Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It's the Holidays!

There is so much out there about holiday decorating, but it just never gets old for me! I hope you feel the same way and appreciate these tips.

Lucas Allen/Country Living
I'm a big fan of traditional know, the kind with ornaments you've collected over the years. Some may be homemade, some may be from trips, and some you may have bought just because you like them. But when you have two trees (for me, that just covers the big ones), I love theme decorating. My living room tree is trimmed with poinsettias and snowflakes, with a vintage holiday card or two thrown in. You can use live poinsettia with floral water tubes or you can take apart fake plants and use these care-free blooms (which is what I did). Either way, it's a beautiful look.

Robin Stubbert/Country Living
And what about mantels? While I'm not a fan of mirrors on mantels because they usually reflect the ceiling, if you put a beautiful arrangement in front of the mirror, you have double beauty! Simplicity always appeals to me as well, so perhaps just beautiful greens and maybe a few candles will do the trick. Most of us have quite a few decorations, so keeping it simple keeps the decor from being overwhelming. Consider using things you have around the house that aren't necessarily holiday-themed but could be. What about silver candlesticks, branches from the yard spray-painted silver and in a silver vase, or unpainted branches intertwined with battery-operated lights? Inexpensive yet stunning decorations!

Wreaths are a big part of the holidays for me as well. I use them indoors and out. Evergreens make beautiful wreaths, but what about something a little more unusual? Wreaths made from herbs such as bay leaves, rosemary, oregano, and such are not only beautiful but also won't be thrown out at the end of the season. Add a few oranges or cranberries - and maybe a bunch or two of grapes - for color and you're done! Eucalyptus leaves also make gorgeous wreaths, particularly when the leaves are spray-painted metallic gold or silver.

However you decide to decorate for the holidays, make sure it reflects YOU! Just like design throughout the year, your home should be a reflection of you and your family, not what you see in the magazines. So put out what you love, then sit back and enjoy! It will be over before you know it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Late Fall Decorating

Or does that become holiday decorating? Late fall certainly covers Thanksgiving and by the time winter officially begins, Christmas decorating (for those who celebrate) has usually been completed. But there's so much more to late fall decorating than just holidays!

Fall vegetables make wonderful late fall decorations - and not just pumpkins. Kale, eggplant, purple cabbage, pomegranates, and ornamental peppers are all beautiful. Take inspiration from the colors, shapes, and textures and bring them into your decorating scheme.

Tabletop arrangements and mantels are of course lovely, but what about your entry? Can you bring some of those colors into your decorating scheme so people see it when they walk in the door? The entry is often a place where we can add a little color drama without conflicting with your entire decorating scheme, so see if you can add a beautiful eggplant pillow, throw, or entry table arrangement.

Courtesy HGTV
If adding fall colors is a bit much, what about using bare branches and some simple things from nature? The fruit, feather, and pine cone in this photo add interest to the beautiful display of branches, combining rustic and elegant at the same time.

Texture is also important at this time of year. And you can add that to any room without disturbing the color scheme. Cozy throws and soft pillows in any color add texture to any room, while faux fur rugs and floor pillows make lounging on the floor as inviting as the furniture!

Whatever you do, make sure your fall decorating is all about you.......and that it makes you feel happy every time you walk in the door!

Monday, October 1, 2012

It's Fall!

I do so love this season, as apparently (according to a recent survey) do a lot of people. In fact, October is the favorite month of the majority of Americans. And I love decorating for fall.......especially with just a bit of a twist.

Courtesy of HGTV
For example, pumpkins and gourds are definitely a sign of the season. But you don't have to keep them orange and yellow. Paint them to match your decor. Or purchase faux in the color of your choice. Look how beautiful this monochromatic mantel looks! If you prefer more color, go for it!

Use things from nature to add interest. Gather acorns, bare branches, feathers, and perhaps even a fallen nest to make a creative arrangement. Use them in bowls, jars, and vases to replace those summer collectibles of seashells, sand, and sea glass. Keep branches in place using dried beans for an unusual touch.

Rather than change your sisal rug, try layering another rug on top of it.  Rugs Direct shares a beautiful look in a bedroom, but that will work well in any room of the house. Think of the floor as the wall, with the sisal or natural fiber rug as the wall treatment, then the patterned rug as the artwork. Or get even more creative and layer different patterns. Keep in mind the tricks to using different patterns together (colors that blend and patterns that are similar in style), then have fun! Animal prints are a great trend now, so try adding one if the mood strikes you.

And of course, the "traditional" bounty of the season is always beautiful. Pumpkins stacked on your front porch,pots of jewel-toned mums, and bowls of seasonal fruit (is anything more beautiful than a bowl of apples?) are always a delight to behold - and a wonderful touch of fall both inside and out.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Late Summer Decorating

Yes, fall is just around the corner. But it's not here yet! While we'll have plenty of time for fall decorating (and we'll be sharing some of those ideas later), we do have a few things to say about late summer decorating.

Photo courtesy of HGTV
Let's start with keeping the party outside just a little longer. Purchase a few throws that match your decor and have them available for guests (and yourself). You can use them to cover the furniture for a new look, or put them in baskets for easy access.

With shorter days, lighting becomes even more important. And what is more warming than candlelight - and lots of it! (Just keep the flame covered.)

While many flowers are on their way out, there are still plenty of beautiful fall colors - and we're not just talking mums. Many flowers last until first frost (sedum, lavendar and coneflowers), as do many beautiful variegated foliage plans (coleus). So change those pots with dead flowers to plants that will have color through a lot of the fall. And keep cutting the blooms to make bouquets for inside and out.

Bring a bit of the late summer indoors as well. While it may not be time for a fire in the fireplace just yet, it's still nice to add a bit of softness. Think about changing those summer pillows for ones with a soft texture and less bold colors. If you took up your rugs for summer, bring them back. Or change them from the sisal look of summer to something a bit softer. Or even try layering, which is the newest trend. Look at the beautiful selection and ideas offered by Cost Plus World Market (a great place to buy inexpensive home decor items.

I know it can be tempting to jump right into fall, but be patient. We'll have plenty of time for that in October!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Few Things To Love About Summer

Here are a few of my favorite summertime decorating ideas.......

Pretend you live on the beach - even if you live in Nebraska! Go ahead and display sea shells. Make a statement with one or an impact with a collection. Place them throughout your bookshelves, on your mantel, or in a glass cylinder. Glue them to cover the frame of a mirror. Switch your artwork for something with a nautical theme. It could be a painting, a photo, or something creative like a fish net with glass buoys or a ship's wheel. Use beach towels in place of regular towels.

Decorate with flowers - everywhere! Pots of course belong outside on the deck, the patio, the front steps, the front porch. But don't stop there - bring them inside. Get rid of the brown, leggy houseplants and replace them with flowers. Use pretty pots that add splashes of color to your rooms and coordinate with the colors of the flowers. Don't have a green thumb? Then bring in cut flowers from your yard, the nursery or even the grocery store. Fill a vase with the same flowers, create a beautiful mix, or simply place a single bloom in a glass. Mix with candles for a beautiful tabletop arrangement. Or place a simple arrangement by the bed in the guestroom for an inviting welcome.

And make sure lighting plays a part. Whether it's candlelight, torchlight, string lights, candeliers..........they will all add beauty and ambiance to your home, whether indoors or out. And relax and enjoy the company of family and friends during this beautiful time of year.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Outdoor Decorating

We can finally start spending some time outside! Gardens are a wonderful backdrop to outdoor living, but I love to take things a step further and truly LIVE outside!

For me, that begins with the furniture. Some outdoor furniture, while attractive, just doesn't offer much comfort. And I want to be just as comfortable outside as in. Furniture I love usually has cushions, which not only make it comfortable, but add color and texture to the overall look. And chairs with ottomans are even better, which is something I adore inside.

Plis Outdoor Lighting shown in a Homedit blog post by Simona Ganae
I also want furniture for each of the functions of the outdoor space, which generally includes conversation and dining. Just like indoors, I don't want to be seated around my dining table when I am having drinks with your family and friends. But I do want to eat at a dining table, so two separate areas are important.

Then the touches to make everything complete. That may mean outdoor lighting like these lamps. I first saw these in a beautiful newsletter by Wendy Wrzos of the blue giraffe and knew I had to share. Isn't this a lovely picture?

Plants and flowers are the "accessories" as well as pillows and throws for chilly evenings. And don't forget a rug! Just like indoors, rugs help ground the seating area and bring in additional color and texture. Just make sure your colors don't compete too much with the natural colors surrounding you. Ahhhhh............
From Martha Stewart Living at Home Decorators Collection

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Spruce Up for Spring

Although these tips are designed for people who are putting their homes on the market, for those of us who aren't moving, they can give us a much needed lift!

1)     Clearly delineate the front walkway – and make sure everyone enters through the front door. Sweep clean and repair or replace any part of the walkway that is broken or cracked.

      2)     As soon as possible add fresh mulch to flowerbeds. Pots of pansies by the front door are also very inviting. Consider putting them on the back deck as well, even if it’s a little too early to set up the outdoor furniture.

3)     Consider power washing the exterior of your house. Even in mild winters like this exteriors gather a lot of dirt.

4)     Engage the nose as soon as the front door is opened. Windows and doors have been kept closed for a while and houses may begin to smell stuffy. Drop essential oils in citrus scents on light bulbs and turn them on. Stay away from chemical scents found in air fresheners and plug-ins.

5)    Clean windows both inside and out and leave window treatments open to let in the light. If the view is bad, add sheers that will still let in the light but hide the view. If bushes have grown to cover the windows, cut them back so the windows are unobstructed.

6)     If you’ve been using your fireplace this winter, have it professionally cleaned. Also clean the surround of smoke residue. Leave a couple of white birch logs on the grate.
7)     Consider removing rugs to showcase beautiful floors. Keep mats outside of doors for people to wipe their feet, but remove all of those inside that have been placed to collect winter grime. Consider removing heavy wool area rugs and replacing with a lighter look such as sisal – or remove them all together.

8)     Remove heavier accent fabrics and darker colors on things such as pillows, throws,
and bedding and replace with lighter colors
and fabrics. Just don't overdo it (unless you're
staying). You don't want to distract potential
buyers with too much pattern and color so they forget to notice the house.

9)     Remove clutter that tens to gather as we live indoors through the winter. Put away books, magazines, holiday residue, and anything that may be left over from the long, cold months.

10)  Don't forget the garage and basement. We tend to store things haphazardly during winter months, so now is the time to pack and purge.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spring Colors and Trends

I am absolutely LOVING the spring colors! They are so bright and refreshing - and look so good together, even when used in less traditional pairings. And color blocking is back in a big way, which is really a lot of fun.

Benjamin Moore is doing some fun things with combinations. Try this Peony with Ashwood Gray combination. And even though as those of you who may have taken a class with me know, blue is not a favorite, Brazilian Blue with DaVinci's Canvas is stunning. French Lilac paired with Englewood Cliffs is subtle, but lovely.

If you're looking for something a bit brighter, Pantone has selected Tangerine Tango as the 2012 Color of the Year. Used with off-white and dark brown as Lauren Guarcello of Porter Design Company did in this photo, it's stunning! If you're using a strong color like this, it's a great idea to ground it with neutrals. The color stands out without overwhelming the room.

Accessories are a great way to bring in splashes of color - and what better accessory than pillows! If you haven't seen the new, colorful look of JC Penney, you've really missed something. (Just get over your dislike of the TV ad with the woman yelling - it's really worth it.) They have a wide range of colorful pillows that will add an instant update to any color scheme. Click through the possibilities here.

Of course there are plenty of other accessories you can incorporate for an even more subtle punch of color. Lamps and lamp shades, vases, and pottery all can add color in strategic locations. And you don't have to build a color scheme around them, but simply use them for punch.  And don't forget nature! Spring flowers give us a delightful show of colors both indoors and out. Bring in tulips, daffodils, forsythia, flowering quince, or one of the many other beautiful blooms available at this time of year. And the best thing about flowers? You can add a new color every week to your home!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Got the Winter Blues?

We're getting ready to go into February, which although it's the shortest month, can feel like the longest! Here are some tips to help you through the days.......
  • Make sure you have enough lamps, and the bulbs you use are the highest wattage allowed. Lamp light creates a wonderful ambience, while lighting your rooms so they feel just a bit brighter against the winter darkness. Rule of thumb - a minimum of three placed so the dark corners vanish.
  • Make your bathroom into a spa. Update it with a new shower curtain, fluffy towels, candles, and a basket of spa treats. Nothing like a warm bath on a cold dark night!

Add a little pattern to your rooms for pizazz. Pattern can be a little scary, but have fun with it. Start small with pillow covers. Look at these great colors and patterns from They are sure to brighten your days and nights! And see how nicely the patterns mix together? Just keep them in scale and you'll be fine.

Make sure you surround yourself with things you love - and use them in interesting ways. Try grouping a few interesting and well-loved objects in the center of your dining table, rather than the usual centerpiece. You'll smile every time you pass by! Or make a display on your bookshelves. Sure, you can include books, but also collections of things you love and colors that help chase the blues away.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Staging Bathrooms

Pretty cut-and-dried, isn't it? It needs to be clean - really, really clean with sparkling tiles, grout, and fixtures. It needs new towels. But it's a bathroom, right?

It certainly is, but there are still a lot of touches you can add to give it some pizazz! And I'm not talking about updating although that may be important as well. But if that money isn't in the budget or it makes more sense to spend it elsewhere, there are still some of the things you can do to make a bathroom a little less humdrum.

First, paint can make a big difference. Not only will that make the bathroom feel very fresh and clean, it can create interest in a space that doesn't have much. And while you don't want to choose a color that's totally wild, because it's a small space a more dramatic color may be okay. While it's usually still a good idea to stay in the neutral family, feel free to go darker than you normally would. Just make certain there is enough light so potential buyers can see the room. And keep the rest of the lines of the room clean and spare.
A rug on the floor is very important to soften all the hard, cold lines. But because the space is usually small, you don't want a lot of small, colorful rugs that will further break up the space. Add one rug in the largest size possible for the room. And choose a color that matches the floor. This will lessen the impact on the size of the room while still adding softness.

Make the room pretty (and keep it from feeling too empty) with one or two well-placed accessories. A well-cared for plant, towels tied with ribbons, an attractive soap dish with a new bar of fancy soap, or a pretty dispenser with hand lotion are all  nice touches. If there is room around the tub, make it feel like a spa with a basket of spa treatments such as soap, a towel, and a loofah. 

There are also a few things you need to remove. First, all personal items should be either packed away or well-hidden in baskets with lids. That includes everything personal on the counter tops and in the medicine cabinet and linen closet. Even things like toothbrushes and toothpaste are unsightly and should be removed from counters. If you have a toilet seat cover, remove it. Any rugs other than the one larger one mentioned above should go.

As you stage your bathroom, think of a hotel bathroom. You want it pretty, but impersonal. Even though everyone knows you are using it if you are living in the house, potential buyers don't want to be reminded of it. Rather, they want a room that feels open, inviting, and fresh - ready for them to move right in!