{Home Tour} An FOF fabric designer works a lifetime of mementos into a sleek, modern space.

When decorating your FOF home, there are often two polar instincts:
(1) Surround yourself with the heartwarming photos, knickknacks, books, art, etc., that you’ve accumulated over 50+ years.
(2) Pare down, and create a calm, clutter-free oasis straight from the pages of Dwell magazine.

Meet Lee Olson, who brilliantly managed to do both. FOF Lee is a textile designer and the owner of Yoma, a New York firm that creates fabrics for commercial and residential use. Her vivid designs all begin with her own hand-drawings and are inspired by her travels around the world, to India, Thailand, China and South America.

Her travels have also inspired a lifetime of . . . .shopping. Lee and her husband, Chandler Pierce, a leading architect and furniture designer, have collected a (small) museum’s worth of cultural artifacts and art, including books, brooms, buddhas and baskets.

Twelve years ago, the couple purchased a building on a one-block lane straddling SoHo and Little Italy, just behind the former New York police headquarters. They renovated the attic into a 1500-square-foot residence for themselves. The space took six months to renovate so that it was “livable,” but the couple has continued to work on it over the years.

According to Lee, both the biggest asset and challenge of decorating their home was marrying her and her husband’s tastes. “We have different aesthetics. Design-wise he’s a little cleaner, slicker…I’m always interested in bringing in more texture, color, curvilinear shapes.”

The key, says Lee, was in the curation. She and Chandler carefully chose what to display and what to pack away in their large storage closet. “He edits me,” Lee says of Chandler, “I choose to display things that I’m really passionate about, and then he goes in and arranges them–almost like a set.”

The end result: “When people come there, they often say: ‘Wow it looks so clean and sleek, but when you start to look around there’s a lot of detail–a lot of warmth.’”

Left: Lee’s building used to be a gun factory, part of New York’s fabled gun district. Right Top: Lee in the Yoma office, wearing a coat by Juli Raja. Right Bottom: Each of Lee’s textile designs begins with her own hand-drawings.

The main living area is a mix of sleek, architectural pieces and quirky ethnic finds, like the tiny wooden chair from Guatemala and a collection of hand-woven purses from the Philippines. Couch: Ligne Roset, purchased on Craigslist. Coffee table: Broome, Chandler’s furniture design company. Rug: Warp and Weft.

A modern table is offset by rich, textural details, including a New Mexico-inspired painting by artist Lou Hicks and hand-painted Italian plates from Ceramica Direct.

At first glance, these “Afghan War Rugs” appear to be typical antique oriental designs, however if you look closely, you can see machine guns, missiles and war planes woven into the fabric. “It’s an amazing example of people incorporating what’s going on in their lives into their art,” says Lee, who inherited two of the rugs and bought a third from Warrug.com.

A tranquil bed from De La Espada seats beneath an original aquatint by artist Katja Oxman, who uses layers of fabric patterns in her work–much like Lee’s own designs.

Lee and Chandler began collecting handmade brooms ten years ago. “They’re mostly street brooms,” explains Lee, “handwoven by people in China and India who use them in the morning to clean. I’m interested in things that carry the spirit of the person who made them.” Red chair: Ochre.

Personal artifacts are carefully arranged in themed groups. Art (with crosses): Lou Hicks. Skull: Matter. Buddha: Vietnam.

Lee’s tranquil terrace overlooks the former New York City police headquarters.


photographer: Katherine Miles Jones
gun shop & terrace photos courtesy of: ChandlerPierce.com

{Gift Guide} 7 Delightful Design Gifts

Deck the halls and homes of your family and friends–GIVE them these delightful design gifts recommended by FOF gurus.



Helen Kenney Poore is an FOF interior design guru and owner of The Scented Garden, a gift store located in St. Michaels, Maryland.

1. Karen Adams Calendar Giftbox, $59 ($29 for refill)

“A unique gift for the person who has everything is the Karen Adams hand-painted calendar. Just remember who you gave the set to, because next year you can give them the refill. They’re already sold out in my store.”


Kristin Drohan is an FOF interior design guru and an interior designer whose work has been featured in The Washington Post, House Trends Magazine, New England Home, and New York Spaces. She also has her own furniture collection.

2. Personalized Trays, Platters and Ice Buckets from Clairebella, Starting at $38
“I love that these can be personalized with colors, patterns, and monograms.”


Barbara Mangini is the blogger behind My Dog-Eared Pages, a collection of musings on art, fashion, and interior designs.

3. Harry Stooshinoff Landscape Paintings, starting at $45

“I am a quite a fan of this Canadian artist. He’s been selling his work for over 30 years. His small landscapes are created on heavy, acid-free artist’s paper, using a quick pencil sketch on location then followed by bold, intuitive swashes of acrylics. I love the idea of hanging several together as a grouping.”


4. Turkish Towel Peshtemals from Bathstyle, starting at $22

“A peshtemal is a towel traditionally used in Turkish baths. The colors correspond to different regions in Turkey. I’ve always loved them because they absorb water fast and dry quickly. They take up less space and are also great for the pool, boat and the beach. These are 100% cotton produced on looms in Turkey.”



Lisa Porter is the mastermind behind The Lisa Porter Collection, a blog featuring eye-popping designs, inspiring interiors and carefully-vetted businesses.

5. Beautiful Gardens of Kentucky by Jon Carloftis ($40)
“This year I’ll be gifting Beautiful Gardens of Kentucky by famed New York City garden designer Jon Carloftis. I have had the pleasure of meeting Jon and his incredible family–what I admire most about this southern gentleman is his desire to give back. He’s beyond generous with his talent and time devoting much of it towards local garden clubs and charitable organizations. Anyone who loves to garden will love this book.”


Julia Reed is the creative director of Taigan, a meticulously-curated online boutique featuring unique products and gifts. She has been a contributing editor  to numerous publications including VogueConde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and is the author of: The House on First Street, My New Orleans Story; Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns, And Other Southern Delicacies: An Entertaining Life (With Recipes); and Queen Of The Turtle Derby and Other Southern Phenomena.

6. Small Apothecary Jar from And George, $47
“It is so versatile. Fill it with festive red-and-white peppermints or use it as a receptacle for roasted pecans or little cheese biscuits on the bar when entertaining. It would also be fabulous in a bathroom filled with small soaps or bath salts such as these.”


7. Set of White Mugs from And George, $60
“I adore both the delicacy and color of these tea mugs. Throw in a canister of your favorite tea and this pretty handwoven silver tea strainer and it’s a great gift.”

Enter to win a gorgeous hand-painted calendar by Karen Adams by leaving a comment below.

One FOF will win.
(See all our past winners, here.)
(See official rules, here.)
Contest closes December 17, 2011 at midnight E.S.T.

{Interiors} 6 sites interior designers love that you never knew about

Our brilliant FOF Interior Design gurus reveal their sources for great finds online.

Gdchome.com (recommended by FOF interior design guru Helen Kenney Poore, retail store owner and home design enthusiast). This home-goods mecca is located on over 100,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space near Charleston, South Carolina. Known for their incredible fabrics and upholstery services as well as antiques, imports and more, GDC boasts in-house designers and an inspiring blog packed with home-decor before-and-afters.

Jaysonhomeandgarden.com (recommended by FOF interior design guru, CathyBall). Chicago’s destination for one-of-a-kind home goods, Jayson Home & Garden, also hosts an annual Fall Flea Market with the company’s largest collection of vintage and antique furniture. This year’s focus is on the flea markets of Paris and Provence, and it’s all available online.

Jossandmain.com (recommended by by FOF interior design guru, Shellrobin).
Joss & Main is a members-only site that offers private, limited-time sale events on carefully curated home brands. Each day, Members receive an email invitation to exclusive sale events at prices up to 70% off retail.

Frenchgardenhouse.com (recommended by FOF interior design guru, grnwillow).
If your tastes run towards Shabby Chic, the Paris Apartment and Provence Country, this is your place. An online treasure trove of vintage antiques and imports.

Fab.com (recommended by FOF interior design guru, RonniWhitman, ASID).
The latest in a wave of daily-deal sites, Fab.com is actually worth a subscription. With items in all price points, the selection of home goods is carefully chosen with an eye toward, modern, fundtional design. If you lust over the pages of Dwell magazine, don’t miss this site.

Tonichome.com (recommended by FOF interior design guru, Corky).
The brainchild of Linda Hayes of Rocky River, Ohio, Tonic Home combines traditional pieces with bold, modern accents, colors and statement pieces. Plus, their blog offers plenty of unique design inspiration.

{Interiors} Old memories, new home…

When you’re FOF, moving means taking a lifetime of memories and trying to work them into a completely new space–while simplifying of course. We spoke to one FOF who downsized when her children left the nest, but managed to make her new house a home….

FOF Kathy McPherson and her husband Tom moved from the D.C. suburbs to the historical village of Pinehurst, North Carolina, where they constructed their 6,000 sq. ft. empty-nest “cottage” just last year. They chose a lot on Pinehurst No. 2, a history-rich golf course, to build their new digs.

“I wanted to create a place where old and new collide and past and future generations meet,” says Kathy.

In each room of the house, old and new live seamlessly side by side. For instance, Kathy designed the kitchen with a brand-new GE range alongside an antique butter churn passed down from her grandmother.

A carefully-edited collection of relics, such as a Barbie doll from Kathy’s childhood, manage to impart nostalgia without clutter. “I couldn’t imagine parting with any family heirlooms,” says Kathy. Anything Kathy didn’t have room for, she found a way to keep in the family. Her son, Richmond, got antique bedroom furniture passed down from his grandmother, and Kathy put other meaningful pieces in storage for when her daughter, Katherine, has more room. “I did give away furniture, artwork, toys… things that didn’t have sentimental value,” says Kathy. “That was easy.”

A history fanatic, Kathy throws annual birthday parties for Winston Churchill, (“We do Churchill trivia, serve all his favorite foods and hand out chocolate cigars as favors.”) loves to visit historical towns and shop at antique stores. But she also scores big at Pottery Barn.

And while Kathy and her husband expect to spend their twilight years in this house, they’ve built it with future generations in mind; a “bunk room” for grandchildren is on the second floor, and their dining room was built to accommodate 50 guests. They hosted their daughter’s wedding rehearsal dinner there last March.

“Our hope is that, just like the Pinehurst cottages of the 1800s, this home will still be serving a family 100 years from now, and it will be admired for the way it integrates into the village,” says Kathy. “As future generations of golfers pass by, I hope they look at our home and say, ‘Gee, that looks like a neat place to be.”

Images by Katherine Miles Jones

{Business} Meet FOF Lauri Ward, founder of Use What You Have Interiors

In 1981, FOF Lauri Ward decided she wasn’t happy working in “conventional interior designer mode.”

“I didn’t feel comfortable telling my clients they had to buy expensive things to make their homes look beautiful,” says Lauri. She started her company, Use What You Have® and developed her own system of decorating, to help clients use what they already have in their home to create a fresher, updated and more elegant look for a starting flat fee of just $350 per room.

Over the past three decades, she’s trained hundreds of decorators and has formed a worldwide network called the Interior Redecorators Network®.

“Anybody should be able to have a beautiful home, not just wealthy people,” says Lauri.

The concept is simple but the instant gratification that a one-day room makeover delivers is what Lauri says has garnered major media attention (including Oprah, The Today Show, The New York Times and House Beautiful Magazine) and kept her company thriving for three decades.

“The comment we hear from everyone is ‘Gee, I never would have thought of that. I’ve tried this 10 different ways and none of it worked,” says Lauri. “We show them the 11th way.”

To enter to win the Reinvent Your Room makeover with a Use What You Have® decorator plus a $250 gift card to IKEA: The Life Improvement Store, click here.

Thank you for entering. This contest is now closed.

{Style Expert} Learn to hunt for antiques like a pro

5 FOFs share their secrets for finding vintage treasures:

Jane Grant

Owner of Jane Grant Antiques
Dallas, Texas

An “antique” isn’t an antique unless it is over 100 years old.

“Everything these days is labeled an “antique” but those in the business know it’s not one unless it’s over 100 years old. This comes from U.S. customs rules. You don’t have to pay duty on any item you import that is over 100 years old because it’s considered an antique, but you do have to pay duty on items dating back less than 100 years.”

Her Fave Resources: Antique fairs and markets especially: the biannual Round Top Antiques Fair in Texas (where she just scored a pair of 17th century Spanish doors and a 19th century Italian ceramic platter), the triannual Brimfield Antique Show in Brimfield, Mass., Marché aux Puces de Clignancourt in Paris, Lovers Lane Antique Market and The Mews in Dallas. “Antique fairs can be overwhelming,” she says. “Get as much information as you can before you go. Learn about the dealers, look at maps, and read the show magazine if there is one. For instance, Round Top’s magazine is Show Daily.”

Kathy Peterson

Design Expert, National TV Host and Syndicated Columnist
Palm Beach, Florida

Just because something has a “Sold” sign on it doesn’t mean you can’t buy it.

“I found a very, very old antique pine kitchen table that I loved at a yard sale, but it had a “Sold” sign on it. I asked the woman running the sale for the phone number of the person who bought the table. She gave me the buyer’s contact information, I contacted her and said, ‘I know you spent $125 dollars on this table. I’ll take it off your hands for another $50.’ She agreed. You’d be surprised how often this happens. I had it appraised and it was worth $2,800.”

Her Fave Resources: Thrift shops such as Jupiter Medical Center Thrift Shop, Hospice of Palm Beach Resale Shop and the Animal Rescue League Thrift Store in Palm Beach. Flea markets and yard sales such as the Renningers Antique Market, held weekly in Mt. Dora, Florida and The World’s Longest Yard Sale which spans three states: Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee. A few years ago, Kathy scored an antique chair at The World’s Longest Yard Scale which she revamped into a a “bridal chair” for her daughter-in-law’s bridal shower and featured on HGTV.

Pamela Wiggins

Antique Expert for About.com, author of Buying & Selling Antiques and Collectibles on eBay
Austin, Texas

If you see an item you like, even if you are just considering it, pick it up and hold it as you continue to shop.

“My mother taught me that at a young age. I can always put it back, but I’ll kick myself if I go back and someone else has snatched it up. You can also tell if you’ve got something good if other shoppers, especially dealers, are hovering around waiting for you to put the item back!”

Her Fave Resource: www.RubyLane.com. I’m a dealer there and browse it almost daily. It has a great variety of antiques and collectibles in all price ranges. The dealers are experienced and professional. RubyLane shops also have a three-day return policy which is useful when buying online because it can be hard to get an idea about the color, size and feel of many items through a photograph.

Barbara Hawthorn

President of Barbara Hawthorn Interiors
McLean, Virginia

Don’t underestimate the Internet as a resource for great antiques.

“I’m in meetings 12 hours a day and have to do my searches in the wee hours of the night. One of the best designer resources for antiques is online: www.1stdibs.com. It is 24/7.”

Her Fave Resource: www.1stdibs.com. It features resources from top antique dealers all over the country/world and is organized well. You can look by period, style or any category of furnishings, all price points, etc.

Jackie Talmo

Owner of Jackie Talmo Décor
New York City

Look for antique accent pieces instead of antique furniture.

“I suggest to my clients, to use antiques as accessories and décor rather than as furniture. With smaller antique pieces you can add lots of character to a home and they are easier to mix with contemporary elements. You can also switch them out easily…the feel of a home can look fresh by adding new pieces from time to time or changing around the layout.”

Her Fave Resources: Antique stores such as Olde Good Things, Suzanne Golden Antiques, Knollwood Antiques, Eileen Lane Antiques, Vidal’s Antiques (for lighting) or the flea market on 39th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues in New York City.

Images via NotKeren, FabOverFifty, Love to Know, About.com, The Washington Design Center, and FabOverFifty

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{Interiors} Catherine Del Spina’s Westchester Home Tour

At FOF Catherine Del Spina’s Westchester, N.Y., “Apple Hill” residence, the basement is where the magic happens. Furniture, relics and other treasures arrive tattered and worn but leave in pristine condition.

“Here is my latest project,” Catherine says, pointing to an assortment of freshly-painted white chairs and tables.

“I found them at a fire department tag sale. The table looked like crap, the chairs were filthy and broken. One was marked 1909,” she says. “But they were asking $250 for six chairs, a Duncan Phyfe two-leaf dining room table, two wool hooked rugs, two cocktail tables with burl inlay and a large mirror. I said to them ‘It’s not enough, I have to pay you more… so I paid $350.’”

Catherine relishes most what other people have given up on. In her career, her home and her personal life she succeeds because of her ability to see things with different eyes than everyone else. “The Marketing Optometrist,” she calls herself, because during the week she consults with companies like Whole Foods and Walmart helping them obtain “better marketing through sharper vision.”

Then she spends her weekends using that same sharp eye to troll estate sales, world bazaars, markets and antique stores for new treasures to adorn her home.

“How do I find this stuff? I look at it and say ‘Okay, I can fix that!’” Last year, Catherine recovered two “junky, creepy” chairs from a tag sale. “I thought they had good bones,” she says. “I fixed them up and instead of $2,000 per chair I spent a total of $500.”

Even the house itself, built in 1850 and purchased in 1995, is one of Catherine’s rescue missions. “When we bought it, it was completely run-down. There was nothing to it,” she says. Fifteen years and multiple renovations later the house is 2,000 sq. ft. larger than when it was purchased (totaling over 5,000 sq. ft.) and on the market for $2.2 million.

“It’s too big for two people and so much to upkeep,” says Catherine. She’s not sure yet where her next home will be, but says she may start from scratch decorating her new digs.

“I love to do it. But it’s hard… it’s all a part of me,” she says.

Images by Katherine McPherson for FabOverFifty.com

{Interiors} 3 FOF Interior Designers Tell All

To find out the best way to spruce up your FOF digs, we went straight to the source… 3 interior designers who are FOFs themselves. Here they share their favorite design books, tips, tricks and even the websites they shop. Do you have a favorite design tip or resource? Share it with us by commenting below.
1. Terri Symington
Brenham, Texas

Her Resources:
Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn set the standard in terms of resources available to the general public.
1stDibs.com –Shop owners across the country show some of their pieces there.  The best part: Even though they may list prices, you can usually contact the retailer and negotiate.
The Roundtop Antique Fair – Twice a year in spring and fall people come from all over the country to get great deals on antiques and housewares.

Takeaway Tips:
-Don’t follow trends.  Define your own personal style. The biggest mistake that women make is listening to too many other people.
-Stay away from anything cute unless it’s for a nursery.
-Think of the architecture of the space, and don’t try to create a theme. I detest themes. If you have a taste for country French, but you don’t personalize it, the look becomes too much.
-Group collections together; don’t spread them out all over your house.
-Keep your space clean and simple.  It makes it so much easier to enjoy life….


Concord, Massachusetts

Her Resources:
For furniture, linens, textile, fabrics and accessories: www.zgallerie.com, www.surya.com, www.ballarddesign.com and www.homedecorators.com
Exclusively for furniture: www.hardenedfurniture.com and www.hickorychair.com “I like how eco-friendly the Hickory Chair is.”

Takeaway Tips:
-Paint the quirky accents that come with the home to match your color scheme and decor. In a room I designed, there were these medallions on the ceiling that I didn’t like so I painted those and the chandelier black.
-To marry the color palettes of two rooms together, use one color in both rooms at least three times.
-Add trim or a fabric band to the bottom of JCPenny Antique Satin Drapes to get a more expensive look for less.


3. Sheree Vincent
Fusion Designed
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Her Resources:
-For global objects: “I always try to shop in fair-trade stores. One I like is Alsadu in Minneapolis or online at www.Alsadu.com.”
-For small, trendy home accessories: Homegoods, Marshalls, Pottery Barn and thrift stores. “You can get good deals at these stores and if something goes out of style it’s not such a big deal to swap it out for something new.”

Takeaway Tips:
-Less is more but sometimes it is hard to minimize. Collections are wonderful but if you put out every piece, the beauty of the individual items gets lost. Instead display two or three items at a time and rotate the collection by swapping in new pieces every few months.
-Choose pieces and colors that make you happy. Looking at different colors in a paint store can be overwhelming. I recommend sampling four to five colors (many paint stores now let you do this) and painting squares on your wall. After a week living with the colors it will become clear which one you like best.
-Find unexpected purposes in common objects. I’ve used baskets as wall art and pottery as water fountains!

{Interiors} Karen Fisher Knows Design

Every eight-to-ten years, FOF design expert Karen Fisher revamps her Gramercy Park penthouse. Each design reflects a different stage in her life.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, Karen was an editor of top style and design magazines, American Home and Women’s Wear Daily. Her apartment was decorated in a “European Country” style: Provencal gold walls, rich eggplant furniture and oriental rugs.  “I wanted something showy,” says Karen. “I was dressing showier; I needed it more than I do now.”

In 1985, Karen started Designer Previews, a design matchmaking service that pairs residential and commercial clients with world famous designers. Shortly after, she decided her apartment needed a do-over to coincide with her new career. With a Rolodex of top decorators at her fingertips, Karen selected Clodagh to create an Armani-inspired haven. They chose taupe- and beige-colored Stucco Veneziano for her walls with furniture and accent pieces in grays, silvers and dark wood tones. “It’s contemporary and chic as hell,” she says. “I’m working with over 400 designers and overseeing 200 jobs–I don’t need any more pillows in my life.”

This year, Karen prepares to overhaul the 500 square-foot space yet again. What will it look like next? “I know it will have more contrast, dark floors, light walls, crisper color,” she says. “But sometimes it’s a surprise to me and that is the fun of decorating.”

Karen’s Take-Away Tips for Designing Small Spaces:

  • -Work with a designer who shares your aesthetic, has a personality that you enjoy, and will spend your money in a way that meets your approval. Read Karen’s guide to hiring an interior designer here.
  • -Think big, even with small space. In Karen’s own apartment, a low bookshelf in her living room allows for a large mirror, one she says normally would be used in a hotel lobby–not a NYC apartment.
  • -For workspaces, try vertical slats instead of filing cabinets. You will find they keep loose papers more organized and provide easier access to books and files.
  • -For small spaces, barn sliding doors take up less space than traditional doors.
  • -It’s a misconception that a ceiling should always be painted white. The ceiling should be painted the same color as the wall to create the illusion of boundless space.

Photos by Katherine McPherson for faboverfifty.com

{Interiors} A Room of Her Own

“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write,” said Virginia Woolf in her classic ode to women’s independence, A Room of One’s Own.

We couldn’t agree more. FOFs are entrepreneurs, moms, professors, engineers, artists, writers and much more. Our workspaces are an extension of ourselves and the foundation for our businesses and passion projects. See some of our faves from around the web, below!

Images (top to bottom) via Lonny, Making it Lovely, Dilly Dallas, This is Glamorous, Design Sponge, and Lonny