Portola Court Apartment Homes – Loving Life

Portola Court Apartment Homes – Loving Life

The Portola Court Apartment Homes clubhouse in Irvine recently hosted an event that I attended. In fact, you may have seen the video showing the fun we had on Day 22 of my Facebook Live 30 Day Challenge.  It reminded me of a blog post I wrote about three easy apartment decorating secrets.  Yes, your apartment can be decorated as if it was built just for you.  What a perfect excuse to share more  pictures from the Portola Court Apartment Homes to illustrate that point.

Use Color to express your character.  The draperies have a pattern, although they are not too busy.  The vibrant blue chairs and pops of the color orange in this living room gives a clue that this is a high energy, fun loving family. No blah, blah beige life being live here.

Go big and go home!  Your art and accessories need to rise to the life you want to live.  This gallery wall shows the sum total of life experiences in this home’s art collection.  Your art collection deserves the same care and focus as that homeowner who has a mortgage.

I hope that you are not waiting for a “real” home to buy functional furniture that you like.  These night stands, lamps and bedding are of the moment, though in correct proportion to the size of the room.

Yes, I have designed and installed custom draperies like the drapery panel in this apartment home’s bath. Custom drapery panels like this and the ones in the living room and bedroom give an air of luxury to your apartment.  Custom window treatments designed just for you combined with matched accessories are classic luxuries that you and your family deserve.

Living in Portola Apartment Homes affords you additional amenities like that gorgeous pool at the top of the page.  And Friday nights will be  on and popping in a clubhouse outfitted like this.  Loving you life starts now!

Custom Drapes Elevate Your Rooms

Looking for a simple way to add elegance in your home? Custom drapes elevate a room and gives it a polished look.  Recently, a couple I worked with sold their home. They traded it for a shiny, newer model in the same tony suburb. The couple proceeded to buy decorative window shades for privacy and light control.  But something was missing.  Both the husband and the wife felt that they needed to elevate their rooms with custom window treatments. Their home needed the finishing touch that only a custom design can provide.


As you can see in the “before” picture, the room was suitable for a good night’s rest.  They soon discovered, however, that well-made drapes and cornices can make all the difference between a home that is “just ok” and one that says you are glad that you get to live there. The cornices and custom drapes elevate this master bedroom to an elegant one.  Opting for sill length drapes, adding fabric at the window softens noises in the room allowing for peaceful nights.  And fabric smoothes the hard rectangular edges.  We chose soft colors tones that are not trendy. The blue tint achieves the calm feeling that they seek at day’s end.  And, like a cool body of water, the look is one that they will love for years to come.


“The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize.”  I love this quote from the movie, Steel Magnolias.  We chose accessories that were warm and comforting in a bedroom.  We added art with peaceful themes (not shown here), florals and snuggly throws tell a subtle story of their travels, culture and life experiences.  The colorful Persian rug grounds the bed and keeps the room from feeling cold and lifeless.  These accessories are inviting and easy to change as the seasons.


On the first floor, no cornices and drapes were used.  In the family room we opted for beautiful navy draperies, this time on decorative wood rods to match the grand piano.  Along with the books about California are also glass sculptures of fish and decorative plates made of shells from the ocean.  And smack dab in the middle is a snow globe of the wife’s hometown of New York City.  Further proof that accessories tell our life stories.  Area rugs, flowers and pillows all do their part to be the supporting cast to the major players in this home.


Custom Drapes Elevate Family Room Corner Mary Etta Designs Yorba Linda Interior Designer

Again, the couple requested that the drapes be shorter.  But if you want to up your elegance quota, I recommend floor length drapes.  They make the room feel grander.  At Mary Etta Designs, we work with designer fabrics and show you options in drapery hardware and trim to elegantly finish the rooms in your home.  Call 714.340.3214 if you are local to Orange County, California.

Letting Clutter Go

 Anaheim Hills Interior Designer Bar Area Staged.jpg

  Hubby and I have put our home of 14 years on the market.  And we are learning first hand about letting clutter go.  As empty nesters (with an occasional boomerang adult child), we still have some of our adult offspring’s clutter mixed in with our own.  

So when our realtor brought along a professional home stager, I figured, no problem.  As a design professional, I know staging your home properly will allow potential buyers to more easily see the home as theirs.  A couple of tweaks here and there and we’re done, right? 

Mary Etta Designs Letting Clutter Go Bar Area Before

WRONG!  We had gotten so used to all the things around us that hold our fondest memories, that they’d become part of the scenery.  The bar area above to us looked just fine.  But we needed to get rid of the knick knacks and a few art pieces.  I must admit it was a big deal to let go of those mementos.  Letting clutter go in the form of pictures, books, art, even food items was like saying goodbye to family members.

  No drapes at my French doors and nothing on the table to suggest that we actually live here is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.  But it allows a potential buyer to imagine their tastes in decor for this room.  Make a great first impression to lure buyers to see more of your home.  Eliminate clutter whoever possible.  I tell my husband there should be no signs that we live here.  

Mary Etta Designs Letting Clutter Go.jpg

   The home stager was kind, but ruthless in telling us what should be put in storage and what could stay while showing our house to potential buyers. She even offered to help me pack for a small fee. And though I turned her down, it might have been less painful.

Who knew that emptying a curio would bring tears to my eyes? That packing my angel collection would bring a rush of sentimental thoughts of the gift giver or the vacation that gave me that treasure. Taking down art pieces from my “designer’s gallery” wall was like painfully moving me out of my home before actually selling it.  But I have to admit it is a head start on packing.

Mary Etta Designs Letting Clutter Go Chair

The anticipation of what’s in store for our future is exciting. I am being forced to let go. I am not only letting clutter go, but I am making way for the next family to make memories here.interior Spaces Blog Orange County Interior Decorator Mary Etta./logo

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Use a Window Fashions Designer!

MARY ETTA Window Fashions    Designer

Have you been at lunch when someone wants you to give them the details of what is needed to complete a complex task (related to your line of work) in between bites of salad?

It happens to interior decorators far too often.  For some reason, my friends think that I can recall the intimate details of their living spaces and conjure up a quick solution that won’t cost them an arm and  leg.  And, while I fancy myself a solutions based designer, it just does not work that way.  First of all, when I am with friends, I turn a blind eye to their decor.  Can you imagine your brain spinning 24-7?  Exhausting!

Here are a couple of reasons why you should value working with a window fashions designer.

  1. Be prepared to be amazed.  As in all areas of our life, technology has changed immensely in the last five years. OK, you may not want to motorize the operation of your window treatments.  But the assortment of lifting systems alone provides so many more options than the last time you may have purchased window coverings, that you will need to be brought up to speed on that and other options.
  2. Be prepared to set aside a couple of hours to discuss “what you really, really want” as the Spice Girls put it a few years ago.  For instance, fabrication has improved for the finishes of wood shutters.  The days of real quality wood flaking are long gone.  And basic honeycomb  shades (also known as cellular shades) are anything but basic.  There are a variety of cell sizes and fabric finishes, thereby giving them an updated look often good enough to stand alone.
  3. Be prepared to invest more than you thought.  Yes, it may cost you more than your granite to outfit your home in cellular shades.  After all, most energy is lost through the windows of the home.  So you want quality window coverings that will last.  Typically, we want the best and that’s gonna cost ya!  Remember,window coverings have to perform as you expect: opening and closing properly without delaminating or falling apart for the next 20 years or whenever you choose to replace them.

So the net time you decide to purchase window coverings, don’t get your information from a friend over lunch. Make an investment of time with a professional Window Fashions Designer and your investment is sure to be a sound one.    Call Mary Etta Designs for all of your window fashions needs at 714 974-6571.

For the Love of Cornice Boards

They can be solutions that are decorative, minimal and functional. Cornices can define a space, hide less attractive hardware, also be the room's focal point.

They can be solutions that are decorative, minimal and functional. Cornices can define a space, hide less attractive hardware, and also be the room’s focal point. from twopeasinabucket.com


There is no wonder that I am officially obsessed with cornice boards right now.  This time of year, clients are making changes that are practical. They are anticipating the hot temperatures and want to keep their homes cool and comfy. So now is when I design the correct solution for energy savings. Be it blinds, shutters or shades, the goal is to cover the windows when they want thermal control. But just as important, the window covering should allow them to be able to see out and enjoy the view whenever they want.

 When it comes to cornice boards, a little dab will do ya!  This fabric frames the window and allows for rhythm in the room.

When it comes to cornice boards, a little dab will do ya! This treatment by Caitlin Wilson frames the window and allows for rhythm in the room.

The cornice boards shown here, are smart solutions that these designers knew would allow for color, texture, and a view.  They can define a space, hide less attractive hardware, or can be the room’s focal point.

Cornices are decorative, minimal and functional.

Decorative, minimal and functional.

They are economical custom alternatives, as cornices require less fabric than most other top treatments.  Call Mary Etta Designs and let us help you frame your window beautifully and keep your view.

Summer Window Coverings Now!

Shutters Provide Excellent Solar Heat Control

Shutters Provide Excellent Solar Heat Control



Honeycomb Shades help keep heat outside in summer.

Many of you are starting to think of those lazy summer days.  In southern California, that can be pretty hot.  And you will need to pump up that air conditioning.  Do you see dollar bills flying out the window?

Save energy and money by investing in smart window coverings.  It’s a known fact that heat is attracted to the glass surface of windows.  And the best way to keep heat inside or outside of windows is with an innovative window covering.  This time of year,  Mary Etta Designs clients ask about  Hunter Douglas Shutters. Shutters have long been known to “shut” out the heat or cold and help lower you energy bill.

But, have you considered honeycomb shades?  Hunter Douglas touts it’s line of Duette Architella shades as the most energy efficient shades on the market.  Duette Architella shades reduce energy loss at the window by up to 40% with the cell within a cell design.  And you can even claim them for an energy tax credit.  Just in time for tax season.

This year, Hunter Douglas  introduced Trielle Architella Shades.  Dare I say there are six layers of protection against the heat. That’s right: a cell within a cell within a lightweight cell. That’s 20% more energy savings than the original Duette Architella honeycomb shade.   Savings and beauty.  Call Mary Etta Designs for all of your summer energy savings in window fashions.

We’ve Got Your Windows Covered! (TM)







Design 2013 – Blue’s the Hue

Design 2013 – Blue’s the Hue

Even though though Emerald Green is the color of the year in 2013, have you noticed that blue is everywhere?  It seems that the cool, calming properties of blue have taken over the  home decor palettes.  Furniture, draperies, pillows, linens and rugs are using blue as the primary color.
Kravet BluesMabley Handler Interior Design4c8328bcdee281147ce571d9bfd07976

Spring Market 2013

Alexa Hampton signing her latest book, "The Language of Interiors".

Alexa Hampton signing her latest book, “The Language of Interiors”.

It’s not every day that we interior decorators take a break from creating beautiful spaces for others and actually get to go “back to school” and learn from the masters.

Spring Market at Laguna Design Center was an opportunity to do just that.  Not only were the show rooms ready with the designs trending this year, but there were also featured speakers.

And as you can see, I was thrilled to meet Alexa Hampton, designer and owner of         Mark Hampton, LLC.  The firm, founded by her late father (also world renowned) is internationally and nationally acclaimed.  So the chance to see and hear about some of her designs that she features in her new book, “The Language of Interiors”, proved to be am education and fun as she is quite humorous.  In the book she covers contrast, proportion, color and balance; all very important in design.  I highly recommend it as a great resource as you design your living spaces.


Getting to the Bottom of Top Window Treatments

Why use Top Treatments your windows?  Well, for one, they are decorative and soften the hard edges where wall meets glass.  It gives the eyes a place to alight with delight  on decorative designer fabrics.   But usually, a top treatment is there to mask an awkward or unsightly part of a window.  So, the old adage of “form follows function” definitely applies in this instance.  Have a clerestory window that lets in light near the ceiling, but otherwise is just a small, squat  gaping hole?  Soften it with a valance in a designer fabric.  The beauty of it is you won’t need much fabric! Sliding doors – by nature a large expanse of glass – need thermal treatments in the form of shades or verticals to keep the heat or cold on the other side of the window.  A valance or swag will serve beautifully as a cover for the top of the shades, hiding the functional head rails with a topper that can be elegant, casual or whimsical.Oneal Install0001

This mock Roman shade connects two very different types of windows.

This mock Roman shade connects two very different types of windows. Mary Etta Designs 

This swag top treatment adds interest to a sliding glass door and shade.

This swag top treatment adds interest to a sliding glass door and shade.left.letterhead



Little Sidelights, Big UV Problems

Tilt Only Silhouettes Sheers by Hunter Douglas

Tilt Only Silhouettes Sheers by Hunter Douglas

My favorite part? The little side entry windows. Big solution to a potential UV problem on there new furniture from those little windows.  Silhouette window treatments are a classic tried and true solution for privacy and sun control.  They opted for the new LiteRise cordless feature in the rest of the house, except for one window.  It was a 2 story installation and needed the Power Rise battery Silhouette controlled with remote.

The clients are happy to have their privacy, sun control and beautiful window coverings.With superior ultraviolet protection, Silhouette shadings offer many beautiful fabrics and applications.

Call Mary Etta Designs for all Hunter Douglas Window coverings solutions.