really??), the ugly curtains (well, those I would pull down), But most importantly, take a breathe and enjoy the moment, you won’t get it back again, but if your lucky, you will get another one.



Opening Image Photography: Katies Kustom Photography


Sophie with flowers

We all love our Mothers. And yes they influence our design aesthetic. In both a positive or negative way! You either have grown up traditional and still love that today, or you really can’t stand mid-century modern, because you saw one too many macramé plant holders as a child. Our Mothers were our first homemakers, first Betty Crockers, first June Cleavers… or Claire Dunphy’s.

Dawn and Mom 1972My mother Donna and I at the Columbus Zoo (circa 1972)

Some of our mothers went off to the work force and we became the latch-key kids. I remember being in charge of watering the endless supply of houseplants my Mom had a serious addiction too. Now while I love gardening, I can’t get a basil plant to grow in this house. Some of our Moms always had cookies waiting or a hug for a bad day. Some of us lost our Moms too early, but we still remember their influences on our homes and us.

Dawn and Sophie 2010My daughter Sophie and I at Waldameer Park (circa 2010)

So Moms are a big part of the Interior Design world…when I meet the Moms of my clients, they are either a carbon copy in personality and design form, or striving for the exact opposite. I’m always a little hesitant when the Mom makes an appearance at a design meeting. We don’t realize how much we strive for our Mom’s approval of our lives and our surroundings. It could either be a blessing or a curse to have the Mom present.

Yesterday I met with my friend client and her very dear Mother was there and our whole meeting got side tracked, but in the end her Mom helped get my friend client back on track (she tends to stray…I love hot pink and black…no… Scandinavian white…also …you know who you are.) See…having her Mom there was a good thing.

My other lovely new clients had parents at our very first meeting….could be potentially challenging given they are making some pretty bold design moves in their lovely new  home…but they are steady as they sail and confident in their own decisions. (so proud of know who you are too!)

But truthfully, we as Designers need to respect the Moms out there. They are important to us, and our trade.

What about pregnant client Moms, and helping with nursery design? Talk about a rigid timeline, a baby on the way! This is where I tread lightly with design decision-making. Emotions and anxiety run high. But it’s also a good time to explore healthy design selections (see Emerald Green Part II – Celebrating Earth Day and Green Design). What’s more fun than designing a child’s room?

Sometime the buck stops at the Mom of the client. I have had clients that won’t make a move without Motherly approval. We all have our reasons. But sometimes the parents are “gifting” the décor to their children, so in this case, the Mom becomes the ultimate decision-maker.

I can’t influence my own Mom’s design aesthetic. She wouldn’t take my professional advice.  She still sees me as her kid. OK Mom! Do your own thing! Isn’t this how it goes?

So regardless…new Mom, everyday Mom, or Mom of Mom…the Mother is a queen bee when it comes to design decisions.

Cooper and SophieSophie and Cooper before school (circa 2012)

So to all my followers, clients, friends, family, and friends who miss their Moms..but most importantly my own Mom….I wish you the happiest of Mother’s Day…may your design be delightful, but most importantly…not your Mother’s décor, your own!