Your Space Matters: 3 Secrets To Design Your Life At Home

Your Space Matters: 3 Secrets To Design Your Life At Home

 

Your Space Matters.  It really does!  As we go about our day, following our crazy schedules, it’s so easy to get caught up in life and ignore this place we call home.

And then one day we wake up and notice that things around us are looking a bit worn and tired. There are rooms we avoid because we just don’t feel comfortable there.  Sometimes we’re unorganized and often late for work or carpool because we can’t find the car keys.  Does this sound a little bit familiar?

And worst of all, because we feel this way, it starts to impact the way we act around other people and how we respond to them…even if we don’t realize it.  You know what I mean.  The kitchen counter is piled with a PTA project that needs to be finished, so you’re stressed.  Then the kids start clamoring for your attention…and you snap at them.  Or you’re embarrassed to have friends over because your kitchen “doesn’t look as good as their kitchen.”

We’ve all been there at one time or another, and it’s not a fun place to be.  Now’s the time to sit back, take a deep breath, and make a plan to design your life at home.  Here are my 3 secrets to making it happen:

Secret #1:  Define your values

Start by making a list of everything that HOME means to you. Do you want it to be a retreat to come home to at the end of a long hectic day?  Do you love to welcome family and friends?  Next make a list of your priorities in order of importance.  But be sure that they fit what you value most about home.  A good example of this would be loving to cook but dreading it because your kitchen is always a mess.

Secret #2:  Discover what works for you and your lifestyle

How do you want to live in your home?  If you love to be relaxed and casual, then choose furniture styles that reflect that.  When low maintenance is something you value, a clean and simple style with few accessories might be the way to go.

How do you want to feel when you’re at home?  Do you want to feel relaxed, unhurried, and stress free?  What about energetic, organized, and carefree?  Think about the lifestyle you have now, or even the one that you’d like to have, and create your home makeover to compliment that.

What do you want more of?  For me it’s more creative time.  If I don’t create a space for that to happen, I don’t plan it into my day.

What do you want less of?  Maybe you want to spend less time cleaning or staying on top of the clutter.  Less accessories and better storage solutions would be the answer.

Secret #3:  Just do it!

Too often we make excuses….
I don’t have the time.
We can’t afford it.
I can’t live through construction.
I don’t know where to start.

So many times these excuses are just us getting in our own way because we’re afraid to take that first step.  Start with something simple and begin the process with what you already have.  Get rid of the outdated floral arrangements, move lamps and pillows to another room, or re-purpose a table for another use.  One client realized that she was spending less and less time in her home office, and instead working later and later at meetings and other busy work.  As soon as she admitted to herself that she really hated the way her office made her feel, she was ready to make a change.  And guess what?  A new paint color was enough to soothe her feelings of uneasiness, and she’s now using her office again!

 

Bring The Colors Of Santa Fe Home

Bring The Colors Of Santa Fe Home

 

I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for. – Georgia O’Keeffe

When I think of Santa Fe, I think of Pueblos and pottery. I think of art. But mostly, I think of the beautiful colors of the earth, sky, and mountains at Ghost Ranch and the surrounding area. Each time I visit, a sense of calm washes over me and I feel at home walking around looking at the turquoise and blues, the corals, purples, and tans. They remind me of Fall…my favorite time of year.

                                                                   

So it was no surprise to me, when we moved to our last house and I discovered that everything I unpacked was turquoise, coral, blue or tan! People who know me best could see it, but it took starting fresh…with a clean slate…to make me see it. Now I realize, that except for the years of trying to follow the latest color trends, I always seem to go back to the colors that make me happy. Maybe this is why I get so excited to decorate for Fall. It’s the time of year when everyone wants to make their home a little cozier by adding deeper, richer colors and textures.

                                                                                     

                                                                                     

Here’s a checklist of some favorite ways to bring the colors of Santa Fe home this Fall:

  • Add a bit of nature by collecting pinecones, acorns, or wildflowers and placing them in bowls or vases.
  •  Visit your local craft store for dried or silk flowers to add to your favorite piece of pottery.

  • Change your pillows from summer colors to fall colors and patterns.

  • Mix and match your dishes by adding salad plates with beautiful Fall colors. If you’re lucky enough to find 2 or 3 patterns with the same colors, your table top will have more interest. I found a really nice collection at Pier 1, but it’s even more fun to search flea markets for the perfect plate.

  • Coordinate your new dishes with colorful, Fall placemats and napkins.
  •  Add a textured throw to your sofa or favorite chair to snuggle in on a crisp Fall evening.
  • Bring in nature’s own with heirloom pumpkins and squash. I love the new colors of heirloom pumpkins ranging from sage to deep greens, white, and deep orange.

  • Remember that anything you add to your home should be more about being true to your lifestyle and budget than trying to out-decorate your friends…it’s all about Authentic Living Interiors!!!

 

Fall Table Tops That Set the Mood:  How To Do It Yourself

Fall Table Tops That Set the Mood: How To Do It Yourself

 

I have to admit that Fall is my favorite time of year.  Why do I love it?  Because, finally the temperatures begin to cool down and the leaves change to vibrant gold, orange, and red.  I love spending time on the porch having a glass of wine with my husband in the evening, enjoying our tree house view that changes daily with different colors.  But most of all, I love entertaining and creating Fall table settings that set the mood for the evening.

The moods you create can be endless…completely your choice!  One mood might be warm and cozy like the table setting above.  I loved it the minute I discovered it on One Kings Lane.  The swag draped down the center with glowing candles and fresh flowers make me want to pull up a chair and sit there all evening!

Have you ever gone to a dinner party at a friend’s home and they’ve really taken the time to create a beautiful table setting?  How does it make you feel?  I hope that it makes you feel as if you’ve entered a special place that welcomes you, because they want you to feel special.

Remember that you don’t have to hire a professional floral designer to create it for you when it’s so easy and so much fun.  But there are a few things you need to keep in mind if you want to learn how to do it yourself.

MOOD:  Do you want your dinner party to be formal or casual, rustic or festive, simple or elaborate?  The food that you plan to serve for the evening may be the deciding factor.  Don’t you love how the rustic setting above uses food in fall colors as part of the setting?  Even the use of fresh herbs in a vase adds to its farm-to-table appeal.  But I especially love how this table setting makes me want to sit down with friends, share a delicious meal, and have great conversations.

The table setting below, shared from BHG, takes the opposite approach from the traditional settings above.  I call this “opposites attract” with its use of the sky blue tablecloth pared with a simple arrangement of autumn leaves.  Doesn’t it make you feel a little more festive and ready to party?

FOCAL POINT:  It’s important to have a focal point to your table.  And it’s a lot more fun to ditch the traditional floral arrangement to be a little more creative.  That’s right!  It’s time to think outside the box.  Take a walk in the woods.  Shop your pantry and cabinets.  Stretch your imagination!!!

Keep placement in mind when you create your focal point.  Remember that guests like to see your face when they’re talking with you.  Arrangements that are too high or too wide are beautiful to look at when you enter the space, but not so practical during dinner.

INDOORS OR OUT:  When the weather is beautiful and the air is crisp, it’s nice to have the option of setting your table outdoors.  My friend, Donna, has a lovely front porch that’s perfect for a long table to fill with friends.  Tom and I love serving cocktails and appetizers on our porch since the table there is too small for a large dinner crowd.  But that doesn’t stop me from creating a Fall table setting that sets the mood for the evening!

Each time I see this Southern Living outdoor dining space, my heart sings!  I love the lights, the pots filled with mums and grasses, and the rustic setting.  What a fun way to spend an evening with friends!

In the end, when all is said and done, the table you set and the food you serve is never as important as the people who share the table with you.  Remember that life is about the moments spent with people you love, the laughter shared around the table, and the memories you create when you’re together.  Happy Decorating!!!!

 

How To Know When Your Home Isn’t Meeting Your Needs

How To Know When Your Home Isn’t Meeting Your Needs

 

Homes come in all shapes and sizes.  Some are spacious, and some are small.  Some are clean and simple, while others are cluttered with things we love. When we’re young and active, we never give a second thought to feeling confident and safe doing everyday basic things around this place we call home.  It’s a given…right? You’ve set it up and decorated it exactly the way you love.  So, how do you know when your home isn’t serving your needs? It happens when you least expect it, and not always when you’re ready.

Several years ago I became a Certified Aging In Place Specialist (CAPS).  During the two day course we learned how to modify homes so that clients can live there as long as they choose.  Basically, we learned how to make life easier in our homes as we age.  Little did I know, how several years later, we’d be needing these design tweaks in our own home!

Since helping clients remodel their kitchens and baths is my all-time favorite thing to do, I always recommend putting these Universal Design principals into place in these rooms.  But I also know that as aging Boomers, we think we don’t need them.  We still have the image of the institutional bathroom in our minds, and can’t face the thought of installing grab bars just yet. 

Well, that’s what I thought too, until the unexpected happened.  When my husband had his knee replaced a few years ago, we discovered all kinds of design issues with our three story townhouse.  This was certainly something we never considered when we bought it. The doorways were only 28” wide when a walker is 30”.  There were no grab bars in the bathroom, and too many stairs to maneuver that required him to stay in the lower level for weeks. Check out my blog post to learn more about it.

I was determined that all of these issues would be corrected when we designed our new home.  Every shower wall and toilet area was prepped for grab bars.  No need to actually install them now.  We’re healthy and active.  Doorways are 36”…check.  Plenty of good lighting…check.  Wide open walkways…check.  Appliances at a user friendly level…check.  We are good to go!

Or so we thought.  Until my own foot issues kept getting worse and worse.  I put off the much needed surgery for as long as I could, asking friends what to expect. 

I learned that I needed a knee scooter and crutches.  I learned that to maneuver the stairs, sometimes you just have to sit down and scoot.  Crazy, I know.  But sometimes you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do to make it all work.

What I didn’t hear from anyone was some basic advice that we all know and just don’t think about.

  • A curb-less shower would have made entering the shower so much easier, and I would have felt more confident. No problem with the actual showering, because a bench seat and hand held shower have made it so easy.
  • The beautiful accent rugs gracing our floors had to go. Yes, they are rolled up and sitting on the sidelines waiting for full recovery day.  Again, safety and confidence is an issue.
  • Grab bars in the shower would help the fear of losing balance and falling.
  • Grab bars next to the toilet, or even a temporary raised toilet seat with built in grab bars, would make life easier.
  • And this one thing, that has nothing to do with your home but everything to do with your physical body, is to exercise. For me it’s yoga…a strength building intense yoga…at least two days a week.  Had it not been for my yoga instructors Karen, Nancy, and Caren always stressing the need for balance and strong bodies as we get older, this journey would be a struggle.

As recovery continued, life got a little easier each day.  My “recliner office” was all set up, and I was plugged in to all my devices trying to get work done.  Life’s an adventure, I always say.  And now I know how to be prepared for “the next time.” 

Your Design Homework: 

  • Take a walk around your home. Check the doorways, the bathrooms, the floors.
  • Now make a list of the little things you can put in place that will make your life easier if you need to have an unplanned surgery…or an accident. Can you add grab bars to you shower or toilet areas?  Are your doorways at least 32” wide?  Do you have rugs that might cause you to trip if you were on crutches?

 

FRONT PORCH ENVY

FRONT PORCH ENVY

 

I have porch envy!  Even though our home has a very cozy, spacious screened-in porch with peaceful views of the lake, I would love to have a front porch.  Not the kind of porch that only has enough space to decorate for the seasons and greet our guests.  But a front porch where you can sit on a hot summer afternoon with a glass of lemonade and greet your neighbors as they pass by.  A front porch that evokes small town life.  Because to me, warm weather bliss starts on your front porch.  It’s a way of life.

Do you have certain feelings that bubble up when you hear the words “front porch”?  Maybe you think cozy, comfortable, welcoming?  What about neighborly and community? There are so many things that make a front porch appealing and bring back memories of days gone by.  But for me, the secret ingredient is to choose your function first.  If you love hosting parties, set up your porch as a second dining room.  If you love to spend the afternoon curled up on a porch swing with a good book, then cozy seating is for you.

Here are my 5 ways to give your porch a country-style update this summer.

Plant flowers in re-purposed vases and containers Before you run out and buy something new, shop your basement, attic, or cabinets.  And then visit flea markets and antique shops where you’ll almost always discover the perfect treasure for your porch.

Display some unique flea market finds. – Here’s an example of a uniquely re-purposed oil can.  Filled with LED string lights, it’s the perfect element to  brighten evenings on your porch.

This colorful front porch is filled with flea market treasures.  Everything about this porch invites you to come sit for a while and enjoy the day.  And, of course, who doesn’t love hydrangeas?

Use a vintage signs as wall art. This one, though not exactly vintage, was handcrafted and made to look old.  Do you have old wooden tennis rackets or canoe paddles?  Hanging a grouping of old things that are special to you is another way to make your porch your own.

Add mirrors to reflect light and bring inside elements outdoors. Our outdoor living spaces have become extensions of the inside of our homes.  So adding elements like rugs, lamps, and mirrors make us feel right at home on the porch.

Add a cozy place for dining – Who doesn’t enjoy having morning coffee on the porch watching the day come to life?  Or maybe sitting with family at the end of the day sharing stories.  Do you notice the blue ceiling?  It’s often referred to as Haint Blue, a color to ward off evil spirits, especially in the South.  If you’d like to learn more about it, click on the link to my blog post.

Even though I get a little bit of house and porch envy when I tour a home show or visit my friends, it’s always nice to come back to my very own happy place.  Because… 

 

5 Fall Front Porch Ideas Inspired By the Colors of Tuscany

5 Fall Front Porch Ideas Inspired By the Colors of Tuscany

 

Fall inspires me!  It makes me want to take a walk in the woods, to stay outdoors, and to cook more.  And…it inspires me to drag out that orange storage box filled with decorations and sprinkle them around my home. Sometimes I think I might have to much.  But that’s another story for another day!

What really excites me, though, is decorating my front porch.  Why, you ask?  Because it always says “welcome to my home” for anyone who comes to visit.  And who doesn’t want to welcome their family and friends?

antique cart with pumpkins

This year my Fall inspiration happened on our fabulous trip to Tuscany with our good friends.  We had such a fun time eating, drinking, and laughing our way through Italy!!!  Every view was spectacular with amazing colors, and they were even better than I remembered. 

After a few days, though, I realized there seemed to be a pattern emerging in all the pictures I was taking.  It was the colors.  The beautiful colors of the food we were served, the flowers, and the colors of a Fall harvest. 

the colors of gelato

Gelato display in Sienna

prickly pear

Prickly Pear (Ficodindia in Italian)…you eat the red part!

grapes on the vine

Waiting for harvest!

Italian hillside with lemons and flowers

Beautiful Italian hillside with lemons and flowers

Who wouldn’t be inspired to decorate for Fall when you have these beautiful things to look at?  And with the temperatures on the cool side for this Southern girl,  I was looking forward to getting back home to Fall, football, tailgating and….decorating for the season.  After all, at our house, decorating is usually finished and ready to go by mid-September!

colorful tower of pumpkins

The theme is usually pumpkins and gourds with a special emphasis on adding a variety of colors with heirloom pumpkins.  Don’t you just love this pyramid of Fall color?  I wonder how they did it…

welcome to our Fall home

I love how the white, mum-filled pots are inviting you right up to the front door.  And when you get there, you’re greeted by Mr. Scarecrow himself,  surrounded by bales of hay, cornstalks, and more pumpkins!!!

pumpkins and hydrangeas

Since we always see mums used for fall decorating, I love how hydrangeas are used here instead.  The eggplant and green colors remind me of the grapes we saw hanging on vines in Tuscany.

Hopefully, these beautiful and welcoming porches will give you some Fall ideas to get started on your own home.  And remember to use:

  • Pumpkins – basic orange with some heirlooms added for interest
  • Flowers – mums, hydrangeas, wild flowers from the woods
  • Pine cones
  • Moss
  • Baskets
  • Tin buckets
  • And anything you have around your house to use as containers

       Happy decorating!

Want some help with your own color combinations?  We’re here to help!  Call us today (404)213-8571 to schedule your Color Consultation.