Black Doors…




‘High Gloss Black Doors add a note of luxury to your home…’ Heather Bates, Allied ASID

 When the renovations began on Camellia’s Cottage in 2012,  a neutral color scheme of French gray, shades of white and linen was chosen, punctuated by Black Doors inside and out.  The house is an older home, built in the 1980’s- it didn’t have high ceilings or fine molding. The floors were pine but not fine flooring, they had already been painted black with Behr™ Porch and Floor paint and covered with sisal rugs. When the black floors began to get scuffed and look old, I loved them more. The plan was to open up the entire downstairs to make the small cottage feel spacious and let in lots of natural light.  The Chinese have long associated color with certain physical attributes- neutral colors seem to create stability, inner balance, health and nourishment- these are the colors of the Earth. Black is also neutral, but Asian design has always associated Black with abundance, mystery, sophistication and even wealth. Black doors are timeless, so far- black doors have been in vogue a long time, many historic buildings and humble homes have used black doors. The odd thing about black doors is they are both reserved and fashionable at the same time, often paired with black shutters and white exteriors._DSC0264_NEF

 Virginia based designer Heather Bates agrees- ‘…black doors add a note of luxury to your home. The wealthy have known this for a long time.’ Coco Chanel used her favorite colors shades of beige, white and black, in her clothing and in her apartment. Iconic Chanel™ shops still use black doors and white exteriors.

chanel-687460_640Camellia’s Cottage cannot aspire to the high level of Chanel™ in this humble dwelling, however we could use some of her sensibility even in our own scheme. The look is crisp and clean, the neutrals add warmth and calm. Let me show you some of what we did:


A crisp white bathroom, with marble tile floors is elevated with a black door, the handrails and stair treads were painted black, to make the ceilings appear higher – white trim was run up to the ceilings to mimic transoms, French doors were painted black- they allow light to stream in but aren’t oppressive, and a guest bath had a small window installed between studs inside to let in light. Black door adds sophistication to an otherwise small and plain opening. We had to replace the front door- it had been black for years but this time we added a new door knocker from Pottery Barn®, a nickel plated kickplate and hardware to set off the front porch which is painted gray- flanked by two matte black urns.

*Please have your door installed by a professional! Your local building supply company usually offers installation services. Home Depot® sold us the door, charged a minimal amount for installer, who discovered a few issues we needed to address so the installation would be done right. Because the oil paint our painter suggested was not extremely high gloss we added a clear top coat of polyurethane. Now after all of this serious decorating advice- let me just say, I love our black doors, they are wonderful to dress up this not very fine house and a bonus- black doors disguise fingerprints! However, black doors might not work in every home- or even have the desired effect you want for your home. Now, I have to add a little bit of Alabama before I let you get back to what you were doing…I was honored to work for several years for Leaf and Petal at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens- the head gardener told me he was going to discard the cotton grown in the George Washington Carver Garden- I asked and he delivered the load of cotton to my car. I hauled it home and made a big wreath from my husband’s muscadine vines which is adorned with this very special Alabama Cotton! I hung it today…image

Now, ain’t that purdy? Thanks for stopping by Camellia’s Cottage. Please  visit my talented friend, Heather Bates at her beautiful design (I know she could have made our space even better!). If you’re down this way- visit the beautiful Birmingham Botanical Gardens and Leaf and Petal (also at their website- I hope we’ve inspired you, I know you’re getting your Front Door ready for the holidays and even for tiny trick or treaters like I am- tell me some your inspiration, too! From our nest to yours-image

Love y’all, Camellia

All images are mine- except the old home, which was photographed by Jeremy Miniard, who is always so generous with his photographs for us, see his work at http://www.jeremy.miniard.fineartofamerica !The AOL image of  the Chanel Building may be subject to copyright.


loud print vintage dress


It occurred to me recently that if you are not from the South, you might not understand how we talk. Words that normally have just one clear meaning for other regions- may be couched in southern code- like loud. With that one exception of our yelling at SEC football games…we teach our children to speak kindly, softly and as quiet as possible. Even if you’re driving home an important point, use non-offensive language- please.

My favorite example, when I am challenged on this point- is my friend Linda. For years, Linda was the Director of a sizeable rambunctious group of kindergarteners… when she wanted to get the attention of one, a few or the whole bunch of wild Indians; Linda would lower her voice to a whisper instead of getting louder! So, yes- Southerners use the word ‘loud’ just like the rest of the country. But there is loud like talk radio- and there is loud like a printed dress and again there is loud- like perfume-here’s how we respond:

  • Loud Talk-‘Well, bless his heart, do you think he’s deaf or does he just talk loud because he’s coarse and common, or doesn’t know better?’
  • ‘Turn that music down, it’s so loud I can’t hear myself think!’
  • If we really want to get sinister, we say- ‘You’d better quieten down, you’re talkin’ loud enough to raise the dead!’
  • Loud Style-‘Now why in the world would her momma let her go out in that loud print? As pale as she is, she just can’t stand up to it- in fact, I’m not sure I know anybody who could wear loud prints effectively.’
  •  ‘That necktie the preacher had on was so loud, you couldn’t hear a blessed word he was sayin’. Bless his heart, his wife should’ve known better than to let him go shopping by himself.’
  • ‘The black dress was fine but those hot pink earbobs and matching high heels, well, it was a cryin’ shame- it was so loud it ruined the whole look. And the nerve…the nerve of her wearing her grandmother’s pearls with that outfit! Mattie Rae would roll over in her grave, if she could see it’. *The scarier version is ‘Mattie Rae’s is twirling in her grave!
  • Loud Odors- ‘Well, I guess we’ll know for a week that she cooked collards! The smell is so loud, somebody needs to crack the windows and doors open-now.’
  • ‘Now why, would anybody order those loud oriental lilies for a funeral blanket? By the time, the funeral parlor’s shut up all night, smellin’ up to high heavens. For a solemn occasion it’s roses, those lilies are so loud they just ruin the whole effect.’
  • ‘Honestly, we couldn’t taste the food for those loud cinnamon red hot candles she had burning, right smack dab in the middle of the table!’
  •  ‘If she keeps wearing that loud perfume, she’ll be sending the wrong signals- only a gardenia bush full of blooms or a streetwalker smells that loud.’ collage of fragrances

Since fragrance is one of my specialities- Let me help you out a little bit here… I worked for some of the finest fragrance companies in the world, Oscar de la Renta, Chanel, L’air du Temps, Bvlgari,Tiffany, YSL and more…  I worked for European fragrance lines, which still use real flowers and essential oils for the basis of their perfumes. Americans engineer synthetic fragrances so well you can barely tell the difference except for how it reacts on human skin.  Since I reeked of fragrance by the time I came home from work- I developed sensitivities to fragrance and hardly ever wear it except on special occasions, which I have come to believe is the appropriate use of perfume. Women no longer ‘layer’ their fragrance and shouldn’t…with powder, lotion and spray. Here is what most women want to know…how do I know which fragrance is right for me? First, my responses will be for European fragrances, the rules are unclear on synthetics.

  • First when choosing a fragrance you must understand that your nose cannot process more than 3 fragrances at a time. You can clear the nose by deeply sniffing coffee beans.
  • The best and most effective way to choose European fragrances is by your skin tone.
  • The rule is: the darker the skintone- the darker the color of the fragrance (in the bottle) you will be able to wear, without it getting too ‘loud‘.
  •  If you are very fair skinned and get ‘pink’ in the sun- go for a fragrance that is almost clear in the bottle. If you really love a fragrance that is darker than clear…do not buy perfume or parfum
  • For a lighter version of a fragrance you love, buy the eau de toilette or the even lighter cologne, each one has a descending amount of the actual perfume in it.
  • For an even lighter fragrance consider body crème, lotion or even soap.
  • The best perfumes have a top note, a middle note, this is the heart of the perfume and a base note– which has the most irritants in it.
  •  A perfume that smells good in the bottle reacts with the skin’s natural oils and will definitely smell different as body heat distributes the fragrance and causes the fragrance to bloom– or get ‘loud‘.
  • Buy the smallest version of fragrance available- European fragrances are perishable.
  • Store your fragrance in a dark cool place to extend the oils and the shelf life.
  • Speaking of shelf life- as you age, your skin is more delicate and thins out- you may need to adjust the strength of your fragrance or even consider a change. This is also true at various life stages – expectant mothers or change of life etc…
  • Know what you are allergic to! If you have seasonal allergies in the spring- florals may set you off, if you are allergic to live Christmas trees- fragrances with cedar, pine, bark or wood resins may not be for you, the same is true if you have allergies in the autumn- scents with patchouli (moss) or various leaves which we associate with fungus. Citrus scents are the least allergen producing. Allergens will usually be found in the base notes and will be listed on the box.
  • And if you cannot wear fragrance at all? One of my all time favorite scents is Jergen’s Lotion!  Just for heaven’s sake…don’t go cheap and don’t get loud!

Love y’all, Camellia

P.S. I met Oscar de la Renta once, he told me he loved Southern women because they are not afraid to be feminine! Gotta love a man like that! He walked around his mother’s garden in Santa Domingo and picked a bouquet of flowers and herbs – which became the classic Oscar de la Renta fragrance!