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9 Easy Tips to Avoid Holiday Stress and Distractions

9 Easy Tips to Avoid Holiday Stress and Distractions

Have you ever wondered why, as soon as Halloween is over, to-do lists get longer, the days get shorter, and holiday stress creeps into our lives?  The holiday season has arrived, and with it comes some stress and a lot of distractions.

If you’re anything like me, the holidays are meant to be a fun time celebrating with family and friends.  I love finding the perfect gifts and tying them up with a beautiful bow.  I love getting Christmas cards from friends and family, and sending out our own.  (Though sometimes at our house they become New Year’s greetings!)  We love hosting parties.

But thinking about all the things that need to be done to make the perfect holiday a reality can be overwhelming.    Every little distraction pulls us away from “the List”.   We fall behind and begin to panic and stress out.   What a holiday buzz kill…for us and everyone in the house when it happens!

With all the craziness, and sometimes chaos, we all need some coping skills to get out of overwhelm and into fun!  That’s where some easy tips to avoid holiday stress and distractions comes in!

Start small with this list.  Choose one or two that seem easiest for you right now.  They’re here to help you avoid the holiday stress and distractions that are creeping into your life.

 

Tip #1:  Ease Holiday Stress by planning ahead and setting goals

Remember the vision you had in your head for the perfect holiday?  Now is the time to get it out of your head and onto paper.  Then you can start the action plan.

  • Get organized with your decorations.  Pull out everything  you have and decide what you need to freshen it up a bit for this year.
  • Plan your tabletop and table settings.  If you need some ideas, you can find a few on this blog post (Fall Tabletops That Set the Mood).
  • Plan your menu and your guest list
  • Start your gift list
  • Set a goal for when you want these things completed. Be realistic about these goals, give yourself enough time to finish…and then add a few hours or days.  It always seems that most things take longer than we think they will.
  • Make sure that the spaces you’ll be using for prep, meals, and guests are clean and orderly, especially your prep areas. Remember that it’s hard to get things done when the space you’re working in is a cluttered mess.  If not, be prepared for chaos, a lot of setbacks, and…STRESS!

 

fall to-do and checklist

Tip #2:  Decide what your holiday budget will be

  •  Make a budget and stick to it
  • Have the right tools and resources before you start, and list the cost.
  • What do you need to buy?
  • What can you re-use or repurpose?

Tip #3:  Say NO when you need to.   Don’t feel guilty

  • Make it your “best NO”. You don’t always have to say NO to requests from friends or family.  And you don’t always need to decline a party invitation.  But when the pressure of completing your own holiday plans is getting to you,  a gentle “NO” to the request that doesn’t make you excited  is your “best NO”.
  • Delegate your to-do list between family members
  • Your “best YES” is similar to your best NO. Use it after you’ve considered the time it will take away from your own priorities.  And you need to be excited about it.
  • Busyness is not a virtue, and it is NOT a sign of productivity. If you are taking on too much, the truth is, you’ll probably focus on none of it and risk the chance of doing a horrible job at what you manage to complete.
holiday table setting

 #4:  Set boundaries to avoid distractions

  • Ask family to stay away during specific stressful times or tasks (In my case, it was wrapping our stair railings with garland)
  • Take a break to be with them later
  • When holiday overwhelm is stressing you out, remember that you don’t have to do it all
  • You don’t have to see everyone or do all the things
  • If you’re not excited about going to an event, or if it drains your energy when you think about it….don’t do it!

Tip #5:  Create relaxing surroundings/environment

  • Have a supportive environment to keep you motivated and excited. Play holiday music to get you in the spirit.  Light scented candles.  Open the windows on a nice day for some fresh air.
  • Organize your work space to make each task you need to do simple and easy. That means having all the tools you need ready and waiting so you don’t have to stop and run to the store for a glue gun or a bag of sugar at the last minute.
  • Clear your work spaces and de-clutter you home.  Knowing that you have a calm space around you will definitely calm the chaos of the holiday season.
Christmas helpers

  Tip #6:  Maintain your healthy habits

  • Don’t skip out on your workout or walks with friends
  • Make sure you get enough sleep
  • It’s tempting to “test” all the cookies and desserts, but remember your veggies!

Tip #7:  Seek a fresh perspective

  • Take a break when you’re feeling overwhelmed
  • Make a change.  I like to call it a mind-flip.  Instead of thinking of the project you “have to do”, tell yourself that you “get to bake cookies today”.
  • Take one task that drives you crazy during the holidays and tackle it in a new way.  A fresh approach just might make a difference. For example, if you dread having to send out holiday cards, enlist your spouse or your kids and split the list.

Tip #8:  Be OK with Good Enough

  • Be willing to focus on what’s most important
  • Be willing to modify family traditions. Decorating our stair railings to the hilt always looked beautiful.  My family begged me to do it every year.  Since I couldn’t compromise by letting them help (It’s a designer/perfection thing!) I finally used my best “NO”.  Holiday decorating is much nicer with that stressful task no longer on my list.
  • Don’t always go for bigger and better, when planning your holiday. Do you really need the 10’ Christmas tree when you’re going to be away for most of the holiday?
cookie helpers

Tip #9:  Remember to Have Fun Along the Way

  • Let’s face it.  It’s a lot more fun to be with people when you’re not stressed to the max, or so exhausted from working yourself to the bone that you just want to sleep.
  • Turn off the devices and start building positive memories.  When you think back over your life, you’re not going to remember that you didn’t get everything finished or you missed a text message.   Though everyone might  still be talking about the turkey that was burned, or the time your pies were eaten by the neighbor’s dog.   But that’s just part of the cherished memories created in your home during the holidays.  And isn’t that what life is all about?
Thinking about a home renovation or makeover project, but don’t know where to start?  Now is the time to get those ideas out of your head and onto paper, so your plans are finished when you’re ready to start!  And the best place to begin is with this free guide.
Kitchen Reveal:  A Modern Kitchen With Two-Toned Cabinets

Kitchen Reveal: A Modern Kitchen With Two-Toned Cabinets

All-white kitchens have certainly been popular for a while, and homeowners still love the crisp look it brings to their home, especially Farmhouse Style.  But for the last several years the kitchen with two-toned cabinets has been increasing in popularity.  And I love it! 

What started out as a tip toe into the “world of two colors” has morphed into multiple ways to bring your favorite colors into the kitchen in a way that works for you.

A lot of color makes me happy!  But since we tend to move a lot, my first thoughts are to go neutral with most improvements so that they’re something a future buyer would like.  Even before we sold our last home, I remember thinking, “you love bright color, so why aren’t you using it?”  And so I did! 

With our new 18 year old fixer upper, I stepped totally out of the box (in the end).  The entire time I was designing the kitchen I visualized white cabinets around the room with a dark navy blue island.  Clean, simple, and uncluttered was the plan for this kitchen.  It would still be a kitchen with two-toned cabinets, just a little ordinary.  And I needed to have it finished ASAP! 

You see, when we moved into our new home, the kitchen was very outdated with a lot of wasted space cabinets.  Storage was minimal.  The gold cabinets had so much glazing in the corners that they looked dirty.  We were anxious to make a change.

MLS image of our original kitchen

But good design needs a well thought out plan, not one that’s rushed.  And that’s what we were able to create..once I took a step back and slowed down.  Remember, I love color and being a little bit different than everyone else.  On my first trip to the cabinet showroom I found exactly what I was looking for, and it wasn’t white and navy blue!  This meant taking a leap of faith and stepping out of my “play it safe” comfort zone.  I had my happy colors at last!!!

two toned cabinet samples

Shiloh Cabinetry: taupe stain on alder and aqua stain on alder

Ta-Da!  Here is the big reveal of our new kitchen, which we love.  Even though the footprint is basically the same, the amount of storage space we gained is amazing.  Work areas were arranged to suit the way we like to work in our kitchens.  A vent hood was added where a downdraft had been.  And a fun backsplash was added in my favorite shades of blues and turquoise.

Destefano full view kitchen

 

Destefano kitchen refrigerator wall

Destefano island

Are YOU ready for a kitchen renovation?  Remember that it doesn’t always need to be a full reno to make a big impact.  Making simple changes like painting your island to create your own two-toned cabinet look and installing new cabinet “jewelry” can be a big improvement to a dated kitchen. 

And when you’re finished, you might need a break to focus your time, energy, and money on another big project. It’s OK if your kitchen becomes a work in progress as you add the Finishing Touches like window treatments, counter stools, or rugs.

I’m here to help!  Email me here: AskADesigner@randidestefano.com  

Time For A Home Makeover?  Here’s A Transformed Master Bedroom Gone Sleek and Modern

Time For A Home Makeover? Here’s A Transformed Master Bedroom Gone Sleek and Modern

Finding the perfect house for your family can be fun and exciting, especially when you’re moving from the “burbs” into town.  But many times the houses available to you aren’t exactly your style.  When that happens, it’s time for a home makeover!  I know because I’ve been there a time or two.

Since most homeowners want to move in and get settled before tackling any major renovations, it gives them a chance to get a feel for their new home.  And it also lets them take their time and put some thought into what’s most important to them.  This is exactly the path my client travelled when she hired me to transform her classic white master bedroom into a room that was sleek and modern.

Design Dilemma:

My client purchased this existing home and was never happy with the dental molding throughout the house. Since she preferred clean lines and darker wood, replacing the traditional white bookcases with flutes and rosettes was the number one change to be made.

The open shelves had become a clutter magnet, when what this couple really needed was more storage for clothing and linens.

Because the wet bar was never used, they also wanted it removed and replaced with cabinetry.

                                    cabinets with wet bar

What I noticed immediately in the space, and was anxious to change, was the soffit and cove built around the room.   It was used to house recessed can lighting, but it also made the ceilings seem lower and the room smaller.

 

                                    cove molding image

The last design change my client wanted was a more contemporary fireplace with a TV that blended into the wall.

                                    outdated fireplace wall

What we did:

  • The white traditional bookcases and bar were replaced by smooth, sleek Shaker doors
  • Polished nickel tubular cabinet pulls in sizes proportionate to the cabinets were installed.
  • A new fireplace wall was constructed so that everything is pulled forward and flush.
  • The lower section is stacked split-faced travertine.
  • The black horizontal firebox has a flame strip inside and uses ethanol to burn.
  • The homeowners wanted the fireplace to be high enough to see from the bed.
  • A sleek new mantel was created from cabinet material.
  • This same material was used to frame the new niche for the TV and equipment, keeping cords hidden from view.
  • New carpeting was installed
  • Paint colors were changed

                                master bedroom fireplace wall

Replacing the crown molding around the room became a problem when it came to matching angled corners.  So to stay with the contemporary feel, we all made a decision not add it to the new room.

 

Your Design Action Plan:

Does your home have a room or two that’s in need of a makeover?

Make a list of the features that you don’t like about the room.

Next make a list of the features you do like about the room.

Compare the lists, and start a new list of everything you would like to change.

Create an idea binder or folder where you keep photos from magazines or online sites.

7 Key Ingredients of a Summertime Porch

7 Key Ingredients of a Summertime Porch

Outdoor living spaces, are becoming more and more popular and are a wonderful way to enjoy nature, relax, and watch the world go by.  There was a time when a front porch was the place to greet your neighbors after dinner, or spend a lazy afternoon reading. 

Today the nostalgia of the front porch is showing up not only in new in-town homes and walk-able neighborhoods, but in the way we use our backyards, screened porches, patios, and decks.   What I’ve noticed is there are 7 key ingredients of a summertime porch that seem to show up again and again.  Maybe you’ve discovered this too.

Every spring, as soon as the pollen slows down, I’m craving some time on our porch.  You see, until a few years ago, none of the homes we lived in had a covered porch.  Now I’m making up for lost time by dreaming, planning, and shopping to make even small improvements to what we have.

The best way to get started is by taking an assessment of what you already have. Do you still love your existing colors or would you love to have a brighter color combination?  Ideas are everywhere, including photos of porches in magazines, social media, and websites.  And don’t forget visiting decorator show houses!

Ask yourself, “what do I really want”?  What do you want your porch to look like, feel like? And then let your imagination kick in.

Let’s get started!

porch with hydrangeas

Credit: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Southern Living Magazine

#1:  Seating  

No matter how large or small the space is, seating is the first thing to consider. Whether you prefer a sofa and chairs, or only chairs, it’s your choice.   Do you want a private space that’s just for your family? Do you want a cozy romantic area for two?   

 

#2:  Accent Tables 

We all need a table to place a drink or a book while we’re enjoying our outdoor space.  The size and number of tables you need is based on how many people will use the porch…and how much space you have.

 

pergola with outdoor seating

 

#3 Rugs 

Rugs are the anchoring point for any seating group.  They pull everything together and create a more inviting space.   An added bonus for using a rug is to cover up unsightly decking.

#4 Accessories to Make It Yours 

Adding your own accessories will truly make the space your own.  They also set the tone for how you want your porch to feel.  Pillows, outdoor draperies, and flowers all add to a room that says “Let’s relax here.”

#5 Plants 

Everyone knows that plants and flowers add beauty to our spaces.  But plants add a sense of calm to any space, and outdoor rooms are no exception.

 

porch with swing and plants

Credit: Laurey W, Glenn; Southern Living Magazine

#6 Dining Table and Chairs

 

porch dining table and chairs

 

#7 Lighting (and a ceiling fan)

 

Summers can be hot, humid, and stifling, with no breezes to cool you off.  When you include a ceiling fan into your porch design plans, comfort is always just a click away.

 

porch ceiling fan with light

 

Bonus: Fireplace

 

stone fireplace

 

If have a fireplace on your porch, consider yourself blessed!  Nothing says “cozy” like a roaring fire on a cool evening.

 

 TAKE ACTION:

1. Grab a pencil and note pad and make a list of what you have on your porch.  Then make a list of what you need.

2.  Are you using any of these 7 Essentials in your outdoor living spaces?

2.  Look for ways you can add some of these features to your own porch.