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Guest Rooms That Say “We’re Glad You’re Here”

Guest Rooms That Say “We’re Glad You’re Here”

Whenever vacation time and holidays draw near, it’s time to start thinking about the guests that might be staying with us for a night or two…or more.  I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I’m a little less thoughtful about the way our guest rooms look when I know family will be staying there.  Like the time last summer when our guests thought we had three extra bedrooms and we only have two.  Sadly, the very comfortable inflatable bed popped a seam and the bed collapsed in the middle of the night!  This was definitely NOT a guest room that said “I’m glad you’re here. 

Rule #1: Don’t be so busy that you forget to check out these things before you need them.  On the other hand, when I know that friends will be staying overnight, I might add a pretty new detail or two.  Can you relate to this?

Because I love to travel, I’ve spent many a night staying in hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts, and with friends.  While I’m there I always notice how I feel when I’m in the space.  Do I feel welcomed?  Does it feel creepy?  Is it adequate, but could use some work?

welcoming bedroom

I know that, as an interior designer, I’m more aware of my surroundings than most people.  And I truly believe that each space has it’s own energy.  But these stays have let me discover a thing or two about what the “perfect” guest bedroom could be.  And in the end, it comes down to these three questions:

  1. Is it Welcoming?
  2. Is it Comfortable?
  3. Is it Private?

A welcoming room will let your guests know that you really want them to be there.  It has little added touches like flowers, magazines, and good lighting.  One friend introduced me to the idea of Pillow Presents, which are gifts you place on your guest’s pillow before they arrive.  I loved this idea, and started doing it when our family comes to visit.  It doesn’t have to be expensive.  Sometimes I forget, and leave a little bag of candy.  Or completely forget and am reminded by my youngest granddaughter.  And now my daughters have started leaving them on our pillows when we visit!

luxury bedding

To feel comfortable, room size isn’t as important as the bed, the pillows, and the temperature in the room.  Everyone has their own comfort level when it comes to these three things. Giving options to your guests is so appreciated…especially aging parents, pregnant daughters, and “hot flashing” girlfriends!!!  We’ve rented a house in Florida for a few weeks, and I’m already wondering if the bed and pillows will give us a good night’s sleep.

Finding a private space for everyone when your home is overflowing with guest can sometimes be a challenge.  When this happens it’s helpful to think out of the box and have a plan before your guests arrive.  But, basically, guest appreciate a place to store their “stuff”, and maybe get away from the crowd for a minute or two.

Do you have a checklist of guest room favorites?  Here is my Top 10 list.   Some were borrowed from my friends, hotels, and inns.  Others were suggested to me by family.

  1.   A comfortable mattress with mattress pad
  2.   Tiny paper cups at the sink, stacked on a pretty plate
  3.   A full length mirror, or at least a mirror for makeup and hair
  4.   A folding screen or some type of room divider if other guests will be walking by or sharing the space
  5.   Bottled water or a small pitcher and glass
  6.   Down pillows, or at least nice fluffy ones (some people sleep with two pillows)
  7.   A throw to cuddle up with for an afternoon nap
  8.   A place to hang your clothes and open your suitcase…and empty hangers
  9.   Lamps tall enough to read in bed
  10.   Blinds or draperies to cover the window at night

Do I have each and every one of these in our guest room?  Not at all!  But I’m working on it with each and every guest.  And when I travel, the list grows as I discover some new little nicety that I hadn’t thought of before.

In the end, it’s all about enjoying your time with house guests, welcoming them into your home, and being together making memories that will last a lifetime!

Your Design Action Steps:

  • Look at your guest room from a visitor’s eye…objectively
  • Make a list of what you see that is welcoming, comfortable, and offers privacy
  • Now make a list of what could be added to the room that would add to your guest’s comfort, and make them feel really welcomed

Remember that it doesn’t have to be expensive or over the top in luxury.

 

More Joy…Less Stress: 3 Simple Steps to Avoid Holiday Chaos

More Joy…Less Stress: 3 Simple Steps to Avoid Holiday Chaos

 

I don’t know about you, but I tend to procrastinate on holiday preparations.  Sometimes it’s because I’m too busy with other things that were more important when I said “yes” to them.  Other times, the perfectionist in me keeps thinking “what if?”  What if a better table decorating idea comes to me later?  What if there won’t be enough variety of food?  Crazy, right?

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s time to think about what can be done right now that will bring more joy and less stress to the holiday.  Remember, we want to avoid holiday chaos and focus on enjoying our family and friends.  The answer could be discovering the ONE THING you want to accomplish with the preparation and the meal.  For me, that would be enjoying our time together, staying calm, and living in the moment.  When I focus on this….and how long it will take to pull it all together…it’s time to get real and make a plan. 

Let’s take a look at some simple steps to avoid holiday chaos:

What can you easily accomplish in the time you have?

Remember that people typically come to a gathering for two reasons: food and funYOU are hoping to create lasting memories. But be realistic about the amount of time you can spend planning and preparing.  When you’re completely exhausted by the time you sit down to dinner, it’s hard to enjoy the meal and your guests.  Take it from me…been there, done that!  My little Thanksgiving secret is that one year I went on strike in cooking the meal.  But that’s another story for another day! LOL!!!

As you plan your meal, remember to delegate a dish or two to anyone who offers.  Your party will be easier that way.  And the bonus for your guests is that it lets them try a new recipe as well as feeling helpful.

What should you buy? What should you DIY?

Sometimes you just can’t do it all yourself.  So you need to decide what can you buy and what can you realistically do yourself.  Costco, Trader Joe’s and Fresh Market have delicious, prepared food that can fill in for side dishes you don’t have time to make.

This same mindset holds true for the table decorations.  Most of us dream of having our Thanksgiving table decorated with perfectly coordinated china, colorful linens, and beautiful centerpieces.  With a peaceful walk in the woods and a quick “shopping trip” around your own home, you can easily create a look that will wow your friends and family.

How to handle the clutter when guests are staying overnight?

I like being neat and tidy (most of the time), so a house full of overnight guests, luggage, and cramped quarters can feel a little crazy and chaotic.

Some of the ways I’ve managed to keep clutter to a minimum is to make sure everyone has a designated area for their family’s “stuff”.  At my house  that means all coolers are stored in the room off the garage and toys are kept all together.

Creating an out-of-the-way private space for guests to keep their suitcase will make them feel welcomed and keep the clutter to a minimum.

We all want the holiday to be a joyful, fun-filled and stress-free time.  We want our guests to feel welcomed and comfortable.  And most of all, we want to create cherished memories that last a lifetime as we give thanks for all of our many blessings.

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!!!!

 

The Legend of La Befana

La Befana

Like children everywhere, Italian kids look forward to the arrival of the red-suited Babbo Natale on Christmas Eve. However, this relatively modern tradition pales in comparison to the anticipation generated by the arrival of an old witch in early January.

On Epiphany Eve, the old, tattered and soot-covered Befana flies around the world on a broomstick and comes down chimneys to deliver candy and presents to children who have been good during the year. For those who have fallen a bit short of model behavior, la Befana will leave lumps of coal. (Realizing that no one can be perfect for a whole year, these days la Befana often leaves a sweet “lump of coal” made from black sugar.)

The Legend of La Befana

La Befana has been an Italian tradition since the XIII century and comes from Christian legend rather than popular culture. The story is that la Befana was approached by the Three Wise Men who asked her to lead them to the stable where the baby Jesus lay in a manger. La Befana was too busy cleaning her house at the time, so she declined the offer to go with them. Very soon she realized that she had made a huge mistake, so she gathered up a bag full of gifts and set off alone in search of the baby Jesus.

Though she followed the same star as the Magi, she was unable to find the stable. Undaunted, la Befana continues to travel the world over to this day searching every house for the Christ child. On January 6, the first day of Epiphany, Italian children hold their breaths as they search their stockings for a sign that they have been good that year.

The arrival of la Befana is celebrated with traditional Italian foods such as panettone (a Christmas cake) and marks the end of the long and festive holiday season in Italy.

panettone

Article from: http://everybodylovesitalian.com/legend-la-befana

Fall Table Settings Set the Mood: How to Do It Yourself

holidaytable1

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 treehouse 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.

holidaytable2

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?

fall table settings

holidaytable4

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.

fall

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!

holidaytable6

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!!!!

3 Quick Tips To Decorate Your Mantel For The Holidays

holiday mantel decorating ideas

We all love it when the fireplace becomes the focal point of our room, and fall is one of the best times to decorate your mantel for the holidays–letting it really shine in all it’s glory.  By using simple design elements, you can turn yours into a beautiful showpiece.  When you apply, even a few, of these quick tips, you can transform your mantel from a jumble of items into an eye-catching collection of perfectly curated pieces.

Tip #1 Repetition, Repetition, Repetition 

Did I mention repetition?  It’s one of the most powerful design elements you can use to make a big impact.  When you use the same pattern, color or texture again and again your look becomes cohesive and complete without appearing too theme oriented.  It lets your eye travel from one end of the mantel to the other and creates a relaxed feeling.

Tip #2 Balance and Proportion 

Balance and proportion, in any space, create a calming, finished look.  Depending on the size of your room, your mantel could be large and grand or it could be small and understated.  Whatever the size, you need to be sure that the items you select are in proportion to each other and to the size of the mantel.  Mix up the sizes and shapes as well.  Besides being boring, too many small items on a large mantel will get lost and end up looking like clutter.

Many of us create balance and proportion by arranging items symmetrically.  You know the technique. The same items on each side of the mantel.  This is typically a very traditional arrangement…and perfectly beautiful.  But imagine for a moment, stepping out of the box a bit and creating something equally beautiful…and asymmetrical…to create balance, proportion, and harmony.  In the photo above, the designer has created two completely different vases, but the sizes and colors are similar.  So we have balance and we have proportion.

Tip #3 Layering Items 

If you prefer a cozy, casual look, layering items of varying sizes creates depth and visual interest.  Place larger items in the back, while featuring smaller accessories up front.  Using decorative boxes or risers to add a mixture of heights also adds to the interest, and ties each item to the others through repetition, balance, and proportion.

Happy Decorating!