It’s the Year of the Pig, and I wish you Gong Xi Fa Cai! Happy Lunar New Year and Chinese New Year (aka CNY)! May you have a happy and prosperous new year.
Did you know that this holiday typically lasts for two weeks? Such a long break gives families a chance to travel to their parents’ home to celebrate, spend time together, and get a fresh start on the new year.
I love the idea of a fresh start for the new year! And traveling is always a perfect way to make that happen. Sometimes it’s a relaxing trip to the beach, and other times it’s a whirlwind of site seeing, museums, and great restaurants. But the best part for me is coming home with a new attitude and a fresh perspective.
Traveling gives my mind a break from the day to day routine of running a business, and the daily routine of life that we all seem to find ourselves in. Once I’ve had a break from all of this, the creative juices start flowing and new ideas seem more exciting and possible than they did before.
“It’s not always that we need to do more, but rather that we need to focus on less.” – Nathan W. Morris
Our recent return trip to Singapore and Bali did just that. I was trying to check off more things on my to-do list than was humanly possible. And of course, guess what that lead to…
For months before this fabulous vacation I just wasn’t inspired to write a blog post or send out a newsletter. And that lead to guilt. Can you relate?
Have you ever wanted to simply be quiet and go with the flow of life instead of feeling the need to produce all the time? I finally hit that wall!!!
So I gave myself permission to stop writing, stop feeling guilty, and to focus on family and friends, client projects and creativity. I started quilting again and playing with clay. I even joined a quilt guild with a friend!!! That one definitely sent my husband into shock!
But the guilt was still there, and the nagging feeling that achange was needed. So our big trip after the holidays was the perfect time to completely forget about everything except having fun! And it was a chance to get a fresh perspective on what is really important.
Now that vacation is over, and I’ve had time to re-group, I realize that I love the Chinese New Year celebrations I experienced in Singapore! I love the colors, the red lanterns, and the oranges that are given as good luck for the coming year.
I love the festivities leading up to the big day…lion dances, artisans sharing their craft, and beautiful displays all over town.
But I also discovered that the traditions practiced in Chinese homes to get ready for the Lunar New Year, are the same ones we follow to get ready for our own New Year. Here are a few that we share:
Preparing special foods to bring good luck and prosperity.
Cleaning the house top to bottom to welcome our guests and greet the new year.
Clearing out the bad energy of the year before by moving things around.
Going through closets to get rid of old clothing, shoes, and purses you no longer use. Clearing out the old makes way for wonderful new things in your life for the coming year.
In the kitchen, throw out containers and jars that only have a little bit left in them. Keeping them, shows you’re stingy and good fortune will stay away!
Organize drawers and pantries, removing anything you no longer need or want. If it isn’t used and doesn’t bring you joy, give it away.
Do not cook in your kitchen on Lunar New Year! Sorry…I had to throw in this one even though we don’t usually practice it in our western culture. But wouldn’t that be nice?
Many of these traditions are changes that we can easily make to our homes. And these changes can give us a fresh perspective by letting us look at things from a different point view. Sometimes you simply need to walk away for a while so you can look at a space or problem in a different way. Now get ready for the creative ideas to flow!
Your Design Homework:
Sort through your cabinets and pantry and look for any bottles, jars, etc. that have only a tiny bit left in the bottom. Throw it away!
For 9 days in a row, throw away (or give away) 27 things each day. That could be 27 pieces of paper one day and 27 pieces of clothing another day. I’ve been known to even get rid of 27 magazines from my ever growing pile.
This is a bit more challenging, but 27 things in your house and move them around. An easy way to do this is to take down all your accessories and spread them out on the floor. Now relocate them to different rooms in your house, or even a different shelf on the bookcase.
Sometimes you just simply need to walk away for a while so you can look at a space or problem in a different way. Now get ready for the creative ideas to flow!
Whenever I work on a project, I am so motivated and excited to get going that I could work on it all day and night! As the project moves along, and my short attention span kicks in, I start anticipating how wonderful it will be to have it finished. Does this ever happen to you? Sometimes, though, I discover that all the enthusiasm in the world won’t carry me through to completion once the Interior Design Project-Killers enter my mind. And guess what? It can apply to any project you want to tackle, not just your DIY projects.
This all started when I decided that creative projects were missing in my life. So I decided that every day for a month my focus would be on quilting. It used to be my first love after all.
Immediately I started feeling a little stressed. What if I make a mistake? What would I make? Which fabrics should I choose from my stash? Wow! I was in overwhelm already and nearly gave up. It was time for a deep breath…and a plan.
And that’s when I realized that these project killers are the same for quilting, gardening, and even interior design. Let’s take a look and see which ones might apply to the way you approach a project.
Afraid of making a mistake – There are so many choices, so many options available to us, and sometimes it sends us into overwhelm. What if we make a mistake? What if it isn’t perfect? What if my mistake costs a LOT of money to fix? Overwhelm is a trap. When we see everything that needs to be done on a project, sometimes we freeze and do nothing. Then we feel stuck and can’t move forward.
Solution: Make a list of all the steps, and then take one small step at a time.
Hurrying – When we’re in a hurry, usually it’s because our to-do list is bigger than what we can get done in a day. Has this ever happened to you? When I’m crazy busy and trying to work on a project I feel out of step. I don’t enjoy the process. And sometimes, I don’t enjoy the results when i get there because I’m running off to the next project.
Solution: Make a plan before you start. Study the plan so you know all the steps. Then start the work. (Hint…Have you ever been in a rush while you’re baking and forgotten an ingredient or two? When I do that, it’s mostly because I didn’t read the directions ahead of time.)
Going for the cheapest…putting cost before quality – We all like to save money. Right? Well there are parts of a project where it’s OK to economize, and parts that aren’t. Remember the old saying “you get what you pay for?” It’s true. You hire the tile installer based on his low price, and 4 months later, the tile falls off. A lower priced faucet with plastic parts instead of one with ceramic parts will break in a year. Get the picture?
Solution: Do your homework before you start. Educate yourself on the price ranges of the products that you want to include. And then take it one step further and look at the descriptions of the products, including any ratings and reviews they might have. This helps you plan your budget and make an educated decision about the best product for YOUR project.
Too complicated – No matter how hard we try to keep it simple, we sometimes seem to get over excited when it comes to our design projects. We see this great design. It’s a little intricate, but we love it and we’re sure we can create it on our own. And then it happens! We realize it’s bigger than we can handle and have to hire a pro to finish it. Or worse yet, we struggle through it, hating every second, and wish we had never started.
Solution: Keep it simple!!!!! Only plan for what you know in your heart you can do yourself. Or…hire a professional to create it for you.
Stuff happens – Sometimes things happen that we didn’t expect. It might be a plumbing line running through the wall you wanted to move. Or it could be as simple as discovering the granite you have your heart set on is out of stock. The impact is always the same. Disappointment.
Solution: Take a step back. Take a deep breath and know that, if you’re willing to compromise, there’s almost always a solution.
Too much stuff you never use – Now, who can’t relate to this one? I seem to have noticed a tortilla press from the 80’s tucked away in my pantry (and never used). Do you have a limited space that even the best designer or organizer can’t expand on to create as much storage as you want?
Solution: Sad but true, it’s time to take a serious look at all your stuff. If you haven’t used it in the last 5 years, chances are you won’t miss it. How much Tupperware do you really need?
Binge watching design TV – Have you ever spent a day watching one program after another and come away feeling like Super Women? You know, you have that feeling of confidence that says “I can do this! I can gut my kitchen, organize my garage, turn my basement into party central, and maybe even roof the house…all in one week.” Sorry folks. This is not always reality. If you believe it, you’re setting yourself up for failure before your even start.
Solution: These shows are filled with creativity and good ideas…most of the time. But watch them for the entertainment factor and then look for tips you can use on your own project. Always keep in mind that there is a team of people working behind the scenes to make sure the design is perfect and products are selected and delivered on time. It was not created overnight, and it was not done for free.
Now that you’ve seen my 7 Design Project Killers and how to get rid of them, the real magic is about to begin on your own project. It’s time to work Your magic, make it happen, and enjoy the journey!
If you find yourself stuck on your next project, and confused about what to do next, contact me at Randi@RandiDestefano.com to schedule a Design Strategy chat. And if you leave your name and email in the box to the right, my newsletter, Life In the Kitchen, will be delivered to your in-box twice a month. I hate SPAM as much as you do and only send design tips and trends that you’ll find useful.
The kitchen, the Heart of the Home, where everyone wants to hang out and have fun. But are we really doing that? Our lives are crazy busy between work and carpooling, after school activities, and evening meetings. There’s barely time left in our week to shop for food. Who has time to cook it? Wouldn’t you love to go back to a simpler time? A time when we were all together as a family making memories in the kitchen? Wouldn’t you love to learn how to reclaim your kitchen in 3 easy steps?
I love this video produced by Subzero/Wolf. It’s a perfect explanation of how we wandered out of the kitchen and into “fast food land.” Isn’t it time you reclaimed your kitchen? Enjoy the video!
Plan your meals even if it’s only one meal a week. The next week add another meal. Set a time to eat. Set the table. But most of all just cook!
Celebrate the goodness of fresh food and how healthy it is. Not to mention the money you’ll save on dining out!
If you’re dreaming of your own Heart of the Home Kitchen and don’t know where to start, we’re here to help. Just leave your name and email in the box on the right to receive our free report 5 Secrets To Your Spectacular Kitchen or Bath.
Most of us have been here before. You’ve stretched your budgetto buy theperfect new home in a great location. It has the space you’ve been craving for family visits and that new craft room you’ve always dreamed of. But there are still some things about it that need to be updated to make it your own. Unfortunately, the amount of money you have left to invest in this makeover isn’t as great as you hoped. Don’t worry! You can still have great design on a budget if you follow the 5 ways listed below.
Whether you’re downsizing or up-sizing, have more wall space or less, design can (and should) be good at any price point. Your new home design should always keep your needs and lifestyle in mind. And it should always speak to your personality and your approach to life. This is always how you get started…even when you want great design on a budget.
The WOW Factor
Choose that one luxury feature or item that will make the most impact and become the focal point or memory detail in your home. This could be a treasured antique piece that’s making the move with you. Or you might want to spend a lot of your budget on a gorgeous vent hood and range.
No matter what you decide on for a luxury focal point, the rest of your design elements will need to be adjusted accordingly. We all place different values on certain things. For some, a blow out kitchen is more important. And to get there, they’re willing to pinch pennies in other areas. It’s important to spend some time thinking about your lifestyle and your values. This will help you decide on your luxury item.
Less Expensive Materials Used in Unique Ways
The tile in your shower is simply too dark for you. Not your style, and it’s dragging you down. There are so many gorgeous tiles on the market, but you’re really committed to staying within your budget. Some simple 2×3 subway tile would work. But what about a 4×8 subway tile installed in a herringbone pattern? That simple change will make a huge impact. And you haven’t blown your budget.
Hardware and Lighting
I want you to think of hardware and lighting as the jewelry for your home. Updating your cabinet hardware to a new finish or different shape will make a world of difference in how you feel when you look at your cabinets. Consider different hardware for a bar area or hutch area…just to be different.
One area to make a big impact is with pendant lighting over an island. If the “new” home your moving into hasn’t been updated in years, it’s probably time to make that investment for yourself. Keep in mind the size of the island and how dark it gets in the kitchen. That will determine the size of the light, the color of the shade, and the type of bulb that you use.
Color, Pattern, Texture
Each of these three design elements can be applied with very little added cost. A fresh coat of paint on walls or cabinets will make a world of difference.
Pattern and texture can be added with wallcoverings. They’re back in a big way right now! But if wallcoverings are still not your thing, casually drape a throw over a sofa or chair to bring in new colors and textures. Accent pillows are another way to update your new space.
Use Only What You Love
Moving to a new home always brings the dilemma of “what should I keep?” “What should I take?” The number one thing to do is only keep what you absolutely love. And when you’re making a purchase, only buy what you love.
When you’ve finished this list, you can start a second list of things that you absolutely know you don’t want in your new home. This can also include furniture pieces that you know won’t fit in the new space. This always requires measuring walls and furniture. Sometimes it means moving pieces to different rooms than you had them in before. Furniture and colors that can flow from one room to the next give you the option of moving them around to suit your needs.
Moving to a new home is an exciting time. Sometimes you have the luxury of completing your makeover before you move in. Other times you’re moving in on the tails of the last homeowner. But whatever your situation, always remember that you CAN make this work if you take your time, don’t panic, and follow the 5 ways to good design on a budget.
If you find yourself overwhelmed and stressed about how to make it all come together when you move, call Randi today at (404)213-8571
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.
Photo courtesy of Country Living Magazine
Display those 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?
Photo courtesy of Country Living Magazine
Use a vintage sign 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.
Photo courtesy of Country Living Magazine
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…
If you suffer from House Envy like I do sometimes, and you’d like help creating your very own Happy Place, I’d love to talk with you. You can contact me at Randi@randidestefano.com
And…if you leave your name and email in the box on the right, you’ll receive my newsletter, Life In the Kitchen, straight to your in box twice a month. Since I hate SPAM too, I only send design and lifestyle tips that you’ll love.
Has anyone ever told you that sometimes the lowest price doesn’t always mean it’s the best choicefor a project? I know that I’ve heard it from my parents, my contractors, and other designer friends. I even pass on these words of advice to my own clients.
But with the ease of internet shopping, it’s so easy to hop on-line to find exactly what you want. And it’s even easier to compare prices from one vendor to another.
We all can think of a few things that we would pay almost anything or do almost anything to have. And when it’s finally ours we are so happy and excited! But then there are the other things that we need for our projects that aren’t so important to us. That’s when finding a bargain really gets our excitement flowing.
A while back, my words of advice came back to haunt me when I did my own on-line shopping. Let me tell you my story…..
When I was staying in Singapore I bought a beautiful hand knotted tribal carpet runner. It’s made with vegetable dyes, which I love, and the colors are deep and rich reds, blues, and ivories. Imagine my surprise, when I was browsing through an on-line weekly auction and saw a small areacarpet in the same exact pattern and the same exact colors. And the best part was that it was more than half of the price I paid for the runner!
While I was thinking it was too good to be true, I checked their return policy. Good to know that not only was shipping free, the return freight was free. Once I discovered that important fact, it took about a minute to hit the “order now” button…and it was mine!!!!
My excitement mounted as I waited for the package to arrive. Finally, 4 days later, it made it to my front porch. I ran for the scissors to cut the bag. I pulled off the bag. I unrolled the carpet. And then…..my total disappointment over the purchase.
You see, what I couldn’t have guessed by looking at the on-line photograph, was the dull colors. They’re the same reds, blues, and ivories, but definitely not as vibrant. The patterns are almost identical, but there are many more knots per inch on the expensive carpet than on the bargain carpet. And lastly, the height of the tufting doesn’t compare with the runner.
By itself, the “bargain” tribal carpet would look great in any home. But because I wanted to show them in the same room, it just wouldn’t work. The comparison in color intensity and quality would have always bothered me.
So what did I learn?
If your design project requires you to have two or more items that are identical or even remotely similar, buy them at the same time.
If the price is really low, it just might be too good to true.
Seeing a product in person so that you can touch it and feel it is a good thing.
On-line shopping is great! But make sure the return policy is one you can live with.
Keep a list of what you need or want for your next design project. And from that list decide what you’re willing to splurge on and what you would rather bargain shop for.