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One Pot Beef Brisket Stew

One Pot Beef Brisket Stew

Friends, here’s the scoop on this beef brisket. It’s freaking delicious. And it’s gluten free — even better! When I think of fall-winter comfort food, this is up there at the top of my list. The meat practically falls off the fork — no knife […]

Gluten Free Italian Chicken Meatloaf

Gluten Free Italian Chicken Meatloaf

Fall is my favorite season of all, and with the glorious change of season and all that it has to offer, comes back-to-school and getting ourselves back into a weekly routine. So, I’m on a mission to bring you as many gluten free weeknight dinner […]

Gluten Free Eggplant Parmigiana

Gluten Free Eggplant Parmigiana

My daughter and I love eggplant, especially when it’s prepared parmigiana-style. Eggplant takes some effort to prepare, but if you have a little extra time on a weekend, it’s well worth the effort. This is one of those casserole-type dishes that can hang out in […]

Gluten Free Chicken Marsala Meatballs

Gluten Free Chicken Marsala Meatballs

With school back in full swing and the lazy, laid back days of summer come and gone, getting dinner on the table every night can become a stressful part of the day for many. With daily schedules jam- packed with everything from school to work […]

Watermelon, Fig & Feta

Watermelon, Fig & Feta

Watermelon and feta salad is a traditional Greek dish that’s popular during the summer months. It’s typically dressed with a few sprigs of fresh mint and drizzled with a good quality extra virgin olive oil. The salty-sweet refresher has become very trendy recently, hence the […]

No-Bake Gluten Free Strawberry Cheesecake with Almond Flour Crust

No-Bake Gluten Free Strawberry Cheesecake with Almond Flour Crust

Since my celiac diagnosis and strict gluten free diet began almost two years ago, I have done quite a bit of experimental baking in my kitchen. Many things just didn’t “take the cake,” so to speak, and frankly, weren’t very pleasing to eat, let alone […]

Orange-Scented Brussels sprouts with Crispy Pancetta

Orange-Scented Brussels sprouts with Crispy Pancetta

I know what you’re probably thinking. Brussels sprouts in August?! Yaaaassss! I love Brussels sprouts all year long, even during the summer. I mean, I don’t love to turn on my oven when it’s hot outside, but let’s be real. My house is air conditioned […]

Gluten Free Spaghetti with Cucuzza (Zucchini)

Gluten Free Spaghetti with Cucuzza (Zucchini)

Spaghetti (gluten free or otherwise) prepared with sautéed cucuzza (Italian for zucchini) and onions in a red sauce, brings back fond memories of my great grandmother, Concetta Irene. She was a thin, petite Italian woman who had the strength of an ox. Widowed at a […]

Kitchen Herb Bouquets

Kitchen Herb Bouquets

Come this time of summer, my herbs are in full swing in the yard and vegetable garden. In fact, it’s hard to go through all of it. In October, I’ll harvest what’s left and set them out to dry. Then, I’ll store them in jars […]

Gluten Free Overnight Strawberry Bread Pudding

Gluten Free Overnight Strawberry Bread Pudding

I love a good, eggy, custardy bread pudding. Warmed up for breakfast or even as dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it’s a comforting dish that’s easy to make ahead and best of all, it feeds a crowd, making it a go-to for […]


Home Decor Handbook

Blue and White Forever: An Interview with Maria Claire Interiors

Blue and White Forever: An Interview with Maria Claire Interiors

Several months ago, I stumbled upon the Instagram account of Maria Claire, an interior designer, mom of two and vintage goods seller in the Buffalo, New York area. I could relate to her sense of style almost immediately. Her room schemes are approachable and comfortable, with a lived in feel. They seem to teeter between eclectic and classic, all with an understated elegance. It also doesn’t hurt that she’s a vintage treasure-hunter like I am and knows a thing or two about making a mean hot spinach-cheese dip. I hit the “follow” button right away. I liked (loved) almost all of her posts and bought a few vintage pieces along the way. Her love of blue and white runs deep; almost as deep as the Mediterranean seas surrounding her family’s native country of Greece. Read on for my interview with Maria and get her designer tips on mixing styles, how to add vintage finds to your home and learn why blue and white will never go out of style!

MC:  It’s a pleasure to be chatting with my friend Danielle of The Crafty Hostess today!

TCH:  You post a lot on your Instagram account about Greece. Is that where you are from?
MC:  Yes, I am of Greek descent. Both of my parents were born in Greece. I was born in The United States, but travel to Greece often. It’s my favorite vacation spot!
Zakinthos, Greece; Image courtesy of Maria Claire Interiors
Image courtesy of Maria Claire Interiors
TCH: I can certainly see why Greece is a favorite of yours! It’s breathtaking! Besides traveling to Greece, what are your other passions?
MC:  One of my favorite hobbies is reading literature. I also love to write. Shakespeare was one my favorites in middle school and high school, but later fell in love with Henry David Thoreau. I often considered majoring in English or English Literature, but design is my true passion. I also collect books and can’t get enough of art galleries. I sketch in my free time and have sold a few.
Image courtesy of Maria Claire Interiors
TCH:  What is your background? Do you have a degree in design?
MC:  I studied Interior Design at Buffalo State College, which is a FIDER-accredited school and I really loved the program. I have a BFA in Interior Design. There was a lot of on-site learning in the city through Buffalo State because the city possesses some of the most fantastic architecture and design, as Buffalo was one of the most prosperous cities in America in the late 19th century and early 20th century. We studied so many of the famous mansions and historic city structures designed by the greatest architects and designers in America at the time. It’s something we also do as a family for fun. We do walking tours a lot because there are just so many buildings and parks to show the kids. The Albright Knox Art Gallery is our very favorite place. It was a big part of my college campus and design study and contains thousands of works including many from Picasso, Van Gogh, Warhol, and my favorite, Sargent, among all the other famous masters.
Image courtesy of Maria Claire Interiors
TCH:  “Vintage” seems to be all the rage in home decor now. I’ve been a lover of vintage since I was a young girl because my grandmother was a collector. You’re a vintage seller. What’s your view on it? Is it a trend?
MC:  Vintage is big right now. It’s like a trend, where people are catching on to something, but actually not a trend. I think it’s great. Vintage is popular because old objects possess classic design qualities. Old objects are of purebreds of the major design styles Classical, Neo Classical, French Renaissance (which is renewed Classical), Rococo, Gothic, Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Mid Century Modern, and Modern. After Modernism in the 1940s, there hasn’t been any other design styles. Period styles like Baroque, Gothic, Georgian, Federal, and Gustavian all stems from Classical design.  I think I’m naturally drawn to old things because I love Classicism. But I mix in quite a bit of Rococo, Art Deco, and Mid Century too.  It’s funny because each of those styles have their own classic elements in and of themselves. An Art Deco vase might be a classic because it’s part of a major design style. However, even if something is classic Art Deco, someone may not like the Art Deco style in general, and that’s ok.
Another reason why I love vintage and antiques is because of my grandfather. He  loved flea markets and bazaars and he’d take me with him from the time I could walk. He’d carry me on his shoulders if I was too tired to walk, and we’d spend hours looking and buying. Going to Greece throughout my childhood also helped me appreciate a lot of what I saw there. I think my love of vintage and hunting for treasures is somewhat hereditary. It’s easy for me to find pieces with lines I can identify with any design style. Studying them gives you an appreciation for them. And that’s why I’ll always be a mixer.
TCH:  What’s your signature style?
MC:  As far as decorating styles go, I’m all over the map and mix here as well. My pet peeve for my own home is having it look all one way. I love all the styles too much to not incorporate them into my everyday life.  I’m mostly traditional and like to bring in modern designs here and there. I love seeing dark wood farmhouse tables with white Chippendale chinoiserie-style chairs, or beach-inspired white chunky sofa tables next to a Federal antique secretary. Livable elegance is something I’m always striving for.
Image courtesy of Maria Claire Interiors
Image courtesy of Maria Claire Interiors
TCH:  The design and decor-savvy world seems to be obsessed with blue and white right now. Is it here to stay?
MC:  A color palette of blue and white is a design element that’s also in my DNA. Greek homes and Greece are known for blue and white. The seas and skies are such a bright blue. The use of these hues got their roots from the beginning of man’s ability to create homes and temples. We see the earliest structures in Greece from 5,000 bc with tiny mosaic floor tiles depicting ocean waves and dolphins in blue and white patterns using blue slate, blue stone and white marble  These colors are enduring because they create a sense of tranquility, yet provide an uplifting, fresh interior that people always strive for when decorating.
Image courtesy of Maria Claire Interiors
TCH: What’s your favorite color?
MC:  White is my favorite color. It’s clean, light, airy, and it creates more light in space. Interior design is the science of how light in space and space itself can serve a person’s living environment and provide a better life.
TCH:  How can people mix styles and add vintage elements without making their decor look like a hodgepodge?
MC: When it comes to decorating, I always tell my clients, family, and friends, to refrain from trends that are currently all the rage, especially when it comes to lighting, particularly ceiling fixtures. (Especially ones in popular home catalogues.) Fixtures like lanterns, for example, are classics. Also, new types of materials for flooring such as ceramic tiles that look like wood or adding horizontal planks to your walls, are trends that can date your space quickly. Because they are large surfaces, they set the tone for the house and are harder to incorporate with other styles. Remodeling is costly, messy and time-consuming, and if selling a home, these things can hinder a buyer from purchasing it if it’s not their style and they have to re-do big projects.
TCH:  That’s great advice! Stick to the classics, at least when it comes to large-scale projects.
TCH: What are your tips for adding vintage? Is it really all about collecting what you love?
MC:  I’ve always been a mixer, as my mom was a collector, and I love and appreciate all the design styles. It’s hard though because it involves integrity as a designer. Many Instagram accounts I love and follow are very cohesive and all the posts are one style, one look. All tone-on-tone rooms or rooms with deep red walls and tons of patterns and layers. Although they give me joy, I can’t do that in my own space because it’s too hard to cut out say, a modern Italian vase or a mid-century wood box. I like juxtaposition in design which gives interest and depth to an Interior…the antique secretary next to a lucite bench for example. The black chair against a blank white wall. There has to be a huge amount of discipline and editing though. Too many styles together can end up becoming clutter, not allowing the eye to stop anywhere long enough in the room. Rooms like this seem chaotic and not well designed. It all comes down to line, proportion, scale, and texture working simultaneously.
Image courtesy of Maria Claire Interiors
TCH:  What are your thoughts on trends like botanicals and chinoiserie?
MC:  As far as trends go, I don’t try to think about that at all when designing for myself or anyone else. Botanicals and chinoiserie are current trends even though they were never out. People are just catching on. Trends which are fleeting last about 10 years. We saw this with the chevron pattern, and it’s funny because the zig zag pattern is an ancient pattern which was recently overdone and everywhere. This is where everything in moderation will work best for those who really want to take part with the current rage. Stripes, ikat, solids, and florals never go out of style, in my opinion.
Image courtesy of Maria Claire Interiors
TCH:  Are there any new trends coming down the pike that you see as a designer?
MC:  As far as new trends, I think the classical theme and Classicism like amphoras and geometric ancient patterns, small florals will make a return as they are clean in line with simple beauty that can easily fit into a space. Books are decorative objects that also contribute to an overall quality of life, which I think people will start to collect and read in a big way. Neutral art, black and white art, and pencil sketches of nudes are big right now. The use of wood molding on walls and ceilings to warm spaces is something I also see people coming around to. As far as color goes, I don’t follow color trends at all. I use all the colors I love as accents, like deep purple saturated snap dragons or deep blood-red dahlias, and brown twigs. I also love to mix metals like brass and silver for depth and interest and also because I can’t choose between a favorite!
Image courtesy of Maria Claire Interiors
TCH:  What can we look forward to for spring/summer 2018?
MC:  For spring 2018 I see more delicate patterns and softer palettes emerging. But also the continuation of mixing patterns and layering. Traditional is making a big splash. I’m personally also hoping for more stripes and light blue!
Stay on top of all of Maria’s latest design posts, inspirational photos and vintage finds by following her on Instagram @mariaclaireinteriors. You can also find Maria on Pinterest!

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