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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What does the Queen Anne Style and Pansy Yokum Have in Common?


Al Capp’s Cartoon Character, Pansy “Mammy”  Yokum
Illustration, Queen Anne Style



Inside Design by Michael Greer. Chapter 2- Queen Anne 

Miniaturization and Reflection about Greer and Interior Design.

A Current Perspective.

According to Michael Greer, “Queen Anne, a girl about as diffident toward decorating as Pansy Yoku, had very little if not absolutely nothing to do with Queen Anne.” Arguably  with some careful analysis and a little soul-searching, I would have to disagree with Greer. But first….Have you even heard of Pansy Yokum? Me neither. Apparently, she was one of the famous Dogpatch cartoon characters of Al Capp’s long-running syndicated newspaper strip  which ran from 1934-1977.  She was the pint-sized, highly principled, corncob pipe-smoking leader of her family, aka the Yokum clan and the town of Dogwatch. She certainly looks tough, doesn’t she?   My first-generation Italian grandmother was a little like her.  We could surmise that Greer, a NY native, was one of Capp’s admirers since Capps’ total readership exceeded 60,000,000 in the 40’s. Capp was born in New Haven, CT. So, while Cap entertained millions daily, Greer was busy designing posh Manhattan spaces while impressing his affluent clients.


Contemporary wing back chair painted in high gloss paint and upholstered in velvet fabric. Martha Stewart. 
The Pink House
The Pink House, Edinburgh
Schumacher, Arches Print in Bamboo. Geometric, bold, dramatic and colorful indoor/outdoor fabric ideal for upholstery, drapery and pillows.
Van Den Akker’s Pedrino Club Chair. Also available as a Settee. Shown in Maple with brass hardware. Other wood species and finishes available. Hardware can be specified in brass, nickel, chrome or studio bronze (which is currently on trend).
De gournay’s Japanese and Korean Wall Covering, Kiso Mountains Design on Statue India Tea Paper. Photo Credit: Natalie Didham.
Schumacher, Sonriza Print in Orange. Dynamic circular/spiraling pattern ideal for pillows, or upholstery. Available in Java and Pool.

Greer would not see the likes of the Yokum clan nor would they be traveling in the same circles.  Originating in England, the peak period of the Queen Anne style in America,  was in the late nineteenth century, and had several personalities: some homes were ornamental and fanciful while others showed more restraint, and yet some were asymmetrical in design. Since this style was during the Industrial age,  factory-made, pre-cut architectural parts were brimming at the seams.  Chinese-inspired early Georgian furniture with cabriolet legs terminating in a pad or drake foot (yum!) manufactured from walnut with flowing graceful lines were becoming exuberantly popular. Overdone, a space in this style could be perceived as being dark, heavy, cluttered and out of scale.


Today, there are so many directions a designer could take this style. Is it challenging? Definitely!  Let me warn you, it is not for the faint at heart.  Oh, the places you’ll go! Here’s where experience and yes, even some of Pansy’s brazen fearlessness comes into play. Boldly and with confidence, in today’s contemporary space, this is a designer’s dream. This would NOT be the time to hold back nor show hesitation. THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX, introducing PLAYFUL color and/or pattern (INTRICATE, ARCHITECTURAL, GEOMETRIC) done in BOLD ways is indeed the way to go.  Why not wallpaper a ceiling or use whimsical over scaled wall covering in the powder room? Got a thing and the budget for hand painted silk wallpaper? The real finesse is knowing how to BALANCE without over doing- something outside of Pansy Yokum’s realm.

So here it is, with some deep soul-searching, some characteristics of which the Queen Ann style and Pansy Yokum might share: BRAZEN, BOLD, UNCONVENTIONAL and ECLECTIC. I think I may have been able to change Greer’s opinion over a cup of coffee. Bold as brass,  eh?

Metal plate w/ magnetic mounting system found at






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.

blog 1 quote.jpg

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”