Tuesday, July 30, 2019

HOT Summer Decorating

I love summer. And as far as I'm concerned it's all about being outside. But I must admit it can be a little hot outside even for my tastes. So what can you do to make the inside feel like you're outside on those HOT days?

Start by bringing the outdoors in. And what better way than with flowers. If you have a garden, you're in luck. Hydrangeas, coneflowers dahlias, and zinnias make great cutting flowers. But even if you're not so lucky cut flowers are in abundance at this time of year. Including a favorite of mine - sunflowers! Or put some annuals in pretty pots and scatter them throughout your home. Just remember to water regularly.

Textures are an important part of the summer experience. What about swapping your "traditional" area rug for one of sisal? Or decorate with glass jars filled with sand. Use seashells as accessories - and centerpieces.

And if you're really serious about bringing the outdoors in, how about a hammock? Does anything say summer better than that?

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Moving Outside For Summer

It's my favorite thing about summer . . . moving outside. Eating, cooking, socializing, reading. It all happens outside. And I love every minute of it!

As a designer, one of my favorite things is making the outside look and function much like the inside. And it's so easy! Whether it's an open porch, a screened-in porch, or a patio, bring your own style and flair to make it look and function just as you do on the inside. 
That means make the seating open and inviting to conversation. Make sure it's arranged to take in the focal point/view. Have plenty of tables. Add a throw rug for color, pattern, and texture. If there's a wall, hang something on it. Accessorize with pillows and plants.

And don't forget the lighting! If electricity is available, add lamps or a ceiling fixture. Otherwise, candles are perfect. 

Need a little privacy? Add curtains. Or a curtain of plants. 

Bottom line? Have fun! Get creative with everything. Need a table? Add a top to a bird bath. Color shy indoors? Now's your time to go crazy! Don't hesitate to mix and match furnishings and accessories. Tag sale finds can find a great new life with a coat of paint. Just don't take too long making it yours. Summer doesn't last forever. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Spring Colors . . . And They Aren't Pastels!

I'm happy to say the colors for spring 2019 aren't pastels. Not that pastels aren't lovely. It's just that it's nice to see emboldened palettes for a change. Maybe because the dreary weather has seemed to hang around for so long in the northeast, I'd like spring to be vibrant! Filled with energy! And what better way to do that than colors that aren't shy.

If you decorate with spring flowers as your inspiration, you can't help but be bold. Think the golden yellow of daffodils and forsythia, the deep purple of hyacinths, the reds, oranges, deep pinks, and yellows of tulips. And the trees! Have you ever seen such a riot of colors?
House Beautiful

So don't be afraid to go bold. Re-do a room, like this colorful bedroom in shades of lavendar with a touch of yellow and blue. Bring it all together with a gorgeous wallpaper of hummingbirds and you've made a bold, colorful statement.

If an entire room feels like too much, keep it simple with accessories. Change a piece of artwork to something colorful, bring in a pillow or two to complement, and voila - instant spring. Even something simple like flowers and a pretty bottle will do the trick.

Not sure we know what we're talking about? Then neither does the Pantone Fashion Color Trend Report. Look at their "empowering" predictions for spring 2019. Not much shy about those colors!

So think about it . . . maybe it's time to add just a little bit of play - and power - to your home!

Happy Spring!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Colors of Winter

We so often think of winter as being rather colorless. Everything is gray or white or brown. But driving a few days ago after a snow storm I realized how beautiful the colors of winter really are. The white of the snow has so many variations (read undertones) that are truly gorgeous. There are blues and grays depending on the light and the shadows. Just like the icicles on the cliffs by the side of the highway. Or hanging from the porch eaves. And the sky! Not only are there blues and smoky grays but the intense pinks of a winter sunset. And the yellows of the sunrise. And these are just for starters!

And I realized that not only is winter landscape filled with beautiful colors,
they are colors that are perfect . . . for summer! We bring in warm reds and golds in the winter to warm our homes. The opposite works in the summer. The blues and grays of winter keep us cool in the summer. And because the winter sky is cooler than the summer sky (read undertones), even those warmer colors are cooler in winter - and perfect for summer.

And to keep the rooms from feeling too cool, as well as to bring in the beautiful colors of spring and summer accent in true yellows of summer sun, oranges of spring poppies, the greens of grass and trees. Then relax in your comfortable, inviting, cool space!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Keep It Simple. . . and Soft

If you're like me, once the holiday decorations go down, the house looks a little bare. I used to feel a bit sad about that, finding the space just a little too cold and empty. But in recent years I have figured out how simple it is to add a little warmth and softness to my rooms, while keeping it simple.

That certainly doesn't mean stark. To warm the open spaces I use a lot of texture. Soft pillows and throws warm both the room and me on cold winter nights. Soft rugs underfoot make a big difference. But take it even a step or two further and wrap glass vases in something soft. And what a great use for an old sweater! (They may beautiful pillows as well.)

Lighting is important to me as well. For the holidays I have lights everywhere. On the tree, the mantel, the roping down the stairs. Some of that has to stay during the winter months, just in slightly different places. I love the battery operated small strands of lights that fit perfectly in vases instead of candles. They go anywhere - tabletop or mantel. And something to reflect the lights is important. Mirrors of course, but also metallic accessories are beautiful.

And if the starkness of the landscape really does give you the winter blues, force bulbs inside. You can stay with clean white like narcisus. I love how this beautiful mantel works for the holidays as well as into the winter. If it still feels a little much, remove the ornaments. The lights, the flowers, and the softness of the fabrics will easily carry you into spring. If you prefer a little more color, daffodils are a nice substitute. Or go all out with a beautiful amaryllis.

Bottom line for me, the softness of simple lighting, the coziness of warm fabrics, and the beauty of simple, natural surroundings make a beautiful post-holiday home. Time for a cup of hot chocolate and a good book. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

May Your Holidays Be Merry and Light!

My holidays have become simpler over the years. One reason is because of changes in family life. But a lot of it is choice. I am now much more interested in quieter times with family and friends, more experiences and fewer gifts, and smaller gatherings.

But something I still must have during the holidays are lights. Because it's the darkest time of the year, nothing cheers me up more than lights . . . and lots of them. Candles of all sorts, Christmas tree lights, lights on mantels, and roping . . . they all count.

And the more the merrier. I love, love, love candles. Nothing makes a prettier dining table than lots of candles (particularly tea lights and votives) scattered throughout. And the more creative the holder, the better. Pretty glasses, small crystal bowls, and upside down wine stems all make excellent votive and tea light holders. Add flowers in reflective vases, some greens (maybe with lights), and you won't need the chandelier.

Outside lights in the front of the house are a given. Even though we are on a hill with lots of trees, the lights twinkle through the branches as the cars drive by. And what a treat for guests as they drive up the driveway and the lights come into full view. I also love luminarias lighting the walkway. But again, maybe  not the traditional bags, but something a big different. Lanterns that decorate the porch in the summertime make beautiful luminarias in the wintertime. If there aren't enough for the walkway, then lighting the porch steps works almost as well.

And finally, I love outside lights that are designed to be seen inside. It's usually too cold to enjoy the porch in the winter, but I love lining it with lights that are clearly visible from the inside. And nothing beats lights on the boulders in the back of the yard. Or outlining the birdbath. Seeing these reminders of summer from my kitchen windows always brings a smile.

Which is why when January comes and the tree comes down, as well as the interior decorations, the lights in the backyard stay. I call them winter lights and they have made me happy on the darkest, coldest, snowiest days of January and February.

So this holiday season I am wishing for you a season of light - that lasts all through the winter!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Who Doesn't Love a Thanksgiving Table?

I have to admit . . . Thanksgiving may be my favorite holiday. I take the entire week off so I can plan and cook - regardless of how many people will be around the table. It's such a great day of sharing food, drinks, laughter, without the drama of Christmas (which I also celebrate).

And a big part of the fun is setting the table. Although my "theme" usually revolves around the fall, there are still so many ways to bring in different looks and colors. Pumpkins are very often front and center. And why not? There are so many different ways to incorporate them into your table setting. I particularly love them as vases, but they can also hold candles or name tags, be painted or covered in fabrics, or just simply be.

The table can also be very simple if that's what you prefer, with the focus on the food and guests. The first Thanksgiving was rustic, so why shouldn't yours have some of the same elements?  Dish towels as napkins, a burlap runner, scattered pumpkins, pears, and apples and you have a simple, beautiful setting.

Or what about a combination? Muted tones, a more formal runner, burlap napkins, and rustic candles set into pretty florals can all work very well together to create a casually elegant look for you and your guests.

And don't forget the kids! If you want them to sit patiently while the adults dine, make sure they have things to do at their table. A craft paper tablecloth with crayons ensures they will be happy through dessert and beyond!

Whatever you decide to do this Thanksgiving just make sure you focus on the thanks . . . because that's what it's all about.

Happy Thanksgiving!