Project Design Now Reveal!!

The time is here… the reveal of two different spring mantels for Project Design!! You may have seen several of us bloggers hinting on social media {#ProjectDesignNow} about our spring mantels. We have styled them two ways and today is reveal day!! I want to thank Mary Ann of Classic Casual Home and Cindy of Rough Luxe Lifestyle for including me in this fabulous group!


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Our mantel is located in our family room and it’s always fun to make some changes and switch it up every now and then. Here is a full look at Option 1…

Spring Mantel Option 1…



mantel 2


mantel 3


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All Photos above by Sarah Heppell Photography

For mantel option 1, I went with a mixture of vintage and new and meaningful pieces with modern accessories. Starting from the right side, the “B” signifies the first letter in our last name. That is placed in front of a special print from the etsy shop, Pretty Smitten. The print says Be Smitten Every Day. I love its message and that pretty rose quartz background! I like to layer and add texture on mantels, so this beaded jar adds some interesting pattern and is unique. I also like to add round shapes to a mantel, so the clock was an old Target find and does just that. The mini windsor bench holds a special place in my heart, as I found it at an antique market when Mike and I lived in Germany. I will never part with it! And good old Zeus is next to the windsor bench. My kids named him and he is a great find from Target. I often put real ferns and small plants inside, but today- it’s one of the faux succulents that Target carries. {I am seeing a pattern here, that I shop at Target often!} :)

Spring Mantel Option 2…

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For mantel option 2, I also went with a mix of vintage and new. Starting with the right side again, I included the same “B” accessory from the first mantel. That is the only thing I kept for this option. I layered it in front of a spotted print I found at Target. I was so glad I scooped that up when I did, as about a week later, it was gone! I have always loved a hint of animal print somewhere, and this reminded me of cheetah spots. I found a green glass buoy from Home Goods. I like that it reminds me of the water and spring and summer activities. The rope detail adds some texture and interest. The ’round’ element that I love to add to mantels is now seen in both the buoy and this Federal mirror, which was a Christmas gift from my mom. It is the Ken Fulk Federal mirror from Pottery Barn and I love the vintage vibe it brings to the space. Not to mention that stunning aged brass! Adding a mirror to the mantel has been fun, as it reflects our ceiling pendant. The blue and white urns were antique shop finds. I decided to put a faux palm leaf from Pottery Barn inside the smaller urn, to bring a touch of nature to the mantel. I could also switch it out for fresh flowers, if I could remember to keep fresh water inside!

So there you have it! My spring mantel styled two ways! Which option would you choose???

Here are some tips to changing up your mantel for spring, or any time of the year:

Mantel Styling Tips

Add meaningful pieces and a mix of vintage and new to bring a collected over time style to your mantel

Layer pieces in front of each other and stand back every now and then to access what you have and what you need to add

Add different shapes, such as a round mirror, clock and mix that with a square or rectangle frame

I hope this got you ready to add some spring touches to your mantel! Now it’s the fun part… let’s check out the amazing bloggers who have transformed their mantels! They are such a talented group of ladies and I have been thrilled to be a part of this with them. Show these ladies some love:

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Soft Spring Colors and a Fun Announcement!

It is no surprise that I cannot wait for spring weather and to see the flowers start to bloom. There is nothing more exciting than seeing the green grass finally start to peek through the snow, after a long winter. So I was pretty happy that the chosen colors that are all a buzz this winter, just happen to make you think of spring! A while back, Pantone announced their color of the year, but this time, including two colors. Pantone’s colors of the year are Rose Quartz and Serenity, such soft and delicate shades.


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I am feeling the rose quartz much more than this periwinkle blue {I’m a navy blue girl} and I can see it paired with so many fun colors and used in so many ways…

On a single door…

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Via Pompeli

On drapery panels and paired with brown…

pantone 4Design by Anne Hepfer via Style Me Pretty Living

With emerald green, which is my favorite…

pantone 6Design by Katie Kime via The Decorista

And you can definitely add it with my favorite blue- navy…

cwtvia Caitlin Wilson Textiles

And speaking of spring just around the corner, I would love for you to join me this Friday, March 11th for a fun spring mantel series! I am teaming up with a very talented group of ladies for the next installment of Project Design, #ProjectDesignNow. We will be showing you ways to style your spring mantel and we will each come up with two different versions! Follow along on social media with the hashtag, #ProjectDesignNow and gather some great inspiration from these amazing ladies…

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Here’s a little sneak peek into one of my spring mantels, photographed by Sarah Heppell Photography
{With a little rose quartz in the background of this Pretty Smitten print!}

Reflecting on What I Have Learned

Recently, I was asked by a local college interior design student to take part in an interview for her class. Her class has to interview an interior decorator and ask 10 questions on everything from their beliefs in design, running the day to day business and tips I have learned along the way. I jumped at the chance to participate, but my first reaction was, really? me? are you sure you have the right person for this? ok, here goes! I haven’t had that classroom assignment feeling in many, many years, so it was fun. {I hope I passed!} After I handed in my answers to her, I realized it was also a great self reflection for me, because it gave me the chance to really dissect my day to day happenings and what I value as important for Amber B Design. So I thought it would be fun to share some questions and answers here! I would love to hear your feedback if you’re a designer, to see if you have any different, useful methods. I also thought this could bring up a fun discussion for anyone who loves design. I definitely do not have all the answers or even pretend to think I do. But, this is my honest interpretation of my experiences, so far. Here we go…

A timeline of your accomplishments (ie. schooling, positions held, years of experience).
My name is Amber Balistreri and I am the owner of the boutique interior decorating firm, Amber B Design. I would say that my design career was something that evolved over time. I have a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education/concentration in English and a Master’s degree in Early Literacy. Out of college, I became an elementary school teacher in an American school in Germany, when my husband’s job took us overseas. We lived in Germany for three years and it was then that my love for interior design started to evolve. Soon after we moved back to the U.S., I started the design blog Simple Dwellings as a way to bring together two of my favorite pastimes… my love for writing and interior design. My blog started to grow and readers were asking for design help. I then realized I could potentially have a business. After two years of growing my blog, I took some design classes at a local school and worked hard on both my blog and budding business venture. Soon after, Amber B Design was born. I left the teaching profession to pursue my dream. I started my business back in 2012 and I truly enjoy decorating spaces for others.
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Our living room, Sarah Heppell Photography
In your opinion, how important is interior design education in today’s industry?
That is an interesting question. I believe if you have a passion for any artistic profession, such as interior design, you are meant to have that career. Schooling can, however, help to take out a lot of the guess work that comes from being a self taught designer, like myself. In school, you learn so many of the important parts to the profession that I would have liked to learn through a design degree. But sometimes, life goes in different directions and you decide to change course. Since my degrees are in other professions, I worked tirelessly to catch myself up to what I would have learned in design school. The main elements in design have to be learned in order to be successful and I have devoted years to making sure I know just as much. I would suggest that anyone wanting to achieve a successful career in design should constantly learn and evolve. You will never have all the answers. It is important to continue reading and studying your profession, so that you stay current to the trends and happenings in design.
{That was a tough one to answer and I felt that I gave my most honest answer possible. There are definitely times when I wish I had a design degree, but like I said, life goes in different directions sometimes and I wouldn’t change the experiences I had for anything. I do believe, however, that I need to know just as much, in order to be successful. So, that’s what I am trying to do!}
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My client’s cat definitely stole the show during this photo shoot!
What motivated you to enter interior design and your particular specialty?
My motivation to start this career came from a true passion for design. I have always appreciated all forms of design, from fashion to interiors. When you absolutely love what you do, you never work a day in your life! So when I decided to switch paths and follow design, I felt that it was already there with me. The obstacles in front of me were just hard work, determination and a desire to make this come to fruition.
What are the primary responsibilities and duties of your current position?
Amber B Design is a firm that works with clients on everything from conceptual idea to the final install day. Currently, I work by myself, so I wear all hats. From initial consult to the reveal and photography session- I am there through it all. Our first meeting is the client consult, where we meet in their home to discuss the space. After measurements and before photos are taken, I get to work in the studio (my home), designing the space, drawing up the floor plan and coming up with the design vision. About three weeks later, the plans are presented to the client and we go from there. I will do the sourcing, shopping, budget management and style installs. When the space is complete, I schedule a photography session for my portfolio.
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Our dining room
What advice could you offer to someone interested in pursuing an interior design career, especially in your specialty?
My advice would be to stay true to your design self. You have done all of the hard work it takes to get here. So, believe in your design opinion and have confidence. Having said that, also make sure to stay humble and be open to letting the client have their input. When you open up the possibility to really listen to your client, you learn and grow as a designer. It is your work and your name going on the project, so make sure to put your own design spin on it, while also staying true to the client’s needs. That can be tough, because you have to be confident in your own style to do both. The clients have reached out to you because they value your work and like your style. So don’t lose sight of yourself in the project. If you give them a design that you do not stand behind 100%, it shows. Trust your design sense and know that you can give them their style, while also incorporating things they would not have thought of on their own.
{This is an ever evolving process for me and one that takes constant practice.}
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Project Vintage Gem
Sarh Heppell Photography
So that was the interview, in a nutshell. I really believe that working well with your clients and having that positive partnership helps so much in the overall design experience for both of you. It is when your personalities mesh and you both truly listen to each other, that makes the best outcome. Those are the projects when you are sad they have come to an end. It was just that much fun! By no means do I have all the answers. This was just my opinion on my own experiences. This exercise helped me to examine the way I approach design and I was glad to be asked. It was a pretty cool experience!
I would love to hear your thoughts!

Welcome to My New Home!!

I am so excited for this day… my new site is here! It has been an absolute blast working with Britt, from Gallery No. Eight– the mastermind behind this new site. She is amazingly talented and creates web design magic! I am in awe of her creativity and the ideas she comes up with. She was able to redirect my old posts to this new site, so you won’t miss a beat when searching previous Simple Dwellings posts or DIY projects. They are all still here.

I am so lucky to have worked with Britt to create a site that truly feels like my style. And we both found it unique that the colors I chose for this site happen to be the same colors you’ll see throughout my home tour. I guess I really like that combination!

I am also grateful to the photographer that captured my home in such a creative light. Sarah Heppell is a true talent that put this camera shy girl at ease and made the photo shoot day so much fun. She has that special ability to bring a photograph to life and capture those tiny moments in a home and make them memorable. I will be using her talents for some future design projects, so stay tuned for that!

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So take a look around and enjoy! And if you’re looking for me, I’ll be trying to figure out how to use word press. This is my first post and so far, so good. I figured out how to hit ‘publish’ so that’s a win for me!  😉

My Farewell Post {on this blog}

This post has been a long time coming and I am so thrilled about what’s to come! For quite some time, I have been thinking about switching my blog design and overall focus. I have used blogger for so long and it’s been great. But I am now ready for a change! Since Amber B Design is my business, I have decided to organize and stream line things a bit better. My blog page will always be called Simple Dwellings. {I have a special place in my heart for that name.} But the overall site and main page will be more Amber B Design focused. I will continue blogging as a way to showcase my work or any time I want to check in and share. But my site will be focused on my business and will be organized in a more user friendly format. I have decided to switch to word press and I’m so excited to start using the beautiful features it has to offer.

If you are starting a business or want to add a more professional look to your existing on line presence, I suggest looking for talented people that can make your work shine. For me, that was hiring a web designer and photographer. Britt Douglas is the amazingly talented web designer I chose and I am so thrilled I did. She creates amazing work and I can’t wait to show it all to you, soon! I met Britt a couple of years ago at Blog Podium. She is as sweet and down to earth as she is talented. I told her then, that I would love to have her design my new site. {See, I told you this was a long time coming. I have been thinking about this forever!}

I first found out about my photographer, Sarah Heppell, when I drove by her studio and saw her sign. I looked up her site and the rest was history. We met soon after and she came to our home and created photography magic. She is truly a talent!! Here are some more sneak peeks from the photo shoot at my home, that you will see on the new site:

All Photos by Sarah Heppell Photography

that’s me looking productive!  :)

we ended the photo session with a carrot cake celebration!

It feels bitter sweet to say good bye to this blog, where it all started in 2011. But I know I am heading in the right direction for me and my business. I am excited for what’s to come and I look forward to checking in with you all and sharing my design thoughts on the new site, very soon! I have added a new e-mail address, that will be the primary e-mail for the new site. It’s Feel free to write me an e-mail there, as it will be the main one from now on. This blog will still be up for some time, so feel free to check back and look at any of the pages you wish! I will make sure to announce when the new site is live. EEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bringing the India Hicks Brand into your Home

Blogging can bring you a sense of community and friendship. By starting a blog, I have been able to “meet” like minded people who share the same passion for design that I have. With those common links already in play, it is easy to form quick bonds with people. I was recently contacted by one of my very first blog friends, Amy, about this amazing new opportunity she is now a part of. Amy was one of the first blog friends that reached out to me and asked if she could feature my home on her blog. I was so excited for that opportunity. And she might not even know this, but she was also one of the first that encouraged me to try my hand at e-design. And for that, she has always had a special place in my heart. So when she told me she was a rep for the new India Hicks brand and wanted to introduce me to some of the amazing new products, I jumped at the chance to reconnect and see what the products were all about. India Hicks is the daughter of famed interior designer, David Hicks, and has also made a name for herself in the design world. Here is a little bit about the company, as seen on the web site:

Our vision for the company is to share our exclusive range of well-crafted gifts, fragrances and accessories directly into the heart of the home, defying the traditional shopping experience, by selling these collections through networks of entrepreneurial women and our dynamic E-commerce site.

I love that India is the ambassador of this new brand and inspires women to become entrepreneurs themselves.

I am now the proud owner of the beautiful India Hicks Island Style book…

I cannot put this book down! The colorful, beautiful pages instantly sweeps you away on vacation. India and her family live on a small Bahamian island that is so inspiring and breathtaking to see! The interiors in this book instantly make you want to pack your bags and head to the coast.

I could just move into these serene rooms!

This party just looks so inviting and chic!

The Prince of Wales is India’s godfather and also wrote the forward for the book. India was a bridesmaid (back row, third from left) and just wanted to be out of the fancy dress and back into her comfy jeans!

This gorgeous bedroom has the ever popular David Hicks La Fiorentina fabric on the front pillow and chair.

I could go on and on about my favorite images from this book. Also, the story behind life in the Bahamas is so amazing and would make a great summer read!

I am also now the proud owner of the stunning love token called ‘Oyster.’

In Britain, it’s a tradition to engrave coins to give to friends and loved ones. This has been in practice for over 400 years and it’s actually the size of a British Pound coin! This jewelry piece has a heavy weight to it and is made so well. I chose the phrase ‘the world is your oyster.’ I have always loved that sentiment, because it reminds you to follow your dreams. I think it’s important for my kids to always know that, too. This love token is just one of many special jewelry pieces available on the site! This token can be paired with any necklace you have, or you can choose one from the site, like THIS. To visit the site and do some shopping through Amy’s page, start HERE. In addition to shopping, you might also find your next entrepreneurial career!

Thank you so much, Amy, for introducing me to this amazing and inspiring brand!

What is Happening Around Here…

Sorry for the lack of posts as of late! I have been happily plugging away on some design projects that I can’t wait to share with you! There is something about this time of year that is so optimistic. The Holiday decorations have been put away, routines are back again and I feel energized to get more accomplished. That’s a great feeling, isn’t it?!? This is always the time of year I start to organize and make changes, both in the decor of my home and in business. If you have stuck around here for quite some time {thanks Mom!}, you may realize that I have had more business name changes than Puff Daddy. Well, maybe it’s the same number of changes. Let’s count… First, there was Puff Daddy, then Puffy, then P Diddy and now- just Diddy. Ok, so he has had four. He does have me beat by one. I went from Simple Dwellings Interiors, to Amber B Interiors and now officially… Amber B Design! I have always wanted to use the name Design for the business. It’s not a big change from Amber B Interiors, but it makes me happy. The links on my sidebar might be broken for a bit, but should be up and running soon. I think I might keep the blog name as Simple Dwellings, since that name does have a special place in my heart and has been around since the beginning. But all of my social media accounts {for the most part} have changed to Amber B Design.

Great, now that’s out of the way… let’s talk design projects. I am currently working on a local design project that I refer to as #projectvintagegem. The apartments in this building have such character and charm. My client has just moved into this apartment, hence the boxes.


Oh, my client’s precious cat!! I am also working on my first commercial project, which is a wine tasting room that is part of their production facility. Here is some inspiration to show you the direction we are headed with that…


It has been a real challenge to push my creativity further with this commercial project. But, I have learned so much and am grateful to have that opportunity to bring myself out of that comfort zone.
In March, I am ecstatic to be working again with a wonderful client. Room by room, she is renovating her 1930’s Georgian Brick colonial. We first completed her daughter’s sweet, delicate nursery…

more on the nursery here
And then we moved onto her eating area in the kitchen…

more on the kitchen here
There is still a full reveal coming soon, since this spot in the kitchen is only about 90% complete. One of the rooms we will be tackling in March is their sun room. Currently, the walls, windows and all trim are wood stained. That look won’t stay that way for long. Here is my inspiration for that space…

Deep blue walls were made for her space! For some reason, when a design idea hits me that I know will work so well, I just want to sing in an operatic voice. Is that just me?!? Probably should have kept that one to myself. Needless to say, I can’t wait to show you that reveal. 
Thanks for checking back in! 

Tour Through Blogland

We recently got back from a family trip to Washington, DC and I loved it! We had a great time seeing the sights, eating wonderful food and relaxing and spending quality time together. I feel refreshed, energized and ready to jump back into things around here. I am excited to start my first post this week with a little tour through blogland. Beth of the amazing blog Design Post Interiors, kindly asked me to participate in this tour where you get a chance to introduce some of your favorite blogs while also meeting some new ones! Beth has some savvy DIY skills, like this pretty fabric flower pot she made…

Before we get to the featured bloggers, I will take a little time to answer some questions about myself and this little blog…

I started my blog a few years back as a way to talk about my favorite hobby… design. I never knew it would grow into more than that. I now have the e-design business Amber B Interiors and I truly love it!

What am I working on right now?
With the summer coming to an end, my client schedule is starting to pick up with amazing new clients and fun rooms to design. I am starting to take on more local projects and I am excited to see Amber B Interiors grow.

E-Design Project: Keeping Room

How does my work differ from others in my genre?
This is a tough one, because I know there are so many talented designers out there with so much to share. I would like to think that I have a twist on my own design style that mixes various eras but also has a collected over time feel to each space. When decorating for clients as well as myself, I try to inject a personal, meaningful style for every room.
Our Dining Room

Our Living Room

How does my creative process work?
I always start with some form of inspiration and that can come from anywhere. Inspiration can come from nature, a great book or even from a piece of artwork.  I also gather the information my clients have given me and constantly think about the space all day long! It’s a good thing I love what I do. :) I then start to gather design inspiration on pinterest and get to work creating my design boards.
Mid Century Bohemian E-Design

Chic & Glam Foyer E-Design

How do I write/create what I do?

With the blog, I used to have a schedule and post every week about a certain topic. I have drifted away from that a bit and now write about what comes to me naturally. This works better for me at this stage, because I don’t have the pressure to post at a certain day. I do like the idea of scheduled posts and topics and may get back to that at some point. I will happily take any suggestions you might have! 😉 When I am working on client projects, I post about that process. And anytime I am trying out something different around our house, I will post on that, too.

Our new kitchen chandelier

With the design work for clients, I literally think about the space all day long. Eventually, something just hits me and the flood gates open. It’s kind of funny how it happens… I just get an idea and start running with it. Once that initial inspiration hits, the room starts to come together pretty quickly. I build all of my design boards on Olioboard {which I love} and create my floor plans electronically through an on line floor planner. During the design process, I also take a lot of pen and paper notes, so my desk looks like a mack truck hit it! But it is all just organized piles of paper that makes sense to me. I have started thinking that I may need a better organization process soon, so my office can look more presentable. But this works for now!

And now the fun part for me… I get to introduce you to some of my favorite bloggers! I love their creativity, fun personality and their crazy amazing DIY skills!

Pam from the blog Simple Details has such an inspiring blog that is stocked full of design ideas to try. I am always checking out what she is up to next and she always amazes me with her vision on a project.

Hi there Simple Dwellings fans, I’m Pam from Simple Details. I dove into blogging almost three years ago, passionate about design, but hesitant that I wasn’t tech savvy. Turns out it was simple, sometimes! I live in a little 1938 cottage in Denver, with my husband, son and our fur babies. Interior design and DIYs are my passion, oh and I should mention I have a bit of a Craigslist addiction. In fact, I could head up a support group!  Thank goodness for my clients and readers, they are the best excuse for my Craigslist stalking. While it leaves my family confused, to me it is all so simple:  stalk, locate, repair, paint, style, love, play musical furniture, and repeat! I also share my love for entertaining, gardening, fashion, and the Simple Details that make all of our homes and lives more beautiful.  

I love so many of her projects, but her foyer reveal might be my current favorite!

Next up is Cassie from Primitive and Proper. I have followed Cassie’s blog for a long time and I am always blown away by her DIY projects. Her warm personality is just icing on the cake. When you read her blog, you already feel like she’s your good friend! Cassie and her partners run Sweet Clover, a vintage home decor and handmade marketplace in Maryland. She truly lives life to the fullest and is following her dream, which I just love!
I am in awe of her DIY Pipe Shelves
I hope you enjoyed the tour through blogland! Make sure to check out these amazing bloggers and their talents!

And the Winners Are…

I am happy to announce the winners of the pattern from Pattern Pod and the $50 gift card to True Value Hardware!

The winner of the free pattern from Pattern Pod is… Danielle T!

And the winner of both the pattern from Pattern Pod and the $50 True Value gift card is…
Melissa from the blog Rooms!
I will be in touch with both of you later today, to help you claim your prizes!! Congrats!

I’m Having Tea With Sarah Richardson!!

To be able to write that post title still amazes me! I am headed to blog podium at the end of the week, and this last month has been a blur! A few weeks ago, a contest was announced to have the opportunity to win a tea date with Sarah Richardson, accomplished designer, HGTV personality and all around super talent. I have watched her shows for years and cannot wait to hear her speak as this year’s key note speaker for blog podium. Little did I know, there would also be an opportunity for blog podium attendees to win a chance to meet Sarah before the event! The contest was to create your ultimate dream room on pinterest and Sarah would be the sole judge, choosing the winners she would meet for tea. I went for it and decided to design and submit a master bedroom that was inspired by the coast. I thought of it as a dream getaway, with an oceanfront view, surrounded by my favorite colors, furniture styles and accessories. I quickly got to work, pinning away. I finally entered my board, when I thought my dream room was complete. And when the winners were announced, I was amazed and super excited to see this…

image via
I was one of 10 winners chosen to meet Sarah and chat design before the conference! It will be so much fun to share this event with 9 talented, stylish bloggers. I cannot wait to meet Sarah, pick her brain and be inspired by the design experiences she has created. I have admired her work for so long! Here is just a sample of the amazing talent of Sarah Richardson…


Sarah is inspiring beyond words! She also has an exciting week, since her new HGTV Canada show debuts Thursday, September 19th…
Since I don’t live in Canada, it looks like I should be able to view the shows on line, HERE. Make sure you tune in, too! When I get back from blog podium, I will definitely give a detailed re cap and let you know all about new blogging tips and my tea with Sarah!