Annie Selke, founder and designer of the Dash & Albert and Pine Cone Hill companies, joined the weekly chat.

Sep 22, 2011

Annie Selke, founder and designer of the Dash & Albert and Pine Cone Hill companies and author of the new book, "Fresh American Spaces," joined Jura Koncius and Terri Sapienza for their weekly Home Front chat. Together, they give advice on interior decorating and home improvement.

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Good morning, and welcome to our chat! Today we have Annie Selke joining us. Annie is the founder of the fabulous Dash & Albert rug company and Pine Cone Hill bedding and clothing lines. She's also has a new book: Fresh American Spaces (it's colorful and cheerful, just like her designs). The chatter with the best question will win a copy of Annie's book. 

Hi Annie, do you ever plan to sell your products at the high end department stores like sachs or nordstrom? Thanks!

Hi there,

I am a huge fan of Saks (I went through their training program many moons ago) sadly they don't sell home furnishings!  Also, I have tried, in general, to limit our distribution to high end smaller specialty stores.


I ordered three of your runners in the diamond pattern, indoor/outdoor material, and will be installing them on the stairs. I heard because of the slightly loose weave, there install can be tricky. Any advice for our installer (he says he's done them before!) BTW, I think these will be perfect on our stairs!

The rugs make great stair runners.  Which pattern are you using?  The installer should just get as tight a fit as possible.  Are you using a pad?  Are you using stair rods?

I'm looking for an upholstered headboard for my master bedroom. What are your thoughts on just the headboard with a bedskirt vs. headboard w/upholstered rails? Also, initial thoughts were for a solid linen. I'm thinking a pattern might make more of a statement in the room. I already have simple cream colored linen drapes. Annie-would love a suggestion on one of your fabrics ! Thanks!

Hi there,

I love an upholstered headboard and have one myself.  I prefer using a bedskirt to upholstered rails because you can remove the bedskirt for cleaning and the rails you can't.  My dogs have a habit (daily) of rubbing themselves against my bedskirt, so I had two made.  One on the bed - one at the cleaners!  I used a solid velvet and tufted my headboard and used the same velvet for the skirt, giving the same clean and unified appearance as upholstered rails.  Note, if you are thinking of a pattern, you might consider using a slipcover so that you don't have to choose just one fabric.  You could change it out seasonally.  Kind of like changing over your closet!

Hi Jura and Terri, can u tell me if there'll be another holiday handcrafted decoration contest this year?Last year's winning design was nice but was made from a pattern sold by in 09, I hope this year u opt for Original designs!

Hello - I just spoke with Delece Smith-Barrow, our innovations editor who is in charge of the contest. We will be having another contest and we will have details by the beginning of November. We welcome all crafts, no matter where your inspiration comes from.

Need suggestion for Farrow and Ball colors for a guest bedroom. Old iron bed, solid white bedspread, and lacy honey beige floor-length sheer panels/valence. . Thinking of pale blues like Borrowed Light, or do I need more color on the walls to offset the beige and white? I want the room to be "calm." Thanks very much.

Light blue is a nice, soothing choice for a bedroom and I like your idea of Borrowed Light. F&B's Pale Powder is also really nice, so is Sklylight. You could also go a little more neutral on the walls (F&B's Clunch , New White or White Tie - all favorites of mine) and use your favorite blue on the ceiling.

How does your new blog relate to the book? What kinds of things can I find there that aren't covered in the book?


The blog expands upon the five different chapters in the book - Happy Preppy - Everyday Exuberance - Refined Romantic - Cultured Eclectic - Nuanced Neutral - giving the readers more information, ideas, how to's , and product suggestions that they might like.  Plus travel ideas and we highlight stores we love all over the country and we have fun recipes - there's a lot there!

Do you think you'll continue building the annie selke brand for years to come, or do you see yourself finding a strategic partner and retiring??


I can't imagine retiring but I have just found a strategic partner.  After 20 years of marriage, my husband and I decided to divorce and I had to buy him out of his half of the businesss - enter strategic partner.  This all finalized last week!  I am thrilled to be entering a new and exciting phase of the development of the businesses I so dearly love!

I met Annie Selke at The House Downtown in Baltimore. Not only do her rugs rock, but so does she. Plus, we should support women business owners in the United States. Due to a house full of dogs, I am slowly replacing all of my rugs to Dash and Albert. I have had great success with the striped indoor/outdoor rugs. But, I'd like something other than a stripe in my dining room. Which ones are dog pee friendly other than the indoor/outdoor rugs? Or will you be introducing patterns other than the striped and the herringbone pattern?

Good morning and thanks for your kind words.  I love The HOuse Downtown - Stephanie does an incredible job and I am honored to be part of her assortment.

Well, I have found anything with a lot of pattern can disguise/incorporate a bit of free form dog pee!  Patterns that come to mind are the Gypsy Rose wool, Hothouse as they have a lot going on visually.  We do have some fabulous new indoor/outdoor patterns coming in 2012 (including doormats) most are stripes, but there is a new, Kilim -like texture and a rope like solid that you might like.

Hi Annie, big fan - I was wondering, given all the success you have with your brands, are you planning on launching your own retail stores at some point?

Thanks for being a fan!  I really consider our partner stores to be our retail arm.  They do a wonderful job - they know their customers and their neighborhoods and their needs better than we ever could - so long story short - we do not have any plans to open any retail stores other than the Outlet store we have at our campus in Pittsfield, MA.    

Jura, any idea what has become of Repro Depot? She had such cool vintage fabrics that I discovered through your mentions of them.

Wow. Sorry their Web site appears to be down or is undergoing renovation. Will try and find out...

I am doing a complete kitchen renovation. I have had a rough few years and I am now all about "light", both sunlight and things not being heavy or cluttered. So far, the wall separating my old kitchen and dining room has been removed and the whole kitchen gutted. I have white painted wood cabinets coming in next week. It's a townhouse, so not a big space. There will be four wall cabinets. I had ordered a very simple crown molding to match the cabinets. I currently do not have crown molding in the kitchen or dining room. I am going from a eclectic traditional look to a "soft modern" look. My contractor feels that I need to put crown molding all around the kitchen and dining room to bring the rooms together. I'm inclined to just do it around the cabinets. I want the space to look nice, but I don't want it to look more traditional or fancy. I want clean and light. help! thanks

I completely understand being all about "light"!  Is there any way you can use a simpler moulding on the cabinets?  Crown moulding everywhere, while it will tie things together, might be overkill in a small space.

I have a 1/2 brick 1939 cottage style? home in baltimore with a gray slate roof, I am having the exterior painted BM Iron Mountain and the front door BM Aura Lime Green. Any suggestions for the shutters and trim? Would black shutters and white trim work or would this be too busy?

Hi there - 

well you have made the biggest decisions, so congratulations!

I would get the exterior and door finished and then paint some shutter sized pieces of foam core in various colors you are considering and hold them up to the finished exterior and see what you like best.  You might consider a lighter or darker shade of the Iron Mountain or the Lime Green, in addition to the black - and why not throw in a persimmon just for kicks!   

Good morning - another paint color question. We just had the trim of our house painted, and we need help choosing a front door color. The brick is red, and we did the eaves and trim in Sherwin Williams Techno Gray, and the shutters in SW Andiron. We had planned to do the front door in SW Hardware (all on the same color strip), but the door just vanishes in that color. Given the red brick and gray-greens, any suggestions for a color would make the door pop, but not make the house look like a circus?

Hard to say without seeing your brick color but what about a green-blue, like SW Breaktime or Waterscape? You could also go with a high-gloss black.

Good morning! I have a moderate-sized one-bedroom condo and am looking for some living room shelving and cabinets, preferably as (mid-century) modern as possible. I really like Addison series at Room and Board (combination of shelving and cabinets, various widths, mix and match), but it's a little out of my price range. Ikea, not my first preference anyway, doesn't have exactly what I want. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!

Have you checked Mitchell Gold Bob Williams? Their Vandyke bookcase sounds like what you're looking for. Not sure of the price though.

What comes first in your mind for your designs - the colors or the pattern (stripe, floral, etc.)? Or is the product "complete" from the get go?


It really depends what the product is. Sometimes finished products just pop into my head and other times they come from looking at something like an antique textile, a mod dress from the 60's or vintage rag rug, a scrap of a dishtowel - really anything can start the process.  Stripes are my therapy, so those a create by creating and playing with a certain palette until I find something that feels harmonious to me.

I just remodeled my master bathroom with marble tile, mostly white with gray highlights. Also used black, white, gray hexagonial tiles in stand up shower. Polish chrome fixtures, with espresso cabinets. I'm having a hard time picking out a neutral gray color or other color. We don't have any natural light in bathroom. Any ideas?

How about painting the walls a creamy white? I don't think it would be too stark or cold because you already have black, gray and espresso in the tiles and cabinet. Light blue is another possibility.

I have a traditional, 2-story colonial home. The foyer is average size. On the wall which you see when you come into the house, which is against the open stairway to the second level, I have a large spinet desk which has carved Jacobean legs. I keep the desk closed so it looks like a tall table. I have a burgundy urn shaped lamp with dressy shade and some blown glass candlesticks on either end of the top of the desk, and a small picture propped against the wall. I am looking to update the look of this desk/table with different lamp or accessories. What would you suggest for a nice "transitional" look? Should I invest in a pair of lamps or something else. The room has a 6 x 8 oriental rug, and neutral palamino colored wallpaper with white birds and the trim is white in the room.

Try taking the lamp and the candlesticks off and then looking at the desk with nothing on it.  Then consider using a sleeker assortment of accessories in metal (antique brass in a mid-century lamp shape could be cool) check out 1stdibs and VandM to look at mid century lamps - The one I am thinking of is a hollowed out, brass rectangle with a square parchment shade - it would look very sculptural against the solid wall.

Why are bath and shower walls made of tile and grout, materials which, no matter how well installed, will eventually fail and have to be replaced? Are there attractive alternatives that are smooth and seamless and easier to clean and maintain?

Well, there seem to be sooooo many 50's tile bathrooms still in existence that I think tile is stronger than you think as long as it is installed correctly in the first place.  Also, think of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul or the Alhambra in Spain - ancient tile work still kicking!

But, you could try reverse painted sheet glass, mirror or slabs of stone (check out Mies Van Der Rohe houses for great examples of this) very expensive, but stunning!

I love your sleepwear so much! Is there any chance you'll have comfy slippers available soon?

Stay tuned - we are test driving slippers as we speak and will hopefully have some available for holiday 2012!

Hi Annie! It's Rachelle & Jillian from Urban Country! Congratulations on the release of your new book...we love it! As always, it was wonderfully exciting to see your new Pine Cone Hill introductions at market. We are actually unpacking some of the new merchandise right now and it looks great! We look forward to your upcoming visit to our store and to our continued successful partnership!

What a treat!  For those of you who don't know Urban COuntry in Bethesda, they are some of my favorite ladies and have been customers for how long now?????? Many years.  We have been through many life changing events together, haven't we?  The business is almost besides the point - it's the friendship that really matters.  I love you guys and am so looking forward to being with you for the book signing in December! XO

My living room is full of woods and neutral, earth tones. Will a bright, bold rug like your Red Vine Tufted rug just look jarring and insane, or will it look perfect with a few accents? And if so...what should those accents be?

I'm thinking it will look fabulous - particularly if you, as you suggest, find some red accents for  the room.  It might be cool to have favorite photographs ( I would do black and white) blown up and  framed in those narrow metal frames that come in every color - use the red of the rug.  They are an inexpensive way to add a customized and personal look to the space.  We have the vine rugs in our office spaces and they are wonderful underfoot.

I see lots of great indoor/outdoor rugs, but I've stayed away from using them indoors due to concerns about what is put on them to make them mildew-resistant, etc and other worries about off-gassing, etc. I've got two young kids - one still in the everything goes in the mouth stage. I'd love to find out that my concerns aren't needed - can you shed some light on how to identify 'healthy' indoor/outdoor rugs?

I can't speak for other people's rugs but our outdoor rugs have nothing "put on them" to resist mildew.  It is the fiber itself - we use polypropelene - that resists the elements and stains.  The fibers are made from a "slurry" aka goop that is heated and extruded, creating a thread as it cools.  The goop is what is impenetrable to water, red wine, ketchup - what have you.  

Your book is so useful and inspirational, and beautiful to boot! So I have to ask: are you going to do another book, and if so, what will it be about? (Yes, I know the book just came out. But I'm greedy!)

I think my next book will be about my buying and redoing my mother's house.  She died this past May - tears in the eyes just writing that - and I have made the decision to buy her house from my brothers.  She was a Master Gardener and we all want to see the garden at this house grow into the vision she had in mind.  I am reading all her journals about the house and the garden and am working on my addition plans as we speak.  It will be a sentimental but sensible journey.  I will be blogging about it on  

Someone on this chat recommended Joss & Main - I've joined and loved it. Great ideas and interesting products. The prices are still hight - once I've found something, I generally do a Google search to see if I can find the product somewhere else for less - chairs I was eyeing are available on for $100 less per chair. But the ideas are wonderful.


I am using the diamond pattern in charcoal/taupe - love it and I think it will hide everything and what it doesn't hide can be washed off! I wasn't planning to use stair rods (should i?) but I am going to use a pad, per the installer's recommendation. Any advice appreciated. He said the rugs had to be stretched a bit when installing. Correct?

Great choice!  I have that pattern in my mud room and it is perfect for high traffic areas.  Stair rods are more decorative than anything, so no I don't think you need them.  Yes, a good tug by the installer will give the rugs a snug fit.

Where can I Find Pine Cone Hill products in the DC area?

Urban Country in Bethesda is probably closest to you.  

Hi Annie, what are some low-cost suggestions to add personality to a space? In this economy, I want to keep my decor fresh but don't have a lot of $ to spend. Thanks!

Paint, paint, paint - it's cheap and can transform a space instantly.  Try adding painted stripes - there is a how to in the book - this is a fun do it yourself and can add great impact to a space.

Annie, it would be helpful if website had color information on item pages, or descriptions. I can't tell if Parchment linen is beige, taupe, or grey. Same for pleated linen natural line. There is no color or descriptive info on the web page. Hard to spend over $500 for a duvet cover and shams this way.

Agreed and that is why we are happy to send you swatches of the actual fabrics so you can see the real color.

I live in a rental apartment that is TINY. Fortunately the walls are an off-white color, so it doesn't feel so institutional. Do you have storage tips for me? I have nowhere to keep and put away anything since space is so limited.

ask this again next week. thanks.

If you weren't a designer, what would you be?

A dude rancher!

I am currently looking for a nursery rug and the Dash and Albert rugs online look fabulous. However, I can't trust my monitor to give true colors. How can I get swatches to see if a rug will work with the colors in the room?

just call and we will send you a swatch or go to your local Dash and Albert dealer.

I love stripes, but most of your stripes run vertically. For those of us who live in narrow, city dwellings, I think more choices in horizontal stripes would be welcome! (I think they tend to pull the eye across the room.)

We are adding some horizontal stripes in our 2012 collection.  I am in Tucson, AZ shooting the new catalog right now!

When I renovate would be it wrong to take the space currently being used by the hall coat closet and add it in the kitchen pantry? We would have no coat closet but could hang hooks and a wall shelf in the hall for coats/hats. I'm thinking resale value and what buyers are going to think with no actual coat closet in the entry hall. Would the added kitchen space be worth it to most people?

Hooks rock and a pantry will be a better use of the space!

I love the look of these chairs but I want something comfortable for my guests. Has anyone ever sat in one??

Love 'em and they spin!

I was lucky enough to visit your Outlet store on a roadtrip, but didn't have the room to purchase any of the goods I wanted. And your website doesn't seem to carry your kitchenwear. I fell in love with one of your cakestands and would love to have it! Any chance you'll have these available on the website someday?

Call the outlet store and they will talk you through what you want and then arrange to ship it to you.  

I'm in the market for a new front door for my brick colonial house. I love the idea of letting in light and going with a paned glass door, but I don't like the idea of everyone on the outside looking in. (And I really don't like gathered sheers; the inside of my house is modern.) Anything that you can recommend? Would a roller shade or something like that work when privacy is desired?

Frosted or ribbed glass will let in the light but keep inquiring eyes at bay!

My husband and I just moved into a fixer-upper in Arlington (50s ranch style with two additions). We came from wall-to-wall carpeting to all hardwood floors. I would like some warmth (both decorating warmth and feet warmth) and I was wondering how I should handle incorporating rugs throughout the house. Do I need to match styles, patterns, colors, etc? So far I have one paisley themed rug from Pier1 in the family room (colors are ivory, dark red and a smidgen of purple). The only rooms that will flow into each other are the soon to be kitchen/dining room/entryway...the 3BR/Office/Family room/hallway are separated by walls. Any advice would be appreciated, thanks!

It's always good to consider the whole house when coming up with color schemes but no they don't all have to be the same.  Just be conscious of how you want people to feel as they move from one space to another.  

Just curious, what inspired the name Dash and Albert?

Dash is my first Clumber Spaniel and Albert (in heaven now) was a funny Basset Hound that helped my daughter learn how to walk!

I'm trying to picture it and I can't help thinking the space will look unfinished without crown molding around the entire room.

I just think another, less fancy moulding might give you a cleaner look.

We live in a 1960s tract ranch house--square, plain, small rooms, with baseboard heat radiators. I'm stymied on curtains for the bedrooms. We have inside-mount honeycomb blinds, but too much light comes in at the edges, so I need to hang curtains that will at least block the edges at night. Problem is, the rooms are so small that all but one window has furniture below where curtains would hang, so they can't go to the floor. How far down should they come, and should they start at the ceiling? The windows are wider than they are high.

I had the same dilemma in my new house.  I built a vented , wood box around the radiators and then painted them to match the wall color.  I then had the curtains go floor to top of the box.  It was the best solution I could  come up with and it works.

That's all the questions we have time for today. Thanks to Annie for joining us, and thanks for the chatter who asked about installing Dash& Albert runners on her stairs. Please email your contact info to us at and we'll send you a copy of Annie's new book. Chat with you next week.

In This Chat
Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius uses her years of experience as a home expert and her network of well-placed sources to help you choose everything from paint type and colors to how to de-shed sofas from pet hair to where to find the best designer fabrics at a discount.

Home Q&A archive
Terri Sapienza
Terri Sapienza is a staff writer for The Washington Post.
Annie Selke
Annie Selke is the founder and designer of the Dash & Albert and Pine Cone Hill companies and author of the new book, "Fresh American Spaces."
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