November 21, 2013

Inside my (whirlwind) Week

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I have to admit – I  kind of feel like I’m cheating because our lifestyle here is so easy. No siting in rush hour traffic, no clearing ice off the windshield, or freezing our butts off in the morning driving Luke to school. Instead we play a game of ping pong in the sun, before going two blocks to the school bus. Then I work from a studio in the backyard and I never even have to wear socks!

Yeah, cheating.

But last week had me back to “reality” (?) with a whirlwind job trip back to the east coast.

All images via JILLSORENSEN@INSTAGRAM.COM. (Yes got my name back!)

It was the first trip I took on a plane without Luke since his dad passed away, so it was very emotional and a lot of worrying on my part.

So I was incredibly relieved to land safely in a cold New York. And feeling like I finally got over my fear. Life goes on.

All will be well.

NYC was chilly, beautiful and filled with snow flurries.

Uber talented photographer Tanya Malott came in to shoot a project I designed in NYC.

Can’t wait to see the pictures and to share.

Love how this apartment turned out!

Sneak peek at the twin boy’s bedroom.

After that it was on to DC for more shoots and a big event.

It was a real treat to sleep in one of the rooms I helped design for a friend/client…

The brown fabric upholstered wall with nail heads made it like the perfect sleeping cocoon!! think I slept 12 hours straight!

Georgetown was in it’s glory…


I shot more projects I designed in Virginia….another tiny sneak peek…

Still so many left to shoot!

The charity I started with my friend Cheryl Masri Knock Out Abuse had it’s 20th anniversary. Hard to believe it’s been that long. We started this before charities were cool and before the internet and cellphones!

Eric Benet came in and sang and was a great sport with room chock full of celebrating women.

Our event made it to the cover of the Washington Post the next day. From 20 women in a room, to the biggest women only event in DC still super popular.

I feel grateful.

So many great women working hard to support victims of domestic violence.

A quick stay at Tabard Inn old Washington at it’s best, enjoying dinner with friends was a treat.

It felt like “real” life again.

But there was something really magical about flying in at night over a lit up LA. Just kind of have to pinch myself that we live here now. All the way on the other side of the country. But like my friend Barb said, you feel like you get to live two lives when you get to start over like this.

Don’t you just love the modern world we live in?

I’m back…biking to work out in the park. Trying to stay committed to my health and fitness and peace of mind.

In the midst of re-branding my company and enjoying a moment to breathe.

Hope you had a great week!

November 14, 2013

Today is the Day.

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Today marks 20 years since my friend Cheryl and I started a charity called KNOCK OUT ABUSE AGAINST WOMEN. An organization that raises money for victims of domestic violence. What began with 20 women in a room raising money off some people in a restaurant, is now a staple event in DC with over 800 women, that at the end of the night grows to 2000 people.

Thank You to all the people who have supported it over the years way before charities were “cool”.  If you want to read more about it you can go over to our website . It has some vital information that EVERY woman should know.

And thanks to Cheryl my charity partner and co-founder and Gina our chairwoman who worked hard to make this event happen.

It’s going to be a great Gatsby night!


November 9, 2012

The extraordinary world of event design!

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Event design. It blows my mind.

In one night alone an event designer turns a hotel room in to a whole new experience. Those of you who are new to reading this blog, my other passion is helping victims of domestic violence. 19 years ago I co-founded with my friend Cheryl Masri Knock Out Abuse Against Women and we hold an annual event that raises $ 600,000 in one night to local area shelters. It’s become the most popular girls night out event in DC. And this could not happen without our super talented event designer- Andre Wells. As an interior designer you think you have a lot of work to do to finish a home in a few months, and even spending a year designing your home you can feel stressed out. Just imagine the pressure when you have one day to make a giant ball room look like the Moulin Rouge…

Talk about pressure!

Andre makes sure every single details purveys the feeling of the theme.  And he does such an amazing job!

The result was stunning! Black walls, and amazing arrangements.

And my favorite part…

Moulin Rouge inspired dancers from SAX’s restaurant and lounge in DC.

Image via events by Andre Wells

Andre and his team have a couple of months to plan it out. However they plan and design an event almost every single night of the year!!

The day of the event, things start to arrive. Hundreds of people are scurrying about making it happen.

Items get built my local talented people and then installed.

In a matter of hours you feel like you are at the Moulin Rouge.

Walking in to a ballroom like this, it’s really hard to not get swept up in the moment which is the whole point of event design. To make everyone forget about their lives for a night and enjoy the moment!

And of course the nothing was complete without the male models who added to the decor!!  I know…it’s reversed sexism at it’s best. A group of nice men donate their time to escort the women in to the room, and another group are models are dressed to suit the theme.

Andre Wells and Cheryl Masri.

Amazing Andrea Roane from Channel 9 hosted again. This year perhaps because everyone had been cooped up with hurricane Sandy without power the room was rowdier than perhaps ever….

Every detail was amazing.

This is Cheryl and me addressing the super loud crowd!

Our lovely speaker Carre’ Otis came to share her story with domestic violence. I’m reading her book right now, Beauty Disrupted, highly recommend it. It’s a riveting read. Things in people’s lives are not always what they seem.

Anyway thanks for letting me share this.

Have a great weekend!

November 8, 2011

Close to my heart….

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This week is special for me since our annual Knock Out event is this Thursday.

18 years ago(!) this week my friend Cheryl Masri and I had a strong desire to do something to help women. At the time I had two friends who found themselves in severely abusive relationships.  One friend was thrown out of a car after being beaten so hard her husband broke his arm beating her, another one was locked in a closet after being beaten with a chair.  They were stories of violence I never thought imaginable. So Cheryl and I set out on a quest to rally women to help fund shelters for victims of domestic violence, women with no place to go when their lives were in danger. We wanted create an organization that gave women a place to join together in support of other women.

18 years later it’s a thriving non profit organization, and I’m so grateful to all the women and corporations who lend their support year after year. You are truly angels!!! Now (if you haven’t stopped reading yet because this is not about design…sorry) I want to share why we do this, and why LiveLikeYou donates 5% of all sales from GLAMOUR GIRL to Knock Out.

Here are some disturbing facts about domestic violence…

4 women a day are murdered in this country by their husband or boyfriend

1/3 of all emergency room visit by women are due to intimate partner violence

The number # 1 killer of an unborn child is the father of the child

Crazy statistics like this makes it impossible not to continue to donate time and effort.

Artist Shepard Fairey kindly donated this art as our new logo last year.

Every year we ask an amazing woman to be our chairwoman for our big event.

Cheryl, Jaci and me.

This year’s chair is the wonderful Jaci Reid who has worked tirelessly for the cause.  Three years ago she suffered a stroke, lied passed out for two days in her apartment, before someone found her. She was given a 3% chance of survival and was paralyzed and unable to speak.  With her incredible efforts, hard work and determination she is back to normal and enjoying her life. She has taken that incredible spirit and given it to Knock Out for the last few months.

Thank you JACI!!

This is a LiveLikeYou ad in the program on Thursday….it never hurts to be glamorous while supporting a cause….

5% of sales of all the Hollywood regency style items in the personality GLAMOUR GIRL on LiveLikeYou will be donated to Knock Out.

GLAMOUR GIRL ENTRY – (Erica Eriksdotter)

Here are just a few of the GLAM items that we donate 5% of sales from to Knock Out.





Thank You for letting me share about this. The event goes off this Thursday and I have a house filled with girlfriends who are flying in from all over the country to stay with us.

Anyone in the DC area…. maybe I’ll see you there?

November 18, 2010

Another year another Knock Out

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It’s been a CRAZY BUSY week. Knock Out Abuse finally wrapped. Last Thursday was another sold out event at The Ritz Carlton in DC. 750 women came, as always in great spirits, to support women and children who are victims of domestic violence. Every year I dread the work that goes in to it, yet every year we have a blast, and I’m so happy we pull it off and are able to raise close to half a million dollars in one night.  I’m not posting all the party pictures…instead I want to share some images of the style of the event, which had a retro vibe RED/Mad Men vibe this year. Andre Wells our genius event designer, is always in charge of creating the dreamy atmosphere.

Phil Dixon at Aspect Media and his team designed all the Knock Out video graphics inspired by Mad Men. I love this one!

The evening’s honore was Agnes Nixon founder of All my children. She is truly an inspiration to women anywhere. The key note speaker was Leslie Morgan Steiner author of “Crazy Love”. If you haven’t read her book about her marriage gone bad-pick it up. Read it, and you’ll want to give it to your girl friends and your daughters.

Andre draped the whole room in red with peacock feathers in some center pieces.

The tables were red, the glasses were red…everything was red or zebra. Our new Knock Out Abuse logo that went on the cover of our programs, was designed by famous (Obama) artist Shepard Fairey which our great event chairwoman Sarah Guinan Nixon got him to do for us.

Part of the ball room before the women arrived.

The screens for the video were zebra print, unfortunately you can’t see that on this image.

There were zebra sofas and cocktail tables for the after party.

Beautiful peacock feather arrangements framed the stage.

All the images above are by photographer Davide De Pas.

At the end of the night there is a great Live Auction where you can bid on one of a kind experiences and items for women. Lauren Hutton came and auctioned off makeovers for 8 women. You could also get a tour by Susan Lucci on All my children and a have character named after you, a dream trip to Ireland, be a reporter on Comcast all day….

This image and next: Jodie Fisher

A popular item was bidding to have dinner with Redskin Player Clinton Portis. You could also bid on the fancy watch my dear friend Barb “modeled” for the night.

I KNOW THIS BLOG IS ABOUT DESIGN SO FORGIVE ME…..but I can’t resist to share this….

The last item you could bid on was to have a catered dinner at a DC firehouse with all the firemen!!  This item was a crowd pleaser…Particularly as they started taking their shirts off to get the women to raise their bids!  It always cracks me up to see hundreds of women laughing and howling!!

Hey it’s for a good cause right??


Thank You So much Holly Thomas for the article on Marmalade Interiors in the Washington Post! I was very happy to share some do-at-home design tips. You can read it online here.

September 8, 2010

Saving lives

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I hope you all had a restful weekend! My last weekend of the summer was very busy and deeply moving. Besides design, my other passion is helping people, in particular women and children. So when my friend, producer Lori asked if they could shoot her new passion project, a documentary about women and alcoholism at my house, I was more than happy to say yes. Her film “Lipstick and Liquor” is look at the secret world of women alcoholics. It was inspired by one woman’s haunting struggle with the disease. Julie went missing when she stumbled away from a car crash in the dead of winter. Thirteen days later her body was found three hundred yards from the scene.

Sadly alcoholism is on a meteoric rise among women in this country. I love when people decide to do something to help others!! Lori’s film will go to every treatment center in America, and be an aid and inspiration to women everywhere to become sober.

There was lots of activity, with camera cords being pulled all over the place. The dogs where a bit perplexed…

This is Lori in my kitchen. We had to move furniture and items around to accommodate the set up.

I was so happy that my friend Jodie Fisher, who’ve spent 20 year helping women become sober with great success, was her interview subject.

It’s hard to tell from this picture…but listening to Jodie share her story, we were all crying our eyes out. Jodie’s sister was murdered when she was 21 years old by an alcoholic boyfriend, and her life would have been saved had her sister not been drunk. Jodie’s own battle with alcoholism is heartbreaking, and her fight to overcome it a success story, which is rare and incredibly inspiring! I was grateful to get to listen, and to better understand the self imposed prison of alcoholism. Hearing women like this share their stories and lend a helping hand hopefully can save another woman’s life.

Duane, (Lori’s husband and also a filmmaker) and Lori set up the shot.

The living room is the only room in the house that is getting a complete makeover, so I was not too excited about them choosing to shoot in there….but oh well, this was not about design!!!

The best part of the day was when Luke got to try to be a camera man….

He was really excited when Duane showed him how to do it….

..and didn’t know he actually let him film a scene for the documentary.

Luke is definitely a film maker in the making. He has written over 100 books and scripts and is already “story boarding” on my Iphone. So this was BIG! Dan and I got to sit in.

Even the weather cooperated. 80 degrees and almost no humidity in Virginia is unheard of!! Whether this was the end of summer of beginning of fall I’m not sure…but it was perfect.

I’m sure Lori’s film will be a smash hit. I can’t wait for people to hear these amazing stories.

I think at the end of the day, there is nothing cooler than helping another human being. After all perhaps that’s why people seek out to work in design? Don’t you think?

May 21, 2010

IT'S DONE!! Shelter – Before/After

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So thrilled to share with you the BEFORE/AFTER pictures of the shelter redesign!  This morning all the designers and bloggers involved are linking up their blogs so you can surf around and view all the rooms Before/After in the shelter.   You won’t want to miss it!!  I’m hoping by sharing all this it might inspire other designers and people to do the same!!

One of my favorite things about design is the ability to make people happy, and also be able to change someone’s life.  Donating my time and seeing all the amazing designers, handymen, and volunteers generously give their talent and time to help women and children who’ve suffered abuse makes me feel so positive about the world!   I will sleep better tonight knowing women and children who’ve suffered horrible abuse have a nice, inviting, cheerful place to stay while they heal.

Listen to what KATHY, the shelter director says about their new surroundings!


With Knock Out Abuse we have a program called Sharing Spaces, which helps shelters fix up their spaces with an all volunteer effort. I went out to one of my favorite beneficiary shelters, to see if they needed help. I knew a lot of the shelters were struggling in the economic crisis, and no money ever gets allocated to interiors.  Here is what I saw….



I wrote about it on the blog and asked Jennifer Sergent at DC by Design to do the same. She rallied several talented local designers. Within days we heard from many designers who were excited to step in and take on a room each to redesign. In fact we had more designers than we had rooms!!!


We met at the shelter, made a plan and assigned space.  It was great meeting everyone, and the weird part of it was…They were thanking me to be able to do this!!  HOW NICE!


Since the budget was zero we had to rely on donations from kind people and the shelter’s second hand store. Most designers went out of their way to donate their own pieces and somehow miraculously like always when something is meant to be, it all just fell in to place.   Here are some pieces Danielle and I found to use in our room.


Jose was an angel and donated lots of time to help the shelter.  Here we gave the pieces a cheerful update.

We took lamps we bought for  a couple of bucks and spray painted them turquoise.  To turn them in to…

…something like this.  The lamp shade we found in the shelter some where but it worked perfectly.

A side table like this and an ugly lamp base, was turned in to…

…a bedside set like this!

The head board looked sweet with the bedding Bliss Living donated. The chairs with their fresh coat of paint got upholstered in yellow.  (Great upholstery job Danielle!)

This depressing corner turned in to…

This cheerful view. ( Sorry this chest we had not completely finished painting when I took the picture)

I will sleep better at night knowing the woman and her three children staying here now will come home to a happy space!   (Thank You Jennifer for painting the bed!)

To view the rest of the rooms you’ll have to visit all the other blogs.  But I’m going to share with you a teaser of Hardwood Artisan’s make over, because they took on the worst bedroom in the entire shelter.

This is what one corner looked like before…

This is how a little boy or a girl will sleep now! Doesn’t that feel good? The mom cried when she came in to the room!!

Surf around and catch all the rooms going from DRAB to FAB!!  If they’re not posted yet, they will be today. Rebecca and Lauren’s living space is BEAUTIFUL, Denise’s playroom makeover a JOY, Raji’s living  room a CHIC haven.

Rebecca at Acanthus & Acorn

Jennifer Sergent at DC byDesign

Lauren at Pure Style Home

Hardwood Artisans

Raji at Design Dossier

Dream Design Live

THANK YOU all Designers, Jennifer, handymen, Jose, Ellen, Kathy!!!!!

May 14, 2010


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FLYING BY THE SEAT OF YOUR PANTS!!! That’s the best way I can describe my day today.  Spent the day with the group of amazing and talented designers who are turning the domestic violence shelter in to a place, most people would dream of!!   Relying solely on donations from second hand stores, generous people (we love you!) and from the designers themselves, the design would have to “go with the flow” or for my part I was “flying but the seat of  my pants”.   Danielle and I changed our design scheme on a dime when BLISS LIVING donated  beautiful bedding.  Here is a sneak peak from a busy day when a new look might have been coined….SHELTER CHIC!   Before/After photos to come very soon.


Kathy Chassinger shelter director, talented Lauren Liess from Pure Style Home and wonder woman Jennifer Sergent from DC by Design in full speed in the room also designed by Rebecca from Acanthus & Acorn.  I had to leave before it was finished to be the parent reader at Luke’s school  ( I made it flying down in hand but right on the dot. Phew!)   But I hear this bedroom turned out AMAZING!!


Denise Willard in progress of turning the downstairs kid’s space in to a haven for kids. Yellow vinyl seating to work with the bold green wainscoting that existed.  Can’t wait to see how nice it will be.  the ladies working on this were another whirlwind of talent. SO HAPPY FOR THE LITTLE KIDS WHO WILL COME HERE!!


Everyone from Hardwood Artisans hard at work changing the worst looking bedroom in the shelter in to a fantastic mint green haven with fun built ins for a family of five.  They even built a hidden play area for kids in an empty wall space.  Can’t wait to show you next week what it looks like!!


Super talented Raji took on this big living room.  This is the space where all shelter meetings take place.  It will be a living room I could only wish to have.


Lauren and Rebecca also are doing the foyer.   Just giving you a peak of the fun things they’ve put together.  How CHIC!!!


Jose donated his time painting furniture for Danielle’s and my room.   We lost the dresser we had picked out, but found this in the foyer.  Not kidding. As I said I earlier I really meant “flying by the seat of your pants”!!  So we still have some painting to do.  We also lost the carpet, it accidentally got sold in the shelters second hand store. So we’re back in the hunt for a carpet. Got one?


Danielle is testing out the gorgeous bedding from Bliss that was donated for the three beds in the room.


Just a reminder that this is how our bedroom looked, and with a “little (or a LOT)  help from your friends”–a LOT of paint, a lot of goodwill, generosity of spirit…

lamp occhest IMG_0367


…you can really make a difference!   This entire shelter will be  “Bliss” fully improved.  Will show you all the Before and Afters next week.

It’s Friday afternoon-Yeah!   I’m going to S-L-E-E-P this weekend!!

Have a great one!

February 26, 2010

Gimme Shelter!

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I was going to wait and post this on Monday, but was so inspired by Jennifer Sergent at DCbyDesign, swift call to action when I asked her to help, that I’m posting this today instead. Turquoise can wait, this can’t!

Fifteen years ago together with my good friend Cheryl Masri we founded Knock Out Abuse Against Women in DC, a not for profit organization raising funds and awareness for victims of domestic violence.  Learning that the number one reason for emergency room visits by women in the US are due to domestic violence, 1 in 3 women will be abused in their life time, and 4 women a day in the US alone are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends, we just had to do something!  The thought of children having to grow up living in fear breaks my heart.  And I can only imagine a mother’s desperate anguish not being able to shield her children from such cruelty.  Domestic violence is violence of the worst kind.  It takes place in your own home (that should be a sanctuary)  and it’s perpetrated by someone you love.

I’ve spoken to many victims over the years, and done many mini documentaries for our charity event.  The violence these women and children are exposed to is of the extreme sort, and is possibly happening right now, right down your street.  When it comes to domestic violence neither race, social status, education or age matter.  It can happen to anybody.

At Knock Out we have a program called “Sharing Spaces”, where we encourage people to donate what they no longer need, and use it to redesign a shelter.  Working in design, I want to commit, at least once or twice a year, to redesigning a shelter. It’s amazing how, what can feel like a little effort to you (like getting rid of a piece of furniture), can make a HUGE impact in the life of someone else!

Danielle and I went to one of the shelters last week to see what needed to be done. The women who run these places are truly angels. They do an incredible job helping the women and children heal their wounds and get them back on their feet.  All the funds go to much needed programs, and sadly not much is left to the interiors. They have to rely on the kindness of strangers.

They gave me permission to post these images I took on my blog, as I’m going to post the progress here.  When you’re life is in a state of chaos, I think no woman and child should have to live like this.  Sadly this is reality for many shelters.





Are you up for helping?

Here’s how you can.  Most urgently right now they need furniture. Vastu furniture DC has already kindly agreed to donate some pieces, and so have other people and stores.  Are you a painter, upholsterer, carpenter, contractor, designer and want to help out? You can e-mail us at or contact Ellen Blankenstein at Knock Out Abuse (202)725-5604.   They need EVERYTHING!  But for now, we’re starting with two bedrooms.  Here is the immediate  wish list.

  1. 2 Bunk beds with trundle
  2. Single bed frame and headboard
  3. Tall large dresser ~ 3.5 ft.wide (tv above)
  4. Wide dresser ~ 5 ft. wide
  5. Carpet 8 x 10
  6. 3 Nightstands
  7. Lamps
  8. 4 x 3 bathroom mat (bathroom color mint green)
  9. Bathroom needs new vanity
  10. 4 Single bedding sheets sets (duvet/sheets/pillow case) – this is a continuous need
  11. Chairs of any kind

I would feel much better if I knew the kids were sleeping in places that looked like this.  Wouldn’t you?

photo for shelter

Photo for shleter ss_101309162

And the women could sleep in cheerful rooms like these below.  Maybe we can’t get all the way there, but at least we can aim for it…




Thank You to Ada-Marie for posting the super nice article on my beloved summer house on her fun blog! If you want to check it out