How Not to Electrocute Your Clients While Keeping It Interesting, Decoratively Speaking.

Juxtaposition in interior design is so important when designing a client’s home. It allows side by side comparison while keeping it interesting. Webster defines it as:

“Juxtaposition is the state or position of being placed close
together or side by side, so as to permit comparison or contrast.”

Back in his time, Greer was a bit of an avant-garde, and executed juxtaposition in his design über successfully. One would guess that he thrived on the element of surprise.

Bureau plat with a crashingly contemporary institutional-type chair, and flat tailored restraint of Roman shade in an opulent room. – Inside Design by Michael Greer

In his book, Greer states, “Presumably you don’t wish to electrocute your guests, decoratively speaking, but you certainly should wish to be interesting even outrageous enough to shock them a little here and there…..Mild or violent, legitimate shocks (those neither ugly nor grotesque) are as essential as spice to stew, and to permit none of them to occur is to sign an affidavit to one’s lack or imagination, with adjustment or humor”.

Don’t you love his pomp? Every day cooks and chefs mar such elements via flavors and sweeteners don’t they? Think: sweet/salty, sweet/savory, spicy/sweet. Why do they employ this method? Well….. as a way to shock- mild or violent, (depending on your taste buds) and with varying degrees of success.

As an interior designer, I see this commingling of different styles and elements pervasive more than ever. Take for example: contemporary and rustic, bohem and modern, industrial and chic, mid century and modern, farmhouse and modern, the list goes on. What makes this “marriage” so unique and intriguing is the fact that the possibilities are limitless (as they should be a reflection of our personalities, style and taste).  Last week, I came across an article about a designer who combined a unique style for her clients and coined it “Vintage Industrial Romantic.” The design used a combination of some masculine, feminine, and classic pieces made up of rustic wood and industrial lighting.

Trying to capture the essence of that design style, I came across this. What do you think?

Seem easy? To the DIY, beginner interior designer, or one not accustomed to combining differing looks, the idea can be a bit overwhelming with a lot of finesse, experience and knowledge required. Here’s a bit of 101 advice:

  1. Start with just one piece.
  2. The 80-20 rule holds true and is an ideal starting point.
  3. Go big or go home!
Upholstered Bergere chair with an ultra modern and gorgeous Timorous Beasties Kaledio Splatt Allover velvet fabric.















Jonathan Adler
Designed by Jonathan Adler
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Bohem Modern Kitchen.
Contemporary Rustic Living Room.

When executed successfully, the rewards are worth the risk with a space that looks interesting, eclectic, lived in and even a bit nostalgic. There’s a term we use in the world of design, and it’s called, tension.  It is a balance maintained in an artistic work between opposing forces or elements. It’s that “je ne sais quoi” that brings energy to a space making your eyes linger while catching you slightly off-guard.  Personally, it gives me the goose bumps.

Good design causes tension. But hey! it’s not for everyone. For some who desire that matchy matchy look, this probably will not be your cup of tea. But isn’t it part of our job as designers to push our clients out of their comfort zone, if even a tiny bit?

Want to embark on larger scale project within your home but don’t know where to start?  Seem too daunting? Well then my beauties…..what are you waiting for, pick up the phone and leave it to the professionals. Til next time.

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Piece de Resistance: Outrageously Stunning Jumping-off Ideas for your Home


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Magnificent  custom hand-blown stained glass chandelier. Offered in an assortment of hues by Lightin Art

Piece de Resistance. Try saying it aloud 3x. Piece de resistance.  Piece de resistance. Piece de resistance! If you’re not a French person, this may be a bit challenging to roll off your tongue. After 5 years of french in high school and college, I still find it a bit tricky. Here’s an audio version to help you get it right  Listen here

Miriam Webster defines it as:

Noun. Pièce de Résistance – the outstanding item (the prize piece or main exhibit) in a collection, collector’s item, showpiece, curio, curiosity, oddment, peculiarity, rarity, oddity – something unusual — perhaps worthy of collecting rariora – (plural) rare collector’s items, expertise, artistry, savoir faire

Greer’s interpretation will surely give you a giggle: “Whether or not, you have much money to spend, but especially if you haven’t, you need one marvelous decorative object which you love outrageously, which you may have spent far more for than you could afford, and perhaps which no one else in his right mind would ever have spent as much for as you did.” Come on, now! How many of us stretched ourselves and budget for the perfect pair of high heeled shoes for that high school/college reunion, or just for the love of shoes?

jumping off

Many designers consider the piece de resistance as the “jumping off point”. It is a strategy to keep the noise in your head at bay. It acts as an inspiration, and is different for everyone. The trick is to start with that favorite piece, color or anything else that may illicit an extra heart beat…..and then you build from there. So, if you’ve got that ONE thing that is special to you of which you simply can not resist, listen to your heart, and go for it! Greer’s piece de resistance examples include art work, a bust, an inkwell, a vase, or a first “folio of Shakespeare” (say what?!). Since we’re in the 21st century, why not think outside the box and take it a step further:  If you are lucky enough to own a home overlooking a splendid golf course, gorgeous lake or ocean, or well preserved ravine, or simply wish to extend the outside in, why couldn’t your piece de resistance be a folding door system  or gallery of windows allowing a seamless integration with the outside world?

NanaWall SL70
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LaCantina Folding Door System

And, why we’re at it, why couldn’t that marvelous piece de resistance be an entire space vs. object, like say, a kitchen? Or, if your kitchen budget range isn’t $50K-100K+, you still got choices. If you’re anything like me- an avid wine enthusiast, a built-in wine refrigeration system would be a dream come true!

Don’t get me wrong, your piece de resistance piece could also be inherited or even a  bargain basement find. There are so many choices available today which are treasure troves for design geeks like ourselves. For example,  there are auction houses and online stores where you can buy and sell vintage furniture and decor that are trust worthy and offer full-services.

Take this vintage Planter table as shown below by

Platner coffee table valued at $3,800 selling for $1,800










Here’s the last piece of advice on acquiring that perfect “jumping off” item: When you find something you’ve been looking for and it makes your heart skip a beat,  do not hesitate and kid yourself into thinking that you’ll come back another time. Greer puts it succinctly:

“The beauty and value of the piece de resistance may be far out of proportion to anything else you own, though in time one might hope to reduce the disparity. When you feel genuine intimations of piece de resistanceness at a shop or gallery, buy, for there is no greater tragedy than to decide to buy later and find the piece de resistance already bought.”

Before I go, let me share with you my bespoken piece de resistance:

de Gournay’s chinoiserie St. Laurent hand-painted wall covering on tea paper.                 What’s your Piece de Resistance?

Gotta go! Off to San Francisco’s Design Center to find that outrageously stunning piece de resistance  for my client…….Til next time.

Should Interior Design Be Taken So Seriously?


Michael Greer, Author and Decorator
Self potrait
Janine Arietta, Blogger,  Interior Designer & Decor Coach




Inside Design

The following series of interior design blogs will be inspired by the book, inside design, by Michael Greer (now deceased). I’ve had this idea floating in my creative humming head of mine for over 2+ years. This book was given to me nearly six years ago during an interior design internship by an Artist/Designer who went to school with Greer at Parsons School of Design in NY. His book is executed with a great deal of knowledge and a little sarcasm, humor and wit thrown in for good measure.

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Think of Julie & Julia where Julie decides to create every recipe from Julia Child’s cookbook and records her experiences. Each of my posts will reflect a chapter in Greer’s book. My goal is to impart design knowledge, personal experience and some fun (thrown in for good measure)! My design philosophy is this: Good design should inspire, and it should not be taken so seriously all of the time. The two of us would get along like chums!

Most people probably haven’t heard of Michael Greer. He was a prominent “decorator” in the 60’s in Manhattan. (Shhh! Don’t tell anyone you heard me say that. Back “in the day” that’s what they were called.) A Georgian born society decorator who reached the pinnacle of his success in New York’s affluent and elitist circles in the 60’s.




His client base grew steadily and spanned coast to coast. Even the late Jacqueline Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt and Lady Bird Johnson consulted with him on White House projects.

Greer had a love for antiques and collecting, and penchant for neoclassicism (French Eighteenth Century).  Unfortunately, his life was cut tragically short in 1976, and was found murdered in his Manhattan home.  To this day, his death is shrouded with controversy and mystery.

Stay tuned for the first chapter, piece de resistance. (Yes, I am aware that I did not use capital letters. In his book, Greer uses all lower case. Note the book cover itself).  As my friends and clients often hear me say repeatedly: “Design is in the details.”.  You also have to possess a solid grasp of the rules before they can be broken– and have fun! 



Curious to learn more about Michael Greer? If so, select theses links:

Bizarre Manhattan Murder

Grand in the “Greer Manner”