Lesson Notebook: How to choose the correct drapery rod – Palos Park Townhome window treatments

Happy Friday! (excuse the awful photos, I only take photos usually for my clients’ folders to keep as reference and I don’t usually think “I’m going to use this one day”) Anyway, I’m back at Kathy’s and Dan’s townhome again this year. They’re a terribly nice couple and they’ve been some of my favorite local clients that I’ve had the privilege to work with.

window treatments, palos heights, Chesterfield, Roseland Draperies,

One of the finishing touches we’ve been meaning to get to (after all the furniture shopping!) is decorating the window in the living room. The shoji screen window treatments that were in the home when they moved in were just not working for my clients 😉 Designing a new home from top to bottom is not like on T.V., it takes time and there is a schedule of events to bring the home’s design to completion.

The Mr. wanted a bit of privacy in the evening and the Mrs. wanted pretty … So I proposed woven wood blinds – but not all the way at the top of the windowsalong with simple drape panels flanking the windows and hung on a modern gunmetal drape rod ….

interior designer palos heights, IL,

The furnishings we had installed months ago dictated the style of the rod and would be the jumping off point in determining the window fabric ….

alfred and mary interior design,

I then contacted a window drapery company in a neighboring town and the Mr. and Mrs. and I sat down together with the sales lady and chose a fabric lickety-split. Tah-dah, the windows now look finished and stylish and definitely bring an air of sophistication to the space, along with just a tad bit of privacy when needed ….

alfred and mary interior design, window treatments palos heights,
alfred and mary interior design, edesign,

Next up I’ll be decorating a large home in Homer Glen, so stay tuned. I might just get a Lesson Notebook idea out of that project!

Homemade Applesauce Recipe, Apple picking

homemade recipe, applesauce,

It’s apple pickin’ season! Over the Labor Day holiday we headed to Wisconsin to get together with Dear Husband’s family. I made homemade applesauce as a side for the party and this is how I did it ….

Clean your apples with a clean paper towel that’s been wet with regular distilled vinegar …

Gather your 8 clean apples, either “Gala” or “Golden Delicious”, I used Gala. Peel and core the apples and cut into chunks …..

homemade applesauce, apple pie recipe,

Gather 1 cup water, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/2 cup of sugar.

homemade applesauce recipe,

Sprinkle all over the cubed apples in your saucepan and gently mix…..


Cover the saucepan and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the apples are soft enough to smoosh – either with a spoon or potato masher – I used my immersion blender.

buy red LeCreuset,

Makes enough for 15 people to have a side. Oh Mama Llama, that’s good!

homemade applesauce recipe,

Lynn’s Office and Craft Room Edesign

When Lynn came to me through Wayfair Design Services, she requested a total remake of her office and told me she had a new craft machine to play with (sounds like the cricket bug – wink!) ….

office craft room interior design, mary beth zwolfer, palos heights,
Photo courtesy of Wayfair Design Services client

The room had good bones – lots of natural light and classic wainscoting trim. It just needed a little personality and function capabilities. I started with a pretty rolling desk chair and chose a paint for the top part of the walls and the wainscoting …..

office chair, St. Barts paint Sherwin Williams,

The functional items had to come next but they had to be pretty too. A table instead of a traditional desk would allow Lynn to spread out with all her craft materials. Two file drawers and a bookcase will allow Lynn to organize family papers and craft materials…..

A rug is a must, along with a comfy chair for reading and a pouf to prop up feet after a long day…….

Then some more finishing touches such as an extra chair for a friend or Lynn’s husband to join in the craft fun, pretty lighting, faux flowers, and art ….

I hope that Lynn has many years of crafting fun in her office/craft room and I thank her for hiring me through Wayfair Design Services.

wayfair design services, mary beth zwolfer, interior design,
Design by Mary Beth Zwolfer, rendering by Wayfair Design Services
mary beth zwolfer, interior designer, palos heights,

Designing a colorful Playroom that’s not clownish

Kelly came to me through Wayfair Design Services looking for a room to corral her teens and keep them out of her way entertained (Kelly had a fun and funny sense of humor). She was nice enough to upload a few inspiration photos for me that included lots of color – including purple – and all the photos had a wall gallery of colorful art.

My first initial thought for the room was to use preppy colors – a teal sofa, a furry rug and a fun ‘n fabulous patterned chair …….

Idea #1 for main furnishings

But Kelly wished for a rug with more color and a bit boho. So I replaced the rug – but with that replacement, I switched out the patterned chair for a solid chair, which luckily comes with an ottoman that has storage ……..

Idea #2 for main furnishings

LETS LOUNGE & READ ~ I then added tables and more seating & lighting. The coffee table is clear to visually open the space in the small room and to let that colorful rug shine through …..

LETS DRAW & PAINT ~ I couldn’t forget pillows (natch!) and a gallery set of frames to showcase the kids’ artwork ……

Styling the kids’ art!
Pull the colors from the rug and add some pillows

LETS WATCH TV~ & keep that clutter under control! Shelves were a must for all the kids’ games, books and everything else that teens accumulate. The shelves also add height and add visual interest on each side of the TV.

how to style shelves, alfred and mary interior design, wayfair design services,
TV stand and shelves for storage are a must in a playroom!

LETS NOT FORGET THAT 5TH “WALL”~ Lastly, I suggested the whitest of white walls but an orange ceiling to make the room one of a kind! This is a fun room – but by tempering the bright colors with black, gray and white, the room is colorful without being clownish!

teen playroom, wayfair design services,
Rendering by Wayfair Design Services

Not a sponsored post, but everything – except the paint – is from Wayfair.

I think the teens are going to have a lot of fun and creative times in this room, don’t you?

space planning, restoration hardware,

All about white – White on White, white walls etc

White flowers, decorating with white walls,

Pretty white flowers sitting on our white table ready for the vase inspired this post.

Quick tip: If you are thinking of painting your walls white or near-white, the room should have windows and natural light. If you paint a windowless room white, the room will fall flat. There needs to be shadows created in the room so that there is movement and the white changes “color” throughout the day.

If you are decorating with accessories or fabrics – white on white – texture is important to give the vignette life and movement.

bedroom, master bedroom interior design, palos heights designer,

Hopefully these tips are helpful to you Dear Readers! Have a wonderful weekend!

What’s trending now – at least in our house.

Don’t you love this chair and little side table? I’m using the birthday gifts that my kids gave me as a subject for this week’s post. Yep, I’ve gotten a lot of furniture from my kids as gifts. Some moms ask for clothes or jewelry, I ask for furniture. 🙂

Studio McGee, black and white chair, coastal decor, alfred and mary interior design, palos heights,

You all know by now that our house is ….. what I like to call ….. casual. Nothing is high end, nothing is too precious to use. I’m perfectly fine with using outdoor furniture inside the house and this chair was just the piece I needed for a corner near an entry. If I’ll need extra seating outside for a party, I’ll carry it outside! Natural elements in the home are trending now and, along with the rattan-looking chair, the “cracked wood” table is the perfect place to drop a set of keys. In the winter, I might add a textured knitted or fur blanket to this chair.

Studio McGee, alfred and mary interior design, palos heights, black and white chair, coastal decor,

We live within a mile walking distance from our town’s lake. If I ever win the Lottery, I’d love a tiny run-down cottage directly on a lake — to barely remodel but fully decorate. (I’ve heard it said that American descendants of Slavs are typically drawn to lakeside living). A small dish imprinted with an anchor could be a bit hokey as a piece of decor …. unless it’s from McGee and Co. If it’s good enough for the McGees, then it’s good enough for our home, right?

And, by the way, just because our house is informal, if anyone sits in this chair and the throw pillow is smooshed when they leave it, I will always make sure that it is fluffed again to perfection. After all, a casual home’s interior design should look just as polished and intentional as the interior of an elegant mansion.

blue and white pillow, coastal decorating, alfred and mary interior design,

So if you’re looking to bring some new pieces into the home, consider adding natural elements – such as wood, rattan, woven baskets, or even plants.


Lately I’ve no time to blog – between designs and just enjoying these summer days and nights – but very early this morning I passed by this shadow on the wall and it made me happy. Have a wonderful weekend (Thursday’s the new Friday, right?) 😉


When you have 5 kids and a big house, you ask for …

…. a room for just you and your girlfriends – to hang out, to talk about those adorable kids and have a few cocktails and some laughs. That’s what my latest Wayfair Design Services client asked for.

Kim just moved into their new house. There’s a room for tv watching and game playing in another part of the house. This room, above, is designated for Kim and her girlfriends! Kim’s keeping the wall paint. She loves blue but wants something besides just blue in the room. I started the design with this rug. The golden yellow and blues were strong enough to work with the darker shade of walls …..

I found these wonderful sofas at a great price on Wayfair and completed the ensemble by adding pillows with the same colors found in the rug …..

I then added a warm-tone coffee table to hold the cocktails, along with a decorative bowl of blue and white orbs and pretty candlesticks ….

To break up all the sharp angles on one side of the room, a round mirror and slightly curved sideboard with a happy-colored gourd lamp softens everything …

I was going to stage Kim’s fabulous new sideboard with coffee for the girls but hey, who are we kidding? Did you hear me? Kim has 5 kids!

Last but not least, a few more accessories, such as oversized frames for the children’s photos (instead of all those tiny frames scattered around the room), faux plants for the wall opening, a floor lamp, and a few poufs for extra seating ….

When you are upstairs at Kim’s house, you can look over a banister at the lovely living room. Let’s take a look at the birds-eye view before and after the design. You can see the furniture is so nicely balanced now! It just feels better, doesn’t it?

how to make a floor plan, wayfair design services, hashtag home,

And here is the room after the final rendering. Kim’s room is now more suitable to greet guests and relax and entertain.

wayfair, wayfair design services, mary beth zwolfer, skinny latte,

If you’d like me to Edesign for you, head to see the rest of my portfolio on my Wayfair Design Services profile. If you choose the Classic Package, you’ll get floor plan and 2D rendering just like Kim received! Thank you Kim for hiring me to design your space, I hope you enjoy it.

Serene Coastal Retreat for Wayfair Design Services

The heat is on over here in Chicago, in the 90s, 100s all week! So when Renee chose me as her designer through Wayfair Design Services and asked for a coastal bedroom, I was so inspired just by the weather. I knew I’d want furnishings that were beautiful but looked as though they’ve been a bit beaten by the sea!

The walls are already painted in her new home and the only piece which Renee wanted to keep from her first home was an antique vanity table …..

Renee asked for a white cottage bed and that would be our jumping off point. I knew that the bedding had to be soft and cool, the vanity chair had to be French-inspired and even the lighting had to have a chippy coastal feel ….

The pretty rug will ground everything ….

Instead of a skimpy nightstand, I went with a full 6 drawer chest in Oak and Renee’s clothes dresser is in white to match the bed. Shiplap wallpaper on one wall makes for a terrific accent wall full of wood framed family vacation photos.

The best part of Renee’s bedroom is that it comes with a fireplace! I found her a new screen (just a bit more time-worn looking and romantic), I added a jug that looks as if we took a trip antique shopping, filled the jug with faux tulips, and as a final touch put a rusty teal clock on the mantel.

I don’t know about you but I’m feeling a lot cooler already! Thank you Renee for this pretty project, I loved every minute of it and I hope you’ll love your new retreat.

coastal bedroom, wayfair design services,

*not a sponsored post but I found everything for Renee’s room from Wayfair.