color trends: fall colors on display by kimberly reuther

How bright and beautiful are all the fall leaves? It seems like overnight the colors exploded on the trees! Equally beautiful are the furniture and accessories on display all over the city. And pretty soon, Christmas season will be upon us! Can you believe the stores are already getting decorations out to sell?

So, I went hunting for fall inspiration this week and here is what I found:

Love, love, love this chair at Niche downtown as well as the red vases. The background color of the store works so well with these deep earth tones!


You don’t have to go much further than your backyard or local farmer’s market for color inspiration. Here is a beautiful tree and my pumpkin display before I paint my designspeak logos on them.


I taught the monthly decorating class at Pottery Barn this weekend and I was enamored with these cute little acorn salad bowls. The glazing is nice and rich and the scale is adorable with everyday white dinner plates! Also, the red leaves pair so nicely with red wine which is indicative of the season as well.


energy saving tips at home by paige gilbertson

Living Room

  1. Unplug objects when not in use. Plugs continue to draw current even when not turned on; the equivalent of one 100 watt bulb burning non-stop!
  2. Opt for LCD over plasma televisions. A plasma television, even when not in use consumes as much energy as your refrigerator!
  3. Install hardwood, tile or cork floors. Carpeting traps dust, mites and mold. Carpet glue, fibers and backing can contain off-gas volatile organic compounds (vocs)
  4. If you love carpet, buy hepa filters for your vacuum cleaner, they can clean & filter up to 99% of allergens. Vacuum thoroughly and often.

Laundry Room

  1. Buy front loading washers and dryers with moisture sensors. Front loaders consume 40 gallons less of water per load than top loaders.
  2. 90% of the energy that washers use comes from heating the water. Wash clothes on cold/cold.
  3. Wait for full loads
  4. Hang dry if possible. If not, have moisture sensor dryer that can turn itself off as soon as it senses the correct moisture level.
  5. Use plant-based detergents, not petroleum-based. Plant-based detergents are non-toxic.
  6. Instead of bleach, try using a product that features oxygen or peroxide as the active agent. Bleach contaminates ground water.


  1. The toilet is the biggest water waster. If your toilet was made pre 1993, it uses 8 gallons to flush, toilets after 1993 use 1.6/flush. You can usually find the manufacturing date stamped in the porcelain inside the tank. Replace toilets with post 1993 models if possible.
  2. Plumbing leaks account for 14% of water bill. Check you fixtures thoroughly and make sure to tighten any faucets after use.
  3. Install a low-flow showerhead and save 50% of water used in the shower. Baths use much more water than showers; keep these to a minimum.


  1. Replace all incandescent bulbs with CFLs (compact fluorescent lightbulbs.) They last 10x longer and use only 25% of the energy a normal lightbulb uses. Try buying the “warm white” or “soft white” bulbs that simulate incandescent light qualities.
  2. Look for Low-VOC paints for your rooms that are plant based. These emit much less toxic gas than their regular counterpart. Most major brands now have a low-VOC option.
  3. Buy an organic mattress. Besides being easily recyclable and biodegradable, opting for an organic cotton mattress with natural latex will not off-gas VOCs.


  1. Choose a top or bottom freezer refrigerator. Side-by-sides use 20% more energy. Keep freezer temp at 0 degrees and keep refrigerator at 40 degrees for maximum efficiency.
  2. Bake dishes together in the over to save heat and time. Try not to open the oven door, it can lose up to 50 degrees of heat in a couple of seconds.
  3. Use a microwave where possible…it uses 85% less energy than a range!!
  4. If shopping for a new cooktop, opt for induction instead of gas or electric.
  5. Only run dishwasher when full and let dishes air dry.

Seal House

  1. For every degree you turn the thermostat down in the winter you are saving 3% of your gas bill, every degree warmer in the summer, same 3%.
  2. Change furnace filters monthly.
  3. Seal all ducting, wires, pipes and cracks.
  4. Close door to closets, no need to heat or cool those!
  5. 1/3 of air comes in through walls, ceilings or cracks. Add insulation to crawl space and attic. Use recycled cotton, soybean or cellulose insulators.
  6. Decrease fireplace use as much as possible.

the five senses with Barbara Barry by Kimberly Reuther

A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate to attend a presentation given by the iconic Barbara Barry. Barbara shared with us images of inspiration and explained how her visions have been realized both in exquisite residences and iconic furnishings.

As she spoke, it was evident that she embodies the theme of gracious living that she envisions for her collections. The soft-spoken, captivating demeanor she exudes is reflected in the effortlessly timeless rooms she creates.

I’ve always admired how unique and enduring her upholstery and lighting pieces are. I found it especially interesting that each member of her collection is transformed into life from a beautiful watercolor sketch.

We were all given the opportunity to meet and chat with her after the presentation. After standing in line for 20 minutes or so, I was nervous to approach such a visionary! What would I say?

Fortunately, she was very understanding and eager to learn more about my career. When I mentioned DesignSpeak, she kindly offered to answer a few questions via email. Much has been written about Barbara’s designs. I was hoping to take a more unique approach with my line of questioning. She happily obliged me and even sent photographs to accompany her answers.

“Barbara, you credited nature’s simplicity and the human form as sources of inspiration. I feel that design inspiration is also closely tied to our five senses. Please describe the first thing that comes to mind for each.”

“Sight…light! It is everything…energy personified.”

“Smell…the warm night air of Los Angeles (which I cannot wait to smell after Russia) full of jasmine and orange blossom.”

“Hearing…the waves crashing on the shore.”

“Touch…my own bed with crisply ironed sheets which I can’t wait to jump into!”

“Taste…a kumquat pulled right off my tree exploding in my mouth with vitamin C…I love California!”

Ah, what an inspirational moment in my career!
Thank you very much Barbara!

pump up the volume by Victoria Dreste

Scalamandre’ has always been known for luxurious silk fabrics. Now they have re-energized classics. These fabrics are edgy and modern. The patterns include lime green chinoiserie, zebra-printed linen and fuschia paisley. A sophisticated, exuberant mix with a great take on color.

Likewise, Knoll has always been known for commercial textiles. Recently, however, they launched a line of fabrics, known as Knoll Luxe. The fabrics are beautiful and luxurious and great for residential interiors. They of course have an added bonus of wearibility, consistent with the Knoll brand.

The latest collection by Proenza Schouler has been very well-received. If you remember, they are the phenomenal design duo who appeared on everyone’s radar when they debuted a collection at Target.

Healthy Abode: water conservation by Melanie Holden

Do you realize how easy it is to save water in your home without sacrificing the performance or design of your plumbing fixtures? A simple way to identify high performance, water conserving fixtures is with the WaterSense label. Products that have achieved this label will be at least 20% more efficient than conventional models.

Similar to the EnergyStar program, WaterSense is sponsored by the EPA to protect the future of our water supply and promote water efficiency. WaterSense qualified fixtures must be tested to verify that they not only meet the required flow rate, but also that they perform as well or better than conventional models.

So, why should we conserve water to begin with? St. Louis is located between two great rivers, and water in our area is a relatively inexpensive utility. However, a recent government survey showed that at least 36 states are anticipating local, regional, or statewide water shortages within just 4 years. Need a few more reasons?

Population growth – Water-loving Americans use an average of 100 gallons of water every day. With more and more people inhabiting our beautiful planet, hundreds more gallons are being used every day. Less than 1% of all the water on earth can be used as drinking water. To put this in relative terms, if all the water in the world were fit into a gallon jug, the fresh water available for use would equal only about 1 tablespoon!

Cost – The average household spends up to $500 / year on water and sewer bills. By making a few changes to your fixtures, each household could save approximately $170 / year.

Energy Consumption – It requires a considerable amount of energy to deliver and treat the water that we use everyday. For example, allowing your faucet to run for 5 minutes uses about as much energy as leaving a 60 watt light bulb on for 14 hours. Approximately 4% of the nation’s electricity consumption is used for moving and treating water. If 1% of the population replaced older toilets with WaterSense labeled ones, the US would save enough electricity to power over 40,000 homes for a month!

So, what kind of fixtures are WaterSense qualified? So far, just Faucets and Toilets. WaterSense is such a new program that they are still determining what the flow rate for a WaterSense Showerhead or Handshower should be – likely 2GPM (gallons per minute).

WaterSense Faucets use only 1.5GPM or less as compared to 2.75GPM for conventional faucets. If you’re not in the market for a new faucet, a simple solution would be to change your existing aerator to a low-flow aerator. This simple and inexpensive step can save up to 14,700 gallons of water every year, which equates to a 45% savings of your annual water use at each faucet! Also, repair those leaky faucets! It can save up to 140 gallons of water every week.

WaterSense and High Efficiency Toilets, use a maximum of 1.28GPF (gallons per flush) vs. conventional toilets that use 1.6GPF, or even up to 3GPF for models older 16 years. Dual Flush Toilets provide the option for a big or small flush, depending on your needs. Even if you’re not in the market for a shiny new toilet, you could place a bottle of water in your existing tank to displace some of the water, resulting in a lower GPF.

You can also check for a leaky toilet by putting food coloring in your tank. If the coloring seeps into the bowl without flushing, you have a leak. Replacing an inexpensive leaky flapper can save thousands of gallons each month.

Another way to conserve water in the home includes installing a urinal. With 1GPF, .5GPF and waterless options, it makes sense to include a urinal in a newly constructed or remodeled bathroom.

There are also low-flow showerheads and handshowers available, even though they are not yet WaterSense labeled. Provided that you have a shower valve that can handle the lower flow rate, changing out the showerheads from the conventional 2.5GPM to one with either a 1.75 or 2GPM flow rate can conserve up to 7700 gallons of water per year.

Other great water conserving ideas for the home include installing a Hot Water Dispenser or a Touchless Faucet. Hot Water Dispensers avoid the need to let the water run while waiting for it to get hot, and Touchless Faucets will only run with the faucet is in use. Another great idea for the environment includes Water Filtering Faucets, which would eliminate the need for disposable plastic bottled water.

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