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I'm the Interior Designer behind Janelle Steinberg Interior Design. I'm also a wife, mother, social tennis player, candle connoisseur and an avid list maker. I like wine, pearls, rainy days, museums and houses. I craft and bake on the weekends in my college sweatshirt and yoga pants. During the week I balance my toddler's playdates, my businesses and working with my clients throughout the country, (not in said sweatshirt or yoga pants).

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Maison Classique
Maison Classique

Q+A: How do I incorporate trends in my interiors?

· October 1, 2008

Let me preface this answer by stating that I do not think anyone should do anything because its a trend. Your home needs to work for you and your life, and reflect your style. Its perfectly okay to disregard trends and pick and choose which ones you want to adapt- but only if they reflect your style and your values.

What I do (and sugges to clients) is to incorporate trends in small doses- and in ways that are easily changeable. In other words, don't splurge on the trendy new sofa. Instead, splurge on gorgeous textiles and change up the throw pillows. Don't replace your counter with recycled blue soda-bottle terrazzo. Rather, paint the powder room or the inside of the guest coat closet that "new" shade of blue and let your tried and true mouldings balance that zing of trend.

How to successfully incorporate trends in your interior:

-Understand your style and what your designer has done. At the end of a project, I like to give my clients a few tips on how they can go about purchasing items after I am no longer on retainer. Colors, shapes, materials and retail vendors to check out (and ones to stay away from!) are used as guidelines. Understand what will and will not work in your space- that really helps to narrow down the field of choices that are out there at any given point in time.

-Keep your architectural bones and investment pieces and incorporate appropriate trends in small doses. Things like textiles, paint changes, and accessories can switch up your space and add that bit of trend without going overboard or veering too far from your established concept and style.

-Incorporate small splashes of trend all over, not just in one room. A new Blanc de Chine vase in a new playful shape can trend up the dining room. New throw pillows can liven up the parlor. New paint can liven up the powder room. Its a subtle trend lift all over, rather than lots of trend in one place.

-Don't confuse "trending" with "updating". Sometimes, its time to update even the most classic of spaces. Updates keep "Classic" current, too much trend carries Classic into a faux pas-ville.

-Know when to stop. If you think you may have a problem with this, consult a pro.

-Consider rotating art (art makes such a huge impact- changing out a traditional piece with a modern piece can do so much) and area rugs to trend up a space and lend change without truly changing anything- you are merely rotating. (Rotating area rugs is better for them, anyways! You can regularly clean them as well as reduce wear and tear at the same time!).

Living Well

· September 30, 2008

Living well encompasses so many aspects- more than the backdrop we designers create, more than the things we surround our clients with, its more far-reaching than that. Yes, stylish interior design and a beautiful house or a prime apartment are key components to living well- but its not everything. Living well is a daily act. Its a conscious decision to be the best you can be and live the best you can every day. Living well is maximizing what you have and striving for better when you can. Its using everything you have and everything you are at the highest level.

I was recently on site with clients that are at the tail end of a full kitchen remodel. Anyone who has ever lived through a remodel can attest to the perils of a remodel situation. Though the project is nearing completion, there is much to be done. There's still plastic on the floor in surrounding rooms, crown moulding to be installed, painting to take place and the finishing touches such as knobs and pulls to grace the gorgeous new cabinetry.

Since it was an early evening appointment, my clients offered me a light meal of sandwiches. One of my favorites is peanut butter and jelly (although they laughed to hear my humble request, they agreed that a classic PB&J is, in fact, a great sandwich!). So, in the midst of remodel chaos, in the living room at a table that is normally in the kitchen, we ate sandwiches. My favorite part, aside from their gracious hospitality, was the fact that they put the condiments in cut crystal dishes. I can honestly say that I have never put peanut butter or jelly into a crystal serving dish. This is a new high in everyday fine living. In fact, its a new high in living well under distress (remodels have been described as torturous), and I loved it! These people "get" it!

This is just one example of living well. Here are a few ways to live well each day with means you already have:

-Utilize fabulous lighting every evening. Don't just reserve it for company! Lighting creates warmth, ambiance and lends comfort- use it! Put your ambient lighting on a dimmer switch if its not already, then adjust the lighting levels according to activity. You can also place lamps on timers- honestly, there is no excuse! Its amazing how much more relaxed you can be when the lighting is dim and very warm. You will enjoy your home more when its "glowing" correctly. Good light also makes humans look incredibly attractive- so there is another bonus!

-Set your dinner table as you would for company. Use your linens and candlesticks. It takes all but two more minutes to set these items out and two more to break it down after dinner. Don't save these things for special occasions- every day should be an occasion.

-As mentioned, use your china! For morning cereal, for coffee...for pizza! Embrace it. Love it.

-Use serving pieces to serve your family their meals. Don't just scoop from the pot or the dish on the stove (so guilty of this!). Presentation counts far more than anyone truly realizes. Use the bread basket, use the platters, use the gravy boat!

-Display fresh flowers in a gorgeous vase (or recycle a San Pellegrino bottle for a casual kitchen bud vase). There is something about real flowers, aside from the fragrance, that really perks up a room and causes a smile in passing. Fresh flowers trump artificial, hands down.

-Burn your candles. Get into the ritual of lighting them upon arrival home. The scent and warmth really make you feel cozy, and candlelight adds that extra sparkle to a lighting scheme. I have a handful of scents I burn throughout the year, changing the scents with the seasons. Further distinguish your home with a hallmark of warmth and subtle fragrance.

I'm off to New York City

· September 16, 2008

I'll be in Manhattan next week.


Check back the week of September 29th for new posts.

Filed in: miscellaneous

Crystal Lamp

· September 15, 2008


Williams-Sonoma Home Crystal Accent Lamps


How to use it: These lamps are so classic and versatile- they can literally be used anywhere in the house! I would love to see a crystal lamp in the living room, study, on the entry table, in the boudoir or even in a nursery. This would be a great statement lamp for a desk in the corner office, too. Tip: get a colored lampshade (I especially love black!) or have a plain shade covered with a textile to match or compliment drapery or wall covering.

How to get it: Shop Williams-Sonoma Home online or via catalog. Call select retail locations for in store availability.

Retail Price:$795/set of three. $275 each. Shade not included.

Q+A: Where to shop for appliances?

· September 15, 2008

I get this question a lot! For the general public, I recommend shopping at Pacific Sales. This is a southern California based company so you won't find them elsewhere (yet!). Pacific sales is the go-to place for many interior designers, architects, and custom "ultra" luxury home builders when assisting their clients with appliances or referring their clients to do their own purchasing. Some of the brands they offer include: Miele, Toto, Viking, Wolf, Sub Zero, and Kitchen Aid. They offer top of the line products at very competitive prices. Everyone I have referred to Pacific Sales sales has had a wonderful experience.

Tips: 1) Visit their website to locate the showroom nearest you. 2) Upon arrival, ask for a brief tour and description of how they have their floor set up and how to read their price tags (its not hard, but often your price is even better- so ask!). 3)Take general measurements of the appliances you are replacing (or the size needed for new construction, remodel, addition). 4) Your designer or architect will probably guide you towards metal finish or integrated panel, bring that information along with you to obtain more accurate pricing and to limit your scope when shopping around.

If you are in the market to purchase new appliances, plan to take half a day visiting this retail showroom full of great product! Have fun!

The Grande Gesture

· September 15, 2008

A knockout interior design encompasses many, many different components. From the floor plan to the lighting, finishes and accessories- everything must work in unison in order to create a memorable space. Its not enough to address one aspect of design and expect to achieve that "wow" factor. Every layer must work together. Every layer must be calculated, skillfully planned and designed or positioned on purpose. Even when great interiors look effortless- there is a huge amount of thought and reason behind every aspect of a finely finished space.

Enter the Grande Gesture. The Grande Gesture of a space is very important. Its developed by the interior designer via intuition and by information gathered from the client and their lifestyle and preferences. (In commercial design, the client's target market, business culture, product or a combination of these factors determine the Grande Gesture.)

Simply put, the Grande Gesture is the style, theme or concept of a design. Everything stems from the Grande Gesture. It must be carried out to the smallest detail and tastefully integrated into the large components of a design. Its one of those "hard to put your finger on it" definitions. And, when you hit the Grande Gesture jackpot, its also one of those "when you know, you know" feelings.

Great design must speak to the Grande Gesture at every level. Whether the Grande Gesture originates from the exterior architecture, the client's personality or the established design direction- it must be present at every turn. The best example is that of a focal point. We designers use focal points to draw attention, to feature something, and, ultimately, to "wow". Everything else is supportive of that focal point, holds it up and reinforces that main feature. Its a balancing act resulting in design harmony.

Without a Grande Gesture, elements seem unrelated and choppy. Spaces may contradict themselves. A home will not flow. Styles will not blend or vibrate correctly. Lack of a Grande Gesture feels a little hollow, incomplete, and half baked.

Go for the Grande Gesture. Figure out what you want to say by helping your designer when they (hopefully) ask you tons of questions and (hopefully) take tons of notes and (hopefully) think deeply about your project (a great interior designer will do these things!). A powerful Grande Gesture should be stated boldly and quietly repeated in the details to create a truly finished "wow" space.

Q+A: What colors go with Carerra Marble?

· September 10, 2008

I am thrilled to answer this question since Carerra Marble is one of my favorite surfaces. Its classic (harking back to Ancient Rome) and its absolutely gorgeous.


Carerra marble comes from Carerra, Italy which was established in 1235 C.E.. Aside from its impressive pedigree as a medium (think Michelangelo's David and the Pantheon in Rome), it is very distinctive due to its milky white color and gray striations.

No matter what, Carerra marble is elegant. It has a more formal look than, say, your run of the mill flecked granite or quartz composite. Carerra is more dressy, more refined. Its quiet, calm and sophisticated.

Not to disappoint- but Carerra marble goes with just about every color! Its a neutral, so adding one more color to it or including it in a more diverse palette makes it perfect. Lets break it down according to interior style:

Contemporary- This is an instance where you can get away with mixing Carerra with another neutral. Pull out the gray and go a little darker. Mix it with black for a high contrast, sexy, polished look. Put it against a light sand color for a clean vibe. When mixing with a color for a more contemporary interior- stay on the lighter side (no darker than the tone of the gray in the marble).

Conservative Transitional- In transitional design, you pull from both Contemporary and Traditional. The way to solve this problem of where to go with the color when you are erring conservatively is to get the tone right. I recommend a medium Dusty Blue or a medium Olive Green.

"Make a Statement" Transitional- Punch it up with color. If you want to make a statement (as if the Carerra isn't enough), think bold! Traditional colors are deeper, so when choosing Transitional colors- it's okay to step into the area of bold color. I would love to see Kelley Green, deep Olive Green, Forest Green, Burnt Orange or even Navy Blue mixed with Carerra's white and gray. Pair it with quality white/dark wood cabinetry and accent it with brass or high polished chrome hardware and you have the potential for a seriously gorgeous and unique kitchen or bath. Its easy to distinguish yourself with color, since not everyone has the guts to go bold.

For something a little more fresh, quirky or feminine- lavender and light pink would look amazing with Carerra marble. You could rock this in either contemporary (just go a little more pastel), or transitional (go more towards the middle-ish range of colors on a paint chip, but be careful- you don't what the lavender or pink to come off as juvenile!).

Kate Spade Flatware

· September 9, 2008

Classic Quilted Flatware by Kate Spade



How to Use it:

1) This flatware would be great for everyday use- its fun, stylish and substantial. It doesn't look like fancy dinner or formal guest service- just a chic and classic "everyday" design.

2) This flatware is suitable for casual guest service such as breakfast, luncheons or book club meetings.

How to Get it: This flatware collection, along with matching service pieces, is available at Bloomingdale's in their home department and online.

Retail Price: $55 for a 5 piece place setting (pictured here). Matching serving pieces range from $29-$66

Brass Revival

· September 9, 2008

I predict a brass revival. I'm not sure how long this revival will last, or how huge the movement will be...but I'm pretty sure its coming. One could argue brass never really left. In certain circles- brass till signifies tradition, quality and taste. You can still find a selection of brass hardware and fittings...if you know where to look. There is some brass that looks current (think rubbed brass)...if you know where to find it and how to use it.

By and large- its the chrome, nickel, stainless, and oil rubbed bronze (the current craze) in all their incarnations that take center stage, and have done so for awhile now. All appliances became stainless steel overnight- and its still popular for the mass market. The majority of fine jewelry and bridal sets have been set in platinum and white gold for awhile now- and its still popular for the mass market. I don't think we are "done" with the cool metals yet, since gray is proving to be a big color for 2009. But something is on the horizon.

As with all trends, when there is a major shift to one side- the other usually follows. And, when the once exclusive tastes/materials/looks are attained by everyone- the opposite will come into popularity and slowly trickle down to the masses.

I am slowly starting to see more gold in jewelry and accessories for the younger set (which is a sign that tastes are slowly changing). I've been noticing more brass and "gold tone" fittings on shoes, handbags and clothes. I'm starting to see more warm metal options for fine appliances. And, most importantly, I am starting to visualize using brass as the metal accent in some of the designs that dance around my head. The key is that brass has to be updated and inserted into todays Transitional design. And, the other key is attaining a client that wants to set a president and be ahead of the curve, a client that wants to do it before everyone else starts doing it (again).

The last time brass was popular was in the 80's. Think very traditional 80's decor....forest green carpet, oak cabinets, big floral fabrics, Austrian shades, frou-frou, and, brass. Brass chandeliers, brass knobs and pulls, brass lock sets, brass switch plates, brass bed name it- it was brass.

Now, take those same brass elements. Move them from your memory of home circa 1988, and into the fresh Transitional interior of today. Brass would not only set you apart, but lend utter refinement to an interior that is tailored and clean. Mix brass with the dark woods and white moldings of today and its almost Ralph Laurenesque- very high style Americana. Taking brass and putting it into a new context of Transitional interior design is the new frontier in modern day metals.

How I Make a Home Unique

· September 4, 2008

Today I feel like writing about the most intimate and personal aspects of possessing talent as an interior designer- and that is making a home unique for each of my clients.

The word "unique"...its often so overused when talking about interior design. Because of that, I am going to refresh your memory on what the word "unique" truly means. As defined by the Oxford American Dictionary, "Unique" means: being the only one of its kind; unlike anything else. Particularly remarkable, special or unusual. Belonging or connected to one particular person, group, or place.

To have a "unique" home is part of what every savvy home dweller strives for. Aside from comfort and function- we want to live in style! We want our homes to stand out, to be hospitable and welcoming, to be different than our friends and neighbors. We want our homes to feel good, look good and perform well (meaning, hold up through daily use!).

To me, more than anything else, the inteiror of a person's home reflects who they are. More than the clothes they wear, more than the car they drive, more than the zip code or city their home is located, and certainly more than their on-paper square footage. Yes- interiors are that powerful! To each and every person, whether they realize it or not,  home is the most important place in the world. Its the epicenter of their life. Home is important, it means something to everyone, and its so enjoyable to tailor a "unique" home for each of my clients.

One of the most important parts of my role as a residential interior designer takes place at the very beginning. When I am "programming" the project. I break this up into two stages- the first is to take into consideration the needs of the project- what has to be in the project, specific elements/changes my client wants, functional requirements, code issues, etc. In the second stage, I address the style direction. The questions I have asked my clients about their lifestyle- their values, recreational activities, careers, entertaining needs, their tastes and preferences, their view on quality- all of these things dictate what I like to call their specific "Style Formula".

Its not enough for me when a client says they want a "Transitional" interior. I don't want to give them a generic, "model home" form of Transitional. I want their Transitional design to mean something to them! Its all the nook and crannies about my clients that dictate how I will design and create a distinctive style within a style for them. Color palette, major design features and the casual v. formal ratio of a design is heavily rested on the insights I skillfully gather from my clients by asking the right questions and observing other aspects of their lifestyle and mannerisms.

Its at this stage that a unique home is starting to develop. Its unique because it stemmed directly from my client. I akin interior style to multiple people writing an essay on the same topic. In writing, the topic is the same- but the thoughts, punctuation, tone and writing style is different in each essay. Its the same with interiors. The "topic" may be Transitional interior design- but the thoughtfulness, accents, formality and distinctive style is different in each Transitional interior.

In further stages of the project, mostly when the decorative objects and art are being selected, even more individual style is realized (all derived from the Style Formula, that I worked out previously). I do this by using meaningful accessories in the form of collections, heirlooms, valued objects...I bring these things to the forefront and they accent the style direction just like a good handbag accents a nice outfit. And, most importantly, these unique aspects define a home, make it special, make it different...make it, undeniably, theirs.

Bistro Server

· September 3, 2008


Bistro Serving Stand




How to use it:
1) This server comes just in time for the holidays! Use it to improve the display of desserts and luncheon goodies as part of your buffet.
2) Use it as an every day decor item in your kitchen ( on the island, by the stove)- stock it with fruit or keep spices and seasonings on hand in an elegant way.
3) Use it in your bathroom as a toiletries or fragrance valet. Set it between double sinks and display your gorgeous bottles or go-to, everyday items like makeup remover, face wash and moisturizer (of course, transfer them to glass bottles if they come in unsightly containers!).
How to get it:
This lovely server is from Source Perrier and is
available for purchase through their catalog and website.
Retail Price: $975


Q+A: What is "Transitional" interior design?

· September 3, 2008

In short, Transitional design is the mixing of Contemporary and Traditional styles. It is so popular, well-liked and versatile that it should be called "The New Traditional"...but it hasn't caught on yet- so for now, its called Transitional. (I am giong through this blog as of late 2011 and Im happy to report it is now called "New Traditional"! haha!).

"Contemporary" design (also mistakenly called Modern- but that's an issue for another week!) uses soft, neutral color palettes with lots of texture, simple decor and architectural character, clean lines, very light or very dark wood tones, metal accents, open plans and simplicity. Overall, the tone of Contemporary design is peaceful, calming and elegant in an unstuffy way.

Traditional "Traditional" design utilizes a richer color palette, medium to dark wood tones, a lot of architectural character (think mouldings, wainscoting, beadboard), quality woodworking and antiques, lots of detail in decorative accents, and a more compartmentalized plan (think different rooms for every activity). Overall, the tone of Traditional design is rich, warm and echoes history.

"Transitional" combines the best of both worlds- the calming and clean aspects of Contemporary with the warm and very tailored look of Traditional. When I design a Transitional interior, I like the bones of the space to be more traditional, and the decor and furnishings more Contemporary. Taking color and style direction into consideration, this is usually a good balance of the two. Mixing these two styles creates a backdrop that is both casual and formal. To me, Transitional design is a very American look. After all, the concept of casual elegance was, indeed, born by Americans.

Examples of Transitional interiors from my personal architectural photo library (note- the name of the designers for these rooms are unbeknownst to be, otherwise, their names would be credited!):



The paneling and wood plank floors are traditional. The soft color palette, uncluttered walls, and very dark wood tones juxtaposed with the glossy white paneling are Contemporary. To make this space even more Transitional, a pair of coordinating but non-matching side tables or lamps could be used.



The Kelley green and mouldings & picture rail in this dining room are Traditional. The shape of the furniture, simple drapery panels, and choice of lighting fixture (rather than a traditional crystal chandelier) are Contemporary. Also, the lines of the fireplace and the mirror and artwork leaning against the wall is also a contemporary decor element.



The symmetry and mouldings are Traditional. The lines of the furniture, the soothing color palette, straight drapery panels, simple mantle and the use of the stone (both in the quantity used and in the size of each piece) are Contemporary.


The Ultimate Guest Bedroom

· August 28, 2008


The importance of a guest bedroom is often overlooked. It usually receives little to no design attention (or its the very last to receive attention!). It’s the dumping ground for the desk you just can’t let yourself get rid of, an ages old bedspread, and a bedside table that is missing its counterpart. These bedrooms feel hallow and a little cold. We have all slept in a guest bedroom like this, and if you have one like this- you know who you are!

A good and proper host offers the best of everything to their guest. It’s quite a nice thing to do when you offer up your home, feed a person and entertain them free of charge. And, its quite another thing when you do this with style and grace- two aspects many homes fall short of in the overnight hosting department.

The goal is to create a guest retreat, not merely a guest bedroom. A space so wonderful that it rivals a fine hotel. A room so wonderful your guests wouldn’t mind living in it full time. The intention is not to outdo your guest’s normal digs, but to provide for them a home away from home that is truly comfortable and full of details that illustrate hospitality and, most importantly, thoughtfulness.

In short, make the guest bedroom as wonderful as your own. If you would like more details, read on:

The Room: Blend the guest room with the rest of the home. Incorporate your home's color palette and use architectural details. The furnishings should coordinate, never a mish mash of leftovers and never “matchy-matchy”, (in other words, no 5-piece sets!). This is a picky thing, but ensure the door is hung correctly and there isn’t a huge gap at the bottom- sound travels through gaps just as air does. Also, a lock on the door- especially if you have children, can do a lot to ease a guest while dressing and grooming.

The Closet: Don’t fill the closet with stuff you have no room for. The guest room closet should have an assortment of empty hangers, a luggage rack if space permits, an extra blanket, a duvet, a throw blanket, two extra pillows, and a hanging cedar block. If you must use the guest closet for storage, ensure it’s organized, tidy and boxed up. Also, if you live in a warm climate- provide a fan. If you live in an arid climate- provide a humidifier.

The Lighting: Put the overhead lighting or other ambient lighting on dimmers (such as a pair of lamps). Provide bedside reading sconces on individual switches or a reading lamp and cozy chair.

The Bedding: Use the same quality (or better!) bedding as you do for your own room. Coordinating high quality natural fiber sheets are a must. Thread count, card and twist of the fibers are all equally important. Provide pillows- but not a truckload. Two back shams or Euros (oversized squares) and two sleeping pillows are all you really need. Put the down sleeping pillows on the bed and the down alternatives in the closet, in case a guest has allergies. Make sure the mattress is in good shape and comfortable enough to get a good nights sleep (testing it out once in awhile is a good idea!).

The Personal Touches: Stock reading material such as current and/or local magazines your guests might enjoy, your favorite books or a selection of current best sellers. Stock a few pencils and some notepaper. Stock bottles of water to prevent your guest from stumbling towards the kitchen or bathroom if they need a drink in the middle of the night. Provide a tasteful alarm clock- preferably a travel size (not the tech-y looking black-box sort). Stock earplugs in case of commotion, for whatever reason (lawn mower, crying baby, surround sound from the family room, plumbing noise- you are accustomed to your noise, guests aren't!). Put fresh flowers in a bud vase or small vessel at the bedside. Ensure blackout liner is used in the drapery backing.

Media: If you’re going to provide a television, provide a TV you would be happy to watch- don’t ditch the old goliath in this room. I am a fan of small to medium flat screens since you can literally put them anywhere due to their slim profile (wall mounted, on top of the dresser, etc.). Provide a DVD player, too. Stock a few of your favorite movies, some classics and a few new releases. If there are special instructions for how to work the media or the remote, print it out and have it laminated for guest reference. Media is nice to provide since everyone has different sleeping and waking habits- early risers have something to do until the rest of your house wakes up, and night owls can quietly watch while everyone else goes to sleep. There is seldom anything worse than being the only one wide-awake in a house that isn’t yours!

The Icing (for especially savvy hosts): Monogram your linens and towels. Provide stationary with your estate name and or family crest. Obtain four bedding palettes, one for each season (by the way, its okay to store the guest linens in the guest closet!). Prior to your guest arriving, create a gift box filled with little things you know they will love- a fancy bar soap, a pair of house slippers, a small candle, a map or guidebook of your area, an extra key to the house for them to use while staying with you…and don’t forget to enclose a note wishing them a wonderful stay and how happy you are to have them! Lastly, have on hand basic toiletries that one may forget to pack. Stash this “Just In Case” basket in the closet or bathroom cabinet and let your guests know they are welcome to the contents should they need them.

Q+A: What is your favorite room to design?

· August 26, 2008


I really love to design bedroom suites, libraries as living rooms (or living rooms as libraries), and foyers.

For bedrooms, it’s the place where we all begin and end the day. Making sure the appointments are the best you can afford and are suitable to your tastes is so important. Its a very personal space and a lot of the time, you can get away with expressing yourself more truly than you would say, in a family room, where you are pleasing everyone in the household and taking more functional issues into account.


I love living rooms, but they are becoming a lost social etiquette. Quite frankly, they are usually a waste of space- so I like to make them a living room a “slash” something else space. Our modern lives are so fruitful, so I really like to incorporate collections, books, photographs, interests… this is an area of the house where I feel you can really express personality without it being in your face all the time. Plus, the more unique it is- the more conversation will abound when you actually do use it to entertain guests! If a client knows they won't use the Living Room as entertaining space, I like to make it a reading room. Everyone reads- so why not have a special retreat for that activity? Viewed in that context, it becomes personal and interesting and inviting for the client.

My third favorite is the foyer. I suppose for the same reasons as the bedroom and living room. You can really be free with this space! It's a passage, but it's also a statement- a gesture to the tone of the home. Aside from exterior architecture and character, the foyers holds the "first impression" card. This is the place to go bold with style, color and/or pattern, utilize architectural features and design details, and display a knockout lighting fixture.

Q+A: Top 3 mistakes most people make

· August 18, 2008


Q: What are the top three mistakes most people make when doing their own designing?



A: 1) People have problems budgeting the “big picture”. They tend to forget about labor costs and sometimes they loose sight of quality (on the labor and product end), and its very evident when this happens.

2) Color. Most people get color wrong. Color is very complex. Aside from the interior architecture of a space, color is often the most dominant element. People tend to play it safe, which results in washed out colors. On the other hand, some people like to jump right in and they choose a color that is too saturated or vibrant resulting in a rather garish effect. Also, people really like neutrals for walls (as do I!), but neutrals can be tricky since the undertones are so important. It takes someone who has color theory training to see through to the undertone of a color and understand how colors are made and how they play off of each other, how they react to light, etc. If a client can afford a designer for just one thing- I recommend a color consultation for paint, stains, interior and surface materials.

3) a) When doing their own shopping and purchasing, clients can easily be won over by price, sales and/or glossy marketing- rather than appropriateness to the established concept and style direction.

b) Another mistake I see clients make is not knowing what’s out there. They often times don’t know that they don’t know what’s out there. The good thing is, we designers don’t expect clients to know this- that’s what they hire us for! Interior Designers pull from a network of trade resources and vendors that don’t sell retail or in traditional retail outlets. A lot of my job is keeping up on what’s new, what’s great and “tried and true”, and what’s not so great. This is not the client’s duty- but when they do their own designing, they often miss the mark with regards to purchasing since all that’s available to them are retail products that are currently on the market. Good design does not come complete from a catalog or retail vignette- it comes from a network of all available products, filtered through a designer that understands elements of design and knows how to carry a style and concept out into a tangible result.


On Tap in the Kitchen

· August 16, 2008

I was recently asked if putting a beer tap in a kitchen remodel would be tacky. The kitchen is a modern take on history (enough to make me weak at the knees), complete with soapstone countertops, a milky white and grey Carrera marble running bond subway tile backsplash and commercial stainless steel appliances. The tap in consideration was to be a stainless steel model, to match the appliances, of course. As an interior designer, this stainless steel business would normally matter to me, especially in a kitchen this beautiful; however, my reaction shocked me a little bit. Not only did I not care what finish or brand the homeowner had in mind, but the word “no” feel right out of my mouth like a loose lug nut from my brain.

Despite quite enthusiastic beer connoisseurs, personal taps just haven’t mainstreamed their way into the kitchen like the (now) standard issue wine chiller. Sure, you may have one in the game room, but to put one in the kitchen is a profound statement. And that is exactly why I favor the idea. Design is for you and your life. It’s those personal design elements that make your home memorable for others and give the greatest satisfaction to you, the homeowner.

Now, that’s not to say there isn’t an appropriate place for it. (Take, for instance, placement by the water faucet- can you imagine what type of statement that would make?). Incorporating fun elements in non-traditional places, such as a beer tap in the kitchen, is what makes design fun and rewarding. Trends start to surface when a homeowner breaks the mold, (or, lets their designer break the mold!), and when homeowners are willing to do things a different way. I’m not saying that world-changing design goes hand in hand with beer taps in the kitchen, but it is worthwhile- and a lot of times, that’s all that really matters.

Remember these two things: one, its always more fun to discover an element of surprise; two, design is most authentic when its personal, and rich with meaning. If those two truisms are considered, it’s impossible to be tacky.


Seasonal and Holiday Decor

· August 7, 2008

J Steinberg Design is looking forward to providing seasonal and holiday style direction and decor for your 2008 festivities. Please schedule your appointments ahead of time, as this time of year gets crazy really fast!

We want your holiday backdrop to be a statement of your style and taste, warmly welcoming your guests, friends and family this holiday season. Get a head start on securing a consultation, where Janelle will collaborate with you on what you need, where to put it, where to get it and how to do it with true style and class!


It's important to plan ahead for a number of reasons:

1) to ensure an appointment and project time allotment during the hectic holiday season

2) timely order placement and lead-time consideration for custom designed goods

3) timely order placement and lead-time consideration for goods that need to be special ordered due to quantity, customization, and vendor stock & shipping issues

4) to ensure the largest selection of seasonal "goods-on-hand" from our valued trade resources

Seasonal and Holiday Design & Decor Services:

Style, Theme and Design Direction/Development
Interior & Exterior Fresh Wreaths and Garlands
Holiday Floral Arrangements
Themed Christmas Trees
Tablescapes and Centerpieces
Custom table runners, tablecloths, place mats and napkins
Holiday China, Silver, Stemware and Service Pieces
Holiday and Seasonal Accessories
Delivery, Installation and Set-up
Take-down and Storage Arrangements

Suggested Time-line:

Autumn: Call us now for mid-September install
Thanksgiving: Call us late September for early November install
Hanukkah, sundown 12-21-08: Call us mid-October for early-mid December install
Christmas: call us mid-September for install before 11-27-08
call us late September for 12-01-08 or later install
New Years: call us mid-November for install the week of 12-29-08
Winter: call us late October for a post 1-01-09 install


top photo courtesy of my favorite mail-order holiday vendor: Frontgate
second photo courtesy of my go-to source for replacing fine china: Replacements


Meeting Michael Payne

· July 15, 2008

Janelle had the opportunity to meet celebrity interior designer Michael Payne! You may recognize Michael from his acclaimed TV program, Designing for the Sexes on HGTV. His success as an interior designer started with his education from UCLA's Architecture and Interior Design program. Janelle was honored to meet Michael Payne and continues to be honored by their same Alma mater.

Mixing it up with a commercial project!

· May 13, 2008

We are happy to announce the completion of our second commercial project! The renovation of executive business park bathrooms in Orange County, California was a fun and exciting opportunity for JSD. Since our specialty and project list consists of nearly all residential design, it was a delight to mix it up with a commercial project!

For this project, it was important to update the spaces using practical, yet upmarket finishes that are appropriate for commercial application. Porcelain tiles, natural stone counter tops, a custom selected paint palette, architectural details, new custom color partitions, new plumbing appliances, and a new lighting plan with updated lighting fixtures transformed the space. We are so happy that the client and building tenants are enjoying the redesign!



Before and After Photos:



NRDC Green Building Tour

· May 1, 2008

I was privileged to attend a private tour of the national Natural Resources Defense Council offices in Santa Monica, California on Wednesday, April 30. The NRDC, located on 2nd Street near the famous 3rd Street Promenade, is the nation's "greenest" building. Platinum LEED Certified, the building uses sustainable building materials, systems and design theories from the basement to the rooftop. The "Green" movement spans many issues: health, environmental concerns, natural resource use, sustainability and animal & people protection. There are many ways for interior designers and architects to "go green", or at least incorporate green concepts and materials into their work. The NRDC building is an outstanding example of innovation and commitment to green systems.

To visit the NRDC Building in Santa Monica, click here.

LUXE Magazine

· March 27, 2008

When you see it out on the stands...snap it up! Their format is refreshing (both the layout and the over-sized pages are awesome!), their features & advertisers are trend-forward (and, for the most part, local), and their featured design spreads highlight great design and architecture. You will love this one! It's like an unstuffy version of Architectural Digest.

$6.95/issue, $20/year (4 issues)

To visit their website, click here.

Spring Design Home Tours in Orange County, CA

· March 27, 2008

Its designer home tour season! Don't miss these great local design tours this Spring:

- Floral Park, one of the most famous and architecturally charming neighborhoods in Orange County is hosting their annual Floral Park Designer Home Tour. Don’t miss out on this charming pocket of Federalist, Spanish Colonial Revival, English Tudor Revival and a sampling of many other historic residential architecture styles that are sandwiched between Broadway and Bristol in Santa Ana . Visit for pre-sale tickets ($25), or purchase them “at the door” ($30) on April 26-27 2008 from 10am-4pm, rain or shine! For complete details, and to learn a little about this wonderful neighborhood, visit their site! (also, don’t miss the chance to drive down Victoria St. to see some awesome homes! Heliotrope also has a nice stretch deeper into the neighborhood, above Santa Clara.)

-The Philharmonic Society of Orange County - House of Design 2008. The House is located in the exclusive community of Crystal Cove in Newport Coast and will be open to the public from April 22 through May 18, 2008.

-Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts, April 20- May 18, 2008. Visit for complete information. Advance tickets: $35/$40 at the door.

-Los Angeles: “Views from the Top” May 4, 2008. Mid-century design meets 21st century inspiration. These spectacular hillside homes epitomize glamour and elevate the “location, location, location” mantra to a whole new level: views, views -- breathtaking views! Tickets are $85 per person. Visit for more information.

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