Category: Home

Dress your Table for Fall!

Hello again, friends and fans of Allen!

What a relief that the weather here in Arkansas is cooling down; it’s really getting me in the Fall spirit!

Because I share Allen’s passion for entertaining, I thought I would offer some ideas for creating a Fall tablescape that is still bold and bright. No muted tones for us this Fall, we’re going festive!

This month, you can find me on the pages of Traditional Home, inviting you into MY home for a dinner fit for Fall. There are also fun tidbits–including reicpes!–over at their website recap.



(event photographer: Emily Followill)

For a special party, consider transforming your dining chairs with slipcovers that work well with your chosen decor. And this faux bois wingchair, upholstered with fabric from my upcoming Tobi Fairley Home line, strikes a rustic note without taking away from the glamour of this event design.


On this table, I drew out the green accents from my living room design and then punched it up with a gorgeous sapphire blue. Monograms are a detail I love; it gives linens a very tailored, sophisticated, Southern touch.


The place setting and invitations (from Molly’s Paperie) extend the antler motif, which also appears as a grouping of wall-hangings (see photo above).


These lovely acorns really enhance the seasonal feel!

3 Tips for Working with Color in Your Home

Interior designer Tobi Fairley is back with a guest blog post about creating a colorful home.

Hello Allen’s Readers! It’s great to be back here to share with you again today.

In my design work, color is often one of the notable or distinguishing factors. I am a fan of using color in a big way to create interiors that are bold, yet still tailored. It’s like putting a fresh spin on a classic. In my Design Camp A to Z, I also teach a section devoted entirely to color and the process of selecting and working with a room’s palette. Today I thought it would be fun to share three of my favorite tips with you. Hopefully they give you inspiration for your own interiors.

1. Use bold color in one area.

If you go bold with a wall color, tone down the accessories in the room to create a nice complement. Likewise if you have a more neutral wall color, adding bright accessories can help to give the room personality. Adding intense color in just one of these areas and allowing the other to be more neutral will keep a balance that’s pleasing to the eye.

2. Consider creating a pattern with color.

Whether it’s stripes as shown in this teen’s bedroom, a lattice motif or a simple grid, using paint to create a pattern is a classic way to bring a fresh look to any room. While stripes are certainly a trend of the times, they have a timeless appeal and can be executed in a variety of different ways (think horizontal, large-scale, even pinstripe!). Blending a painted color pattern with other fabrics in the same palette can create an inviting and timeless look.

3. Add a pop of color in an unexpected place.

The ceiling is often one of the most overlooked surfaces in a room. Yet, adding a splash of color here can enliven a room and give it a one-of-a-kind touch. Swap beige, cream and stark “ceiling white” for a color that complements the rest of your decor such as the green shown on this kitchen ceiling.

Color can add so much life to a space. I hope these tips will inspire you to use color throughout your home.

Happy Decorating!
xo, Tobi

P.S. Want to learn more about working with color? Join me for Design Camp A to Z where I teach an entire section called ‘C is for Color.’ You can learn more and register at Can’t join us for a full camp session? Purchase my ‘C is for Color’ telecall and you’ll receive an hour of tips!

Butcher Block Countertops

If you are looking for an easy update for your kitchen countertops, take a look at butcher block. It’s a classic choice, both functional and beautiful. Butcher block will fit into any style; it’s all about the wood that you select and the finish.

Butcher Block Countertop Choices

Maple – Maple is the most traditional and what I selected for the Garden Home Challenge house. It’s a popular flooring choice for high traffic areas because it’s durable. The light color is especially nice for bright kitchens.

Walnut – American walnut is a blend of dark to light brown and cream. Walnut is beautiful in both traditional and sleek, modern kitchens.

Cherry – This is a classic choice for countertops. The red and brown color deepens with age so the material just gets better looking over time.

White Oak – White oak has honey tones, open grain and interesting burls. Choose this wood for farm house chic rooms.

Butcher Block Maintenance

Butcher block is very forgiving of daily use and with minimal care it will maintain its beauty for years. Keep the wood well-oiled and dry so that your love affair with your countertops will endure.

The first thing to do is to condition the wood with food grade mineral oil. Apply a generous coat of mineral oil and allow it to soak in for about 15 minutes. Repeat the process until the wood won’t absorb any more oil. Wipe off the excess. Don’t worry about using too much oil. Avoid edible oils such as vegetable, olive or nut oils. These contain fat that will go rancid over time.

Next seal the surface with beeswax, which is safe for using around food. This will keep the oil in and block out moisture and bacteria. Spread on evenly, allow the wax to dry, and then buff with a soft cloth.

If you have brand new butcher block, you will need to oil and wax them once a month or so. It will get easier each time you do it.

For daily cleaning, sponge it off with soap and warm water. Be sure to dry afterward. You can sanitize butcher block with a weak bleach solution (1 tbsp. bleach to 1 gallon warm water) or vinegar and water followed by an application of mineral oil.

Sand away stains, scratches and imperfections with a fine grade sandpaper.

Good to Know: Lumber Liquidators

I found the butcher block used in the Garden Home Challenge house at Lumber Liquidators. Famous for their flooring, they also carry butcher block countertops. I was able to get a 1 ½”x 25″ x12 linear foot countertop for $359.00. That’s quite a savings. Check them out at


I really love to treasure hunt in antique malls and stores around Arkansas, I always seem to find something I just can’t live without… and usually for a decent price, too! I spent a day last week with my production team at Crystal Hill Antiques and Twin City Antique Mall hunting for furnishings for the new eHow House… and we found some really fun things.

I started the day with a lazy meander through all the different booths. What will I find today!

I like to bring a notebook with me to write down things that I find, their price, and what booth they’re in-
otherwise it gets kind of confusing.



It may be a little pink for my taste, but it’s a good price… and look at this hand stitching! I think quilt tops can make great wall hangings.



You can haggle almost anything, you just have to be willing to ask. Depending on the booth, you can get a lot off of the original price!


I got a little distracted from my original task when I found the china. I’ve got to get some more Old Paris Porcelain… but the old stuff or the new stuff?

I’ve been looking to fill out my Old Paris collection. I like the older, simpler stuff… but maybe I should consider the later, more elaborate designs? It was made from the 1770s to the 1870s and was actually named after a factory in the oldest part of Paris- the Vieux Paris- and shipped to the US through New Orleans.

Ok back on task- I found this quilt at a second hand store and plan on using it in a kids bedroom at the new house… but what can I pair this with?


How about these mulberry transferware plates for $30? I think they’ll look great on a wall, and I can draw other colors from the quilt for my paint choices.

We had quite the successful day- four short clips filmed and lots of fun things haggled and purchased. Hope you stop in next time to hear about our next adventure.


Say Yellow to Spring

Congratulations to Alice McMillan and Christine Czarnecki! Your comments are my picks for the book giveaway. Alice I loved all the ways your grandmother used yellow in the garden, especially the traces of yellow on the river rock. Christine, your blue and yellow toile dining rooms sounds so lovely. Hope your search for forsythia was a success!

There were so many amazing comments! Thank you to everyone for participating and for all the fab ideas for using yellow.

A recent visit with The Collected Tabletop author Kathryn Greeley inspired me to get reacquainted with my tableware collection. I’m hopelessly addicted to collecting cream ware, porcelain and transferware. An ardent collector herself, Kathryn showed me some clever ways to set a table with my pieces. With spring’s official arrival tomorrow I’m eager to use some of her tips to create a new tablescape to celebrate the season.

And since it is spring what better color to work with than yellow! Now I’ll admit, yellow isn’t the easiest color for me to work with so I went to designer Tobi Fairley for advice. She sent along this post with a few ideas for incorporating it into a tabletop.

Thanks so much to my good friend Allen for inviting me to be his guest today! Allen is always so kind to share his wisdom on my blog, and it’s such a treat to be here to share with you today!

Speaking of treats, this early summer weather has certainly brought us a few — like lush green landscapes and early blooms. Allen’s beautiful daffodils are always one of the highlights of an Arkansas spring and this year is no different.

The rolling hills of yellow have inspired me to share a few ideas for bringing this vibrant hue to a table setting indoors.
Here are a few of my favorite finds inspired by the daffodils at Moss Mountain Farm.

Aegean Dinner Plate /Yellow and White “Firenze” Fabric for a Tablecloth / White & Yellow Cake Stand /Lacquered Box / Linen Cocktail Napkins / Glass Decanter Set

Choose one of these or mix a few together to create a look that’s fresh as a daffodil!

Happy Decorating!


Interior Design Tips from the Ancient Greeks

The cottage at the Garden Home Retreat is based on the popular Greek Revival movement of the 19th century. Today we’re seeing a resurgence of the Greek Key pattern. Designer Tobi Fairley gives us a run down on Greek Revival and the Greek Key pattern.

Hello again readers of Allen’s Blog! It’s great to be back and today I thought we’d take a look at a little Greek Revival Style.

For centuries, architects and designers have been reinterpreting the wonderful architecture left to us by the ancient Greeks. Take a look around and you’ll see that so much of what surrounds us today was inspired by them.

Allen’s house at Moss Mountain Farm is a wonderful example. Although new, it typifies many of the Greek Revival design elements that swept the country in the 19th century.

Farmhouses across America had picturesque porches supported by columns. Don’t you just love this house?!?!?

Step inside Allen’s home and we find even more Greek Revival inspiration. The gorgeous trimwork inside the parlor around the doors and windows are hallmarks of the style.

Have I mentioned I love the Greek Key pattern? So much so I used it in my new line of fabrics.
Seen here in one of the octagon outbuildings at Moss Mountain Farm, my Athens fabric is a modern interpretation of the classis Greek Key motif.

My new Acropolis Collection of pillows from Tobi Fairley Home are a modern spin on classic Greek design elements.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick glimpse at Greek Revival Style. I’ll be back next month with more design inspiration!



Guest Post from Tobi Fairley

Hello readers of Allen’s Blog! I’m so thrilled to be here with my first ever guest post. Allen has been guest blogging on my blog, Tobi’s Blog, for a while now and it’s great to return the favor.

Allen has been teaching all of us about creating the “Garden Home” for many years and today I’d love to share my insights on bringing it all indoors. There are so many ways to do this when decorating your home. From fabric to floral arrangements to art, nature provides so much inspiration! Today, I thought I would focus on collections of framed prints. The photo above shows the dining room in my own home. The crewel upholstery on the dining chairs and the framed botanical prints on the wall help to establish a room filled with the beauty of nature. Let’s take a look at some of my favorite collections from a company called Soicher Marin.

Ghost Herberia in Celadon Collection

Black and White Malabar

Malaberica Details

Botanical prints are a great way to infuse a little nature into your home. A collection of prints definitely has more impact than a stand alone. Fill up a wall to bring the beauty of the outdoors into your “Garden Home”!

Happy Decorating,

The Soulfulness of an Old Chair

It’s hard for me to pass by an antique store, junk shop or flea market without at least peering in the window. You just never know what kind of treasure might be found inside.

The hunt for good pieces is certainly part of the lure of antiquing, but I don’t have to own, looking is just as good. The patina of age gives old furniture a soulfulness that I appreciate. I suppose it appeals to the history buff in me.

Aside from the unique aesthetics and beautiful craftsmanship I like to imagine the journey the piece has taken. Who sat in the Windsor chair or slept in the tester bed? How did a corner cabinet make it from France to a small store in Texas? Imagine the stories a 300 year old dining table could tell?

When it comes to using antiques in my home I select a few stand out pieces to combine with contemporary furniture. Sort of like functional art. The juxtaposition of color, texture and form creates a compelling composition.

I also like to bring antique garden ornaments indoors to use as focal points or as an element of surprise. They are often over scaled, which creates drama.

Speaking of dramatic antiques, I recently attended what I’d call the grandest antique show I’ve seen in some time. The Masterpiece London Antique Fair was held on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea this past June and boy what display. Most of what was offered was English and Continental furniture, art and decorative arts. Not the best place for me to make many purchases because most of what I collect is American, but it was joy to look around!

I was immediately impressed with the tent that housed the event. It was enormous and disguised to match the surrounding buildings. I wish I could do that for some of the events at the farm.

I also enjoyed browsing through book dealers’ booths. The collections of gardening books were amazing.

I was most taken with the edgy floral displays, which were quite the contrast to the traditional piece of furniture and art. It was interesting to see contemporary accenting antique, which is the reverse of what I do in my home.

The is the exterior of the tent disguished as a brick building.


Gotta Love a Beautiful Lamp

One of my favorite lighting designers in Christopher Spitzmiller. Last year he visited the Moss Mountain Farm Garden Home and we taped an interview with him about his fabulous lamps. I adore the goose neck gourd lamps, but then I am a sucker for gourds. The handmade bases come in richly hued glazes so bewitching I want one in every room.

Right now Christopher is offering a sale on seconds from his collection. These are lamps with slight imperfections in the ceramic form. The sale ends next Wednesday July 20 so email or call to find out what’s available ASAP.