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Kelley Proxmire and Leah Moss share high-low design tips at Apartment Therapy’s Design Evening | Arts & Culture

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Kelley Proxmire and Leah Moss share high-low design tips at Apartment Therapy’s Design Evening
Kelley Proxmire and Leah Moss share high-low design tips at Apartment Therapy’s Design Evening

Shop owners Jill Martin and Judith Carrig also participated in this monthly gathering of design enthusiasts. Bonus: Proxmire and Moss suggest time and money saving holiday design tips below.

Can you see potential beauty in a worn out chair or armoire? Or envision a bed sheet as the ideal window treatment? Design experts Kelley Proxmire of Kelley Interior Design, http://www.kelleyinteriordesign.com, Leah Moss of Moss Eclectic, http://www.mosseclectic.com, Judith Carrig of Capital Consignment, http://www.capitalconsignment.net, and Jill Martin of Gallery St. Elmo, http://www.gallerystelmo.com, joined moderator Desire Green of Sukio Design Co. to discuss the highs and lows of interior design at a recent Apartment Therapy Design Evening, http://www.apartmenttherapy.com.

Held at The Dunes in Columbia Heights, the designers and shop owners discussed ways to get great looks for your home for less. While the wave of design shows makes designing intriguing spaces look easier than it is, the reality of designing for less takes a keen eye and the ability to find beauty in discarded items as well as the willingness to spend time and money repurposing the pieces.

Proxmire, an interior designer for 20 years who has participated in 20 show houses over the last 10 years, peruses antique shops, flea markets and auctions almost weekly looking for the next great find, such as a David Iatesta chair she purchased for a tenth of its retail value or an armoire that she reinvented with a turquoise interior. Proxmire, known for her tailored traditional interiors infused with color, suggests finding items that can be reupholstered, refinished or refreshed to complement a room. Her favorite pastime is finding furnishings with good lines that can be repurposed either for a client’s home or to use when she stages high-end homes that are on the market for sale. She’s currently designing an Alexandria, Va. home, previously owned by George W. Bush’s brother Marvin, for its new owners and has a couple of her designs in the new Celerie Kemble book “Black and White (and a Bit in Between).”

Moss, a blogger, designer and do-it-yourselfer, says she often finds the unexpected, such as bed sheets she reinvents as draperies, for the eclectic looks she’s known for. A recent project, designing the interior of the chocolate shop Fleurir Hand Grown Chocolates in DC, took her to salvage yards, barn sales and the hardware store. Working closely with the owners Robert Ludlow and Ashley Hubbard, the shop not only includes hand grown chocolates but also lots of do-it-yourself projects and hand made accents. Moss also blogs for Apartment Therapy and was recently part of a panel for The Washington Post’s Fashion Washington anniversary celebration with Mitchell Gold and HGTV’s Robert & Cortney Novogratz.

Carrig, owner of Capital Consignment in Bethesda, Md. has seen many of her clients, from those in their 30s and 40s to those over 60, leaning toward a more modern look for their homes. Mid-century modern is popular right now; ornate is out. She suggests purchasing what you love, what speaks to you and not worrying if it blends perfectly with other items in your home. You can make any item work in any space, such as her own home where Carrig mixes design styles and pieces she loves.

Martin, who recently purchased Gallery St. Elmo also in Bethesda, consigns furniture of all types at her shop, but also knows what will and won’t sell in the area. A recent customer from Texas wanted to consign a Texas-sized table and chairs but Martin knew it wouldn’t sell in this region. She’s also looking forward to the annual vintage jewelry sale that has been a tradition at Gallery St. Elmo.

Proxmire and Moss also offer quick tips for holiday festivities:

Proxmire’s first easy holiday design idea: "To get the look for less, use lots of candles: candles in votives, candlesticks that do not match grouped together and placed on pretty trays for display, or large pillar candles placed in glass hurricane lamps or on either side of mantle/table or grouped together in the middle. If time allows, put fresh greens around these candles/candleholders.”

Proxmire’s second idea: “If you have any ‘good’ china, candlesticks, dishes, silverware, cloth napkins, etc. that you only use for special occasions, bring them out and use them for the entire holiday season.”

Moss says: “Look to nature (bare branches can be interesting centerpieces when they're spray-painted or clustered) and recycled paper like brown paper shopping bags and newsprint (both make the sweetest wrapping, ornaments, banners, and even wreaths) and then add just the littlest bit of sparkle with gold and silvers and lots of candles (everything looks more festive under a glow!).