Category Archives: Design Style

Kitchen Color: Dark Tones

via apartment therapy

via apartment therapy

I’m not a fan of kitchens that are overwhelmingly white — white cabinets, walls, countertops, backsplashes, everything.  Some would say this is a ‘clean and classic’ look, but I say this type of decor appears sterile, and lacks the warmth that a kitchen should have (there’s a reason it’s called the ‘heart of the home’).  I like kitchens the way I like my coffee — earthy and dark.

espresso cabinets

You can still use a white element… say, marble countertops…and achieve a warm feel by mixing them up with darker cabinets.  Using a combination of dark and light cabinets will also work very well.

via domino

via domino

via new england home

via new england home

Choose a mid to dark-tone stain, like espresso or be bold and paint your cabinets with a high-gloss black. If you still prefer lighter cabinets, go for a warm gray or off-white — as opposed to stark white:

via poshhome

via poshhome

via volunteer kitchens

via volunteer kitchens

via sxfit

via sxfit

Your kitchen should feel comfortable and inviting, just like a restaurant.  Ambiance is the key!

Room Tour: My Gray Dining Room

gray dining room by kelly porter

I’ve finally completed the re-design of my dining room, and here’s the big reveal!

dining room_kporter

before photo

Years ago, I designed my dining room in the Spanish Mediterranean style…complete with Venetian plaster faux finished walls and tapestry-inspired fabrics.  I love the warmth of this look, but it was time for a modern makeover:

gray dining room by kporter

The glass dining table and sideboard {shown below} remain in the room, along with a couple of clay pots.  These pieces give the space that Spanish warmth that I wanted to keep.  I purchased some new items for the room, like the white leather dining chairs…but it’s the older pieces, passed down from family members, that add real character.

side view

My husband’s aunt gave us the sideboard when we first moved into our home.  It’s from Century, made in the 1970’s so it’s solid wood!  It originally had brass handles but I switched them out for new chrome pulls.  The mirror above the sideboard belonged to my grandmother-in-law.  It had a dark wood frame that I spray-painted silver.

dining room sideboard

Another special and unique addition to my dining room are the acrylic bubble panels:

dining room bubble panels

These panels are my prized possessions.  My favorite aunt gave them to me after many years of displaying them in her home.  I remember looking at them as a young girl and thinking how cool they were, so I was thrilled when she “handed them down” to me!  I love that they are so 1970’s retro.  My aunt passed away a few years ago, so I’m glad to have such a special reminder of her in my home.

gray dining room panels

To the right of the bubble panels, you may have noticed my ‘plant stand.’  This is yet another family piece that has a fun story behind it…literally!  It’s a city-issued metal box that my grandmother-in-law kept on the front porch of her Washington, DC row house.  Back in the day {before I was born, I might add}, a real-live milkman delivered jars of milk and left them in the box.

gray dining room_milk box

Years later, after the milkman became a thing of the past, Grandma kept the box on her porch and it was used as an extra seat for family and friends.  That’s why I say it has a story behind it!  The box has a dent in the lid because so many behinds have sat on it over the years!  It’s a fun accessory, and the red stamp helps it fit in the room perfectly.

chandelier red crystal

Wondering why I chose red as an accent color?  A couple of reasons.  First, the adjoining room is red and my husband’s favorite color is red.  I also wanted a color that would pop and stand out from all of the gray and white.  When incorporating an accent color, here is an idea that you may want to try yourself:  The chandelier in my dining room came with all clear crystals, but I replaced all but one of those crystals with red ones.  This is very easy to do.  You can find a great selection of crystals at

dining room table

{My thrift store finds:  a ceramic lamp, amber pedestal glasses and red water goblets}

gray dining room view by kelly porter

I used gray paint colors that have warm/taupe undertones:  Dovetail and Gauntlet Gray, both by  Because of the different undertones, selecting a gray can by tricky.  I originally started out with a lighter shade, but ended up going with the darker tones which look more rich and inviting.

If you have any questions about this re-design, or if I can help you select the perfect shade of gray or any other color {through my Online Design Service}, contact me at

Add Velvet Furniture to your Color Scheme

I’m really loving velvet furniture right now.


Velvet’s rich texture looks great in any setting — glam, traditional or modern.  And when it comes to color, velvet just seems to bring out the best in any hue.  Colored velvet looks so delicious, and I love that is has an iridescent quality to it.

{the lennoxx}

If you’re not sure about using this fabric, rest assured.  Today’s velvet is not your grandparent’s velvet.  Wait!  In some cases, it is!  Retro velvet pieces are in demand because they create such a chic eclectic feel when paired with current pieces (and remember…everything old is new again).  Still skeptical?  Check out these velvety photos.  You may be surprised:


{apartment therapy}



{cornerstone interiors via houzz}


What’s Hot Now: Mid-Century Modern

If the saying, “What’s old is new again…” is true, then this surely applies to the mid-century modern design style.


With so many websites, movies and a popular television series — Mad Men —  showcasing this style, mid-century modern is one of the hottest looks in design right now.

{veluxe interiors}

With it’s clean lines, big patterns and surprising use of color, this design trend defined the 1950’s and 60’s.  These days, many homeowners have turned to eBay, local thrift stores and flea markets to imitate this look.  This style is all about simplicity, function and mixing & matching — more people are adding modern pieces to their traditional decor.

{wary meyers}

When it comes to color schemes, for an authentic look go for neutrals, moss green, yellow-green, turquoise, pink, orange and harvest yellow.  And if you’re scouring second-hand stores for furniture or searching for reproductions, be on the lookout for Eames-inspired wire chairs, Saarinen tulip chairs and pedestal tables, and formed-wood pieces inspired by designers like Marcel Breuer.

{tasty decor}

{veluxe interiors}

{visualingual via houz}

{the washington post}



{elle decor}

Do you like mid-century modern?  If so, check back soon — my next post will be filled with more great ideas for decorating and choosing colors the retro way!

Ideas For Painting Your Trim


My clients often ask me for advice on which paint colors to use for trim and molding.  So, I wrote a post about decorating with picture-frame wainscoting, and to my surprise it has become the most popular story on my blog.  Needless to say, I thought it was time to do another post about trim.

{Cleverly ‘camouflaged’ picture-frame molding by mhouseinc}

Painting any type of trim can be a challenge, especially when you want to do something other than white.  But it really just comes down to amount of impact you want your trim to have.  Do you want it to stand out and be a focal point in your space?  Or would you prefer that the trim blend-in and quietly reinforce the room’s color scheme?  If you answered yes to either question, then take a look at the following photos for inspiration:

{suzanne kasler}

In the room pictured above, the crown molding blends into the room because it’s painted the same color as the walls.  Design Tip:  For a subtle difference, paint the trim in a different finish, such as a lacquer or high gloss finish.

{trailer park gypsy}

Your trim will pop the most when you paint it with a vivid hue that contrasts against a more understated wall color or wall covering.



{the lennoxx}


Design Tip:  Create a monochromatic look by using two or three colors from the same color family, as shown in the photo above.


{house and home}

{design crisis}

For more tips on paint colors, trim and molding, check out Ideas For Picture-Frame Wainscoting.