Annie Selke on indoor/outdoor decorating | Home Front

Annie Selke
Jul 20, 2017

Designer Annie Selke is behind the Annie Selke Companies, a group of textile and home furnishing brands that include Pine Cone Hill, Dash & Albert and Annie Selke Luxe. For more than 20 years, Selke and her team have focused on color, comfort and approachable elegance that brings happiness into a home. Selke is an avid traveler and flea-market treasure hunter. Her new home in California's Palm Desert inspired Selke to create a line of bright new home furnishings with a bit of West Coast cool.

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. She and weekly guests, whether Martha Stewart, the Property Brothers or Nate Berkus, answer your decorating and design questions. Jura is always happy to whip out her paint chips, track down a hard-to-find piece of furniture or offer her seasoned advice on practical living and decluttering. For more than 10 years, Home Front has been an online conversation about the best way to make your home comfortable, stylish and fun. We invite you to submit questions and share you own great tips, ideas and gripes. No problem is too big or too small, send them over.

Designer Annie Selke is behind the Annie Selke Companies, a group of textile and home furnishing brands that include Pine Cone Hill and Dash & Albert. She is the queen of indoor/outdoor decorating. I used to see Annie at the High Point Furniture Market and I was always impressed at her talent for creating fresh new products that were functional and beautiful. For more than 20 years, Annie and her team have focused on color, comfort and approachable elegance with their stripes and bold patterns. Annie is an avid traveler and flea-market hunter. Her new home in California's Palm Desert inspired her to create a line of bright new home furnishings with a bit of West Coast cool. Welcome to our chat Annie.

Hello, hello, hello!  I am thrilled to be here today and am looking forward to answering your questions.

We have a basement room with one hopper window and I don't know how to decorate around it. It doesn't need a blind or curtain (it's the only source of daylight in the room, and privacy is not an issue). All I can think of is to treat it as one picture in a gallery and hang several others around it. Do you have other suggestions? It's right up at the ceiling, if that makes a difference. Thank you!

I like your idea of treating like a picture and incorporating it into the overall decor of the wall.  You could do a gallery of mirrors and pictures hung pretty close together to fill the whole wall.

We have a screened in porch that we'd like to make more inviting. The floor is a concrete slab with low pile all weather carpeting. The ceiling is painted brown. One wall of the patio is our vinyl siding. It's a huge space with no window or adornment. How can we dress this up?

First, I think I would paint the ceiling a more uplifting color, like a light sky blue (porches are often traditionally painted that color) then I would define seating groups and/or dining area by finding rugs of the appropriate size to accommodate the furniture that you use.  The rugs could be the same pattern or you could do different rugs in compatible colors and constructions.  Find something that looks okay with the all weather carpet. good luck!

Good morning. I found an area rug online I really like, but it is more than 2x my budget. How can I find a similar alternative for a lower cost? Is there an app for that? Or do I need to try multiple home decor websites and hope I find something similar? By the way, I have a couple of Dash&Albert rugs and I love them. So durable and I really like the coordinating totes.

Congrats on finding something you like!  That is half the battle.  Now you need to search for something similar in your price range or wait for a fabulous summer sale.  

I love using color when decorating, but I'm stuck between two options: white walls, and use color accents on things like pillows, drapes, sofa, etc., or colored/painted walls with more neutral accents. Thoughts about which will stand the test of time better?

I would do the white walls and experiment with color or choose a not too dark color that can work with a bunch of palettes.  Two of my favorites are Farrow and Ball Pale Powder ( a lovely pale blue) and Benjamin Moore Abalone ( a pale warm gray/taupe).

I read about your new house in Palm Desert. How is decorating there different than in Massachusetts?

Soooo different!  You still need to answer the basics of decorating i.e. comfort, style and functionality, but after that all bets were off.  The light is much different there and the colors surrounding the house are far more vibrant so I could use much brighter, bolder colors and patterns.  It was really fun!

You have been making beautiful indoor outdoor rugs for years. Are they still made of the same thing? Can you wash them in a washing machine?

Hi there,

We have two different indoor/outdoor constructions one is Polypropelene (PP) and the other is PET (recycled polyester).  PET is softer and feels like wool and the other is stiffer.  It's better to hose the rugs off and hang them to dry but if you have one that will fit in your washer, I say go for it.  Use cold water and hang it to dry.  DO NOT PUT IT IN THE DRYER!

Can you tell us about your Berkshires outlet store and what we might find there?

You will find amazing products at amazing prices!  I am often shocked at how affordable the stuff is!  Designers come from all over to shop there for themselves and for clients.  It's worth a trip.  Once we had someone fly in to the Pittsfield airport just to come to our tent sale and outlet store!  Visit the outlet facebook page for upcoming events.

HF8311

Hi! We want a new dining room rug, but are stuck. To improve longevity of a rug under the dining room table, what materials do you suggest using (we have two small kids)? Is a modern print indoor/outdoor fabric rug a completely crazy idea? Our dining room is I would say traditional/French/Euro with a rug that compliments but totally uninspires me. Can one go funky in this situation? We really want to....

First of all, you can do whatever you want to!!  I would get an indoor/outdoor PET or Polypropelene flat weave rug.  Take a look at Cleo and Elizabeth - part of our Bunny Williams collection.  They are graphic and bold but can compliment traditional decor.

How did you get into designing pajamas and robes?

Because I love wearing them!  We started PJ's by using up extra quilt fabric and it grew from there!

We have a stone fireplace in mainly tan and gray, and a Vermont slate floor with blue, green, and deep red slate. What to paint the walls? They are gold now, which does not appeal! Thank you for your expertise.

I would go with a light shade of the green slate color.

I am redecorating my first floor open-plan living space. I have twin three-year-olds and two small dogs. I would like to put a rug under my dining table and one in the living area. I desperately need something that is easy to clean and hides stains, and if possible, does not retain odors! Does this miracle textile exist? Any leads on a similarly miraculous sectional/sofa would be much appreciated too... Thanks very much.

You are the poster family for our indoor/outdoor rugs!  They look amazing but are easy to clean.  Choose someting with a fair amount of pattern as that helps hide stains until you get to cleaning it.  Febreeze works well to eliminate odors.

Hi all! We are lucky enough to have a screened porch that we currently furnish with a dining table and six chairs. We use it for family meals in nice weather, but I find myself often wishing for a porch with lounging space for reading or just relaxing outdoors in a bug-free zone. Can you make any suggestions for a porch set-up that reads "lounging" but can accommodate casual meals as well? The porch is about 12' x 12'. Also, the porch is visible from the main living area of our home, so it has to look nice year-round! Thanks for any suggestions.

How about doing two banquettes/benches with cushions on them so that you can lounge on them and use them as seating for dining? Get a long skinny table.

How often do you add bedding collections? I'm looking for something in an indigo print.

You are sooooo in luck!  We have our Mood Indigo collection coming out in September and it is a gorgeous offering of blue prints and patterns.

My bedroom is boring beige and I want to update it. What's your current favorite color combination?

I love many color combos but for bedrooms I generally like a restful palette without too much pattern.  I love pale robins egg blue,  pale , pale pink ( a very flattering color to be in bed with).

What thread count are most of your sheets? What do you think is the best number for comfort?

We do 200, 250, 300, 400, 500 and 600 count sheets! And, honestly it really isn't about the count it is about the quality of the fibers and the finishing process that is used. I sleep with our 400 count classic hemstitch and our Lia cotton because I love percale sheets as opposed to sateen sheets.  But all our sheets are wonderful to the touch!

We're trying to find a stair runner for our basement stairs. Our first level is light and bright and our basement is, well, a bit dark even with white walls and windows along one wall. Any suggestions for best rug styles for stairs and patterns, or colors that could be used to brighten the space?

Go for a happy and bright runner!  I would use our polypropelene or micro hook wool rugs for this stair runner project.

It's been so hot the past few weeks! Any suggestions for keeping a bed lightly dressed while still looking put together?

Percale sheets and a lightweight cotton quilt or blanket!

I want to renovate the master bathroom in my condo. I've never done a renovation project before, so I'm not really sure where to start. I know that it will need a lot--the shower, sink/vanity, toilet, mirror, light fixtures and tile floor should be replaced. Additionally, there may be water damage behind the shower, since the tile is old and there are cracks in the grout. I have some ideas about what I want, but not specifics, and I don't really know what all the options are. Further, I have no idea how much this will cost. I want it to look nice, but I don't want to go over the top with really fancy things when simple, functional things will do. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks.

Okay, start by gathering inspiration I recommend using Houzz or magazine websites to find images of rooms that you love.  Then you can hone in on what is common to all those inspirations and you can start making decisions about what you want.  Once you have an idea you can go shopping and I would start and Home Depot or Lowes as that is where you will find the best prices. But DO NOT go there without a sense of what you are looking for or you will be totally overwhelmed. My kitchen in Palm Desert, CA was all from Home Depot but it looks like a really high-end, European kitchen because I knew exactly what look I was going for.

What is your favorite white paint color?

Decorator White and Atrium White from Benjamin Moore or Pointing from Farrow and Ball if you want a warmer white.

Do you like subway tiles or do you feel they are overused? What kind of vanity do you think is timeless?

I still like subway tile but I think it depends on the overall architecture of the house.  I am liking porcelain, made to look like marble,  larger format tiles - affordable and easy to maintain. Look at tileshop.com - they have an amazing selection!  We are renovating an 8 bedroom/bath Inn opening in August and we used porcelain in all the bathrooms.

I saw on your blog that you are opening an inn. Can you give us the details? Will it be open this fall?

Soooo exciting!  The Inn opens August 19th.  You can visit the site at Thirtythreemain.com to see the progress.  We are putting the furniture, curtains and artwork in next week!!!  Yikes!! Please come for a visit!

Are you working on a new book?

There is always something brewing in my head but nothing specific at the moment. 

Do you still make things for Garnet Hill? Do they have an Annie Selke label on them?

Yup! They carry a large assortment of our rugs that have the Dash and Albert name on them. 

Our space bedroom/tv room is (finally!) getting turned into a nursery. It's currently lavender and VERY dark as the only natural light comes from a west-facing window. Can you recommend some neutral shades (specific pain colors/numbers would be wonderful!) that will warm (and lighten!) the room a bit? We'll probably paint, then pick a new rug. There's lovely light wood (original from the 30s) and white crown modeling already. We'd love the paint color to grow with the baby, whoever he or she turns out to be!

I'm going to plug Pale Powder from Farrow and Ball again because I love that color.  I have used it in so many rooms in different houses and it never disappoints.  I never tire of it and everyone always asks what color it because it is so pleasing.

Are there any decorating trends that you wish you would never have to see again? One the flip side, anything that you always love to see/use when decorating?

There are too many dreadful decorating trends to name.  I believe it all comes down to proportions of your space and what you put in it. Use less not more. Live with what you love. And, fresh flowers make a delightfully huge difference!

Since you have an outlet store in the Berkshires, what can you tell us about flea markets, cute towns and other outlets in that area?

I'm a regular at Brimfield with is a huge antique/flea market in Western Mass., about an hour from where we are. It is head 3 times a year.  

Here on The Other West Coast south of Tampa, we eat dinner in our outdoor living room (4 chairs, midcentury modern fireplace, and coffee table) almost every night from November through March. All you need to do is furnish the area the way you want and keep some nice large lap trays handy. (And be careful to not spill your cocktail when you lean over.)

Sounds like fun!

What are your favorite pieces from your collections and do you use them in your own home?

I love them all or they wouldn't be here today! But I would need a gazillion houses to use all my products. I love living with our products. They stand the test of time both in their quality and in their design. My three dogs are ever present product testers!! 

How many decorative and functional pillows is too many on the top of a bed?

I have too many on my bed!  I like to have three euros (king bed) at the back to lean against for reading or watching TV, then three sleeping pillows and one or two decorative pillows. Note I  use the euros in front of the sleeping pillows so you don't see the wrinkles imparted by sleep.

how do you remove mold and mildew from an outdoor rug?

Depends on the construction but if it's polypropelene you can use straight bleach.  Otherwise you can try OxyClean but check the instructions before going for it.

Do you like the look of a bed with the comforter folded up at the foot - or should the comforter be on the bed itself with a folded up throw or blanket at the end?

That's a personal preference and depends on the season. I usually have a duvet or quilt folded at the foot of my bed.

You seem to have a lot of dogs with you in your photos! How do you deal with dog slobber on pillows and rugs?

And on the sofa, the windows - slobber, slobber and hair everywhere!  

I recently added a dog dedicated washer and dryer to keep their stuff separate from my clothes and bedding!  

Do you design indoor/ outdoor furniture?

Not yet but we do sell some that I love.

Hi, I am thinking about buying this Ikea dining table for my brick patio, see it here. Because of the drop leaves (the length can go from 55 inches to 102 inches) I'm not sure what size rug to get. Any advice?

sounds like you need a 10 x 14 or 9 x 12 in order to accommodate the full length of the table the chairs.

Leading out from our basement is an unsightly, unfinished patio space that is under a deck. There is a lot of potential for this space to be a lovely seating area but it needs a lot of work. Any suggestions and do you have any suggestions or experience with outdoor tiles/pavers? We're trying to avoid the concrete slab look.

Pavers would be lovely with grass or gravel around them. And maybe some outdoor curtains to define the space a bit?

What design blogs do you like?

annieselke.com/rugdesignchallenge

Check out the link above to see some of our favorite bloggers that we asked to join our rug design challenge. 

Do you make sofa beds? There is a need for more comfortable ones on the market.

We don't make sofa beds but I know they have come a long way. I saw that you can get them with memory foam mattresses now and they felt pretty good. I believe I tried them out at Macy's or Bloomingdale's.

Wow! What fun! Fast and furious typing on topics near and dear to my heart. Thank you all for participating. Happy Summer!!

It was great to have you on the chat and I'm looking forward to seeing your new inn with all your products in it. Next week: chat with Shazalynn Cavin-Winfrey of SCW Interiors in Alexandria. She shared some of her bathroom do's and don'ts with me in a recent article that you can read here. There were lots of interesting comments and reactions to it so check it out and join us next week and let us know how you deal with all that stuff in your bathroom.

In This Chat
Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily twitter feed @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering, organizing and DC retail.

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Annie Selke
Designer Annie Selke’s textile and home furnishing brands include Pine Cone Hill, Dash & Albert and Annie Selke Luxe.
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