Inspirations Safari- Clay’s Favorite Finds- Winter 2018

Inspiration Safari winter 18

December 9, 2018 at 1:31 pm Leave a comment

Interior Design Inspirations Fall 2018 – Clay’s Favorite Finds!

Below you will find some of my favorite finds and inspirations for Fall 2018! Please contact me for more information. Happy Fall! Clay

Interior Design Inspirations- Fall 2018

October 3, 2018 at 12:03 pm Leave a comment

In The Studio with Clay- What’s on the Easel?

In the studio with Clay 9-18-18 (2)Pictured here are some recently finished , and some just started, canvases of my new series Ancient Voices.

All of the paintings are acrylic on gallery wrapped canvases and some contain paper collage materials. Colors are mostly brown, black , white and cream to lend an organic, earthiness. The addition of metallic gold that shimmers in the light gives a sense of mystery and  magic!

These works are created intuitively from memories and experiences past and present.

Stay tuned for more!  Clay

September 18, 2018 at 6:38 pm Leave a comment

Trend Alert! 2018- 2019 Globally Inspired Living!

Globally inspired living with an eclectic mix is experiencing a moment in our interior design world but has always been a favorite of mine!

This vignette shot of a living room features a global- eclectic mix with layered area rugs and a Classically inspired chair accented with a bone inlay Moroccan side table.CSL Global eclectic vignette LR

The global mix is typically done with lots of bright colors but I think the neutral approach I took here, with lots of textures, is sophisticated and soothing.

I hope you will be inspired to mix it up and add some globally inspired elements to your  home!

Till next time,


August 15, 2018 at 2:05 pm 4 comments


Inspirations Summer 2018-

July 2, 2018 at 11:41 am Leave a comment

INSPIRATIONS – SPRING 2018- Clay’s Favorite Finds!

Here in Florida we are enjoying our Spring weather; with a preview of some almost Summer- like temps!
When I think of Spring, one of my favorite times of the year, I always think of cool and soothing water inspired colors !
It’s time to do your Spring cleaning and while you are at it, I hope this Inspiration board, I have curated for you, will give you some ideas to freshen up your interiors.
All items shown are available thru Clay Stephens Interiors- please call 321-480-7563 for prices and availability.

Continue Reading April 16, 2018 at 2:32 pm Leave a comment

Clay’s Favorite Finds! Coastal Inspirations for Summer 2017

Coastel Inspirations!

Summer is on the way! What better time to visit the coast and glean some inspiration for your home’s interiors?

My ongoing love affair with islands and beaches inspired a series of paintings  that I have been working on for the past several months . I used one of the latest paintings, River Mist, as the starting point for my Coastal Inspirations design board, above.

I draw on my travel experiences to islands from Maine, Bermuda, Florida and on down through the Caribbean to inspire my art and interior design. The sand, sea, sky and cultures of each locale  have so many nuances of color, texture , vibrations and feelings! Think of the glorious pink sand beaches in Bermuda or the festive and colorful costumes of Roatan, Honduras, for example! The possibilities to incorporate all of that visual smorgasbord of beauty, nature and customs into art and design is boundless!

I hope you will share my Summer Inspirations Board with family and friends that might enjoy some Coastal Inspiration!

*All items featured in this blog are available from Clay Stephens Lifestyles! Contact Clay for more info, pricing and availability 321-622-5307  or

Happy decorating!



May 13, 2017 at 8:03 pm Leave a comment

Clay’s Favorite Finds- Spring 2017

Spring, a time of rebirth and reawakening, is just around the corner! Now is the time to give your home a “freshen up” in preparation for the beautiful season ahead!

These are my favorite finds for your Spring inspiration and to bring in a touch of Greenery, Pantone’s color of the year, inspired by nature; the perfect hue to usher in Spring!

 Please share with family and friends that might also enjoy some Spring inspiration!

Happy Decorating!

Clay clays-favorite-finds-spring-2017* All items featured are available through Clay Stephens Lifestyles- Contact Clay for prices and availability 321-622-5307  or                                                                                                                                                               

January 15, 2017 at 11:56 am Leave a comment

Interior Design Inspiration Board! Be Inspired!

clays-favorite-finds Please contact Clay at 321-622-5307  or for availability and prices on all featured home décor.

November 7, 2016 at 1:06 pm Leave a comment


AAhhh………..dining alfresco! One of summer’s great pleasures and a great way to enjoy the soothing sights and sounds of nature. Communing with nature always gives my spirits a lift and what better way than dining in an outdoor setting; on a boat dock, under a large tree, in a secluded garden, on the loggia or a poolside deck.

For dinner at dusk, my friend Suzanne used to set a formal table under a large oak in her Alabama backyard complete with a beautiful tablecloth, fine china and silverware, crystal goblets and silver candlesticks. She would hang an old candle chandelier  from a tree branch to complete the setting. It was a very special and unforgettable experience!

Food just seems to taste better alfresco and I always have so much fun coming up with creative and unique table settings. Mix and match china, flatware and unexpected object d’ art to create exotic, whimsical, formal or country casual themes. Fresh flowers are a must and of course candles for those special evening dinners.

So give your imagination some free rein and create your own enchanted space for dining alfresco!

Dennis and I hope you and yours have a fabulous summer!


May 31, 2016 at 5:15 pm 2 comments

Easy Summer Living; Enjoying the Outdoors!

Outdoor chaiseIt’s time for easy summer living, enjoying the outdoors and the soothing sights and sounds of nature! Garden Living spaces are a great place to celebrate the season with family and friends.

An enchanted outdoor room becomes a peaceful retreat with shimmering water features, the music of wind chimes, the allure of the fire pit and the magic of fireflies. We placed these fabulous lights,, in our shrubbery in the back yard and felt like kids again chasing fireflies with a mason jar!

Outdoor furnishings are available to create your own special rooms for living, dining, entertaining and even sleeping. No longer the old boring outdoor fabric fare of the past; we now have a banquet of new fabrics in colors and patterns that define traditional, exotic, Zen, modern and just about any style your imagination can invent!

I remember my grandmother’s sleeping porch when I was growing up in South Georgia. What a special treat to spend the night and be lulled to sleep with the soft music of the night and the fragrance of Night Blooming Jasmine wafting on the warm summer breeze!

Dress out your favorite outdoor rooms with fabrics, furnishings and accessories that reflect the colors of summer. Chartreuse, mint, shades of blue and coral are right in style these days and you are limited only by your imagination and daring! Let nature inspire you……………………………..

Have a fabulous summer and remember to “live life with joy, wonder and style!” 

Clay and Dennis

Outdoor Dining Group

Outdoor Dining Group

June 3, 2015 at 8:59 pm Leave a comment

The Home as Sanctuary

World events being what they are today, your home should be a haven that nurtures your soul and restores your spirit! Restful and serene interiors that reflect nature and incorporate the beauty of organic materials are the hallmark of a restorative home. Lucious silk, fine cotton, textural linen, the warmth of wood and the earthiness of stone are a few tactile choices that awaken the sense of touch and sight, creating the home as sanctuary.

Please click on photo to veiw larger image of this restfull and nurturing  master bedroom; deep, rich colors with silk drapery and bedding. Sumptious!

Enjoy beautifully scented candles, fresh, fragrant flowers and perhaps create a “memories” potpourri filled with shells collected on seaside vacations; flowers, recieved as gifts that you have dried; saved champagne and wine corks from life’s celebrations or other special objects that evoke fond memories! Caress the sense of smell!

Comforting sounds such as recordings of wind chimes or bird song and soft music playing in the background along with the laughter of family and friends imbue a feeling of peace and contentment.

Hand crafted bowls filled with sumptious fruits or vegetables give you a renewed appreciation of nature’s bounty!

Family heirlooms, collected treasures and old books are wonderful for those contemplative moments.

Choose soft color palettes to impart a calming ambiance or darker, richer colors to embrace and cocoon. Color is very personal, you should choose those that make you feel peaceful and happy, then wrap yourself in them!

This step is crucial! Clear out clutter and do some “spring” cleaning. Remove anything that has a negative vibe. It’s great, cheap therapy and will create a positive, happy energy in your home!

Finally, immerse yourself in the beauty and serenity of art and objects that speak to you in a special way; wheather a fabulous flea market find or priceless antique, these are the elements that create the home as sanctuary!  Till next time, remember to “Live Life with Joy, Wonder and Style”! Clay


December 14, 2014 at 1:49 pm Leave a comment

Healthy, Hearty “Sausage” Eggs Benedict—-Yumm-O Comfort Food!

Dennis and I woke to a gloomy, rainy day  here in Central Florida this morning. Although we do enjoy an occasional rainy day,  we felt we  needed some comfort food ! Since we are trying to live a more health promoting lifestyle, and eggs Benedict  is one of our favorite comfort foods, we came up with this healthy alternative.

Ingredients needed to serve 2 :

4 large eggs from cage free raised hens fed a vegetarian diet with no hormones or antibiotics.

4 whole wheat English muffins, split

4 Vegetarian sausage patties

For the Hollandaise sauce:

Mayo made with extra virgin olive oil

1 lemon – halved

salt (optional- we don’t add salt)

Black pepper to taste, freshly ground

1/4 c. water

1/4 c. low fat Greek yogurt

1/8 to 1/4 tsp garlic powder , or to taste

1/8 to 1/4 tsp turmeric; just enough to turn the “Hollandaise”sauce yellow.

For the garnish:

Parsley or fresh chives, chopped



Make the mock “Hollandaise” sauce:

Combine the following with a whisk, in a microwave proof container, we use a 2 cup measuring cup

– 3/4 cup EVOO mayo

-juice of 1/2 lemon

-salt (optional)

-1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

-1/8 to 1/4 tsp. garlic powder, or to taste

-1/8 to 1/4 tsp. turmeric, just enough to make the sauce yellow

-1/4 cup water

-1/4 cup low fat Greek Yogurt

Place in microwave and heat gently


Toast 2 split English muffins; spread tops with a thin layer of EVOO mayo, keep warm

Cook the 4 vege sausage patties according to oven baked directions on package ( we find that microwaving the patties makes them tough) , keep patties warm

Poach the 4 eggs; leave yolks runny or done to your taste

-Top muffins with sausage patties, eggs  and then the sauce; sprinkle with chopped parsley or chives and a little paprika.

Yumm-O ! A healthy, hearty and happy comfort food breakfast!

Till next time,

Clay  and DennisSausage eggs benedict






November 9, 2014 at 2:52 pm Leave a comment


flowersThese 5 easy and affordable decorating ideas will bring more positive, happy and healthy energy into your home today!

# 1-  Physically clean your home, then cleanse the energy of your spaces by burning scented candles or incense;

The best essential oil scents, used alone or in combination are :

  • White or Clary Sage
  • Sweet grass
  • Cedar
  • Lemon
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Geranium 

After both cleansing processes are done, de-clutter and organize your rooms. This is one of the very best things you can do for yourself and your family to instantly lift your spirits  and invite more positive energy into your home.

#2- Bring nature inside with fresh flowers . Create an arrangement of cut fresh flowers (these are readily available and affordable at most grocery stores today). Place on your cocktail table or side table in your living area or on the dresser or night stand in your bedroom. I find the process of arranging the flowers to be very meditative and restful.

#3- Home fragrance. Fill your home with pleasant, memory evoking fragrances using scented room sprays, candles, potpourri or incense. When I smell the scent of roses or gardenias, I immediately think of my mother and happy childhood days; she always had a rose garden and several gardenia bushes so we always had bowls of gardenia blooms and/ or arrangements of roses throughout the house.

#4- Change your Lighting. Replace strategic light bulbs with “natural”, “full spectrum” or LED bulbs to bring the feeling of sunlight into your rooms. Up Lights on interior plants and trees also brighten those dark corners and spaces.

#5- Place a bowl of lemons or artfully arranged fresh fruit on your kitchen counter; a pleasure to behold and a flavorful and healthy addition to your menus and recipes!

I have taken my own advice and have cleaned, de-cluttered and organized my studio, which I’ve been meaning to do for months. I feel soooo much better and now it is a pleasure to walk into the space; like a breath of fresh air!

I hope you have enjoyed these 5 decorating ideas to bring more positive, happy and healthy energy into your home! I encourage you to try one or more of these today!!



August 25, 2014 at 5:01 pm Leave a comment

Interior Design Trend Alert! Luscious Coral and Turquoise!

Luscious coral and turquoise are current haute colors in our design world and look so very fabulous together! Orange, popular for a few seasons now, has evolved into coral, a blend of pink  and orange; a beautiful color that combines with almost any other color in the spectrum including, but not limited to, turquoise.

  My color inspirations come from many sources including the fashion runway ( current interior design color trends usually begin on the fashion runway! ) You can also draw your color inspirations  from travel (one of my favorites!), nature, art, a farmer’s market and so much more!

Colors in Nature

Colors in Nature

  • Coral combined with turquoise creats an exotic and tropical ambience.
  •  Black and white punched up with coral makes a bold, graphic statement!
  • Sophisticated and glamorous – coral and gray.
  • Combine coral with shades of citrus green ; very fashion forward!
  • Purple plays with coral to create an exotic , global vibe—– I love it!

Yellow, many shades of blue, red and even pink are other colors that you could combine with coral to create your own personal and delectable color statement!

Thank you for joining me here to see my latest Interior Design Color Trend Alert highlighting Luscious Coral and Turquoise ! I hope you have enjoyed this post! Stay tuned for more! Clay

Dolce and Gabana Fashion Colors

Dolce and Gabbana Fashion Colors


July 1, 2014 at 8:07 pm Leave a comment

Trend Alert! Nail-head Trim Details !

Nail-head trim details are experiencing new-found popularity in the interior design world! Nail-head trim is showing up on accent furniture, chairs, barstools, beds, tables, picture frames and more. Nickel, bronze, brass or black they add a definitive touch to whatever they grace!

limed oak table with nickel nail head detailing

Side table with nickel nail-head accents

Faux leather chest with nail-head detailing

Did you know? Nail head trim dates back to the era between 1560 and 1643 when the French Country style was first introduced during the reign of Louis XIII and has remained popular ever since.

I have pictured here some examples of  furnishings and accents featuring nail-head trim details.
All items shown are available through Clay Stephens Lifestyles. Please contact us for pricing and more info at

storage cube HaFu 090-427

Nail-head trim adorns storage cube stool

Hekm dinging chair with nailhead trim

Nail-head detailing on dining chair

I hope you have enjoyed this brief trend alert on the popularity of nail-head trim! (more…)

April 21, 2014 at 5:48 pm Leave a comment

April in Paris! Sites, Sounds and Fabulous Food!

Sainte Chappelle, Paris

Sainte Chappelle, Paris

April in Paris ! I was fortunate enough to visit Paris in April and enjoy the amazing sights, sounds and fabulous food  in this  vibrant, exciting city ! April is a luscious time of year to visit Paris; masses of tulips, cherry blossoms, daffodils and apple blossoms abound  in the gardens and parks.

Although our visit was somewhat short, we saw many of the beautiful, historic sites in the heart of Paris, including the Louvre; Musee d’ Orsay on the Seine;the chill bump inducing, awe-inspiring stained glass windows of the Sainte Chappelle; Notre Dame; the Arc de Triomphe, and of course the Eiffel Tower.

On one of our many strolls through the streets of Paris, we discovered a friendly and accommodating, quaint restaurant  that served some amazing food including onion soup. I could not get their recipe, but my friend Rose, who was born and raised in France, gave me hers and it is very similar to the soup we were served at this quaint restaurantI am not sure, but I think the restaurant was the Cafe de la Bourse. I know it was one of the restaurants where we had a wonderful experience and great food!

Rose’s French Onion Soup, or as she says “Soup a L’Oignon” .

4 or 5 large white onions , sliced thinly.

1/2 cup butter

1 Tablespoon sugar

6 cups beef stock, preferably home-made

1/4 cup good cognac

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

6 rounds of

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

toasted French bread. Butter both sides after toasting

Grated Gruyère Cheese, about 2 cups

Cook sliced onions in butter in a large saucepan, with the sugar; cook very slowly, stirring constantly with a  wooden spoon until golden brown. Add stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook , covered, about one hour.

Just before serving, add cognac and spoon into earthenware bowls over toasted French bread rounds. Top with lots of grated Gruyère cheese and melt under the broiler.

This serves about 4 as an appetizer.

Bon Appetit!




April 3, 2014 at 4:33 pm Leave a comment

4 Health Enhancing Spices you should be adding to your Recipes!

spicesI add these 4 Health Enhancing Spices to my recipes as often as I can.

1Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory benefits. I add it to rice and chicken dishes, sprinkle it in soups and combine in my salad dressing recipes.

2– Cinnamon helps regulate your blood sugar and is a great antioxidant. I sprinkle a little in my coffee in the mornings; tastes great and is good for you, too! Cinnamon also combines well with Turmeric and Cumin in many savory dishes, but you only need a touch!

3– Cumin enhances immunity and increases metabolism. I love Cumin added to guacamole, my yellow rice and chicken recipe and almost any pork dish. Its great in Chili, too!

4Garlic has many great health enhancing benefits; It acts as an anti-inflammatory and has great cardiovascular benefits, just to name a few. Garlic is easy to incorporate into most savory dishes. OK, so I just can’t cook without garlic ! I use it in almost all recipes where I use onion ( another great health enhancing bulb!).

You should use these only as seasonings, not as high dose supplements! As with anything, herbs and spices included, there are side effects in high doses. As my mother used to say ” Everything in moderation!”.

I hope you have enjoyed this post and will try incorporating these 4  Health Enhancing Spices into your own recipes!

March 30, 2014 at 8:17 pm Leave a comment


TradeWinds 1645Want to make your low ceilings appear higher? Here are 6 Easy, Breezy ways to accomplish that!

1- Paint your ceilings a shade of blue; this gives the feeling of sky and opens up the space. Go one step further and paint a “sky’ mural on the ceiling complete with clouds and birds! Or whatever your imagination dictates!  I   once painted the ceiling of a young girl’s room with a blue sky , pink-tinged clouds and a Pink Flamingo in flight – so fun! The picture at right shows a cloud ceiling I had painted for a client, even though the ceilings weren’t low in this room, it still opened up and expanded the space and added a relaxing ambience.

2- Use low profile furnishings in the room.

3-Hang your drapery as close to the ceiling as you can or even ceiling mount them; the drapery should be floor length.

4-Paint your crown molding the same color as the ceiling or, if you don’t have crown molding, paint the first 3 or 4 inches of the wall (where it meets the ceiling) the same color as the ceiling.

5-Hang your art higher ( not too high, though) and use art with a vertical shape.

6-Use vertical striped wall covering or paint vertical stripes on the walls.

I hope you have enjoyed this post and will find it useful! I would love to hear your ideas about how to make low ceilings appear higher!

Wishing you happy and healthy living with fabulous style ! Clay

March 21, 2014 at 12:50 pm 2 comments

Shrimp Gazpacho with a Southern Twist ! Delicious, With many Health Benefits!

I want to share my recipe for Shrimp Gazpacho with a Southern Twist! This is so refreshing and delicious, especially during the warmer months that are just ahead! It also sports many health benefits! I grew up in southern Georgia so almost all of my recipes will have a Southern touch to them. My mother was a great cook and I got my love of cooking from watching her prepare special meals for our family.

Health studies have  shown that people who eat one cup of gazpacho 2 to 3 times a week enjoy many health benefits including lower blood pressure. Tomatoes are loaded with lycopene, which is believed to lower your risk of some cancers.

Clean and shell fresh , wild caught shrimp ( do some research on farm raised shrimp and you will see why I specify “wild caught”!) Allow at least 6 per guest or serving. Bring to a boil enough of you favorite beer to cover the shrimp, add in the shrimp and turn off burner. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Drain and place in the refrigerator while you prepare the sauce. This serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as the main meal.

For the sauce, mix together:

2- cloves chopped garlic

3- tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2- tbsp. good balsamic vinegar

2- tbsps. frozen lime or orange juice , depending on the flavor you want.

A good splash or two of Worcestershire sauce.

A dash of Tobasco, or to taste.

Sprinkle of Old Bay Seasoning

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 c. chopped , vine ripened tomatoes, including juice or canned , chopped tomatoes including juice.

1- red bell pepper , chopped.

Chopped celery, 2 or 3 stalks

1/2 c. chopped fresh watercress* , you can substitute parsley or basil , if you can’t get watercress.

A healthy glug of Ketchup; one made without high fructose corn syrup.

Add the cooked shrimp and chill thoroughly. Before serving,gazpacho stock photo garnish with some fried corn kernels (you can use frozen corn) , slices of avocado, sprig of watercress and 2 or 3 shrimp placed artistically on top!

Serve with some homemade corn bread or crusty garlic bread, and there, you have Shrimp Gazpacho with a Southern Twist! Enjoy!!

* Water cress is a super green! Ounce per Ounce it has more vitamin C than an orange and more calcium that whole milk. It has tons of beta-carotene and vitamin A, and is a better source of vitamins C, B1, B6, K, E, Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese, Zinc and Potassium than apples, broccoli and tomatoes. I say eat more watercress!!

Wishing you Healthy living with Joy and style!


March 17, 2014 at 9:28 pm Leave a comment

The Power of Paint- Tips and Ideas You can Use Now to Transform Your Rooms!

Moroccan inspired dining roomAlthough Mario Buatta and I have a different design aesthetic, I agree with his views on the power of paint and the use of color, especially on ceilings. I’ve said this before and Mario Buatta says it again in a recent issue of Elle Decor ” The ceiling is the forgotten surface. Paint it a color, or cover it with wallpaper……….” I haven’t , voluntarily, left a white ceiling in any of my interiors in over 20 years. When I walk into a space with a white ceiling it is so jarring and distracting to me! Of course in an all white room with a white on white color scheme you might leave the ceiling white but I would probably paint it a different tone than the walls; maybe pale gray or soft camel, depending on the rest of the elements of the room. I recently covered a tray ceiling in a model home with cork wall covering and it looked spectacular!

So remember the power of paint when designing your rooms and do something with that ceiling!! For example, pale blue brings in the sky and a pale yellow replicates sunshine; be creative and experiment! Rules were made to be broken!

I painted the ceiling in the dining room shown here in terracotta to match the walls and floors; imagine this room with a white ceiling……………………………………..

November 25, 2013 at 12:58 pm 1 comment

Origins of Chintz

Chintz originated in India where it was wood block printed, stained or painted on calico fabric. It was imported by Protugese sailors to Europe in the 1600s. Style consious English women of the 1600s and 1700s re-imagined it and used it for clothing and home decor. It was extremely expensive and rare but over time found its way throughout Europe and America and has remained a perennial favorite since. Google chintz and see the Wikipedia difination- very interesing!

Chintz Brunschwig and FilsThe glazed chintz shown here is a Brunschwig and Fils archival pattern.

November 23, 2013 at 8:00 pm Leave a comment

A Brief History of The Legends of Artichokes

artichokesThis is a brief history of the legends of artichokes and a recipe from my cook book in progress.

Cultivated since around 371 to 287 BC, the artichoke is believed to be native to the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands. The part we eat is the flower bud of the plant that opens to a beautiful violet-blue thistle flower.

Aegean legend says that Zeus seduced a beautiful young mortal woman and was so smitten with her that he made her a goddess so she could stay close to him at his home on Olympia. Becoming homesick, she made a secret visit back to the world of mortals to see her mother. When she returned to Olympia, Zeus was so enraged by her un-goddess like behavior that he hurled her back to earth in the form of a thistle plant, what we now know as an artichoke.

Artichoke Salad
1 can artichoke hearts, quartered
1 large tomato( home grown or farmer’s market,of course!) cut into chunks.
1/2 cup fried corn kernels; these are so good!
1/2 cup sliced black olives
Toss with:
A good splash Balsamic vinegar
2 0r 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Garlic powder to taste
Salt, if you like.
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of Italian herb blend
A good sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan cheese

Fabulous and healthy flavors of the Mediterranean! I hope you have enjoyed the legend of the artichoke and my recipe! Stay tuned for more!

November 20, 2013 at 1:16 pm 2 comments

Pineapple Motifs in Interior Design

pineapplePineapple motifs have been a popular interior design theme  for centuries. Christopher Columbus discovered the pineapple in the Caribbean Islands and transported it to Europe where it was grown in hot houses. From there it made its way to the American Colonies and on to Hawaii, where it was cultivated on large plantations. Florida also had many Pineapple plantations at one time. The Europeans gave it the name pineapple because the outside resembled a pine cone and the inside fruit was sweet like an apple.

Hostesses in the American Colonies would rent them from produce grocers for their special dinners and then return them to be sold to the wealthy for consumption! Because of pineapple’s great popularity for entertaining, it soon became the symbol of hospitality and friendship and the motif was incorporated by artisans into many decorative carvings used as interior design elements above doorways, as finials on gate posts and other areas of the home. Today we still see the motif in dishes, platters , bedpost finials and many more home accents used for interior design projects including decorative pillows, upholstery fabrics and drapery.

November 20, 2013 at 11:33 am 1 comment

Design Trivia- HAINT BLUE

SW Pool BlueIf you are southern born, like me, you are probably familiar with the practice of painting porch ceilings the color “haint blue”. The ancient African tradition, brought to the south by the slaves, of painting window and door trim, shutters and porch ceilings a watery shade of blue to ward off haints or evil spirits, has become part of the cultural fiber of southern towns like Charleston, Savannah and New Orleans. It was believed that haints could not cross water so this water-like color tricked the spirits into believing that they couldn’t enter, therefore protecting the dwellers from misfortune. Visit the Sherwin Williams web site and see color SW6944 Pool Blue shown at right ;this is a haint blue tint. Haint blue can range from sky blue to aqua shades and graces many porch ceilings in the old south.

November 18, 2013 at 8:46 pm Leave a comment

The Chaise Lounge

Chaise LongueDid you know? The chaise lounge (spelled longue, in French), or “long chair” as translated from the French, is a cross between a chair and a day bed and can be used for sitting or reclining and the correct pronunciation is sheyz long. Almost all cultures including the Romans, Egyptians and Chinese developed some form of the chaise lounge. It became considered a “must have” for the stylish home during the reign of King Louis X

I am incorporating  this one into a client’s master bedroom design. This Chaise is from Kravet and is so chic covered in an Alligator patterned, off white chenille fabric!

November 18, 2013 at 7:28 pm Leave a comment


Leopard prints are hot in the design world today; every color imaginable seen on the fashion runway, furniture, accessories, pillows, wall coverings, napkin rings, dinner plates and, yes, even a car!!

Leopard prints are hot!!! I love them, so organic and exotic!aqua leopard leopard dishes leopard sneakers leopard carI had a

1965 Mustang convertible and I painted the top in Leopard print—

it was amazing and got a lot of attention, as you can imagine! 

June 1, 2013 at 11:37 am Leave a comment



Combinations of ocean inspired blue and green tones with touches of exotic purple, coral and sunny yellow create a tropical vibe. Think the Caribbean Islands!

Instead of the currently popular cool gray ( which I have just begun to cozy up to ) as a base neutral , we will see warm browns come back into play as we move into 2014. Warm brown tones mix beautifully with tones of pink, coral, aqua , orange and of course black and/or white. I am always comfortable in a predominately brown interior and especially love a brown and white combination with touches of metallic silverMoroccan inspired dining room; Timeless and elegant!

Exotic interiors with a Global Vibe ( a favorite design direction of mine) look great dressed in earth tones touched with spice colors; reds , oranges and yellows———–add touches of coral, purple and pink to kick it up a notch! Think Moroccan spice and flower markets!

Colors appeal to everyone in different ways and the combinations you choose should make you feel comfortable, relaxed, joyous and at home! Be bold and creative and design your own unique color palette to reflect your lifestyle!

I hope you have enjoyed this interior design color trends snapshot for 2013/ 2014.

Stay tuned for more!

May 5, 2013 at 8:40 pm Leave a comment


The Color orange was hot for 2013 and endures as a favorite of the interior design world  into Spring 2014,  and it is certainly the color du’ jour on the fashion runway!  Orange has a history and symbolism that dates back centuries. Orange is the color of fire and the sun; it symbolizes endurance and strength. Orange energizes and promotes a sense of fun! In Buddhism, orange symbolizes illumination and the highest state of perfection. Many cultures have used orange in their religious ceremonies and dress for centuries.

The color orange is experiencing a renaissance in the interior design world and is fabulous and fun when paired with Pantone’s color of the year, Radiant Orchid and the currently fashionable citrusy greens !

Dennis and I invite you to visit our newly opened Cocoa Village  showroom of eclectic home accents, fine art, curiosities, antiquities and contemporary designer accents!

Also, we just received a new shipment of wonderful accessories; we have had so much fun unpacking them and placing them in our showroom!

Stop in and visit us soon and experience our colorful array of art and accessories; including , of course, The Color Orange!!

Clay and Dennis- Clay Stephens Lifestyles

633 Brevard Av., Cocoa Village, Fl. 32922

Commissioned work:Wings at Sunset, acrylic on canvas by Clay Stephens- The Color Orange is well represented here!

Commissioned work:
Wings at Sunset, acrylic on canvas by Clay Stephens- The Color Orange is well represented here!






March 28, 2013 at 8:51 am 3 comments


exotic outdoor dining for two160 macaw loggiaSpring, one of my favorite times of the year, is here! It’s time for outdoor living and fabulous alfresco dining. I love creating outdoor living and dining spaces for my clients!

Outdoor living and dining is at its best with nature inspired color palettes that enhance your oasis of peace and comfort. Beautifully designed garden rooms with soothing water features and stylish, comfortable furnishings create the perfect ambiance for gathering and relaxing with those dear to you. Patios, balconies, verandas, boat docks and poolside decks are just a few candidates for planning your own special place of serenity and enchantment for alfresco dining and entertaining! Scented candles, wind chimes, Moroccan lanterns  and floating candles in a garden pond scattered with flower petals imbue the balmy evenings with a sense of ease and well-being. You can even add the magic of fireflies; check out  I used them in the plants and shrubs surrounding my outdoor living area.

Dress out your special retreat with accents and accessories that reflect the colors of spring. Shades of green, Chartreuse, pink, purple, sea inspired blues and orange are a few good choices. The combinations are limited only by your imagination and daring; let nature inspire you to be your creative best!

You can click on each photo to enlarge it for better viewing.

So have some fun with this glorious season of hope and new beginnings and create a  fabulous outdoor living and dining space for you and your family and friends to enjoy !

Stay tuned for more to come! Clay

March 24, 2013 at 10:59 am Leave a comment


cs3a_EasyChair[1]cs3a_WhatDoYouSee[1]Did you know that the fabulous color , Chartreuse, was named after the wonderful French liqueur Chartreuse? The liqueur was introduced in 1764. This yellow/green color mixes beautifully with purples, pinks, maroon, brown, blue and almost any color you can imagine! I really love the kick it adds to most color palettes and it is a classic and always in style.

These two painting I did a few years ago both show shades of Chartreuse combined with purple, red, yellow and blue.

Use a lot or use a little, Chartreuse (the color) is a fabulous color!

March 23, 2013 at 12:23 pm Leave a comment

New Neutrals for the New Year

February 3, 2013 at 7:49 pm Leave a comment

Interior Designer/ Decorator

In a recent article published in Elle Decor, Rose Tarlow, a well-known deisgner in California said ” Anyone who becomes a decorator has to be obsessed with beauty. That’s a gift, but it can also make you crazy.”

I agree with her and  recently tweeted that “you have to be just  the least bit crazy”to be an interior designer; and it really is true. You have to be totally obsessed with it to be good at it! I grew up with a keen interest in art and design and even at 8 ro 9 years old, while visiting relatives, would re-arrange their living room furniture; I have wondered since if they were happy to see me arrive or happy to see me leave!

I still eat, sleep and drink interior design and am therefore just the least bit crazy———–in a good way, of course!

May 6, 2012 at 9:51 pm Leave a comment


I have always been a fan of timeless, neutral interior color schemes and when left to my own devices will alway treat my interiors this way. I have photos of interiors that I have done as long as 20 years ago and because I used neutrals and clean, simple lines in my furnishings, they still look current today.

I have included a photo of an interior I did within the last several years. Can you tell what year it was designed and in what city?

April 29, 2012 at 12:58 pm Leave a comment


I have always loved to have live orchids and bromeliads, and sometimes fresh-cut flowers as a part of my everyday home decor. I believe, and there is research that shows, that being close to nature lifts the spirits, energizes the soul and creates a sense of joy. Having fresh flowers and/or live blooming plants in my home decor, for sure, gives me a sense of well-being and happiness and chases away the blues and depression that we all occasionally experience. My philosophy on interior design has always been that the home should be a place that embraces and nurtures you and brings you joy and happiness; Feng Shui at it’s finest!

I encourage you to use some live, blooming plants or fresh-cut flowers in your home decor today and experience the joy and happiness they will bring you!!!

April 17, 2012 at 8:33 pm Leave a comment

Abstract Sea Scapes

These new abstract seascapes, shown here in my studio, are the start of a series based on my lifetime love affair with beaches and islands. With much time spent on beaches and islands in Nova Scotia, the coast of Maine and on down to the Caribbean Islands and beyond, I can think of nothing that does more to restore my spirit and invigorate my soul than a long walk on a beach!

These abstract seascapes recall and depict those impressions and feelings . I am looking forward to the process of exploration in acrylics on canvas and the process of progression in this series. Stay tuned for more!

March 24, 2012 at 8:07 pm 2 comments

Veggie Pepperoni Roast- Delicious and Easy!

I just made up this recipe for a veggie pepperoni roast and it turned out really delicious!!

Olive oil a shallow roasting pan ( I used a glass one)

Put in the pan- 1 can of baby artichoke hearts; 2 quartered, large, tomatoes; 1 thinly sliced large onion; 1 small jar of sliced pimento with juice; add sliced turkey pepperoni; drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder, Italian seasoning, cumin and freshly ground black pepper ( and salt, if desired). Toss all together and bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese and serve on a bed of romaine salad; drizzle with Caesar salad dressing( I buy the refrigerated kind in the produce section of the grocery store).

Delicious!!! Easy too!

Next time I’m going to add some sliced black olives———should be fab!

November 21, 2011 at 11:18 pm Leave a comment

Bunless Burger Stackers-Low Carb Diet

For the 4th of July we really wanted the traditional hamburgers and hotdogs but we had to get creative  since we’re on a low carb diet. I came up with Bunless Burger Stackers ! Here’s how-

Cook your burger patties to the desired doneness.

Top with a sautéed onion slice and smear some mayo on top.

Salt and Pepper to taste at this point.

Next layer is a thick slice of tomato(hopefully home-grown and not refrigerated) topped with some ketchup , mustard and dill pickle slices or pickle relish.

Place a slice of your choice of cheese and melt under the broiler.

Top with sliced avocado.

Serve on a crisp bed of lettuce.

Voila! Bunless burger stackers! So wonderful and you are still on your low carb diet!

July 2, 2011 at 6:16 pm Leave a comment

The Cabot Trail in Fabulous Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia in the fall is one of the most beautiful and scenic places I’ve ever had the good fortune to visit! As we drove the Cabot Trail with breathtaking views of oceans and bays, mountains, forests and waterfalls, we sampled exquisite local seafood dishes at every opportunity!

Searching out the most rustic and unassuming restaurants, our contest to see which prepared the best seafood chowder resulted in finding a very charming eatery (unfortunately, I can’t remember the name and have lost my notes from that trip) housed in an old log cabin. They served large bowls of chowder MOUNDED with shrimp, scallops, fish and lobster! The mountain of seafood, surrounded by a tomato-garlic based sauce,  towered at least 6 inches above the rim of the bowls! We couldn’t believe our eyes and it was, and still is, the best and freshest seafood chowder I have ever tasted anywhere!

Following is my recipe for bouillabaisse with flavors reminiscent of that restaurant in Nova Scotia, on the Cabot Trail. If you have never driven the Cabot Trail it is a treat not to miss!

I started making this in 1984 and have served it, with some tweaks along the way over the years, to my dearest friends and family with rave reviews!

This is somewhat time-consuming and requires constant attention but is well worth the effort, not to mention the expense!

Bouillabaisse for Eight

2 lbs. grouper filet, or other white fish, cut in small portions

Fresh mussels, at least 4 or 5 per person

40 large shrimp, shelled and deveined

2 lbs. cooked lobster meat, big chunks please!

4 slices lemon

4 slices orange

pinch of cinnamon

A healthy pinch of saffron or 1 tsp. turmeric

1 red bell pepper, chopped

Fresh garlic, to taste , chopped

Freshly ground black pepper. I use a lot!

Salt to taste; to me, the seafood and tomatoes have enough natural salt but you may want more.

Small sprinkle of cloves

2 large sweet onions, chunked up

2 large tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade

1 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup tomato sauce or ketchup

Handful chopped parsley for garnish

In a large pot , saute onion in olive oil till transparent. Add the chopped pepper and garlic and cook for a few minutes, till you smell garlic strongly. be careful not to burn the garlic, it will be bitter if you do.

Add all other ingredients, except seafood and simmer on low until all flavors are nicely blended and you can smell the orange slices, maybe 10 to 15 minutes. *If at this point you feel you need more liquid, add more broth but remember this is not a soup and should have more seafood than sauce.

Add grouper and cook for 5 minutes

add shrimp and mussels and cook, covered, 5 minutes or until the mussels have opened. Be careful not to over cook! Nothing worse than overcooked seafood!

Add lobster meat and briefly  heat through.

Remove orange and lemon slices and serve topped with some of the parsley along with some dense, crusty bread and the rest of that white wine.

As my aunt Mary would say,”It’s so good, it’ll make your tongue slap your back teeth out!”. Now that’s good!

I hope you will enjoy this taste of Nova Scotia and the Cabot Trail !


June 17, 2011 at 5:14 pm Leave a comment


I have a vision! You know how much I like the juxtaposition of  ancient and organic architecture with modern and clean lined furnishings; like the 12th century oil mill recently featured in Freshome magazine—–love  it!

Wouldn’t it be fabulous to build a modern glass house into an ancient Roman temple ruin? Inspired by a trip to Tunisia, where spectacular Roman ruins are plentiful, I created in the side yard of my Cocoa Beach home, a meditation garden using a Corinthian column that I chipped up with a hammer and faux painted to look like an ancient ruined Roman column. I added a classic  three-tier water fountain, an iron Mediterranean style garden gate, large old olive urns, lots of Bougainvillea and comfortable garden seating. It was my favorite place to sit with a martini and unwind after a hard day’s work!

Expanding on that idea, I had planned to build a moat around the front of the house with  more “ruined columns and a bridge to the entry.

These ideas have evolved to the concept of  the modern glass house integrated into a “ruin”. Of course you could never build on a historic ruin, but you could construct a “ruin” with crumbling stone walls, “ancient” columns and “ruined”Mosaic floors topped with a modern glass house like architect Phillip Johnson’s famous glass house in Connecticut.

Can you see my vision? Wouldn’t it be spectacular to live in?Can we start construction right now?

I would love to hear your ideas on this concept. I look forward to your comments!

Thanks, Clay

June 2, 2011 at 1:59 pm 1 comment

Syrie-ous Glamour! Syrie Maugham all white rooms.

Syrie Maugham designed her first all white room in 1927, near  the end of the Victorian era when rooms were small, dark and cluttered. She cleaned up the clutter , used all white  colors with mirrored folding screens, shagreen covered tables, pickled woods,  crackled and lacquered finishes; she revolutionized interior decorating and defined the glamour and luxury of the 1930’s.

She was one of the first decorators to strip down and re-finish charming antique furniture pieces, that had little value, in pickled , painted and lacquered finishes giving them a lighter more modern appeal.

Syrie had a penchant for geometric patterned area rugs that she used to ground her rooms and add another layer of texture. As you know, playing texture against texture is so important in a tone on tone interior ; she was a master at this.

Bushy moss fringe, plaster work floor lamps in the shape of palm trees, Dolphin table bases, fur carpets, white leather dining chairs and white velum covered books are just a few of the hallmarks that define the glamour of the Syrie Maugham white on white rooms.

She has had a lasting influence on many designers since that time including one of my favorites, the notable California designer, Michael Taylor. I look at rooms he designed decades ago and they still look current and timeless today! His rooms combined neutral tone on tone colors with fabulous organic shapes and materials; exotic, glamorous, luxurious and most importantly, comfortable! Syrie-ous glamour indeed!

May 29, 2011 at 8:30 pm 1 comment

Wow!Fuchsia and Orange; Exotic and earthy colors in Mexico

Wow! This combination of fuchsia and orange is so exotic and lush! You know how I love exotic architecture and interiors. As featured in an edition of Object International magazine,Casa Torre, in Mexico, was designed by architect Diego Villasignor in the “palapa” style using chromatic earth tones with touches of Luis Barragan styling and colors. A palapa is a thatched-roof, open sided building or “tiki hut” like structure that offers sanctuary from the hot tropical sun.

Luis Barragan is considered one of the most important Mexican architects of the 20th century and designed some of the most spectacular modernist homes and buildings in Mexico. His use of earth and spectacular sunset colors is fabulous and awe-inspiring. I want to study more about this exceptional, self-taught architect and his use of exotic and earthy colors.

I hope you have enjoyed this brief story on modern architecture in Mexico.


May 27, 2011 at 9:16 pm Leave a comment

Woodpecker House – Hope Town, Elbow Cay, the Abacos

Ten days of relaxed bliss, crystalline turquoise waters, soft white sand beaches and that wonderful, salty sea air———ahhhh, the Abacos! My late partner Bill and I stayed in an old wooden house on the ocean that gave you a whole new respect for the term”rustic”! It was riddled with Woodpecker holes ( we didn’t know this until we arrived late on a Sunday night—too late!). Sugar ants wondered what we were doing in their house, so any groceries had to be kept in the minuscule refrigerator or hung in bags from the rafters.

Noisy Woodpecker visits during the afternoon nap in the back bedroom were a little disconcerting, but harmless after the first scare! We decided to call the place “Woodpecker House”.

Our visit was great fun, though, with long walks on  the beach in search of shells and beach glass to add to our collections. Curly tail lizards, very curious and almost tame, always kept us company while lounging on the deck with our evening martinis. Bill was petrified of them, so naturally, they wanted to give him special love and attention! I thought they were cute and enjoyed trying to feed them leftover bits of food.

We first sampled peas and rice, a staple of that culture, on one of our many excursions via golf cart ( pretty much the only means of transport!) into Hope Town proper. A friendly native lady was cooking peas and rice in a ramshackle clapboard hut and convinced us , easily, that we needed to have some for lunch. It was savory, creamy and delicious!

Here’s my take on Bahamian Peas and Rice with a southern spin and reminiscent of Hoppin’ John eaten by all self-respecting southerners on New Year’s day to bring good luck and prosperity! The flavors of the Abacos and Georgia come together, rich and luscious!

The original recipe uses Pigeon Peas and brown rice and has as many variations as there are cooks! Try your own!

8 servings

You will need:

Olive oil; 1 sweet onion, chunked up; 1 medium jar chopped pimento, drained; 8 or more ounces cooked pork, cut into bite sized pieces; 4 tbsp ketchup; 1 tomato, chopped; 2 cups fresh or frozen black eye peas, cooked with salt and pepper and some of the pork for flavor , than drained; Garlic powder to taste, 2 sprigs fresh thyme( you can use dried); salt to taste; lots of freshly ground black pepper; a 10 oz. can coconut milk;  3 cups water; 3 cups chicken stock; 2 tsp browning sauce; 3 cups uncooked long grain white rice; Worcestershire sauce.

Heat oil in large pot and saute pork briefly to get some of the flavors into the oil, remove pork and cook onion till transparent.

Add Pork back to the pot along with ketchup, tomato, peas, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper.

Stir in coconut milk, water, broth and browning sauce; bring to a boil and add rice. Simmer covered on low heat for 45 minutes.

Serve in bowls with a splash of Worcestershire sauce on each serving along with some Bahamian sweet bread. This is and a wonderful and nutritious one dish meal!

I hope you will enjoy this story and taste of Hope Town!


May 26, 2011 at 7:31 pm Leave a comment

Inspired by Travel- Village Ken, Tunisia

I am always inspired by travel and the culture, art and artists of other countries. A few years ago, I was blessed to be able to participate in a 12 day art and architectural tour of Tunisia in North Africa. It is a country of great contrasts from a most rustic way of life on the Algerian border to the modern Hotels and casinos on the Lybian border.

One of the most interesting visits was to Village Ken in Sidi-Khlifa. I have never seen so much creativity, and dedication to the arts, in one place; it was truly amazing and inspiring! This village ,or city of the arts ,was the dream of Tunisian artist Nejib Belkhodja and architect Slah Samaoui built it according to the artist’s drawings. Ken in Arabic means ” Once upon a time” and this school is dedicated to re-teaching the disappearing ancient crafts and all techniques and art forms that express the Mediterranean, Arab-Muslim and African cultural heritage. Nejib Belkhodja introduced abstract art to Africa and was tireless in  promoting the arts there.

“Artistic creation is what links the multiple fibres of a …….cultural personality. This is a place (that) restores our faith in humanity. Love, friendship, art and architecture flow through this village like water.” anonymous

Glorious masses of Bougainvillea cover the pristine white stuccoed walls which are constructed with only “local materials and ancestral know how”. Music, textile weaving, architecture, pottery, furniture making and the fine and performing arts are just a few of the creative genres taught here with an emphasis on old, traditional methods.

Village Ken remains one of the most inspiring and uplifting experiences of my life and I hope to visit again some day and perhaps spend some time studying the arts there.

May 18, 2011 at 7:55 pm Leave a comment

Lemons used for decoration and fragrance

lemonsDuring a tour of Antebellum plantations ( I have had a long love affair with old, historical houses!) in Mississippi and Louisiana we were told by the tour guides that bowls of lemons were placed throughout antebellum mansions for their beauty as decoration as well as their wonderful fragrance. This was also considered a sign of wealth in those days because only the wealthy could afford to buy lemons.

Lemons, as far as research can tell, were first cultivated in China or India and South Asia. From there they made their way to the Arabic countries and lemons, or “Persian Apples”, as the Romans called them, were brought to Italy by Christopher Columbus ( he was responsible for importing so many things back to Italy, including pineapples!). He traveled to Hispaniola and introduced them to the Caribbean Islands. During the Spanish conquest of the New World, lemons were introduced to the Americas.

Lemons, in many cultures are the symbol of longevity, purification, love and friendship. In Christianity they symbolize fidelity in love. The Tibetan Buddha, Jambhala is associated with the lemon because of its symbolization of longevity.

I hope this has been interesting and that this brief history of lemons will come to mind the next time you see lemons used for decoration, in art, for fabric designs or other interior design motifs. I do love to have a bowl of lemons on display in my kitchen.

April 27, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Great Design Enhances Lives and Experiences

Eclectic Home Office“Design is about enriching lives…………” So says Angelo Surmelis and I couldn’t agree more! I have said before that great design enhances lives and experiences. If you have ever been in a space (private home, hotel room or lobby, museum, etc.) that uplifted your spirits, or gave you a special feeling about being in the moment, you can more than likely thank a designer or team of designers that put a tremendous amount of thought and planning into that space to achieve the result you felt. Nothing gives me more pleasure than having a client tell me that I have enhanced their lives in some way. That is a very special feeling and the reason I love my job as an interior designer!

April 19, 2011 at 6:47 pm Leave a comment

Faux Painting in Antebellum Times

I had the pleasure , several years ago , to visit the Waverly Plantation Mansion in West Point , MS. My first impression of this stately example of Antebellum Greek Revival architecture still remains strong in my mind today; it was a breathtaking two-story structure built around a third story octagonal shaped cupola. All of the rooms in the house opened on the central area and created a natural air conditioning effect with the hot air rising up, as in a chimney, and escaping through the open windows in the top floor cupola. But the thing that so impressed me was the extensive use of faux painting techniques in the interiors. The pine doors ( pine was the most plentiful wood available in the area) were faux painted in wood grained Mahogany, Walnut or Birdseye Maple finishes and wood baseboards were painted to replicate marble. Until that visit I had not given much thought to the history of faux painting and had assumed it was a contemporary art; now I know that the art dates back millennia to the first cave paintings but the faux finishes in the decorative arts began 5000 years ago in Mesopotamia.

March 20, 2011 at 8:32 pm Leave a comment

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