Vendors I Love: De-Cor

I spend a lot of time at De-Cor in Pasadena shopping for the perfect pieces for my design projects.  Deepali, the owner, and I have had a relationship for many years now.  It all started nearly 18 years ago when De-Cor used to be located on Mission Street in South Pasadena in their treasure chest of a shop.

De-cor has now moved to a large showroom in east Pasadena.  They are a “Vendor I Love” because of the rustic and beautiful carved pieces I can find there, especially ones that are truly upcycled.  We use their beautiful and unique pieces in many of our projects.

I spoke with Deepali to get a sense of what she loves about her business and what challenges her the most.

(I found the wood piece on the kitchen hood at De-cor and incorporated it into this Spanish kitchen.)

What is the concept for the store and what offerings do you specialize in?

The concept for De-cor revolves around showcasing an intricate collection of antiques from traditional parts of the Indian subcontinent and many other countries with rich histories. We specialize in carved daybeds, benches, and develop our own line of reproduction furniture inspired by 17th-19th century designs. We also offer a vast collection of textiles, and create one-of-a-kind pillows by repurposing vintage and antique fabrics into modern designs.

(Drum coffee table from De-cor.)

How do your travels influence what you have in the shop and how do you make the time to travel?

My travels greatly influence De-cor in many ways as the culture and history from each country I visit inspire what we carry here in the store. Many of the motifs used for our daybeds and other carved pieces are inspired from architectural patterns from buildings. Even the colors and designs on garments I see on my travels influence the types of textiles we have in stores. Traveling is a very fulfilling experience because there are so many things each country has to offer that seldom make it here. Being a full time mother, making time to travel can be tough. I find the best time to make my trips is during my son’s winter and summer vacations, where we can all travel together as a family.

What challenges do you face in your industry?

Challenges are inevitable when running any business, but keeping an open mind full of new ideas is what helps us overcome them. This is why traveling plays an important role for De-cor. There are times where we see our designs being reproduced in the markets. Being able to travel and find more inspirations for new pieces is what allows us to refresh our designs every few months. However, when sourcing pieces on my trips, there are times where it is difficult to find good quality items. We are also known for our antique architectural collection of beams and panels as clients use them in custom pieces. Sometimes the demand on these pieces can be really high, and our inventory isn’t enough to supply them with the amount they need.

What is the most rewarding part of running De-Cor?

We feel an immense sense of pride when a designer or customer takes one of our architectural pieces and customizes the piece to fit into their own home. Many of our architectural pieces come from old buildings, so when the piece is repurposed, life is breathed into it once more.

I think the most rewarding part of running De-cor is being able to help Indian artisans by creating a market that showcases their traditional craft. We source and carry a vast collection of handcrafted furniture and textiles where the techniques used for these pieces are passed down from artisan to artisan through the generations. An example of one of these crafts is our collection of Jaipur Blue Pottery. It has a tedious creation process, and because of that, it is becoming an art form that newer generations of artisans are not partaking in. It’s rewarding knowing that their craft and artistry will live on and is not just available in their native countries, but here as well.

(Chinese armoire from De-cor.)
Photos by Erika Bierman

CNI Houseplant Guide Part Two: Easy Low Light Plants

Many clients hesitate to add plants to their homes because they are worried about keeping them alive.  The great thing about the two plants in part two of my houseplant blog series is that the upkeep is minimal and the results beautiful.

ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas Zamifolia)

This plant is an easy one to care for and its beautiful emerald green shiny, waxy green leaves are a crowning touch in any room.  This plant likes light but can grow in low light which makes it perfect for the guest room or den that doesn’t get as much light or foot traffic.  Do not over water the ZZ plant, it can go for a week at a time without much water.  Overwatering will cause the roots at the bottom to rot and the leaves to turn yellow.

Snake Plant (Sansevieria)

This is another plant that is easy to take care of for those of us without green thumbs.  Snake plant, also called mother in laws tongue, plants can deal with lower light but if you want the leaves to grow taller place next to a bright window but not in direct sunlight.  Overwatering can cause rot so make sure to plant a snake plant in a pot that drains well.  Make sure to water along the sides of the plant and not directly onto the plant.  Water only when the top of the soil has dried.  These plants have a very modern feel and go well in this modern Japanese Loft.

Photos by Erika Bierman

CNI Houseplant Guide Part One: Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree

I add plants in nearly every room that I design.  Plants are a very important element of design that add the final and most organic touches to a home.  Plants beautify rooms, bring a bit of nature inside and they also filter toxic elements from the air.  Below is the first installment to a guide to some of my favorite houseplants and ones that I use the most on projects.  There are dozens of houseplants to choose from on your projects and I will be writing about those in the coming weeks so stay tuned.  Please keep in mind that if you are local to the Pasadena area CNI can source plants and pots for you.  Call 626-441-4288 if you want pricing and information on custom potted plants from Charmean Neithart Interiors.

Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus Lyrata)

This is perhaps one of the most popular house plants and a darling of interior designers.  Its beautiful large leaves provide a beautiful splash of green and they can grow to be very tall especially if the plant has more than one stock or stem.  This is not the easiest plant to take care of but well worth it for its beauty.  This plant needs bright indirect light.  Fiddle leaf figs are great next to a window with a sheer window treatment.  My best suggestion is to water each time the top soil seems dry to the touch.  The leaves are large and tend to collect dust which can hinder growth.  I suggest that clients gently clean the leaves with a damp cloth monthly to keep them healthy and beautiful as well as trim dry yellow leaves at the bottom off of the plant.

Photo by Erika Bierman

An Organized Pantry

When I first started using Houzz I posted a picture of a pantry I designed at a transitional center for homeless foster youth.  Venice Beach is home to hundreds of runaway teens. The crash pad, right off the boardwalk, aims to provide them with a haven to help them restore their lives.  The project included redoing and organizing a pantry for the home.  I posted a photo of this pantry on Houzz and it has been the single most shared, clicked photo on my feed.  I think it’s because everyone deep down wants an organized pantry but I believe it’s a struggle for any busy, normal person.

Wouldn’t it be lovely when it was time to plan dinner if you could walk into your pantry and find everything at your fingertips?  Instead, I am sure many of you, like me, have to sift through bags of rice, jars of oil, maybe even some sprouting potatoes.  I am here to help with some pantry organizing ideas.

Baskets/Clear Jars:  Use decorative (but sturdy) baskets and clear jars to organize items that would otherwise be free floating or roll around, such as fruit, potatoes, snacks and even cans.

Wallpaper:  If your pantry is walk in or if you just want it to look pretty when you open it, consider wallpaper between the shelves.  We used a cool blue Kravet pattern for a calming, uniform effect.

Organize like items by shelf:  Perhaps one shelf is for goods that are more perishable, another is for grains like rice, grains and flour and another is for snacks and treats.  Create whatever system makes sense to you but making sure that like things are placed together will help the pantry stay clean.

Labels:  Use the labels on the items as a helping hand.  Make sure like labels are next to each other and make sure that they are facing out and easy to read.  Stack boxes and cans if possible to save room.

Air freshener:  Make sure that there is something keeping the air fresh.  I like something simple and safe like a diffuser on a shelf.

Lighting:  If possible, add lighting to the space so you can see everything.  The modern pendant from Lumens adds a modern touch to this pantry.

Inventory:  If you have time, perhaps the most important element would be to take inventory of what you have on your shelves and clean things out before you go to the grocery store.  You can even plan recipes around these items to make sure you are really using what you have.  I recommend doing this every month or so.

Small, Spanish-Style Kitchen

We recently remodeled a small kitchen in a cute South Pasadena home.  The finished product is one of my favorites because of the creative touches we used to make it look unique.  As someone who loves to cook and take pictures of my food every day, I see the kitchen is the heart of the home.  Most families spend so much time in the kitchen, therefore it is a great place to start a remodel.

Choose a style and stick with it

Our clients have a Spanish style home and wanted that reflected in their kitchen.  That gave us plenty of inspiration for colors, hardware, tile, lighting and other design details.  If your home has a defined style on the outside I always say to stick with that style indoors as well.

Color Your Cabinets

If you don’t have a lot of space but you want to make the kitchen a focal point I suggest going with a pop of color on the cabinets.  We used Benjamin Moore’s Spellbound 1659 to create a bright blue that draws the eye into the kitchen from the laundry room and the dining room.

Have Fun with Hardware

We added fun and funky hardware to compliment the blue cabinets.  The pieces have a twisted, aged and hammered look.  Don’t be afraid to go a little wild with your hardware, it’s a great place to add flair and intrigue.  Also, as styles change it’s the least permanent part of the remodel and can always be updated and replaced.

Use Tile for Texture

A tile backsplash adds glamour and can be used in small kitchens to enhance custom details.  The client wasn’t sure about this Tabarka Studio tile because of its rustic look.  She finally came around to the organic beauty of it when she realized each piece was handmade like art.  It adds character and texture juxtaposed against the clean lines of the slabs and cabinets.

Keep Counters Clean

In order to create the illusion of the most space we went with a clean and simple white slab in this kitchen.  In a small kitchen it’s best not to get too busy with colors or veins in your slab that will just take away from all the other details. We used Caesarstone 5000 London Grey for this project.

Hide Your Dishwasher

In a smaller kitchen, appliances take up most of the room.  As you can see in this kitchen we were able to put a panel over the dishwasher to create a cleaner more streamlined look.  Also, investing in counter depth fridge and a range with ovens below will also add space to your layout.


Our clients’ hearts were set on a Moravian Star pendant.  We loved the look because it tied back to the Spanish style of the house.   This also draws your eyes to the window and up away from the floor and adds a soft layer of light to the kitchen.

Window Treatments

I have always felt window treatments finish the room.  Not only do they allow for privacy, they are the frosting on the cake.  I also added a whimsical trim that tied in the white with the blue.  Trim is an easy inexpensive way to make roman shades look dressed up and custom.

Photos by Erika Bierman