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!!!
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!!!!
Well, it finally happened! The need for me to put into practice what I’ve been helping my clients to do for the last few years. Unfortunately, it’s too late. Are you wondering what I’m talking about? Let me tell you my story………..
Once upon a time a young, healthy Boomer couple purchased a three-story townhouse. They loved their spacious new home. But knowing they wouldn’t live in it forever, they chose not to modify it. After all, they were relatively active. The stairs were no problem. They were good exercise!
Then one day the husband could no longer tolerate the pain in his knee. Walking had become unbearable, which meant no sight seeing on vacations. Once he decided to have his knee replaced, the questions began. Where would he sleep and bathe and live during his rehab? “Of course,” they said,”the lower level is perfect! It has a bedroom, a bathroom, a family room, and the ever important TV and recliner.”
But when he returned home from the hospital reality set in for everyone. The walker he required could only fit sideways through the bathroom door. The bath tub had a sliding glass door, no grab bar, and no hand-held shower. The floors were high gloss ceramic tile, and the toilet was too low for the knee that couldn’t bend.
This made the wife worry that he would fall. His world shrank, and he became dependent on others to bring him everything he needed. While the wife was being “nurse”she began noticing other areas of the house that should be changed to make life easier for her husband. Wider doorways into every room, roll out trays in all the cabinets, smooth flooring to move the walker easily. So many changes needed for one unexpected surgery. If they had only thought ahead when they bought the house, or made the changes when they moved in, they wouldn’t be facing these challenges today. Oh how they wished they had been proactive!
The moral to the story: Life is full of changes, and our environment affects our life. Think of areas in your home that could be changed to make life easier for someone else. Universal design doesn’t only apply to the elderly or physically challenged. When you lower a vanity cabinet so your small daughter can wash her own hands, brush her own teeth, and learn independence, that’s universal design at work. And when you add more lights to your kitchen because your eyes aren’t as sharp as they once were, that’s universal design.
Basically, Universal Design is changing lives, one room at a time, and allowing us all to age gracefully in this place we call home.
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?
We’re about to begin our first summer holiday. School is out for the year, and vacation is on everyone’s mind. When I think of summer, I immediately have visions of relaxing on the porch with a cool drink and a really exciting book. So, in honor of National Historic Preservation month, I thought it would be fun to explore our obsession with painting the ceilings of our porches blue. I’ve been curious about a certain blue used to paint the ceilings ever since my daughter’s friend used it on her porch.
I’ve done a little research, and found some juicy information about this historical color. I learned that Haint Blue is based on spiritual and cultural beliefs – especially in the South Carolina Low Country with the Gullah culture. Haints are restless spirits of the dead who haven’t moved on from the physical world. They definitely aren’t the friendly ghosts you want to have around. The belief is that since Haints cannot cross water, painting your ceiling, shutters, doors, floors, or window trims will discourage them from “crossing” into your house.
The original paints were mixed as milk paint using a lime base and some pigments. The interesting thing is that they used whatever pigment was on hand at the time. So we have no record of an official Haint Blue color. Paint tests on historic houses have given us records, but nothing uniform from house to house. Basically, Haint Blue ranges from blue-green to blue-violet. Historic Preservationists have come up with their own formulas that you can discover using a quick Google search.
As I sit admiring my bouquet of beautiful blue hydrangeas, I’m reminded that the color or shade you choose needs to be one that makes you happy and feels good to you. But the next time you see a historic house, be sure to check out the porch ceiling. You might just find a new shade of Haint Blue that you love!
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…