What’s inside the Red Room?…Designing with Red

red kitchen

I should be writing about “50 Shades of Grey” this week. But what’s more interesting is what will be inside Christian Grey’s Red Room right?!  We all can’t wait to see what’s really behind that closed door. Come on you want to know! Anyone who knows me knows red is my signature color. It is just…. me. I love the drama, the intensity, the fire. And what better month to discuss it than in February. The month of valentines and heart health, one of my other favorite topics.

3 pic red collage

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Red décor isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s bold, it’s bright, and it definitely makes a statement. For many years we all had red dining rooms. It was elegant and stately. You may think of Chinese lacquer or provincial French Country design. But red doesn’t have to be so stereotyped. It can be fresh, modern and most definitely sexy.  Think red lips and a little red dress.  Just a hint gets the mind wandering. That same principal can be applied to any room in your house including the kitchen and bath. In today’s design it’s not limited to the library or the boudoir, it can be anywhere.

red artwork

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At the KBIS show in Vegas we saw a lot of red hard surfaces. This red is candy apple red, glossy and very saturated. Not barn red, or Ralph Lauren muted reds, this is bright and crisp! You have to be bold to make an investment in very expensive kitchen cabinets that are full on rouge. Or bathroom tiles and a freestanding bathtub that reflect this strong hue.  This design will be something you plan to love for many years to come.

KBIS RedAnother interesting use of the color red in today’s design is to mix it with different shades and hues, like lighter wood tones, indigo, turquoise, and tangerine. Getting away from black and white also will make using red more interesting and unique. This has a worldlier feel more diverse and global and will be something your eyes won’t tire of over time.

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So let’s face it, there is something about a lacquered red wall or piece of furniture that is just seriously hot!  I can’t wait to see the movie, and peak inside the Red Room. Are you brave enough to open the door to your design?

For more posts on the color red, click here

And for more tips on heart health check out Go Red For Women

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Opening Image Source: The New York Times

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The Gold Standard: Vegas Furniture Market and KBIS

lamp and mirror


Vegas Baby! Yes, Dawn Cook Design, Blulens, and Monarch Interiors hit the road and traveled to Design and Construction Week in Vegas. Schedules lined up and we were able to visit five trade shows all relevant to our industry and see alot of inspiring design as well. It’s never boring in this “Disney World” for adults, and there was definitely a common theme across all the shows – maybe it was the luxury of the Strip but GOLD is back and it was present across all product lines!

For a long time, people have preferred cool tones in metals: lighting, plumbing, and hardware, even in furniture finishes. Last year, we blogged about how mixed metals were making a come back. But it has taken awhile to catch up in actual product offerings. Gold used to be very traditional. Brass finishes were super old school and the more transitional clients couldn’t find a modern look that worked in warmer tones.

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Well things are heating up and gold was all over the place. Clients are now requesting brass finishes all the time and they want a more modern or more transitional styling. Now they can get it. Gold eludes a sense of confidence, elegance, and grandeur. I think there is a desire to go back to an aged or gilded feel in some of these metals.

And the gold isn’t always muted down. It was in your face, shiny, sparkly, and bright. Rohl and Kohler had new introductions in plumbing gold finishes. Hard surfaces showed it strong in lighting, plumbing, cabinet finishes,  and door and drapery hardware. Robert Abbey and Noir showed fantastic new modern lighting in gold finishes. Even Ann Sacks came out with gorgeous metallic tiles that were bronzed to perfection.

gold baths

Accessories and furniture companies were “all about the brass”, mirrors, cocktail and side tables, and  even accents on upholstery such as nailheads and legs took on a warmer finishes. One of our favorite vendors, Phillips Collection, had new mirror and wall accents that we all fell in love with. Also one of our favorite art vendors , Natural Curiosities, had gilded angel wings to show off, definitely an ethereal quality in gold.


Wing and hardware

We can’t get enough of this new look and plan to use this warmer shift in metals. While we have been doing it for awhile now, it is so refreshing to have materials available to specify in our upcoming designs.  So while silver is stellar, get your glam on and be ready for the gold!

And of course we had a lot of fun too, how can you not?

mead lakeJen, Sadie, Dawn and Linda at the Mead Lake overlook, on our way to the Hoover Dam.


Cozy & Comfortable: Creating Personal Spaces

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Yes it’s snowing and freezing again. But as a variation on last week’s theme, I still love the peace of January. Often we get called to decorate or design grand common spaces such as living rooms, foyers, and glamorous kitchens. While they represent form and function, these areas are for gatherings – presenting your home, making an impression. Everyone is different, we love to accommodate every person’s design desires when it comes to these spaces.

But what is really inspiring for us and helps us to get to know our clients is designing their personal spaces.  The places where you show your true self, where you want to be alone.  Nooks, dens, window benches, reading niches, bedrooms, desks, alcoves, and outdoor spaces. These are somehow more intimate, and are really a peak inside of….well you. It’s the place you go to rejuvenate, recalibrate, or just breathe if you need to. Organize your personal space, organize…well, your life.

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These little  “get-aways” inside your daily routine have some commonalities to consider:

1. Carve out your niche – it doesn’t have to be big, just a place that is all for you. No kids, no work, no bills (visible), no PTO reminders. Make it a place where you enjoy hanging out and being you. I would go so far as to say, limit electronics. But let’s be real here.

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2. Make it your own  – as Designers, we often have to “clean-up” a space. Sometimes personal items impede a house sale, or too much of it is overwhelming and puts too much out there in those common areas. For your personal retreat surround yourself in items meaningful for you: Photos, books, cards, mementos, found objects, anything that makes you happy or joyful.

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3. Create beauty – This is a place for a little luxury. A pretty fabric on a chair, a comfy settee, a shearling or sheepskin throw, a gorgeous lamp. Add artwork that again resonates within you, and add some personal items to comfort the soul.

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4. Organize – Now this one is a hard one for me too. But find beautiful containers, bins and baskets to hide away the clutter. More stuff creates chaos. And this is the place you want the opposite of that. This may be the place you “get it done” but keep it in check and you will feel more accomplished.

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In our efforts to keep life, families, and work under control, we need to reflect upon ourselves and create a little personal “get-away” at home (and remember to  take the time to go there!). We will all be much happier and productive in the end! If we can’t take a true break (ala the image by the pool), let’s all give ourselves one at home!



Opening Image: Domaine Home

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Winter White: Snuggle Into 2015


My favorite day. My favorite week. The first Monday of January. We have a whole 51 weeks to get it right. Start fresh. I always love this feeling of purity and renewal.

As the wind blows snow and howls outside, let’s allow ourselves to reflect and mentally detox the last few weeks of chaos, stress, and adornment. Scale back our homes, lives, finances, diets…whatever your whim.

As the holiday decorations come down, we are more open to donating, organizing, rearranging the furniture, finally getting rid of that “thing”! Let yourself be open to trying something new in your home, or just take this month to live “without” something. Let’s not be so quick to fill in the blank space. Negative space is good, it balances out the positive, the good energy.

I love white. The color, or the absence of color. White may be the most evocative color on the spectrum. Culture, lifestyle, or profession may weigh in heavy on white’s symbolic quality. A scientist’s white may conjure a color that glows from many thousand degrees of heated filament. A farmer’s white may be barren frosted fields or piles of wooly shearling cornered up in the shed.  While kids see white as sled hills and endless flying balls of snow.

White can define a space, diminish or expand it. It serves as either a contrast or compliment.  It’s an open palette for our imagination. The appeal in white is its basic undercurrent of softness, as well as it’s clean smooth finish. Either way the power of white is what it evokes. Design is meant for expression so trust the purity of your own expression and embrace the simplicity of white.  Embrace emptiness during this quiet time – however artistically it reveals itself. So grab a cup of tea, curl up with a good book, watch the snow fly and enjoy the stillness, you never know how you we will be inspired.


Photo Credits: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Copy contribution: Cindy Evans


Dress It Up: Wrap It Up Holiday 2014

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As we wrap up 2014, we leave you with last minute tips on styling yourself, your mantle, and your table for the Holidays. Thanks to you our clients, friends, and followers for a terrific 2014. We have been busy behind the scenes with improvements to the blog. In 2015 check our new About Page, Press Page, and Top Posts for a little refresher on what were well-loved reads.  We have great ideas for blog posts and we can’t wait to share them with you.

So take a look at our inspiration for the season and we hope you enjoy the glamour of the Holiday but remember the joy and love that lives in your heart!

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During the Holidays, add a little something extra to your tree, table, or mantle. But keep it simple. Simple is elegant and sophisticated and remember less is usually more. This governs my design philosophy: classic yet modern. You can make a statement with a white blouse and a gorgeous necklace, or a simple tree with handcrafted ornaments. You want embellishments to feel special and unique, not theatrical or over the top. This approach adds importance to what is truly meaningful.

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As a child, I remember lying under the Christmas tree, looking up into the myriad of flashing lights. Maybe this had something to do with both my Dad and Grandfather working for General Electric at Nela Park. We always had the hottest new Christmas lights. Somewhere this sparked my passion for lighting, and this is still my specialty. I tell clients right up front that lighting is important and be prepared to invest in this. Lighting ends up making the design in the end. It’s the jewelry in the room, the sparkle, the….glow. So for the holiday, it’s never too late to add lights, candles, & votives. Try some of the great LED options or flameless candles. These will add just the right sparkle to your shine, and show off your holiday décor.


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I love coats, wraps, ponchos, capes…any outerwear. Our coat closet is bursting at the seams. Linda always says an amazing coat is all you need. Throw that on with black leggings and boots and you can go out in your PJs and be in style.  It’s a staple having a few winners in your wardrobe. When you are out shopping or meeting friends for holiday gatherings consider a wrap or cape, getting warm as you go in and out will just throw off your “street style”.

Wrapping up gifts has always been my favorite holiday task. It’s no wonder as it is the décor part of the job. Using recycled and organic materials like kraft paper, fabric, shopping bags, newsprint, and butcher’s paper, twine, leaves, and twigs make the gifts even more special. Call it a wrap and stylize those gifts with flair.

Happiest of holidays to you and yours,

Dawn, Linda, Sadie, & Maria

Opening Image Source: Made in Heaven


A Ghostly Good Idea: Disappearing Design

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Designers have always been fascinated with invisible design. Whether in the world of fashion or in the home, “see-through” fashion statements are all the rage. While always hot on the runway in jewelry and accessories, this trend became hugely transparent to the décor world in 2002, when Philippe Starck introduced the Ghost Chair, produced by Kartell. Made of Lucite, which was originally developed in 1937, lucite is actually a brand name for an acrylic resin. Wickedly popular, The Ghost chair comes in many varieties from Louis to Victoria. Philippe Stark is a master at taking a classic form and reinventing it as a modern icon. Using a single piece of translucent injection-molded polycarbonate, Stark has created the most recognizable chair of the 21st century. For more ghostly chairs, check out this link.

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But what is it about these disappearing pieces? Seriously, we as Designers sigh when we see a piece of Lucite. It is surely not functional, but I have never had anyone say they run into these invisible objects, or miss the surface as they put down their cup of tea. It’s truly a crowning jewel in any design. The last piece of “bling’ but in an entirely, absent way.

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This summer I bought a Lucite necklace that I wore ALL the time. It just worked with everything. It has a hip, yet “not there” feel.  Whether dressy or with a t-shirt, I pulled it out regularly. One of my favorite items passed down from my maternal grandmother Louise is her Lucite clutch. I use this whenever we go to a special event. People ask me all the time where did I get it. Yep, it’s probably from the ‘40s era long gone. Yes now you can see your iPhone light up in it in today’s day and age, but a pretty tube of lipstick and a special linen hanky still look fond at a wedding.

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So instead of thinking about disco and stripper stilettos, think glamorous and be open to adding a touch of the ethereal into your design. We love Lucite on benches, cocktail tables, frames, knobs, drawer pulls, lights, and of course chairs! Even just a touch will add to the design. It’s truly the finishing touches like this that will make your design sing instead of scream in horror!

Black roomVia

Happy Halloween! Dawn

PS, I’m back! Stay tuned for more regular posts on design, fashion, and inspiration – thanks for following!


Opening Image Designed By: H2 Design + Build


Vote for Dawn Cook Design to win a $150,000 grant!

Mission Main St. Grants

Help Dawn Cook Design qualify for a $150,000 loan! Every vote counts! Need 27 votes by tomorrow 10/17.

We are growing thanks to you our followers, clients, and friends! We love Design and want to continue to bring you inspiring design for your home, on trend ideas, and fabulous resources. We can’t keep up with all the requests for design work. We are looking to hire and train, and build a design studio to support this growth.

Chase is offering a program to grant $150,000 to 20 small business owners. To qualify you need 250 votes via Facebook. Please follow the link, it only takes a click! We need 27 votes by tomorrow, we are very close!

We promise to be back with inspiring design next post. Thanks for taking the time to support us!

Best, Dawn and Linda

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Seasons of Love & Fall Memories

PumpkinsI love the Fall in Cleveland. Our wedding anniversary is October 12th, this year it’s 18 years for us, how did that happen? Every year, Linda has taken our family photos in the Fall which is such a gorgeous time here in Northeast Ohio. It’s so nice to reap the benefit of changing seasons for a few weeks and enjoy the beautiful weather. Ironically, it’s such a pull on my heartstrings to see how much our children have grown over the years with the annual fall photos, pumpkin harvest pics, and apple-picking moments. Regardless, I love these captured memories and am so grateful we take  the time to have these lovely shots every year, and spend the time together as a family.

Sophie with leaf

Last Fall season, I went with Sophie’s class to Hale Farm and Village. I remember my own 3rd grade class making this same field trip when I was a kid. It’s quintessential Northeast Ohio, a right of passage as an elementary child. You can’t live here without stepping back in time and visiting this authentic colonial village composed of  blacksmith, schoolhouse, doctor and lawyer’s offices, baker, and candlestick maker. The staff are all in character and it was a gorgeous day to see the ladies making applesauce and candles, and bellows blazing for horseshoes as well. It is truly a measure of time as we all celebrate the season with the same activities year after year.

Hale Farm

When we readied our own hose for Fall this year, I couldn’t help but think of this door at Hale Farm that was bestowed with the simplest wreath. I jazzed up my own front door to welcome guests. See my comments about decorating your front door in this earlier post “Entrez–Vous? Freshen Up the Front Entry for Summer”.  This welcoming of guests into our home and into our lives has been a ritual we as homeowners have celebrated in a fashion as old as time.

Dawn's door

Cooper and SophiePhotography by Linda Smith of Blulens

Happy Fall and hope you are logging your memories just like me! – Dawn

Opening Photo taken by Dawn at Hale Farm and Village

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Fall Organization: Mudroom Essentials

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Happy Fall!

I live in a Shaker Heights house. No mudrooms to speak of. Back in the 1920’s the back door was the servants entrance. (Yes, I love Downton Abbey)  Fast forword to today….Come Fall, kids are outside, temperatures are dropping, rain is falling, and mud is flying! So how do we survive?

There are two essential elements when it comes to the mudroom – form and function.


It all depends on the space you have to work worth. Even a smaller space can serve the purpose. There are a few key factors. Is your family neat or messy? Do you have pets? Where is the laundry? Do you have a lot of gear to maintain, ie hockey equipment (this is my life!) How many adults in the family, how many kids? Adult clothing takes up more space. Are you a fashionista or a minimalist? Is this a main entrance to your home for family AND guests?

Mudroom OrganizationDesigned by: Traci Zeller Designs

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 Designed by: Molly Quinn Designs

Usually I have a few rules of thumb. Each mudroom needs some combination of hooks, open and closed storage for each member of the family, including the pets. So if you have 3 kids, assuming you are a family of 5, you need 5 “personalized” spaces. Other essential elements are a bench area to sit down on to put shoes on and off, cubbies for shoes/boots, hooks for coats and leashes, baskets or drawers for hats and scarves.

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 Designed by: Rock Paper Hammer

Another important element is either a chalkboard, magnetic station, or pin-board for artwork, schedules, invitations. We get asked a lot to make custom sized pieces for this – hey, its reality and this is how we live. So this is a common sense element.

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 Image Source: Justine Taylor 


This space has to be highly functioning or it ends up looking like a disaster. Why can’t it be pretty too? Many people say that even their guests come through these entrances. Last year I talked about this topic in the Plain Dealer (see article…Hardworking Tidy Mudroom Doesn’t have to be drab). While we were designing my client’s kitchen, we decided to take an exterior landing space and convert it to a mudroom. By reusing their existing original door, adding lots of beautiful built-ins, a bench, and classic black and white porcelain flooring, we were able to transform the space. Adding fun lighting, hardware, wallpaper, window treatments, and durable flooring, is a great way to decorate this space. Also, why can’t you have great artwork or a focal wall here – it’s a space you pass through daily, you might as well enjoy it!

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 Designed by: Dawn Cook Design

White Diamond Floor/Mudrooms

Designed by: Atmosphere Interior Design Inc. 

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 Designed by: Smith & Vansant Architects PC

So whether its form or function take a look at this space this season and give it a little thought. It will make everything fall into place in no time! This post was originally published in Spring of 2013. 

Opening Image Source

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Master Your Bath : The Fall Project

master 2Hello September. The biggest month to kick off interior design projects. This is the week we get the most calls for new projects. Kids are back in school, people are thinking about being indoors for another LONG, COLD, winter. Yes, I said it…but it’s true. And of course the Holiday rush. This year we our working on a record number of Master Bathroom projects this Fall. I think after a few years of trying to recover from the economy, clients are investing in their own spaces and saying, enough is enough, we need our own retreat, our own little sanctuary.

Here is a special master bath project we completed this year. We knocked down walls to create a master bath and closet.  All smooth marble, quartz, porcelain, and glazed warm grey cabinets. We will have more completed bath projects to show you in the next few months as we are putting finishing touches on these now. Stay tuned for inspiration!

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Master 3

Opening project, Dawn Cook Design

Master Baths are unique. They really reflect the client’s personality. So you see, I’m in your personal space. We get to know each other really well – we discuss shower fixture preferences, toilet seat styles and heights, bathtubs. I have seen clients sit in tubs together, sit on the pot, and well “try-out” the plumbing fixtures. It actually is pretty funny and everyone has a good sense of humor about it. We tend to get to know each other quite well after selecting toilets and shower pieces and parts.

It’s a lot to select, and it’s actually quite technical. We need to measure the placement of the body sprays – for usually two different height people, the tile can’t be too slippery, the gorgeous mirror has to be positioned right at the right height, and still work with the tile backsplash. Marble shouldn’t be used in a steam shower, plumbing rough-in pieces need to work with that truckload of water supply that you now want for your dream bath. Keep in mind that tile patterns make or break a good bathroom. You really need a Designer to help with a project like this.

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This season, I had the privilege of going to Kohler Design Centre in Kohler, Wisconsin. Our good friend and yoga expert, Carrie Green teaches at the Water Spa there. Talk about some fabulous design. The Design Centre is decked out in bathrooms and kitchens designed by famous Designers such as Clodagh, Jonathan Adler, and Jamie Drake. Some good stuff! We had some “helpers” as we explored the Design Centre, so it was a lot of good inspiration!

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The kids exploring the Designer Bath Galleries, Kohler Design Studios. Pretty awesome spaces

The other exciting news is Waterworks is now at the Edelman Plumbing Showroom here in Cleveland. We have all coveted the gorgeous showroom in Chicago and NYC. Now those gorgeous fixtures are here to view, touch and try-out. We can’t wait to spec these in our new Fall bath projects. As we launch into many bath projects this Fall, stay tuned for some exciting designs to get inspired by, and you will master your bath in no time!

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