Blog created by interior decorator Peggy Clarke to help create homes that reflect the people who live there and how they (want to) live. Blending spirituality with the art of interior design, Clarke aims to help people who want to create harmonious spaces for balanced living.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Autumn Redesign

Yesterday I woke up feeling the need for a change. If my interior life is feeling stale, one of the best ways I know to shake things up is to transform something in my exterior world. I live in a contemporary house in the country and since interior design is most effective when it's in harmony with both the style of the house and its setting, modern country is the best style for my home. Most rooms in the house have been finished, but the living room and dining room as the least used, are also the least finished. So yesterday morning I was inspired and started on the living room.

Country design in some ways is really easy in that it’s all about things that are time worn or hand made, and all interior design, regardless of the style employed, is most effective when it’s personal. So, I moved all the furniture in my living room, removed some pieces that were too formal, covered some pillows, and filled tables and empty spaces with plants and pieces from my travels that were located around the house. Then I brought in some pinecones and a few branches for the mantle to reflect the season. I think I’ll do a little painting or cover a wall in beadboard over the next few weeks. The whole thing cost less than $200 for a few pillow covers. Here’s a picture of the finished room.

While you’re rethinking a stale room in your house, may I suggest you also do a little extra cooking? One of the most wonderful things about fall is the scent of the season and the most authentic way to get that is cooking. (Some people like candles but it feels a little forced to me. I prefer a more natural approach.) My husband’s favorite breakfast during the work week is granola, which when bought in a store can be deceptively high in fat and often a little tasteless. Try this simple recipe to usher in the season. It’s my own, but change whatever you like to make it yours.

2 TB butter
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup honey
1 TB vanilla
½ cup flaked unsweetened coconut
¼ cup ground nuts- whatever type or types you have in the house
1 TB cinnamon
6-8 cups rolled oats
2 or 3 cups dried fruit- whatever you like most

Preheat oven to 325. Melt the butter, sugar honey and vanilla in a saucepan. Pour it over the rolled oats in a baking pan. Mix it up so most of the oats are sticky. (Add honey if needed.) Add the coconut, cinnamon and nuts and mix well. Put it in the oven and set the timer for 20 minutes. When the timer goes off, mix well and put it back in for another 20 minutes. You’ll repeat this several times until it’s a golden brown. This could take anywhere from one to two hours depending on the size of the pan you’re using and how good your oven is. When it’s done, mix in the dried fruit.

I use pecans and walnuts and sometimes I throw in a handful of vanilla pumpkin seeds. Grinding the nuts gives plenty of nutty flavor without all the fat. I use a good assortment of fruit that I keep in the house all the time. Usually I have sour cherries, currants, figs, apricots, whole cranberries (not “craisons”) and sometimes raisons. The best place for granola ingredients is Whole Foods. Once it's made, it can keep for up to 2 weeks in a sealed glass jar.

Not only is this a fabulous snack to have on hand, it makes your house smell delicious for the rest of the day.

If you’re interested in country decorating, may I suggest attending a tag sale this weekend? Tag sale/flea market/crafts fair finds are perfect for the country home. This weekend the Somers Women’s Club is sponsoring a sale at Reis Park, St. Luke’s in Somers is having a tag sale/harvest fair, there’s a crafts fair in the village of Pawling, there’s a Home Show at Westchester County Center and a Colonial Festival at the Redding Congregational Church in Redding, CT.

Favorite Sale Item This Week:

This quilt was $315 and is now between $85 & $99, which is a great price for a quilt. It’s available at Sundance

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Kitchen Renovation on the Cheap

People often ask me about how to cut corners on major renovation projects. As a general rule, I don't believe in cutting corners, but I do believe in saving money. The difference is in the connotation, but I think it's important. The most asked about room is the kitchen, so here are some tips about things you can do in your kitchen to update without spending a fortune.

The most expensive item to replace is your cabinets. To avoid ripping them out and spending tens of thousands of dollars for new ones, consider some of these options.

Take the doors off some or even all the cabinets and paint the boxes to give it a fresh clean look.

If you don't want to remove the doors, you can replace them, or cut out the centers and add fabric for a country cottage look.

Cabinet hardware can be easily and inexpensivly changed and it really adds character to the room. Consider something a little different.

Adding storage can also be simple. Try cutting a space between two studs out and adding a shelf. Or add hooks beneath a cabinet to hang mugs, or install a metal strip on a wall for your knives rather than using countertop space.

Backsplash can be easily replaced, but if you're looking to save money, consider stripping off whatever you have, and just painting the wall. It can give the room a clean fresh look for about $25.

If you're looking to replace appliances, here's a head's up: stainless steel is moving out and stark white is moving in. I'm not a huge fan, but it's my job to keep you in the loop!

If you have a question or want to share an idea, drop a note in the "comments" section!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Hearth and Home

The seasons are changing and warmth and comfort are on the menu! My Grandmother told me that when she was a young wife and mother, every fall and spring she (and everyone she knew) would transform their homes to greet the new season. September would be spent unrolling the wool rugs and hanging the velvet curtains and covering beds with comforters to get ready for the cold weather. Here are some tips to help you get ready too.

While the weather is still good, put this copper cauldron firepit in the backyard or on a stone patio. (Smith and Hawken, Wrap the kids up in blankets and roast marshmallows.

While there, enjoy some handcrafted s'mores from Laura's Candy ( They have some delicious treats for yourself or they make great hostess gifts.

Wrap yourself up in one of these.

Cashmere blanket from Land's End ( which, at $125, is a pretty good bargain.

Or try this alpaca blanket from Eileen Fisher
sold at Garnet Hill ( for $300.

This cashmere throw would look great on the back of any sofa. It's $200 sold at Levengers (

If you have a fireplace inside, consider filling a basket with logs and keeping it filled all season long. This one's available from Plow and Hearth ( for $70.

Natural elements are always the best way to move your house from season to season. For autumn, pick up some mums from your local supermarket or Home Depot, put the pots into some nice baskets and place them outside your front door. If you’re really motivated, buy a whole lot of them and place them on the deck, in the front hall, on your kitchen table…all high traffic areas in your home.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Welcome to Metanoia, the blog for Peggy Clarke Designs. Here you'll find fabulous things you can buy online, the newest trends, color ideas, gorgeous fabrics, solutions for problem rooms, information and answers to your design questions. Have you been looking for the perfect sofa? Do you want to update a room on a very small budget? Want to know where to buy the least expensive light fixtures? Post a comment, ask a question...this blog is meant to be practical, specific and helpful. Just click beneath any posting on "comments" to get started. (, I don't make a penny on any item I feature or suggest here.) So go ahead, don't be shy. Dig right in!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Fabulous Things to Buy

Every week I'll add a little section of fabulous things. This week, I've searched for great sales. Everything featured in this section can be bought online.

These cubes are on sale at West Elm ( for $59 each.

Shades of Light ( tends to be overpriced, but some of their pieces are worth waiting for a sale. This is the Blue Chevron Vase Table Lamp being offered for $195.

Peach Duvet, Sham and Bedskirt are on sale at Anthropologie ( The duvet is $60 and the shams and bedskirt are between $20 & $30.

These Savannah chairs are (finally) on sale at Restoration Hardware ( for about $1500.

This cocktail table is on sale at Sturbridge Yankee Workshop( for $199.

If there's something you've been looking for, don't be afraid to ask; there's a good chance I know just where to find it.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Metanoia & Interior Design

Metanoia a Greek word meaning “conversion” or "to know in a new way". Interior design is a practical, even utilitarian, art form that creates spaces in our homes that transform the way we live, thereby creating a metanoia or changing of the mind.

I believe that life is forever in flux, always changing and shifting, but most people rarely change their homes to reflect their new realities. Children get older, move out (and in and out again), partners move in (or out), we work more or fewer hours, learn how to cook, bring home a pet, get sick or start to heal; each new year brings new ways of being alive.

Our homes are the articulations of who we are, illustrations of what we value and expressions of who and how we love. Dynamic self-portraits, they’re most “ours” when they reflect us authentically.

This blog might be a starting place for the revisions and transformations you need to make your home a mirror of yourself and your life. I plan to offer ideas on how to transform a room inexpensively, how to determine what style works best in your house, specific color palettes, creating floorplans that work, specific pieces that can be purchased easily and other interior design solutions for people who are looking for a metanoia or changing of the mind.