Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Selling your home = Pie vs Cake

Pie is a happy word. Isn't it funny; I actually prefer to eat cake, but the word pie makes me happier to say than the word cake.

I find that homes are the same way. A nook sounds far more welcoming than a small place to sit, and while we often laugh at creative descriptions, they do have the uncanny ability to paint us a picture to go with the story. And, if we can create a feeling, an emotional connection to something, we tend to like it more.

Homes are about creating emotional connections with the use of physical objects, but if the objects mean nothing, or were placed without care, then the connection is never made, and it all starts to feel quite hollow.

You see, it's a bit of smoke and mirrors, but if you're trying to sell your home, then you often need decorative words, even if they just live inside your own head. It makes the process so much easier, and while you're not out to fool anybody, it does make your home sound far more appealing.

No-one wants to move into a home that is described as small, dirty and near a busy railroad, but it could also be a cozy, well-loved family home that is close to public transportation.

The idea is to get their attention, invite them in, and then they can decide for themselves whether they want the pie or the cake.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Hack Your Home


Remember when our dad's could fix almost anything with a roll of duct tape and some chewing gum? I think some of them still can, but now we don't laugh at them carefully wrapping silver tape around anything that doesn't move; we call them hacker's, and they are probably laughing all the way to the bank, as they sign their second million dollar book deal telling us all about even more ways to use that five dollar roll of duct tape.

Maybe it's because we are so busy, or maybe it's a small nod towards saving money, but life hacks are one of the biggest trends right now. For some reason, a hack sounds far more fun than a short-cut, and while we can't wait to try a hack, no-one exactly jumps up and down in anticipation of a new short-cut.

Regardless of the name, there are definitely some wonderful ideas out there, and if they don't work, all we have lost is a little bit of time and something to laugh about.

Recently, I was so inspired that I really thought that putting duct tape on my bra was a good idea. As I ran out the door, I felt the wire from my bra poke through, and I grabbed the roll of duct tape sitting on my counter (it was black, and so was my bra - it seemed perfect). Strangely enough, the wire had poked through by the time I had got to work, and I was left with the disturbing realization that instead of doing what I had asked of it, the tape had firmly attached itself to my skin and my clothes. Apparently, duct tape can stop a five hundred pound air conditioner from falling out of my window, but it is no match for a tiny wire and some stretchy fabric.
Needless to say, I would not recommend this idea to anyone, but for all the other quick fix fans out there, here are some of my favorite (tried and true) home design hacks....

  • Fix small nicks on appliances and tile with Nail Polish - it comes in a million different colors, and you can usually buy a cheap one for less than a couple of dollars.
  • Use a shoe organizer for storing toys, make-up, household cleaners, gloves and hats, snacks - anything but shoes (unless you are a perfect Women's size 7, and have exactly twelve pairs of shoes).
  • When you're done painting a room, store some extra paint in a screw top jar (label with the name, number, brand, date and room that you used it in). This is perfect for quick touch-ups, and will keep for much longer than if it is sitting in a paint can.
  • Update your old brass lamp stands (and accessories) with black chalk board paint for a gorgeous, matte black finish that is durable and looks like cast iron. No primer needed. (I have also painted shoes, walls, cupboards, picture frames and glass storage containers with chalk board paint).
  • Use old necklaces and costume jewelry as tie-backs for your curtains, and decorative shower curtain rings in place of curtain hooks.
  • Turn your window into a seasonal headboard - center your bed in front of it, place some nice curtains either side of it, then decorate the rest of the room. Your room will feel larger, and you will automatically have an ever-changing focal point. 
  • Or, use a bookcase as your headboard - it looks great, and so practical!
  • Remove cupboard doors in your kitchen for instant open shelving, and take out a drawer or two to store and display cookbooks horizontally.
  • Use self-stick hooks to hang a light curtain rod, or, ditch the hooks altogether, and use a shower curtain tension rod to hang your curtains (which might have been made out of a pair of decorative sheets).
  • Update lamp shades by decorating them with paint, sharpies and decorative fringe etc. Tape off areas to create stripes, use heat safe glue to add decorations, and let the children draw all over them with sharpies. 
  • Store necklaces, belts and scarves on an old tie rack, keep small pieces of jewelry in old tea cups, ice cube trays, plates and saucers, and stack bracelets on an old paper towel holder (which can also be used to store spools of ribbon if you like to wrap presents). 
  • Add metal coat hooks to the backs of almost every door; ideal for keys, coats, bags, jewelry, organizers, brooms and mops (just attach a ribbon to the end of the handle - drill a hole if you need to - and hang them upside down). 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Living and Layering


Removing Christmas from my house requires a lot of loud music, comfy clothes, and perhaps the occasional glass of wine. While I love my home, the spaces are small, so I have to rearrange everything to accommodate the Christmas tree; furniture is forced to move around like some bizarre game of musical chairs, and I find myself almost apologizing to the over-sized, vintage radio as I decide to wiggle it awkwardly into the coat closet for the month.

Ever the decorator, I am not content to just jam it all into place, so it takes me hours to basically redesign my home just for the sheer joy of having a Christmas tree in the front window. So, this last weekend was spent taking down Christmas, moving furniture and pictures back to wherever they came from, and freeing the old radio from its hiding space.

Ironically, my music of choice was David Bowie's, "The Singles 1969 - 1993"; songs that I grew up on, and could easily belt out the lyrics to in my sleep. I mention this only because he passed away the very next day, and I had no idea that he was so ill while I was singing along to some of my favorite music and chasing pine needles around with the vacuum cleaner.

At the end of the day, my home was pulled back together, and I started futzing around with the table by my front door; playing with shapes, and layering photographs that I had decided to relocate from another room. I spent at least twenty minutes on that tiny space, and as I did, I thought, that as designer's, we often forget to mention the details that really matter in an effort to make decorating appear as simple as possible.

Layering accessories is one of those details that can make or break a home. We see it done so beautifully on mantles and bookshelves, but the truth is (don't laugh) that if you just put several things in front of each other, with no thought at all, it could probably be called a mess, and the difference between a mess and the art of layering is all about taking a moment to find a common thread, and taking even more time to play with what you have.

So, if you love the look of layering, and want to add a bit more personality to your home, try grouping things together before you begin (by color palette, shape, theme, style, or texture). Forget about using matching things, the more eclectic the better (and often the easier it is).
The goal is (essentially) to have designed clutter; to just teeter around the edge of it looking undone, and almost accidental in appearance, but in a very deliberate way.

I always start with either the largest piece, or my favorite, and then add the other items around it. Books are a great way to add a layer, and they automatically provide a shelf for something else to sit upon. Mixing old and new gives us a feeling of warmth, and a curated layer is the perfect spot to put the occasional, quirky doodad that you just can't do without.

The magic of layering is that it allows us to take the ordinary things that we have, turn them into what we love, and relax them into a casual, decorative story. So, when you have a moment, turn up the music, grab your drink of choice, and start playing.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Let's Get Comfy!


I can't help it, but sectional sofas remind me of parties with Hugh and perky leotards with bunny tails; days when their soul purpose was to fill the corners of an impossibly large living room, and cradle the tired faces of several someones who had enjoyed a very long liquid lunch.

Sadly, I never wore a bunny tail, but now I find myself wishing I had, and wondering if it is still too late? I have never seen it listed on a bucket list, but it seems like a very good contender for mine, and probably more attainable than climbing Mt. Everest or lining up the colors on a Rubix cube.

So, with thoughts of parties and bunny tails, it didn't come as a complete surprise that I have also been thinking about buying a sectional sofa; I finally see the appeal of having a sofa that invites us to put our feet up and get comfy.

You see, it has always been difficult for me to sit with my feet on the ground, and I worry that I am not being very lady-like in the way that I cross my legs, so why not have something that almost encourages my potential bad manners. (Mind you, it could also be the amount of chocolate that I ate over Christmas that is sweetening my sudden love affair with outstretched, fabric-inclined laziness).

When I think past my lazy thoughts, I also like that there are options, but not like going to a diner options; these are simple and not-too-over-whelming options. Do you want the lounging bit on the left or the right, what fabric do you like, and how big do you want it to be? There are more questions I am sure, but it isn't hard to navigate, and isn't likely to make you run away or just give up and order the grilled cheese.

And, did you know they can fit more people? Even the smallest one will seat three or four, without unsettling your host or making you feel that you are teetering on the edge of someone else's personal space. In fact, they might possibly be my new favorite piece of furniture.

But then I talked to someone who said that they didn't like sectionals at all. She said she didn't know how to sit on them properly, the thought made her uncomfortable, and that they looked like a bed in the middle of the living room. She preferred to sit up, and at a distance, rather than lounging awkwardly close to her friend's bare feet.

As we talked, I understood what she meant, but I also hoped that if she visited someone it was because she liked them, and that they would be okay with her asking how on earth she was supposed to sit on their comfy (but confusing) furniture configuration. Because at the end of the day, it is all about comfort, and if she isn't comfortable I am sure that her friend would happily take off her bunny tail, open a packet of chocolate biscuits, and invite her to sit down at the kitchen table instead.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Musical Chairs for the Holidays


Even if you don't love to entertain, don't you find that there is something about this time of year that makes you want to invite people over to your house? For some, it is about showing off the perfect tree, and for others, a need to share that cozy family feeling that we all crave. Whatever it is, the holidays are here, and all those extra people eventually need to sit down and eat their shrimp.

I am a big believer in sourcing my home before I shop, and it always surprises me what I can find at the last minute. When hosting, I do think it is important to coordinate my seating with the amount of bottoms that will be coming to visit; there is nothing worse than friends being forced to stand and look uncomfortable, while others are wiggling their toes on your favorite sofa. This doesn't mean that you have to provide luxurious options, it just means that it is always nice to be prepared, and offer them a little something to sit upon.

Here are some extra seating ideas that may help you in your last minute entertaining pinch:

Forget about matching everything. They are coming to spend time with you, not judge your furniture.  
Grab the obvious things first; kitchen and dining chairs, ottomans and stools etc.
Check out your garage and basement for bar stools, and folding poker chairs, that you may have forgotten about.
Look outside. Do you have a nice garden bench, chair or small, sturdy table that could be cleaned up for an extra bottom to perch on?
Peek in the bedroom. What about your reading chair, or that bench at the end of your bed?
The office. No, not those gigantic, spinning Star Trek chairs, but maybe you have a more traditional chair that you could use.
Spare Room. Remember that old wooden trunk, and the love-seat that you pile your laundry on? Perhaps they could easily be carried to where you need them.
Big, European Size pillows: Grab these from the beds if you need to. Children, teens (and some adults) will be happy to sit on the floor if you give them a soft place to land.

Now, you have no excuses; thaw the shrimp, and pour the wine!

Photograph from http://katyhahndesigns.blogspot.com/2012/06/mismatched-dining-chairs.html

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Holiday Survival Tactics


Right now, you could probably knit a sweater from the dog fur cozying up in the corners, my tree has lights but no ornaments, and the other night I actually offered a friend a teaspoon of peanut butter to go with her cup of tea. But that is how it should be; she laughingly declined the peanut butter, we found some leftover fudge, and spent the rest of the evening chatting about who knows what.

As organized as I feel in November, it all seems to go to custard in December. I start to worry that I don't have enough presents, and I am sure my bank has made a mistake with my balance, yet I still find myself wandering the supermarket looking for imported chocolates and fascinated by cinnamon sweet rolls that pop out of a can (I don't even care how they taste, there is so much happiness to be had from twisting a can until it pops open - a little like a jack-in-a-box without the nightmare-inducing clown).

After a week of eating too much leftover fudge and gazing fondly at the joyful pop-up cans, my Christmas crazy is officially over. Today I plan to decorate the tree with my daughter, and sort through the shopping bags that are starting to get drooled on by the dog; he has resisted so far, but I know that given a few hours by himself, and an accidental open door, he will be very happy to tear into the chocolate and investigate what I have bought.

I really intended to write about holiday decorating ideas this week, but there is so much information out there already, and mine tend to be more of the homemade variety, that I decided to share a few of my holiday survival tactics instead.

Have a happy (and relatively) clean entrance to you home 

Whether you are coming home from work or shopping, welcoming a friend, or whatever else you do, the last thing you want is to stumble over the front step into a mess. Keeping it tidy will make everything else better.
I actually had this happen to me the other day. Our front door opens straight into the living room, and the coat closet is right there. I was running out the house, and couldn't find the boots I wanted, so I literally flung the one's I didn't want to wear out of the closet onto the floor, left the closet door open, and walked out of the house. It seems so minor, but coming home to boots all over the floor (and cat poop in the closet) almost put me in tears at the end of a very long day.

Take care of yourself 

This sounds so airy-fairy, but even if we love the holidays, most of us find this time of year a wee bit emotional and stressful, so don't forget to schedule something nice for yourself. It can be as extravagant as a vacation, or as simple as spending a few hours with a friend, watching a movie or taking a nap, but don't forget. If we're rested and cared for, it makes us (and the world) a whole lot nicer, and, if we are exhausted and cranky, we are no good to anyone.

Be prepared (especially when you don't want to be)

Even if the word organized makes you break out in hives, this is the time to do it. Make the season easy on yourself, and pick up a box of your favorite sweets from the supermarket, or keep a roll of cookie dough in the freezer (whether you are expecting company, or are going to visit someone, just slice up a few cookies and they will be done in fifteen minutes. p.s. In case of an emergency, make up a couple just for yourself). Being a tiny bit prepared stops the last minute panic when you are visiting (or being visited) but far too exhausted to face the supermarket chaos.

Like many people, I have a bit of a complicated relationship with Christmas, but I do know that if your family and friends really love you, they will take you as you are, and happily accept (or decline) to share your teaspoon of peanut butter .....

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A (new) Christmas Story

T'was the week before Christmas, and all through the town,
Credit cards were up and bank balances were down.
With the season of Giving getting into full swing,
The Children were wondering what Santa would bring.

Shopping malls were filled from morning till night,
As Everyone tried to find something "just right".
Houses were decorated, Menorah's were lit,
After too many snacks our clothes didn't quite fit.

People were travelling, Cookies were made,
Presents still to be wrapped, and the table to be laid.
For some a religion, for many a Belief,
For some, when it's over, a huge relief.

The Holidays remind us of who we have lost,
Of what we have Done, and was there a cost?
We promise to be better, and have more direction,
But life doesn't come with mistake protection.

Back to Shopping; just in case we haven't thought of it all,
Maybe it's time to drive back to the Mall?
We concentrate too hard on doing things well,
Are we having Fun yet? Who can tell.

Christmas Carols, parties and trees that are faux,
Not enough Time, so we decide not to go.
It all seems so much, too many to Please,
We first lose our patience, and then lose our keys.

The Children are happiest when they are with Us,
So forget all the shopping and forget about fuss.
Spend time with Family and Friends that are dear,
Do what you Want and Enjoy each New Year!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanks and Giving


As a transplant to this country, I had never celebrated Thanksgiving before, and the thought of having a big turkey dinner the week before Christmas seemed a bit silly. But after travelling a bit more through life, it has now become my favorite holiday of all. 
I love that Thanksgiving has no boundaries in its celebration. Yes, we wrap it around the joy of turkey and pumpkin pie, but it is mainly a time to pause and be grateful for what we have; if we are lucky, it makes us want to give of ourselves a little more, remember fondly those we have lost, and unconditionally open up our heart and home.   
Wishing you all a very happy and peaceful Thanksgiving!
 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Be Inspired


Sometimes, my head is so full with details and inspiration, that I have to empty it all out onto a piece of paper. An almost compulsive note-taker, not a day goes by when I don't see or think of something obscure that I must write down and remember - sometimes it is as normal as a photograph in a waiting room magazine, but other times I am inexplicably captured by the curved shape of sugar in a jar, or the movement of a worm trying to escape a rain puddle in the driveway.

I am not sure if this is normal, but I have come it accept it, and understand that it gives me an appreciation for random moments that would otherwise go unnoticed. Inspiration is everywhere, and while we can't all wander around gazing into puddles, there is a certain joy that happens when we open ourselves up to always being curious.

Recently, I was invited to write about my design ideas, and to share a favorite color inspiration. Not wanting to copy anyone else, I went back to my love of fashion, and chose a pale pink that I had seen all over the runway; paired dreamily with soft, warm shades of mink and cream it seemed especially perfect for these upcoming winter months.

When I see something that inspires me, I often hold my breath and don't want to exhale, afraid I will lose whatever beauty is placed in front of me.

One of the most common things that people say is that they don't know what they like, and I worry that they might be waiting for just one single, gigantic image to appear; something so perfect and spectacular that it will give them all the answers, and then they are done.

But life isn't like that, and thankfully a home isn't either; it is a constant, moving part of who we are, and we should swap and change our thoughts and ideas as we go along. Thank goodness for the internet, because if we aren't inspired by worms in puddles or sugar in a jar, we can log onto a world of wonder at just the click of a button.

Here are some of my favorite places to wander around for inspiration ....

Things Organized Neatly

Remodelista

Rodney Smith and Tim Walker

House of Humble

My Scandinivian Home

The Inspired Room

The Christmas Snail Explained

How to Decorate Like a Parisian

Anthropologie

House and Garden UK

The Novogratz Family

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Fall Design and Organizing Classes



New classes are here for the Fall!
Click to register, or email me for more information.

Thank you (and thank you to Tim Walker for the fabulous photograph above)

Sunday, October 18, 2015

New Ways with Old Homes


I was reading a book the other day on how not to look old; the fact that I was even reading it speaks volumes, but after turning fifty I entered that magical place of being technically older (whether I liked it or not) and feeling like the universe had made some type of horrible mistake. I thought that I wasn't quite old enough to be fifty, and I still had so much left to do. Even though age had never bothered me at all, I felt like all of a sudden I had a sign on my head announcing that I was older, and maybe it was about time to start acting accordingly.

So, I bought a book, and basically, the book said that we should ignore the number, try to stay youthful in our ideas, have a sense of humor, and prop up (prettily) all the things that are falling down.

This got me thinking, and I realized that homes are very similar to people; there is nothing wrong with them having age and character, but they also need a small injection of youth now and again. So, with thoughts of botox (no, not yet) and hair dye (of course) in mind, here are a few ways to battle the old, gray areas, and bring a touch of vibrancy back into your own home.
                                                                           
FORMAL LIVING ROOMS

Old Way:
A curated, untouchable space for company and special occasions.

New Way:
Use it every day. Make it more cozy and welcoming by bringing in what you really need to make it livable. Mix up the styles, and add some casual, personal bits and pieces.

FAMILY AND TV ROOMS

Old Way:
The place where old furniture and everyday messes went to hide. Not a place for company.

New Way:
Mix in a few nicer items to perk it up a bit. Add some color if it seems a little dull. Tidy it up at the end of the day, and (if needed) be practical and add a decorative container or basket for collecting garbage.

BEDROOMS

Old Way:
Bed in a Bag (we've all done it before, but the fabric is usually itchy, no-one really wants a European Sham anymore, and they are really far more expensive than they should be).

New Way:
Choose your linens based on total comfort and personal preference, not your wall color.

KITCHEN

Old Way:
Covering the windows up with a decorative valance. Decorating the top of the cupboard with dried (and fake) flower arrangements, plastic ivy and wicker baskets.

New Way:
Lighten up the kitchen by removing all but the most necessary curtains. Banish any plant and food that isn't real, or can't be used. Your kitchen should feel warm, useful and alive, not dusty and fake.

CURTAINS AND DRAPES

Old Way:                                                              
Covering the windows with heavy valances, sheers and swooping curtains with tie-backs.    

New Way:
Remove valances and tie backs. Hang your curtain panels simple and straight. Take the curtain rod a few inches above and beyond the window frame to add height and light.  

FURNITURE AND ACCESSORIES

Old Way:
Shop the showroom, and buy an entire room, or a matching set that goes with what you already have.

New Way:
Decide what you like (need?) before you go to the store, and, deliberately pick and choose items from different stores; your home will feel far more interesting if you buy it in pieces rather than all at once.

EVERYTHING ELSE

Old Way:
Defining yourself by a particular style. Being loyal to a brand, trend or an idea.

New Way:
Buy according to what you really like and need, not what others say and do. Be fickle in your choices, and let your heart and budget make your decisions for you.

p.s. The fabulous photograph is of Iris Apfel, a designer, fashion icon, and a great source of inspiration (age 93).

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Fall Interior Design Classes



I am excited to be offering more classes through the Community School for the Fall and Winter months. We are once again having the Design Secrets series, as well as How to Stage (and sell) your Home, and a new evening class on easy ways to finally kick your organizing and decluttering dilemma's.
The first one begins in just over a week (Tuesday October 20th) with several more scheduled through the month of November.

A preview of the first two classes is above, but for more information, and a full schedule, please go to the Roxbury Community School link. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Skirts in my Kitchen


I love to wear skirts and dresses (although they do get in the way, and are not helpful at all when I really need to get housework and gardening done. I couldn't tell you how many times I have stood helpless as the vacuum cleaner hungrily wrapped my skirt around its manic spinning brush, never mind explaining how much damage a weed wacker can do to fabric before you can hit the off button). But, as impractical as my wardrobe can be, I enjoy it, and I wear it anyway, but dressing my kitchen in skirts is another matter.

Eclectic, bespoke kitchens are in style, and I am so glad that we finally want them to look like a room in our house, instead of an institutionalized afterthought for preparing food and opening take out containers. We want them to be homey and decorated, especially decorated; rustic, without being too countrified, and sophisticated without being cold and unwelcoming. And, we want the windows open and wide, preferably overlooking a scenic meadow, and we all want poured concrete and butcher block.

And, I couldn't be happier, because I think every room should be dreamy, and that kitchens deserve as much love, beauty and comfort as the rest of the house, but somehow, to me, having a fabric skirt in a kitchen just seems like going to the shops and buying a small headache; it's something else to clean, and a thousand more surfaces to attract all those random splatters and spills.

I honestly don't know how people stay clean in the kitchen, and if I had a zoom on my television, I would probably use it to see if that white blouse that she is cooking in is as spotless as it seems to be. Because I am such a messy cook. I cook and bake all the time, but I can't even wash a dish without sharing it with my fabric clad tummy, so I always wear an apron. And even my apron gets dirtier than I think it should. I am constantly wiping up, and my kitchen still isn't clean, so I can't imagine turning around and seeing fabric covered in goo that needs to be washed every time I get far too exuberant with the chicken and the flour.

So, I think, that as beautiful as some of these fabric laden kitchens are, maybe they aren't quite as practical as they want us to believe. Maybe the woman who lives there uses her oven for storage, or she has people to clean for her, or maybe, just maybe she does gaze out at the meadow in her clean, white blouse, and is a far neater cook than I will ever be....


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Freshly Painted Walls


When I was young, my dad hung up all the pictures in the house; hammering nails into the wall was his domain, and I spent my entire childhood with just two pictures on my bedroom wall. My dad wanted to keep our newly built house nice, and he didn't want to ruin the freshly applied paint; which made sense to him, but no sense at all to my 15 year old self. So, one day when he wasn't looking, I taped a poster to the back of my bedroom door. I figured that tape was okay, but didn't realize that the gluey substance holding up "The Who" must have been created for NASA or something, because despite many attempts to get it off, 35 years later, Roger Daltrey and his crew are a bit worse for wear but still clinging to the back of my old bedroom door.

Fortunately for me, my current home is old, and it has been repainted and spackled more times than I can count, but when I first moved in I thought of my dad, and the fear of making a mess on the walls paralyzed me into avoiding any contact with a hammer. Instead, I would carefully wiggle a hook or nail into an existing hole, not caring if it didn't quite fit, or the picture didn't look right in a certain spot.

Within a short while I had filled up all the existing holes, and my avoidance technique started to feel just a little bit silly (and I realized my dad wasn't actually watching) so I decided to pick up a hammer and see what would happen.

The very first thing that I hung on the wall was a vintage, ostrich feather dress at the top of the second floor hallway (so that no-one else could see it - a very restrained act of rebellion against the restrictions of my childhood room). It's a beautiful dress that I still imagine fitting into one day, and I love the look and feel of it; it is a true party dress from a long time ago, and I can imagine a lady taking great amounts of time getting ready to wear it out to a very fancy dance.

For days after I would look at the dress, and wonder how on earth I could have hidden it away when seeing it on the wall gave me so much pleasure. It was a very subdued ah-ha moment that slowly nudged me to start placing my collection of tea plates down the side of the staircase wall. A few at a time, other favorite things started to attach themselves to the wall and gradually creep down the stairs, like random decorating ninja's peeking ahead to see if my dad was looking.

But of course there was no going back, and before I knew it I had bought even more nails, and I delighted in filling up the oddest of spaces in every single room, and putting things far higher up than they should have been. I decided that I liked seeing things on display, and the balance of shapes and texture was a game of sorts. I found that I didn't have to follow all the rules, and not everything needed the perfect picture hook with a maximum weight limit; sometimes a push pin, or the tiniest of nails was more than enough, and other times I had to be a bit more thoughtful, warding off unexpected falls in the middle of the night.

When my dad visited he laughed at how full my house was, and he didn't remember being so stern in the past, but I still can't get the tape off my Who poster, and I think I will probably always hesitate before taking a hammer to a freshly painted wall ....

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Finding Your Focus


Once upon a time, a very decorated lady glanced around and told her that her room would be so much better if only she had a focal point. The lady stayed for a cup of tea, they pondered the room with much disappointment, then she left.

Finding your focal point is a term that is tossed around in the world of design, but we often forget to explain what we mean, what it is, and how you could find one for yourself. It is sometimes implied that they might be elusive, an enigma, something that has that certain je ne sais quoi destined to be a secret for the very few, when really, it is actually quite simple.


How you define it is up to you, but every room needs something that makes you want to go inside, otherwise what is the point? It can be as simple as a tiny photograph, a curious piece of art, or as extravagant as a floor to ceiling stone fireplace, but there should be something that immediately captures your attention. (And, it doesn't have to be nice and designery, it just has to be).

This is why a television is often frowned upon, but if the television is the focus of your room, then accept that and make it as appealing as possible; surround it with art that you love, or make sure it is at least placed on a decent piece of furniture. Try not to drape dirty laundry over it, but, honestly, if you seem to have an endless supply of laundry, and it feels destined to be the focal point of your room, why not place it in a beautiful basket, or find an unusual design that suits your style and blends in with your home a little more.

See, finding a focal point isn't a mystery at all; just find something you like to look at, place it across the room, and you're done....

Friday, September 4, 2015

A Little Undone


I often get anxiety if people are coming to my home for the first time. The label, Interior Designer, is often thrown around, mistakenly attached to my name, and I worry that people will be woefully disappointed when they step inside. Someone even asked me once if they could just come and look around my house, to see what it was like and how I decorated; they didn't even pretend to invite themselves over for a cup of tea, they just wanted to see my house.

The thought terrified me, especially when I knew that their home looked like a page out of a decorating catalog, and mine just looked like, well, it looked like me. The day before she came over I cleaned my home like a mad woman (something I rarely do) and while I would never want my home to look like something from a catalog (well, maybe a small page in "Shabby Couture" or something) my confidence plummeted at the thought of being judged.

Ten minutes before she arrived I tripped over the cat, knocked the plant off the wall, and burst into tears. Unfortunately, the plant was actually in a frame, with water, in a terracotta pot, so there was water, terracotta and aquarium gravel all over me and all over my Living Room floor. Ironically, that was exactly what I needed, and the next minute found me answered the ringing doorbell with no apology, just a wet towel, an angry cat, and an overflowing dustpan.

Almost every single client I see apologizes for something when I walk through the door, when really, I find a perfect home far more disturbing than one with an untidy kitchen and a less than new sofa.

Sometimes, we fall into the trap of creating a perfect room, one that is kept aside for special occasions, holidays and 'company". We want it to look so nice that as soon as we have achieved that niceness we back away slowly, almost closing the door quietly, wanting to preserve it until later. Once we're done, we breathe a sigh of relief, turn around and find our way back to the comfy sofa in the other room, where we can eat ice cream on our belly and tuck our tired, dirty feet into our favorite, old blanket.

With most homes, regardless of our budget or style, being in the middle is usually the best place to be - it shouldn't feel precisely composed, but it also shouldn't require a compass and a tetanus shot to walk around. Actually, a home is a bit like a person; it should never be so perfect that we are afraid to approach, and when we do we usually like them so much more if they are just a little undone....

Friday, August 28, 2015

A Lamp for your Floor


I feel sorry for the Floor Lamp. It seems to have gone the way of the coffee table (are people not
reading, drinking coffee and putting their feet up anymore?). To me, the floor lamp seems like one of the easiest ways to add height and interest to a room, never mind the fact that it also helps us to read at night and is a handy guide for the teen who wants to navigate quietly through the dark, wishfully thinking that their mom has become tired of waiting and fallen fast asleep.

By the way, we haven't really gone to sleep; we are lying in bed waiting for you to come home, wondering whether we should call the police or change the shade on the tattered old floor lamp.

As a person who has a nostalgic love for umbrellas, I am now seeking out a lamp shade just like the one in the photograph. I love the eccentric mix of vintage and modern in this room, and while I am not quite sure if I would have that green, droopy plant on my mantel, this beautiful home (designed by Caleb Anderson) reminded of the three most important reasons why we really all should own a floor lamp...

CLUTTER REDUCER
They stand alone, and don't take up any space at all on our nearest and dearest side table.

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY ACCESSORY
Every room needs some height, and floor lamps are naturally quite tall.

PERSONAL SHOPPER
With so many choices of stands and shades, they might just be the most perfect design dose of retail therapy; we can mix and match for hours until we find exactly what we need (or the shop closes, whichever comes first....).

Friday, August 21, 2015

A Comfortable Place


If I had to choose between comfort and good looks (in any part of my life) I would choose comfort every time. I think that every home should be filled with as many comfortable places as possible...

  • A favorite reading spot, surrounded by books old and new. 
  • A napping place, all soft and cozy.
  • A thinking spot by the window, perfect for daydreaming.
  • A chair at the dining room table, comfortable even when dining alone.
  • A sofa, wanting us to curl up our feet, grab a blanket, and stay until morning.
  • An office desk, almost organized, inspiring and personal.
  • A family kitchen, warm and welcoming.
  • An outdoor path, sunny and tickly on our toes.

Wherever you are in your home, try to do as much as you can to make it comfortable, because really, when you think about it, why would you want any space in your home to be uncomfortable? 


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Cabinet Conundrum

Did you know that the average kitchen has 20 - 40 cabinet knobs and drawer pulls?
More than you thought, right? Have you been shopping for them lately? I am not quite sure whether it is terrifying or fun, but I do know it can be confusing. A bit like when we are choosing a paint color; we are dazzled by the endless array, told to choose wisely, surprised by the cost, advised not to scrimp on quality, then wander back home with an exhausted face and an empty shopping basket.

We are told that they are the jewelry of the kitchen, and the finishing touch that we need to pull the entire home together. We start to believe that without these coveted little gems our dreams will surely be squashed, and our kitchen will never, ever be featured on the cover of a beautiful magazine.

But I don't really agree. I think they are both less and more important than we realize, and I find that when we rush to buy them we can easily add a lot of unwanted clutter to our homes. I wouldn't pile on twenty five versions of the same, pretty necklace, or dot thirty three lamps around my living room, so why would I place dozens of tiny, repetitive objects all around my kitchen without more than a moment's thought.

I know I always tell people to buy what they love, and it will all magically work together, but this is totally different; of course you must like them, but if you are buying multiples of something permanent, that all look the same, they automatically become part of your design instead of just a random decoration. I think I actually just confused myself with that sentence, but hopefully you know what I mean.
Forget the usefulness of them for a minute (we know they work) and just think of cabinet knobs and drawer pulls as being lots and lots of small (sometimes shiny) accessories on display in your kitchen.

It sounds frightening (and a bit weird) but really all I am suggesting is that you plan before you buy. Try to decide ahead of time whether you want them to blend in and be part of the design, or a deliberate style statement. If it's a deliberate style that you want, then go ahead, but if you want them to seamlessly fit into your kitchen, do your research, and see what will really suit your home.

And, don't forget to count. It doesn't matter whether you want to have an entire zoo attached to your cabinets, or the simplest of brass pulls, no-one ever has just one ...

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Daily Dose



These last few weeks have been a bit topsy turvy, 
and last night found me just wishing for a few serene hours;  
with nothing more to think about than what we were having dinner,
 and whether or not I should tackle the gray hair that keeps peeking at me through the mirror.  

While I try to keep current with my media work, 
I have to confess
that my business Facebook page has always been my daily dose of comfort and indulgence. 
At first, I worried about pleasing everyone, and I wanted to fit my posts into an exact design formula, but I quickly realized that all anyone wants is for you to be yourself.
They want to get to know you, then decide whether they like you or not. 
If you just show one side of who you are then people get bored,
and it all starts to feel a little fake. 

I like not planning my posts.
Being able to go from sharing a quick recipe for the perfect scone,
 to gushing about a favorite new designer and exploring the latest trend in treetop homes.   

Of course, not every post will knock your socks off, 
but it isn't meant to. 
It is merely a snippet of a little something that will hopefully make you smile as you pass on by. 

If you want to check out my blue giraffe daily Facebook page, just click the title below, 
and, if you would like some help creating your own one blog or page, just ask.