Decorating Diva Christmas 2016 Gift Guide

Carmen NatschkeDesign the Holidays, Spotlight: Decor & Furniture

The Art of Celebrating by David Monn


Oojra Jasmine Oil Diffuser

Oojra‘s Thai Jasmine Bamboo Essential Oil Reed Diffuser: A sultry blend of jasmine florals wafts through the air, creating a delicious ambiance. “Thai Jasmine”  is an intoxicating and beautiful fragrance that delicately scents your interior sanctuary.


The Art of Celebrating by David Monn

The Art of Celebrating by David Monn is a must have tome for the entertaining diva on your list. David Monn shares his legendary party design acumen in photo after lavish photo of the exquisite entertaining vignettes he designed. These celebratory spaces entice and delight in the celebration of life’s most important moments.


Five of my favorite decorative pieces and beautifully design furniture to gift your home this holiday season!


Ambella Home Cantilevered Side Table

Ambella Home Cantilevered Side Table


Huntington House Upholstered Armchair

Huntington House’s armchair in “Specify” upholstery.



Madison Chair by Bernhardt

Madison Chair by Bernhardt


Alta Chandelier by Gabby Home

Alta Chandelier by Gabby Home


Woodard Furniture Van Dyke Sectional (Outdoor)

Woodard Furniture Van Dyke Sectional (Outdoor)


Dream of Venice Architecture

Dream of Venice Architecture by Riccardo De Cal and introduction by Richard J. Goy. Edited by JoAnn Locktov. This is the perfect book to gift your favorite travel-loving diva prior to her adventure in Venice.


American Standard’s Beale Kitchen Sink Faucet – Thoughtful Design in Action

Carmen NatschkeInteriors by Design


Kitchen design that is beautiful, functional and thoughtful can last through all stages of life. American Standard’s pull-down, touch-less “Beale” kitchen faucet is a perfect example of thoughtful design that offers easy to use features for hands of all ages  – from little hands to aging, arthritis ravaged hands and everything in between.

Stainless steel kitchen faucet from American Standard

Artfully stunning, architecture inspired profile of American Standard’s Beale stainless steel kitchen faucet.

When my parents were looking to update some features in their kitchen, I suggested installing the sculptural “Beale” faucet to replace their faucet. Both my parents have varying limitations with mobility in their hands and as they continue to age, I felt that their faucet would be more and more challenging to use. So, the decision was made to install the Beale in their kitchen.

My plan was to have a plumber install the “Beale “since I had never installed a faucet (or worked with plumbing) before, but after reading the instructions and feeling courageously DIY – I decided to give it a try. I figured I could always call the plumber if things went awry.

Styled contemporary kitchen design with art deco inspired faucet

Beautiful design can be functional and thoughtful too!

Surprisingly, I had a devil of a time removing the old faucet and that took most the time – feeling a bit defeated, I was extremely close to calling the plumber. But after one last effort the old faucet was finally uninstalled.   Installing the “Beale” faucet was easy and took me less than 45 minutes to install (and that was mostly due to the very tight space I was working in). The instructions were flawless and the product design so well considered that putting it all together was a delight. And then there was the glowing aura of confidence that radiated from within me, after successfully doing something I had never done before.

Beale faucet in action.

Once installed, my mother loved the sophisticated, contemporary profile of the “Beale” faucet and was ecstatic at the ease of use. With a slight wave of her hand, over the faucet top, the water streamed at full force. Another wave, and the stream of water ceased to flow. The pull-down sprayer effortlessly rained water into the sink. She mentioned how natural the hand motion felt while holding the sprayer and alternating the water stream with a soft touch of the sprayer button. She and my father appreciated the option to switch the faucet to manual if they chose to use it in that setting. The faucet handle is very easy to use with a only a subtle tilting action to move from cold to hot and from a gentle rain shower steam to a forceful dirt busting stream.

Details Beale Kitchen Faucet

Adding sleek and sophisticated beauty to the kitchen space.

The genius  and innovative ergonomic design of American Standard’s “Beale” faucet coupled with its striking architectural styling truly is thoughtful design in action.

Disclosure:  All opinions expressed in this post are all my own.  This is a sponsored post/branded content for American Standard. We appreciate the generous sponsorship of design brands that support the Decorating Diva blog and make it possible for me to bring you, our wonderful readers, excellent design and lifestyle articles throughout the year.

Design Tour of Five Star EME Catedral Hotel in Seville Spain

Carmen NatschkeGlamorous Gallavanting

EME Catedral five star luxury hotel in heart of Seville Spain - restaurant design. | The Decorating Diva, LLC

The EME Catedral hotel in the center of Seville’s historic and commercial district hides a surprising design secret behind its architecturally prim and proper facade of wrought iron balconies ornately adorned in fancy lace inspired details.

Sevilla's EME Catedral five star boutique hotel.  | The Decorating Diva, LLC

The luxurious 5-star hotel EME Catedral.

Billed as an avante-garde boutique hotel the EME Catedral in Seville’s historic city center is just mere steps from the famed 16th century Cathedral of Seville. ( A little trivia for my fellow history buffs – though known as Cathedral of Seville its official name is “Catedral de Santa María de la Sede”  which translates to “Cathedral of Saint Maria of the See.” And the Cathedral is also the burial site of the great explorer Christopher Columbus.)

This five star hotel blends architecturally with the neighboring 18th and 19th century buildings, but once inside you are transported into a world of pulsating club music emanating from a seductively plush lounge with violet-tinted lights dimmed to match the club mood. ( I later learned that the evocative club music is the EME’s  signature “electronic music compilation” and available for purchase. )

Arriving at the reception desk, you’re greeted by hotel staff – with supermodel looks – attired in sleek and sophisticated couture inspired uniforms. The stylish and charming front desk staff quickly check you in, and then offer the option of guiding you to your room in one of the hotel’s two towers.

Exiting the luxe club environment of the reception and lounge area, you step into a lush tropical courtyard that combines the historical with the modern. Under verdant orange fruit trees lies a gorgeous channel fountain – filled with rose petals and stones – that elegantly bisects a dining area furnished with contemporary patio furniture including acrylic Louis chairs (Regretfully, I didn’t ask if they were Philippe Stark’s “Louis Ghost” chairs or merely inspired by his design genius.)

Fruit tree lined patio courtyard at luxury boutique hotel EME Catedral.  | The Decorating Diva, LLC

The design of the patio courtyard at EME Catedral combines architectural influences from various civilization including Roman, Arabic and Spanish.

Walking through the arched pathway your senses are delightfully introduced to a delicious concoction of fruity and flowery fragrances swirling in the air accompanied by soothing New Age music. Your escort gestures to a door from which those heavenly scents are escaping, and informs you that five star spa services are available at the EME’s on-site spa.

Pathway to spa at luxury hotel EME.  | The Decorating Diva, LLC

Courtyard path to one of the hotel’s towers that houses the EME’s spa and wellness center.

The EME has various types of rooms and suites, but the overall design vibe is one of monastic simplicity expressed in a vocabulary of modern architectural elements distilled to their very essence. And in keeping with the nature of EME which seemed to enjoy throwing a design surprise here and there –  in my room amidst the minimalist design features there was one door that retained all the charm and historical characteristics of an 18th or 19th century period balcony door. Seeing that door transported me back to my childhood when I spent summers at my grandparents’ 19th century apartment home in Madrid. That door could easily have been the same as the one I fondly remembered – it had that level of authenticity.

Modern minimalism bedroom design at EME.  | The Decorating Diva, LLC

Plaster walls in warm tones create an inviting atmosphere in the minimalistic designed room.

Luxury bathroom design at the EME boutique hotel in Sevilla.  | The Decorating Diva, LLC

The room’s luxury bath design includes a voluminous bathtub wrapped in a seamless glass enclosure.

Simple writing desk with iconic mid-century modern inspired chair.  | The Decorating Diva, LLC

Simple writing desk with iconic mid-century modern inspired chair.

View from EME room with inner courtyard view.  | The Decorating Diva, LLC

Inner courtyard view from my room’s Juliette balcony. Glazed blue ceramic tiles glisten like a pale blue pool. I love the way the EME married the old with the new here. Metal chain curtains drape balcony doors and windows in an otherwise traditional setting.

Exploring the second tower at the EME you will find the roof top bar La Terraza of EME, located near the sparkling pool and lounge area, offering sweeping views of Seville’s skyline which includes the Cathedral of Seville’s iconic bell tower that hosts the storied Giralda statue at its apex.

Views of soaring tower at Cathedral of Seville form EME's rooftop pool and lounge area.  | The Decorating Diva, LLC

The soaring bell tower at the Cathedral of Seville, set against the evening sky, viewed from EME’s rooftop pool and lounge area.

Looking down from La Terrazza bar at the EME hotel courtyard.  | The Decorating Diva, LLC

Night time view of the courtyard from the rooftop bar La Terraza of EME.

With five stellar restaurants on site, the EME is a foodie’s gastronomical dream destination. Guests can dine on magnificent meals in a variety of settings including a lush fruit tree lined courtyard, an intimate, cozy cabana style niche and an opulently decorated space with a divine mix of antiques and contemporary furniture and décor.

Lounge area at EME.  | The Decorating Diva, LLC

At the EME’s 20 Pasos cafe a rustic inspired niche with sumptuous velvet chairs is warmly embraced by linen drapes that can be pulled for privacy.

Al fresco dining at EME courtyard.  | The Decorating Diva, LLC

Hotel guests have the option to dine  al fresco in the EME’s stunning courtyard.

Luxe interior of the Lobby Loves Mediterráneo restaurant. | The Decorating Diva, LLC

Luxe interior of the Lobby Loves Mediterráneo restaurant.

Offering fabulous architecture, gorgeous  interior decorations and amazing food, the EME Catedral is the perfect hotel for design enthusiasts and foodies. It is also ideally located – it is within walking distance of several historically significant sites including the Cathedral of Seville (literally across the street) and the Royal Alcazar palace and gardens.

And if walking isn’t your preferred mode of transport, you can always opt to tour Seville’s historical city center via an enchanting horse and carriage ride – the supermodel doppleganger at the concierge desk will be happy to arrange it.

Cathedral of Seville
Royal Alcazar de Sevilla
EME Catedral Hotel

Editor’s Note: My visit to Seville and my stay at the EME Catedral hotel were part of  Tile of Spain‘s press trip in which several top editors and bloggers were brought to Valencia to report on the 2015 Cevisama design fair. You can read my Cevisama posts here.


Publication Note: Originally published on July 25th on CMNmedia.

Creative Cafe // Textile Artist Jana Platina Phipps

Carmen NatschkeArtful Consideration

Trim Queen Jana Platina Phipps in surrounded by luxe textiles and trims.

There are times I have to pinch myself to snap back to reality – to realize that I’m not dreaming this incredible world I live in. A world filled with exquisitely talented creative dynamos like the one and only Trim Queen, Jana Platina Phipps.  Today in the Creative Cafe we are graced with the company of this charismatic textile artist that is taking the trim world by storm. Jana shares her fabulous confections, her passion for fashion, DJ music making, life and this little phrase, so full of wisdom, that now resides on my creative studio’s whiteboard, “Take that first step, reject perfectionism, and play.” 

Trim Queen Jana Platina Phipps in surrounded by luxe textiles and trims.

Trim Queen Jana Platina Phipps in surrounded by luxe textiles and trims.

I am inspired by creativity in general, how people express themselves uniquely through art, writing, music, dance, cooking, décor and fashion, to name a few.  Between my “maker parties” at my design studio and teaching Trim Alchemy at the Country Living Fairs, seeing what others create, very differently than me, inspires me greatly.

Textile art and design attracts me because it’s hands-on and has a tradition. I have always been a maker of sorts, attracted to things with stories behind them— bric-a-brac, vintage dresses, old magazines, and jewelry. When I went to my first factory as a design assistant, I saw the whirring machinery in a dance with yarns, and I found my voice.

Jana channeling her DJ Diva!

Jana channeling her DJ Diva in style-filled trim from headphones to chic bracelet!

If not creating textile artI’d be an international DJ who teaches yoga/tennis life skills on the side, part owner in an art gallery full of artisan collaborations! Alternately, I think I’d be a filmmaker or jewelry designer. Hey, life is long—you never know!

Jana talks trim trends, "What’s next? Velvet and metallic trimmings, but not fussy, it’s more casual, incorporating linen and graphic styling. These are some samples I am currently working on in the studio."

Jana talks trim trends, “What’s next? Velvet and metallic trimmings, but not fussy, it’s more casual, incorporating linen and graphic styling. These are some samples I am currently working on in the studio.”

Being an artist, I find myself deconstructing everything; I am fascinated by how things are made. I study handwork, embroidery, knotting, and passementerie of course. Color combinations stop me in my tracks, in nature, on the runway, at museums; even on Instagram.

Book cover "Textiles."

Book cover “Textiles: Collection of the Museum of International Folk Art.”

The most recent textile art-related book I’ve read and would recommend is  a book I discovered at the Museum Design Summit in Santa Fe, New Mexico discussing the ethics of design, and I was stunned by the depth of the archives at the Museum of International Folk Art. The “Textiles: Collection of the Museum of International Folk Art” book is a beautiful representation of that collection and also explores the artisans and provenance of each artisanal piece. 

My current go-to inspirational book is “BIG MAGIC” by Elizabeth Gilbert. There are so many powerful ideas that speak to how fear holds us back, but a favorite is, “Perfectionism is just a high-end, haute couture version of fear.” This book is a must-read for creative, or people seeking to live a more creative life.

"This is an embellished pillow using a process I call The Alchemy of Trimming, taking something ordinary and making it extraordinary. I use an “off the shelf” pillow and make a “cuff” by layering trimmings to make a belt, in essence, that I wrap around the cushion. It’s an easy way to personalize something you have on hand, adding soul to your décor. You can see the step-by-step tutorial here."

“This is an embellished pillow using a process I call “The Alchemy of Trimming,” taking something ordinary and making it extraordinary. I use an “off the shelf” pillow and make a “cuff” by layering trimmings to make a belt, in essence, that I wrap around the cushion. It’s an easy way to personalize something you have on hand, adding soul to your décor. You can see the step-by-step tutorial here.”

The most challenging artistic project I’ve undertaken was starting my own business was one of the biggest accomplishments of my life. I was a new mother and knew I couldn’t sustain my current working situation—the hours, the commute, and the unreasonable face-time demands, while evolving as a mother. I worked on a business plan with a consultant that walked me through various scenarios. I was able to see on paper that a consulting business could work and eventually thrive. The research and exercise gave me confidence to start my company.

My creative endeavors have have always traveled for work, to clients domestically and factories internationally. I love to travel and always take the long road and seek out local color. Since I started Trim Queen, as a blogger sharing the creativity of the industry, I have gained press status. A trip to Maison & Objet in Paris was pivotal. Impressed by meeting textile designer Karin Sajo at Deco Off, I made a trip to Monmartre to interview her in her atelier.  It was thrilling to see her process and cultivated artistry, something I never would have been entitled to do previously. Encounters like this fuel my creativity.

Visiting the off-limits archive of the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe was definitely a career highlight.

"My "Queenie" pins also feature my collection of vintage brooches using beautiful ribbons fashioned into military style pins. The brooch is detachable so you can switch it out for your favorite family heirloom that probably sits in the bottom of your jewelry box. My ideal way to upcycle. "

“My “Queenie” pins also feature my collection of vintage brooches using beautiful ribbons fashioned into military style pins. The brooch is detachable so you can switch it out for your favorite family heirloom that probably sits in the bottom of your jewelry box. My ideal way to upcycle. “

The project I dream about creating someday  would involve traveling the world with my family in a tricked-out art bus stopping at factories and small towns learning from artisans, and collecting techniques and materials. I’d culminate with some maker sessions bringing together people to create. Then, I’d fabricate an art installation at Liberty of London using what we made. 

My advice to those who feel the call to pursue their creative dreams is to follow your curiosity and be prepared to realize you may end up somewhere that wasn’t even on your radar. Take that first step, reject perfectionism, and play. That’s the beginning of creativity, if you get in the zone, you will flourish.

8 Stunning & Inspiring Interiors: Junior League of High Point Showhouse

Carmen NatschkeInteriors by Design

high point junior league showhouse traditional home interior design2015-04-24_1429836520_the decorating diva
Contemporary Bohemian Chic meets Art Collector Style inspired interior. | The Decorating Diva, LLC

Contemporary Bohemian chic meets International art collector style in this vibrant, color-saturated, glamorous art gallery haven room design by Holly Hollingsworth Phillips of The English Room.

Guest room design - Monochromatic perfection in tones of verdant greens accented with gray. | The Decorating Diva, LLC

Serene guest room in monochromatic tones of green accented with grays, makes for the perfect retreat from the madcap world. Design by Lance Jackson and David Ecton of Parker Kennedy Living.

Sophisticated, contemporary bedroom in shades of sumptuos pinks and ethereal blues. | The Decorating Diva, LLC

Tailored romance meets contemporary glamour in this sophisticated bedroom dressed in complementary hues of glamorous pinks and dusty blues. Bedroom design by Cathy Austin of Catherine M. Austin Interior Design.

Inviting yellow art studio at home inspires creativity. | The Decorating Diva, LLC

The artist’s retreat designed by Leslie Moore of L. Moore Designs inspires creativity to bubble to the surface. This bright, cheerful, and inviting space designed in a spectrum of welcoming yellows accented with blues is the perfect in-home art studio and artist lounge.

Modern Art Deco style kitchen design with breakfast room to side. | The Decorating Diva, LLC

Lisa Herring Mende of Lisa Mende Design masterfully blends 1920s’ inspired Art Deco patterns and style with modern kitchen innovations to create a casual, contemporary space that feels elegant and is rooted in tradition.

Glittering glamour - dressing room full of allure and charm to house your favorite fashion, jewels, art , sexy shoes and more. | The Decorating Diva, LLC

Kara Cox of Kara Cox Interiors designed a glamour-filled dressing room evoking memories of the famed dressing rooms of 1950s’ Hollywood leading ladies such as Rita Hayworth, Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardner and Sophia Loren whose spectacular and luxurious off-screen jet-setting lives rivaled their silver screen portrayals.

Casual elegance and everyday luxury characterized this peaceful retreat space at home. | The Decorating Diva, LLC

Luxe sanctuary designed by Lisa Sherry of Lisa Sherry Interieurs captivates with its embracing elegance, neutral color scheme, and cozy comfort.

Elegant contemporary gender-neutral design master bedroom with ceiling canopy bed. | The Decorating Diva, LLC

Dramatic black and white flair combine with the timeless elegance of a tailored canopy bed to form the attention-getting focal point of this master bedroom designed by Libby Langdon of Libby Interiors, Inc.