About elzabdesign

Barbara Elza Hirsch is an Interior Designer based in the Boston, MA area. French is her mother tongue and she tries to visit her home country every once in a while. Barbara believes in eclectic design: variety in texture, colors styles and eras make for design with a bang! In no particular order, she loves design of all sorts, has wonderful 2 boys, enjoys visiting museums, painting, gardening madly when the weather allows it, cooking a tarte Tatin for her friends and family, running after her cat to get him to sit still for a brushing, twittering and moodboarding and just curling up with a book.

Sisterhood of the World Blogger’s Award


Recently I had the honor of being nominated for this award by Gloria Sollecito of Artful Kitchens. Gloria is a lovely lady: smart, talented, and a kitchen specialist. She’s also an artist at heart. I so enjoyed meeting her on the BLOGTOUR-Nola a wonderful event I attended in New Orleans back in 2013. I know Gloria will understand that between kids at home in the summer and one off to college, and a thriving interior design practice, it took me a few months to actually take her challenge and answer all these questions!Gloria

Without further ado, here are my answers to the ten challenge questions Gloria submitted to her nominees. At the end I will post a list of my own questions and nominees.  Here goes!

1) What is the most inspiring book you’ve ever read and why?

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery is one I recently admired. If you can, read it in French, that’s the version I read but I am a native speaker so that does not count! I have a hard time commiting to one single book! I loved the complexity of the characters, the class consciousness theme, the juxtaposition of two very different cultures (French and Japanese), and the references to art contained in this book. I found this book very inspiring as it is very thought provoking and beautifully written.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

2) If you could bring just one make up item with you on a trip what would it be?

moisturizer but I’d hide mascara in a backpocket.

Moisture Surge™ Extended Thirst Relief

3) What dish are you known for?

I make a mean gazpacho soup! Garlic is vital and fresh fresh basil from the garden a plus!

4) What is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you and have you paid it forward yet?

The kindest thing someone has done for me is to love me unconditionally, and the first person to have done that is my mother. I have repaid her forward and hopefully many people in my life! 

5) What is your trade mark design feature?

A refined sense of color. 

6) What is the biggest misconception about you?

That I am an extrovert. I’m really a nerd with a sense of style, and do well in smaller groups! A dinner with a few close friends and good conversation is what makes me happy. Music and dancing with a glass of Prosecco are swell as well! I’ve been known to start dancing in my kitchen with old friends while peeling veggies!

7) What is one food that you detest and would not eat for love or money?

Beef tongue. A dreadful culinary reminder of some childhood dinners with relatives in France.

8) What celebrity living or dead in the last hundred years would you like to chat with? Why?

Ray Eames for being a woman designer in a time when it was difficult to be respected as a woman entrepreneur.

Ray-Bernice Alexandra Kaiser Eames (1912 – 1988) was an American artist, designer, and filmmaker who, together with her husband Charles, is responsible for many classic, iconic designs of the 20th century.:

9) Do you believe in ghosts?

Yes, of course. Don’t you?

10) What aspect of the design process is your favorite?

Creative brainstorming and preparing visual mock ups once all items are selected and the client can finally see them together and visualize what they will look like in the space. 

Here are my nominees, a few special people I totally respect in my industry, wether they blog or design:

Yvonne Blacker , of Design Vignettes

Marilyn Russell, of Marilyn Ashley Design Associates

Richard Rabel, of Richard Rabel Interiors + Art

Lisa Peck of Lilu Interiors.

Here are my ten questions:

1/What do you love about blogging?

2/What is your favorite film?

3/Are you a dog or a cat person and why?

4/Which is your favorite interior designer and why?

5/What are you cooking/eating tonight?

6/Who is the person in your life who most inspired you professionally?

7/What do you have on your nightstand right now?

8/Share a favorite travel destination.

9/Tell me your favorite room to design or blog about and why.

10/Do you think vessel sinks are in or out?

You can answer the questions but if not, I totally understand and just want you to know that I am a fan and consider you a sister/brother in the World of Bloggers!



Throw Pillows: Are They Really Necessary?!

I call this the Throw Pillow Debate.

At one point or another in the design collaboration, we will enter the accessories planning phase. We enter the “pillow conversation”. I explain they will add color, texture, warmth, personality to the space. They will cushion the room and tamper down echo, as do the window treatments. Pillows also serve a function, improving back support and comfort, especially for shorter people who need to have their feet touch the floor and for anyone who suffers from a sensitive back.

Rare are my female clients who do not understand the value of the decorative pillow. Most men, and pardon the generalization, tend to find them fluffy and unecessary. I hear strong words about clients’ distaste for pillows: “my husband hates them!”, “they are non functional!”, “why do we need them?”, “I’ll just throw them on the floor!”

Allow me to illustrate my line of thought.

This beautifully upholstered bed by Bernhardt  feels blah. It’s a bed with white linens. Period. 

Now look at what happens when color and texture is infused on the bed with the use of interesting pillows. Image courtesy Bernhardt.

Let’s look at one of my designs:

Detailed View

The bed before. 

Barbara Elza Hirsch | Elza B. Design IncThe dressed up bed after: linens and 2 decorative pillows leaning against white shams. Note how the custom fabric tells a story: the colors and texture add depth and warmth, coordinating with the wall and accessories. Designed by Barbara Elza Hirsch of Elza B. Design, Inc. Photo Rosemary Fletcher.

Decorative pillows on a bed need not be overdone, I usually recommend 2 or 3 on top of sleep pillows, which I cover with shams or pillow covers. The sleep pillows usually go in pairs to hold everything up but also add adequate back support when reading.

What to do with the decorative pillows at night? They can plopped on the floor against the wall, or simply laid on an armchair. Not as complicated as one would think!

What about the sofa pillows?

Gunner Sofa

I love this velvet sofa found via Jayson Home. But it feels so naked. 

cozy and sophisticated:

Rooms cannot be fully inviting without color, texture and  layering of mutiple fabric accessories, such as the sofa pillows above. The art piece adds a lot to the space as well. Photo : Interiors Magazine.

Beautiful yet bare sofa from Cisco Brothers with no pops of color or layering that make it inviting.

Traditional Media/Game Room by CarolEgan Interiors and Andre Tchelistcheff Architects in Water Mill, New York: Carol Eagan Interiors room offers inviting seating options with colorful pops of pillows.

Many people, including myself, welcome back pillows on seating. I frankly cannot enjoy my evening if there is not something soft and cushy to lean on and allow my feet to reach the floor, especially with a deeper sofa.

Guests or family members who do not find pillows comfortable can simply move then to the side or put on the floor. There is no need for guests to feel uncomfortable : I always make everyone at ease in my living spaces and let all know pillows can be moved around or put on the floor.

Scale and texture of pillows is very important as well. It’s nice to have a blend of squares and a rectangle or two. Make sure you let your designer know if you prefer down or poly inserts. Down allergy considerations are important as well. Down feathers will feel soft and pliable. Polyester feels firmer but can be very useful for the pillows in the far back position to creative supportive layering.

So the next time the designer talks pillows, please keep an open mind and remember this blog post.

Custom pillows are an investment, but they really truly make a space and bring it to the next level!

Today’s Crush : Pale and Delicate

Today’s a PALE day. Not pale as in bland but rather, pale as in fragile and soft. I just dropped off my eldest to college. The leaves are falling. The delicate beauty of fall foliage is not without a certain sadness, reminiscent of loss, letting go, all things that happen when one sends off their eldest to college. Pale colors stir me. They echo a certain fragility and sense of transparency. How fugitive our world can be, how harsh. I find comfort in pale colors and their evanescent nature. Somehow they offer solace and comfort.


This beautiful bird photograph exemplifies the PALE color scheme. Fragile, refined, nurturing.

Shell Hand Printed Wallpaper

Shell Art Deco inspired handprinted Wallpaper : delicate and perfect.

This beautiful set of nesting tables at Serena + Lily in pale aqua strikes my fancy today

Mughal quatrefoil mirror in pale lilac from Wisteria.

Beautiful Fern block printed fabric by Galbraith and Paul.

Pale and inviting grey armchair by Bernhardt.


Light turquoise turned wood candelabra by Dunes and Duchess.

Hand knotted contemporary rug via Dover Rug and Home.

I hope you enjoyed today’s selections!



Upgraded Outlets and I Fell in Love…

Boring and clunky outlets? Sad dimmers? Screwy wall switches?

You don’t know what you’re missing if you have not discovered the simple, clean and pure beauty of the adorne Collection by Legrand.

Being French-American, I am proud to share Legrand is a French company. Oui, oui, j’en suis fière! As the global specialist in electrical and digital building infrastructures, Legrand does over half its business in the commercial and industrial sectors. In line with underlying global trends, Legrand continues to build its positions in promising markets. Fascinating fact: they have been around for over a century!

I never thought I’d get excited with electrical hardware, but then again,never thought I’d drool over plumbing fixtures either :-) There is a magnificent world of industrial design out there, and adorne is clearly part of that savvy membership. I am totally, totally won over.

Here’s why:

They are pretty. They make sense. They don’t catch the eye in a bad way. They look sleek and can be made to complement your design or decor. They are easy to wipe down.

Here are some before and after pics from my home :

Elza B. Design | Chez ElzaElza B. Design | Chez Elzaabove, depressing switches and fan light nightmare.

Below, clean and organized wall plates, dimmers and switches.Elza B. Design | Chez ElzaElza B. Design | Chez ElzaScrewy plate below, and then after!Elza B. Design | Chez Elza Elza B. Design | Chez ElzaElza B. Design | Chez ElzaI selected sleek lacquered white but you can use colored plates as well and more complex switches and outlets.

Here a few examples:


Lacquered Plum 1 gang plate with magnesium switch.


French Oak, 1 gang plate


The Wave switch features innovative technology combined with sleek, contemporary design. Simply wave your hand in front of the switch to turn lights on and off.

Pop-Out Outlet

The adorne Pop-Out Outlet lets you hide an outlet when not in use. Simply push on the outlet and it disappears into the wall.

Watch the adorne Pop-Out Outlet in action.

But wait, there’s more! I really love the below cabinetry outlets (great for reading recipes on your I PAD!) and other kitchen lighting and switch solutions:

A fresh idea for light cooking

Click on image above for a video on adorne.

Finally, I would not be doing this brand justice if I didn’t mention all the whole house technologies available, such as whole house lighting or intercom solutions.

adorne interior intercom unit

The adorne interior intercom unit (see image above) works in tandem with one exterior video doorbell camera to see who’s at the front door from multiple locations in your home.

I want to thank adorne for coming up with this great product and introducing me to it. Love you guys! Special thanks to Phoebe who was super helpful with assisting me in my selections…


Outdoor Accessory and Fabric CRUSH

Link is a fantastic outdoor fabric and furniture brand I’ve used for diverse projects. Recently as I checked out their website, I crushed for these outdoor bolster pillows. They’re fun, zippy and originally finished.

Playing with trim and interesting patterns, Link created something different from the bland square nautical striped pillow. Imagine these poolside or on your outdoor sofa!

Link recommends the following steps when creating these:

1) Use different fabrics on ends

2) Change direction of fabric layout

3) Flange, contrast welt and different trim options

So let’s imagine I was to create my own using similar methods.

1- I chose this three striped outdoor friendly trim :

Three striped fringe in Melon by Link

2-The main fabric I would do in :

Palme in Melon by Link

3-The ends would be in this small pattern:

Sketch in Ocean by Link

Et voilà!!!

Fabric and colors always make my day, enjoy!


Greentail Table : a Cool New Table Top Store in the Boston Area

When a friend starts a business, you want to cheer and be there for them. It doesn’t hurt if you think the store offer tasteful and unusual items.  Such is the case with Greentail Table, a tabletop and home entertaining store my friend Linda de Valpine opened this summer in a vibrant Boston suburb called Newton. Linda tastefully designed the store with a Scandinivian vibe, playing with simple materials and clean lines. The store is small and cozy, yet because of its incredible ceiling height, never feels cramped. Small shops personalize neighborhoods and give them soul. I’m a big proponent of shopping local as much as you can. I urge you to check this store out, it’s worth the detour! I interviewed Linda this winter and share her responses with you below: enjoy!


Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza
Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza
Linda in her store, wearing her signature apron!

Linda, tell me a little about your retail background and how you decided to open a tabletop store.

My background is in retail buying and merchandising having primarily worked for companies focusing on children’s products. Most recently, I co-founded a small Indonesian import business specializing in artifacts and antiques. I knew early in my career that I would ultimately like to own my own store and bring my ideas to fruition–and finally decided to pursue my dream. Tabletop and home entertaining wares are among my favorite items to shop for personally and I knew that I could create an interesting environment and business around them as they are perfectly suited for gifting as well as for personal use.

Tell me about the name of the store. What inspired it?

Greentail was originally short for Green Retailing, with eco-friendly home products being the focus of my original concept, when I incorporated my company back in 2008. I do have a very large percentage of eco-friendly and sustainable products and materials in my current collection, but they are not the primary focus, so I modified the name to include Greentail Table, which represents my focus on tabletop merchandise.

Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

This is such a wonderful shop! What inspires you when you select the pieces?

Thank you! I am inspired by modern, clean, simple lines and by products that are beautiful and functional and particularly in handmade items of natural materials. The interior of the shop has a very clean, bright and Scandinavian vibe.

Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Where are the items from (country)?

The items come from all over with a focus primarily on goods from the U.S., Europe (country varies by item), and Japan.

Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

What trends are you seeing in the table top industry?

I will be heading to market soon to see what new trends will be important for 2015. However, I have noticed that the interest in metals continues i.e. copper, brass as well as the emphasis on beautiful, functional pieces, in a variety of natural materials–which is just what we specialize in! Customers are much more selective when making decisions to bring something new into their homes. They want goods that are aesthetically pleasing and functional, and not necessarily trend-based.

Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Peapod Clayworks-Angela Devecchi

How often will you be renewing your selections? will there be some items that we’ll be able to see become store “classics”?

We aim to have new goods coming in the door every month, with a major refresh every 3 months. Summer and Holiday entertaining are of particular importance to our business. We definitely have “classics” and will continue to carry many “go-to” gifts for our customers. For example, we will continue to carry the J.K. Adams line of ash cheese boards, colorful glasses from Spain, Modern-Twist silicone placemats and runners, Terrafirma Ceramics (although one-of-a-kinds–fabulous functional art), and more!

What type of items are most popular?

Our customers really love wooden cheeseboards and interesting servers for cheese. They also love our Chive Pooley Tube Vases, and Loop candleholders of every design,  silicone placemats from Modern-Twist, Japanese bottle openers and tea cups. We also have a lovely selection of accompaniments for cheese from L’Epicurien, which are very popular.

If you could take home one item from your shop today, which one would it be and why?

Oh boy–tough to choose! Right now, I currently have my eye on the Middle Kingdom ceramic nesting bowls in off-white. They are absolutely lovely and functional and each piece is signed by the artisan.

I wish my friend wonderful success with her new endeavor! She sure deserves it. make sure to shop her new online store as well.

Nesting bowls-Greentail TableMiddle Kingdom ceramic nesting bowls in off-white, Linda’s current crush-

Shagreen, Anyone?

Shagreen is such a soft, poetic word to my ears. From the French “chagrin“.  J’ai du chagrin literally means “I am disappointed or saddened” but in a grand, quite serious and dramatic way.

Shagreen is a spotted like, granular leather made from the hide of sharks and sting rays. Used throughout the centuries from Europe to Asia to make small decorative objects, cover sword handles or entire pieces of furniture, shagreen found its glorious expression in the Art Deco Period. Today it is still in use but has recently found a renaissance of sorts in its imitation form : “faux shagreen”.

I am drawn to its mysterious name and aspect, which gives depth and texture to the pieces it covers.

A few current favorites:

Faux Shagreen Trays

Faux shagreen trays- Jayson Home.

Faux shagreen octogonal lamp-Gracious Home

faux shagreen-Oka


Faux shagreen Lantau chest of drawers with real gold leafed handles and base-Oka

Faux Shagreen Box, Small, Charcoal

 Faux shagreen box-West Elm

Grey faux shagreen mirror-Jonathan Charles Furniture

Hope you enjoyed!

Latest Houzz Curated Items: Jewel Tones to Beat the Winter Blues

Designer: Brian Del Toro Inc. Photo by: Rikki Snyder




Crushing On…

Brilliant design concepts need little words so I will let the images do most of the talking here as I introduce two young creators I admire:

Richard Brendon Cup and Saucer

Richard Brendon Cup and Saucer


Richard Brendon

And the creator, above : Richard Brendon, a London based designer, British bone china specialist and entrepreneur who graduated from Kingston University in 2010. Richard’s inquisitive nature has led him to taking an archaeological approach to design.  He believes to design truly innovative work, a firm understanding of what has come before is essential. Richard has a particular skill in identifying and distilling the best elements from the past and transforming them into contemporary designs.  Through his work, Richard aims to bring a new audience to hand crafted luxury goods, and to help regenerate the incredible industries that make his products. Photos: courtesy Richard Brendon website.

ZAK+FOX textile

ZAK+FOX Kaze textile


ZAK+FOX Volubilis Textile

ZAK + FOX company’s founder and creative director, Zak Profera, draws influence from his early studies of conceptual art at the prestigious San Francisco Art Institute. His relentlessly curious nature and adherence to eclecticism have resulted in the creation of an aesthetic that is classic, contemporary, and ever shifting. It is based on the notion that great ideas can come from the most unlikely of places. From the outskirts of Istanbul in search of vintage finds, to the depths of the Black Forest for an open-air expedition, Zak’s travels afar charge his imagination with the same sense of adventure that inspirits his designs. He presently lives and works in New York City with his fox, Shinji. Photos: courtesy ZAK + FOX website.


Designer Insights-Interview with Elza B. Design, Inc

I was recently asked to answer some questions for a DESIGNER INSIGHTS interview by a  firm called Terry’s Blinds in the UK. They appear to be a company similar to Smith and Noble here in the USA. Tudor, their social media person got in touch with me and asked if I would participate.

I love that a window treatment company is so in love with design that it motivates them to go the extra mile on their blog and create a design interview concept that brings to the wider public the behind the scenes of interior designers and other design creators (landscape, architecture, etc).

Designer Insights

Tudor is actually taking the time to interview dozens of designers to find out what inspires them. What a fun idea! It’s also a great tool for a young adult wondering if this is the field they want to enter. In Designer Insights, designer wannabees can find out what creators have inspired designers, how they got to this place and what they recommend.

Here’s my interview (click anywhere on article to see expanded view):


I thought I’d turn tables on Tudor and let him answer a few questions!

Tudor Davies of Terry’s Blinds

1) What is your role at TerrysBlinds?

TD: I work on the online marketing of the website, specifically this means making connections on Twitter and developing new and unique content ideas, such as the “Designer Insights”. I try to come up with features like this and get people interested in them and involved. It’s amazing to take an idea from the drawing board and test it in the real world to see whether industry professionals like it. 
2) Is Terrys Blinds the equivalent of a company like Smith and Noble in the USA? Tell me more about the firm.
TD: I suppose we are. I’ve just looked at the website and we seem quite similar. The only difference being that they sell curtains as well. 
The company is relatively new, and we only really starting trading January of this year. However our sister company (Terry’s Fabrics) has been trading for 40 years. Since January we have been growing the company by improving website visibility and increasing awareness on social media. We have done some amazing things on Twitter and connected with some amazing contacts, such as yourself. We have launched “Designer Insights”, an astounding interior designer interview feature. All of this has increased brand awareness and helped to establish the company as a brand. We have a lot more to do but the progress in the last 8 months has been amazing.
3) Why and when did you decide to create Designer Insights?
TD: I came up with the idea back in February 2014, after carrying out a similar idea asking 15 designers their golden rules of interior design. I really liked that idea and was surprised at how many people wanted to get involved. After it was over I realised I could refine the idea, by making the final feature more personal to each designer and something that they would love to share online. I wanted to make a feature that was of value to the designer being interviewed and that looked like a high quality magazine feature.
4) What is your wish with this project (such a cool project by the way)?
TD: At the moment we have interviewed over 100 interior designers (about 130 so far), so I just want to build upon this and get more designers involved. Our next target is 250 and from there who knows? Getting requests to be featured is also a goal, as at the minute I invite people to take part. We have had a few inbound inquires but I just want to make the feature more popular to get even more.
5) What have you learned about doing this project?
TD: That you can create an amazing piece of valuable content that speaks to an individual person. Most content marketing involves sharing content with hundreds of people at a time, which has limited results. Whereas my approach is a one-to-one approach, it is much more rewarding for both parties, giving us both something of value. It also allows me to get to know designers on a personal level, to learn something about them that no one else knows. It’s very rewarding.
7) Were there any surprises? 
TD: I suppose the biggest surprise was how well the “Designer Insights” feature has taken off. When I started I never imagined I would get to interview over 100 designers. The first interview I carried out was a complete experiment, after that people just kept saying “yes” and wanting to take part. It was quite flattering and rewarding really.

Thanks to Tudor for allowing me to interview him and for the lovely interview feature on their site! I enjoyed doing this tremendously!