You Get What You Pay For: My On-Line Rug Shopping Experience


Has anyone ever told you that sometimes the lowest price doesn’t always mean it’s the best choice for 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 area carpet 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… 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.

rug shopping

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.

Being Hacked: Panic Is NOT the Best Time to Buy


For someone who depends on their computer, being hacked is a big deal!  Falling for the scam is an even bigger deal.  This week I had one of those “What was I thinking” moments when my PC was attacked by ransomware.  And I fell for it!  The lesson I learned from this ugly mess…Panic is NOT the best time to buy.

It began as a regular day at work.  I entered an email address into my browser.  And then…alarms started sounding and wouldn’t stop.  This appeared on my screen telling me to call a number for Windows help.  “Don’t try to shut down your computer or you’ll lose everything.”  And my screen froze. I had been hacked!


Of course, at this point, the panic set in along with annoyance.  This was my best day of the week to plow through my to-do list.  I did NOT need this to happen.  “What should I do?  Should I call the number?”  So I pushed aside that small voice inside me that said “Don’t do it!!!!!” and called the number.

And thus began the 3-hour saga of overseas tech support scanning my computer, scaring me into a year’s worth of support from a company called Support Buddy, and my stomach feeling sicker as each minute passed.

Now, three days later, I can say that I’ve discovered a lot.

  • I’ve learned that this company enters your system through emails, attached to downloads, and misspelled websites.
  • Always listen to your intuition
  • With a laptop, iPhone, and iPad within reach I should have immediately contacted my website support company. Once I did that (too late, I might add) help was on the way ASAP.  Thank you Charles Ogwyn at My Internet Marketing Partner, and Chip Florian at Ciprian IT Technologies.
  • I learned that ransomware comes in two forms. One that is looking for people to panic and pay them.  The other is stealing your information, searching for passwords, identification, and account numbers.
  • Support Buddy has a list of people giving them bad reviews for stealing their money and freezing their computers again if they don’t pay up.
  • Once you pay the ransom, they’ll be back for more.
  • Always, always, always update your software, your internet security, and your antivirus. Change your passwords every three months, and DO NOT store them on your computer in a document.

Hopefully, my painful and expensive lesson will keep you from making the same mistake.

Project Burnout: When Your DIY Stops Being Fun

Decision to Survive Unexpected Things

I love a good DIY project every now and then.  But sometimes the vision in my head isn’t the way it turns out.  And the number of Do-Overs is directly related to how burned out I get.  The joy in creating something new suddenly gets stolen from me… and the drudgery begins.  Has this ever happened to you?

This week a bargain flea market table became the project du jour.  The silly postcard of a Victorian women that had been glued on top, finally had to go.  The top was sanded, supplies were ready, and I was filled with excitement!

table with gel canThe gel stain can be used as stain on unfinished wood.  But on a painted surface, it goes on just like paint.  After two coats, with 24 hour drying time in between, it was time to apply the clear wax.  Love the color!!!!!

IMG_7360Adding clear wax is fun because you get to see the richness of color come through.

waxThe trick is to brush it on, wipe off the excess, and buff it until it shines.

finished topI love it!  The old crackle comes through to give it an aged look, which is exactly what I wanted.  So far, no project burnout.

Now I’m really excited to add a new color to the legs.  Since I have several different colors of Annie Sloan Chalk paint, I opened the first can and painted on a sample.

CocoYUCK!  The paint is too thin.  One coat is supposed to cover the surface.  I know that I shook the can, stirred the paint, and even let it sit upside down for a while to mix.  What happened?

Primer RedThere’s still time left in the day to finish this project, so Primer Red was painted on… but it’s not what I expected.  This is where project burnout set in. Clean up time was made longer when I sealed the lid to the Java stain and it squirted all over the tile floor!

Now the floor is clean, days have gone by, and my table still sitting in the same place on the floor. The excitement is gone for now. Maybe I’ll finish it tomorrow….

DIY projects can go awry no matter how big they are, or how experienced you are. When it comes to designing your remodel or renovation project ask yourself if you’re up for the task before you start.

My friend, Marla, recently completed her DIY kitchen remodel and reminded me that it’s not as easy as it looks on HGTV. After almost coming to blows with her spouse, she vows to “never look at a box of subway tile again!”

When Ashley, of Vintage Refined decided to use Java Gel on her kitchen cabinets, her enthusiasm turned to burnout when she realized it had to be painted over her existing finish.  Though she loves the results her comment was… “All I can say is our next house better have my dream kitchen, because I am officially burnt out with painting cabinets (at least for the next month)! “

Yes, the unexpected will always happen in life and the only control you have over it is how you choose to handle it. Do you choose courage, grace, or humor? After all, you’re the Queen of your own life, and the choice is yours.



Clearing Out Clutter: Which 7 Things Make the Cut?

5229495-xsmallHave you noticed that clearing out clutter and simplifying seems to be on everyone’s minds lately?  I know I have.  We see it on magazine covers at the supermarket.  We see news clips on TV.  And if you’re active on social media, solutions are bombarding us all the time.

Many of my friends are downsizing, now that the kids are gone, and moving to new locations.  Some are facing moving aging parents into assisted living.  And with downsizing comes the questions “What should I get rid of?” and “What should I take with me?”

The thought of going smaller sounds wonderful…and scary at the same time.  We dread the thought of clearing out clutter, when years of living in one house have created huge piles of it.   And then memories get in the way.

So I started thinking about what I would take with me if I were moving to a new place and needed to declutter.  What would I take if I had to limit myself 7 things to decorate my new home?  Let me show you what I discovered…

Chinese pillow boxThis antique Chinese pillow box was the first thing I bought during our stay in Singapore.  I love the history behind the piece.  And I love red!


Balinese IkatI love textiles, and our trek through the Balinese countryside to find the village where these are woven, is a memory I won’t forget.  Only 3 villages in the world create double weave Ikat cloths.


Collection of Mood StonesMy collection of handmade pottery Mood Stones is something that I love to look at, touch, and shake.  I couldn’t pick just one!


Florentine inlayOn a trip to Florence, I lusted over this one of a kind inlaid stone “painting”.  It was a little pricey, so I didn’t buy it.  Imagine my surprise when I opened this the following Christmas!  Hubby did good!!!

Now the real challenge begins!  With four favorite things already selected, I want to layer these two special carpets and roll them together to count as #5.  This is getting hard!  I walked around the house taking pictures of the most special things I would like to take on my “starting over” move.  I’m learning that’s it’s a little easier to choose from a photo.

Kazak tribal rug

Tabriz rug


More tough decisions!  Of course, this Vietnamese painting has to be included!!!  But I really love the red chest…….  Can a grouping count as one thing?

Asian grouping

raku potThis large raku pot has been in our home for over 20 years.  I can see it as a lamp in the future, so it’s a “must take”.  Plus, it shows my “happy colors!”


And now I’m left with 3 or 4 things that didn’t make the cut.  I’ll be sad to say good bye to them.  What I’ve learned from this design challenge is:

  • A lot of things in our home can be replaced or substituted.
  • I would take things that can’t be replaced…art work, antiques, textiles…sofas can be replaced
  • The things I chose have memories attached to them
  • Understanding how hard it is for some people to move from their family home into a much smaller apartment
  • It was hard not to cheat. I really wanted to call all of my artwork one item!

Your Design Homework this week:

Take up this challenge in your own home.  Imagine that you’re moving to a new home in a new location.  You want to start over with a clean slate, a new look.  What 7 things would you take with you?

Streaky Counter Tops? How to Choose the Right Granite Cleaner

my counterEveryone wants to have a clean kitchen.  And when your kitchen is used a lot, there always seems to be a counter top that needs to be cleaned.  But sometimes that cleaning method leaves us frustrated with the results.  Streaks and a foggy film show up all too frequently in my kitchen!

How do we solve this dilemma when we want to have granite counter tops?  Do we only choose light colors so the streaks don’t show?  Or maybe pick one with lots of pattern and movement to really camouflage the residue.  Well, I knew during the planning stage that I wanted to have black pearl on my kitchen counter tops.  And I knew what the cleaning issues would be….but I did it anyway!

As a Kitchen and Bath Designer, I always tell my clients to seal their counter tops once a year, and to NEVER use Windex to clean their counter tops.  With so many granite cleaners on the market, how do you know which one to choose?  So I started testing different brands.  And what I found is that most of them leave a hazy film on the counter.  Some all-purpose cleaners also specify that they’re safe for granite.  Remember to check the labels before you buy them.

As a last resort, I did a search for “the best granite cleaner”, and this is what I found.

granite cleanersStone Care MB-5 and Weiman’s Granite Cleaner


I read the instructions to discover that you need to:

  • spray the area and let it sit for 30 seconds
  • scrub it with a sponge
  • buff dry with a paper towel or clean cloth

And it worked!  There were no streaks, no film, and no more fingerprints on the counters.  At last!!!

But the next interesting piece of advice came from another on-line search.  This time, using warm soapy water, a sponge, and clean cloth, I got the same results!


Instructions to Clean and Disinfect Your Granite Counter tops:

  • Wet your dish cloth with warm, soapy water. Fill the sink with warm water and a mild dish soap, then thoroughly wet a clean dish cloth or sponge.
  • Wipe down the granite counter tops.
  • Dry with a microfiber cloth to avoid streaking. You can also use a terry cloth towel or paper towels.
  • Shine and disinfect with a water and isopropyl alcohol solution. Only do this periodically to remove soap residue and restore the shine.  Mix a 50:50 solution of water and 91% isopropyl alcohol.  Spray it onto your counter top and let it sit for 3-5 minutes.  Then rinse with water and dry with a clean cloth or paper towels.

The best part?  You don’t really need those special cleaners to get the job done.  And now there’s no more panicking when you run out just before a party!

Bathroom Safety: When It Comes To Playing It Safe–Age Doesn’t Matter

Bathroom Safety: When It Comes To Playing It Safe–Age Doesn’t Matter

Randi ToiletBathroom Safety: Have you ever thought about what life would be like if you were nervous about the most common things that you do every day?  Instead of venturing wholeheartedly into a new activity, you find yourself being tense and a bit anxious.  Well, imagine if this was your “normal”.

I’d just returned from vacation.  And after a couple of minor slipping incidents, I started to think about what accessories could have been in place to prevent them.  Since we all want to feel totally confident and safe in our homes and the places we visit, what could have been different?

We all know about grab bars in bathtubs, showers, and around a toilet.  But I have to admit that, until recently, they’ve been pretty drab and hospital-like.  Most of my clients think that grab bars are for their parents.  Not for them.  After all, they’re not “old” yet.  So instead, we find ourselves in denial that we might be able to use them now.  We reach for the towel bar when we slip getting into the bathtub.  And if we’re lucky, it will support our weight!  We walk down the stairs with an armful of laundry and hope the dog doesn’t run up behind us and cause us to fall.

So imagine my surprise when I opened an email from Delta Faucets, and discovered that they just might have the answer to this dilemma.  A new introduction to their company is Delta Decor Assist Accessories.

The Décor Assist™ Collection offers a line of decorative accessories with “hidden-in-plain-sight” assist bar functionality for homeowners who need functional bathroom safety products that don’t look industrial, specialized or modified.

Randi soap bar

Randi TP







Décor Assist™ Product Features:

  • Three stylish designs disguise dual functionality
  • Towel bar and tissue holder also function as assist bars & meet ADA load requirements when properly installed
  • Corner shelf offers assist bar functionality
  • The assist bar wall anchor included with every Décor Assist™ accessory guarantees a secure mount, when properly installed, while also allowing for easy removal without additional damage to the drywall

Offered in five finishes

º Chrome
° Champagne Bronze®
º Brilliance® Stainless
º Venetian Bronze®
º Polished Nickel (Traditional Only)

Randi towel holderNow imagine installing this product in your home, your parents’ home, or your daughter’s/son’s home.  Active grandchildren could get in and out of the shower without slipping.  And so could you!