≡ Menu

Nature’s Neutral: Green Takes the Lead

A blue-green wood frame with rich brown rub-through is both youthfully fresh and serene. Classic print pillows in blue and green like this ikat, take this sleek chair in whatever direction pleases you. Photo: Sam Moore Furniture.

Spring comes early this year with “Greenery,” a fresh and zesty yellow-green that Pantone has chosen as 2017 Color of the Year.

Selected in recognition of our fast-growing awareness of nature’s essential value in our lives, Greenery invites consumers to “take a deep breath, oxygenate and reinvigorate.”

To which we would add, “Decorate!”

Greenery can evoke a tropical ocean or an English garden, depending on what other colors are in the scheme, but the feeling is always crisp and nature-loving. Photos: Sam Moore Furniture.

Greenery, Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2017, is youthful, versatile and a reflection of our growing appreciation for the natural world. Photo: Pantone.com

Greenery can add a pop of zest within the room, regardless of the overall color scheme, as seen with the green painting in this room using black and white in the furnishings and soft rose walls. Photo: Cynthia Rowley for Hooker Furniture.

In view of science that shows a host of mental ills are eased by the great outdoors, Leatrice Eiseman of Pantone says, “The more submerged people are in modern life, the greater their innate craving to immerse themselves in the physical beauty and inherent unity of the natural world.” 

Here, Greenery plays well with bright coral-red, kumquat, lime, poppy and Jacobean. Fabric: Sam Moore Furniture

Verdigris blue-green, such as the finish on this Sanctuary Box-on-Stand, is way to bring spring green indoors. Keep things cool with accents like this pale blue throw–or add a print pillow with warm and cool hues for extra comfort and dash. Photo: Hooker Furniture

The craving for nature is reflected by “the proliferation of all things expressive of Greenery in daily lives through urban planning, architecture, lifestyle and design choices globally,” Pantone’s Eiseman said.  “A constant on the periphery, Greenery is now being pulled to the forefront — it is an omnipresent hue around the world.”

Warm gray/taupe is always elegant. Paired with ice blue and spring green, it’s surprising and chic. Photo: Sam Moore Furniture.

The Twirl Sofa in a spring green leather energizes a room in a way that’s sophisticated as well as fresh. Photo: Bradington-Young Furniture.

The beautiful thing about green is that its neutral but lively. A simple switch of pillows creates a whole new look. Pillows: Overstock.com

From a design perspective, green is nature’s neutral, so even a lively shade like “Greenery” works and plays well with others. Sandi Teague, vice president of upholstery at Hooker Furniture, says, “Greenery blends beautifully with many hues. It pairs well with multiple shades of blue, from aqua to turquoise to navy. It also looks great with warm gray hues for a more neutral approach.”

Blue and white may be the world’s most popular color scheme, and when the blue is brilliant aqua, warmed with a touch of spring green, the feeling is irresistible. Photo: Sam Moore Furniture.

The Sheridan Chest pairs an upbeat green finish over highly-figured sycamore veneers and interlocking hardware for an inspired design. Photo: Cynthia Rowley for Hooker Furniture.

The message for 2017 is clear and clean: It’s all about the green — and whatever you pair with it. Heart-lifting as an accent, calming as a neutral, the message of green is what we need now and for the future.


Man Cave For Her

A few of the must-haves of a magnificent man cave for her. Photos: Bradington-Young, Better Homes & Gardens, Sam Moore Furniture; Alexandra Defurio, Gibbs Smith; Hooker Furniture, Cynthia Rowley for Hooker Furniture.

These days, many guys have a ‘man cave’—a space in the home where they can retreat and relax among their stuff without interference from the big, bad outside world. That’s something we women could benefit from as well. So let’s ring the new year in with an idea whose time has come—-a man cave for her. A refuge anchored in style, this is where we and our besties can gather to watch chick flicks in peace, indulge in a well-earned snack and engage in a little fashion trash talk at the end of a long work week.

Here’s what you need to create your own Man Cave for Her:

Cushions filled with down, feathers and fiber make the Grayson sectional an extra comfy place to perch. Photo: Bradington-Young.

A contemporary take on a classic, the Grayston Sectional has lovely clean lines and beautiful detailing–all wrapped in luxe leather in a warm butterscotch hue.

This 68-inch entertainment console is outfitted with inner wire management, media and component storage, and electrical outlets for easy equipment hook-ups. Photo: Hooker Furniture.

With doors carved in a chic starburst motif, this 68″ entertainment console creates an instant focal point that draws the eye in, keeping the large-screen TV from visually dominating the room.

Kelsea comes with a deluxe seat cushion and kidney pillow for lumbar support. Photo: Sam Moore Furniture.

Upholstered in a fresh botanical print, the Kelsea wing chaiinvites Mother Nature to take a seat.

Wake up a room of neutrals with a vibrantly-hued, graphic print chair like Darya. Photo: Sam Moore Furniture.

With its hidden swivel base, Darya  makes it easy for guests to move with the conversation without leaving their seat.

The Flip Square Cocktail Table is sized right for a party. Photo: Cynthia Rowley for Hooker Furniture.

With a top comprised of four removable, reversible trays (gold-leaf on one side, all-white on the other), Cynthia Rowley’s Flip Square cocktail table makes serving guests elegantly easy.

Give your gal pals something to talk about with tasty apple-cinnamon winter sangria. Photo: Better Homes & Gardens.

A chic space calls for a chic beverage like apple-cinnamon winter sangria.  It’s made by adding dried fruit, honey, spices and brandy to a mix of red wine and club soda.

Chocolate is a must in every man cave for her. Photo: By Alexandra Defurio from “Caramel” by Carole Bloom, reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith.

Let the guys keep their pork rinds and peanuts. Wouldn’t you rather snack on something more decadent and delicious like this Caramel-Filled Double Chocolate Tartlet?

Caramel-Filled Double Chocolate Tartlets

Makes 20 (21/2-inch) round tartlets

Intensely chocolate with oozing rich caramel is the best way to describe these tartlets. A delicate cocoa pastry shell is filled with Classic Caramel Sauce then topped off with a thick layer of Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache. The first taste sensation is chocolate, followed instantly by smooth, rich caramel. It is fine to use the tip of a small paring knife or pointed small metal spatula to help release the pastry shells from the tartlet molds. To protect the smooth ganache on top of the finished tartlets, do not allow anything to touch the surface of them.

Special equipment: 36 (2  1/2-inch) round, fluted-edge tartlet pans

Cocoa Pastry Dough:

1 cup (4 1⁄4 ounces) all-purpose flour

1⁄4 cup (3⁄4 ounces) cocoa powder, natural or Dutch processed

1⁄3 cup (2 ounces) superfine sugar

1⁄8 teaspoon kosher or fine-grained sea salt

6 tablespoons (3 ounces, 3⁄4 stick) unsalted butter, chilled

1 large egg, room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Briefly pulse the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Cut the butter into small pieces and add. Pulse until the butter is cut into very tiny pieces, about 30 seconds. The texture will be sandy with very tiny lumps.

Use a fork to beat the egg and vanilla together in a small bowl. With the food processor running, pour this mixture through the feed tube. Process until the dough wraps itself around the blade, about 1 minute. Shape the dough into a flat disk and tightly wrap in a double layer of plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator until firm before using, about 2 hours.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. On a smooth, flat surface, roll out the pastry dough between sheets of lightly floured waxed or parchment paper to a large rectangle about 1⁄4 inch thick. Peel off the top piece of paper and brush off any excess flour. Use a 3-inch-round plain-edge cutter to cut out circles of dough. Gently lift up a dough circle and fit it into the bottom and against the sides of a tartlet pan. Place another tartlet pan on top of the dough to act as a weight as they bake. Repeat with the remaining dough circles. Gather together any scraps, roll, cut, and fit into the tartlet pan. Place the tartlet pans on a baking sheet.

Bake the shells for 8 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, remove the top tartlet pans, and return the baking sheet to the oven. Bake the tartlet shells another 8 minutes, or until set. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and cool completely on a rack. Gently tap the tartlet pans against a countertop to help remove the tartlet shells. Place them on a serving plate and cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Caramel Filling:

3⁄4 cup heavy whipping cream

1⁄2 cup (3 1⁄2 ounces) granulated sugar

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon honey

4 tablespoons (2 ounces, 1⁄2 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1⁄2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Bring the cream to a boil in a 1-quart saucepan over medium heat.

Cook the sugar, water, and honey in a 3-quart heavy-duty saucepan over high heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Brush around the inside of the pan with a damp pastry brush at the point where the sugar syrup meets the sides of the pan. Do this twice during the cooking process to prevent the sugar from crystallizing.

Cook the mixture over high heat, without stirring, until it turns amber colored, 6–8 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and slowly add the hot cream to the sugar mixture while stirring constantly. The cream will bubble and foam. Continue stirring to make sure there are no lumps. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the butter until it is completely melted. Then stir in the vanilla.

Transfer the caramel sauce to a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, cool slightly.

If the caramel sauce is firm, warm it until fluid in a microwave oven on low power or in the top of a double boiler over hot water. use a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop or a spoon to fill each pastry shell 3/4 full. Let the caramel stand at room temperature until firm or chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache:

6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate (66 to 72% cacao content), finely chopped

2⁄3 cup heavy whipping cream

Place the chocolate in a large bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until bubbles form around the edges. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let stand for 30 seconds. Stir the cream and chocolate together with a heat-resistant spatula until completely melted and smooth. Use a 11⁄2-inch ice cream scoop or a spoon to cover the top of each tartlet with ganache, dividing it evenly among the tartlets. Place the plate of tartlets in the refrigerator to set the chocolate, for 20 minutes. Serve the tartlets at room temperature.

Keeping: Store the tartlets covered with waxed paper then tightly wrapped with aluminum foil, at room temperature, for up to 3 days.

Streamlining: The tartlet shells can be baked up to 2 days before filling. Store them at room temperature tightly wrapped in aluminum foil. Classic Caramel Sauce can be made up to a week in advance. Store it tightly covered in the refrigerator.

Photographs by Alexandra Defurio from “Caramel” by Carole Bloom, reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith.



Have Yourself a Dreamy White Christmas!


Mirrored surfaces, white and metallic tones create Christmas magic. Photos, left to right + top to bottom: Hooker Furniture mirrored nightstand; Pier 1 floral; Frontgate wreath; Sanctuary Fretwork Console, Hooker Furniture.

Wherever you live, delight in bringing the elegance and calm of white to your Christmas decor.

White gives serene sophistication to the whole house, one room, an entryway or tabletop.


A white cloth and accessories add the perfect understated touch to the Rhapsody Dining Table with its intricate carved trim and fleur d lis inlays. Photo: Hooker Furniture

Welcome the season with a gracious wreath — white with perhaps a touch of glistening silver.


Natural elements in wreaths with silk flowers and frosted branches create welcoming decor in white and silver. Photo: Frontgate

Place your wreaths above a console table in the entryway, or on an inside door. You can even use the wreath as the basis of a centerpiece of flowers, or a display of candles.


Awaiting guests and the perfect place for a welcoming wreath, this console table from the Auberose Collection. Photo: Hooker Furniture.

From the White House to your house, the Christmas tree is the centerpiece of a holiday home. This year, the Blue Room of the White House has a tree encircled with white ribbons that might inspire you.


Decorating your tree with white ribbons, like the White House 2016 tree, always brings enchanting results. You might wish to refer to the video on decorating with ribbons at ellaclaireinspired.com for ideas. Photo: whitehouse.gov.

 Who doesn’t love the look of tree branches lightly kissed with a snow white? Such trees can be purchased, or get the effect by caressing branches with bows of baby’s breath. The tree becomes a canvas for a lovely selection of ornaments in white, natural hues and silver.


For your white Christmas tree, you may wish to select one like the frosted sugar pine which appears as though it has been lightly kissed with new fallen snow, like this artificial sugar pine tree from Balsam Hill.


This serene setting is ready to welcome a white Christmas. From the Sanctuary Collection, the console table has a versatile aluminum top, ready for holiday decorating themes. Photo: Hooker Furniture.

Choices for ornaments for your white Christmas tree and home decorating are almost endless and very personal. When shopping with white as your guide, it’s easy to assemble a lovely collection. Ornaments may also make special displays about the house, gathered together in a bowl or arrayed among a garden of greens.


This glitter snowflake from Wayfair.com/Holiday Isle interestingly comes in myriad colors. Wayfair also has plain white Christmas balls that invite your personal touches. The starfish from Wisteria.com may remind you of summer vacation treasures.


Against the rich hues and traditional styling of Hooker Furniture’s Tynecastle Dining Table, white china, serving pieces and decorations stand out in timeless fashion.

All the amenities of a Christmas in an English country house are here beginning with the gracious Tyncastle Pedestal Table.  Use white to compliment such a mellow setting–crisp white napkins, fresh flowers as a centerpiece or in a tiny arrangement at each place, and of course, candles–tall and white as snow.  Choosing white tableware allows you to mix pieces from different collections, perhaps a collection of antique pieces.


The Sanctuary Mirrored Nightstand is the perfect place for a delightful surprising element to welcome a holiday guest. The white and silver snowy prelit floral arrangement from Pier 1 will glisten all season. Nightstand: Hooker Furniture.


This delightful sunny bedroom from the Sandcastle Collection calls out for a whimsical touch like Santa on the bedside table or bureau, all dressed in white. Photo: Hooker Furniture.


All dressed in white, this Santa from ChristmasCentral.com would be a whimsical addition to the Sandcastle bedroom.

To delight all the senses, don’t forget to bring the taste of Christmas to every table. Cookies dusted in white are a tribute to the season.


Russian Tea Cakes are a White Christmas classic. Photo: Betty Crocker.

Russian Tea Cakes

These buttery melt-in-your-mouth cookies go by many names but they are always twice rolled in powdered sugar and filled with finely chopped nuts.


1 cup butter or margarine, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/4 cups Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour

3/4 cup finely chopped nuts

1/4 teaspoon salt

Powdered sugar


1. Heat oven to 400ºF.

2. Mix butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and the vanilla in large bowl. Stir in flour, nuts and salt until dough holds together.

3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

4. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set but not brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool slightly on wire rack.

5. Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar; cool on wire rack. Roll in powdered sugar again.

Happy, Merry, White Christmas!