What I have learned to live without since downsizing

We are coming up on the two year anniversary of selling the large family home and moving back into our first home—a 2000 sq ft townhome that had been a rental for the past 15 years.  And boy I have learned some things!!!

  • My belongings sat in a Pod for six months and then most of them sat in the garage for another year and a half.  When we were finally able to tackle the garage I made it a point to glance into each and every box and if it was not something I had longed for during the remodel I gave it away.  I discovered that you do not need 7 or 8 sets of dishes–our days of large dinner parties have given way to quiet and intimate dinners and friendly card games with close friends.  Off they went to some lucky person perusing their local Amvets store.
  • As with all of our belongings, clothing comes in a close second.  Anything I needed had already been replaced so no need to even bother to look into the garment bags.  After all, who needs eight plastic boxes full of sweaters?  Off they went.  (I must admit I have wondered about a couple of favorites but I am sure I will find a new favorite this season)
  • Extra storage space is certainly a luxury and if I did not have to live without it I would choose not to.  However, since I lost 1500 sf of living and storage space in the downsize I have had to not only purge but also be creative with storage.  For example, all of my large kitchen appliances and extra sets of dishes (yes I did keep a few) have been placed in a storage shed in the garage that I lovingly call the dish library.  This also houses all of those decorative items like vases and seasonal “things”.
  • I only buy furniture items with drawers.  I think drawers are God’s gift to designers.  In my kitchen remodel I chose to have drawers over open cabinets in many instances.  Even if it just a simple little end table it must have a drawer.  My favorite purchase is this media unit from West Elm—drawer heaven!  It houses the TV and all the components in our very tiny family room and provides room for dinner napkins, games and plenty of toys in the lower drawer for our delicious granddaughter, Ella.

    Patchwork dresser from West Elm

    Patchwork dresser from West Elm

  • Most of all, I have learned to enjoy this passage in life, the simplicity of living in a smaller space and the realization that those who are important to you do not care how big or fancy your home is—home is where you are.  So hang those family photos, reposition that favorite chair that has been in every home you have owned and enjoy this next phase.
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Are you ready for hurricane season?

Let me begin by saying that it is not my intention with this post to make light of or lessen the seriousness of hurricane season, especially for those who have dealt with these weather monsters in the past.  That being said, my real intention is to talk about the decorative version of a hurricane:

Glass hurricane sleeves from Pottery Barn

Glass hurricane sleeves from Pottery Barn

A decorative hurricane is defined as a glass sleeve designed to hold a candle and prevent the wind from blowing out the flame.  I cannot find any reference as to why it is called a hurricane but it is certainly a handy decorative item to have in your home.

There are as many styles of hurricanes as there are females names for them.  You can choose a classic sleeve style like those shown in the photo above or you can find pierced metal styles for an ethnic look or a fun shape wrapped in rope, banded in metal or etched with a design.  Truly something for everyone.

This wooden base hurricane from Crate and Barrel will be right at home in a rustic setting

This wooden base hurricane from Crate and Barrel will be right at home in a rustic setting

A pierced sleeve, woven pattern or wavy glass as shown below will cast pretty shadows onto the wall or table surface.

 

Wavy glass and a pretty fluted design on this hurricane from Target

Wavy glass and a pretty fluted design on this hurricane from Target

And, while you can spend hundreds of dollars on beautiful and artistic hurricanes like this one from Neiman Marcus

A hurricane becomes a beautiful piece of art from Neiman Marcus

A hurricane becomes a beautiful piece of art from Neiman Marcus

there are many affordable options at large stores like Target, Walmart, Ikea and even the drugstore.  And don’t overlook the treasures to be had at your local thrift store.

Not only for candles, you can fill them with fruit, potpourri, a collection of wine corks or seasonal and/or holiday items.  A very subtle distinction can be made between a hurricane and a lantern….handles; but that may just be a matter of semantics.  So what is your favorite way to use hurricanes in your decor?

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Orange is the new black?

I am always a little slow on the uptake when it comes to what is “hot” these days on television.  I have my favorites and I rarely venture any further.  So when I kept hearing the phrase “orange is the new black” I was naturally intrigued since orange happens to be one of my favorite colors.  Imagine my naive surprise when I discovered that it is a show about a women’s prison and orange refers to the orange jumpsuits they are required to wear.  Silly me….I was hoping for a new and interesting decorating show!

While I am sure this show is very good, based on its current popularity, it is not my thing. But the color orange is!!

Orange Ikat chair via Eric Loechner and Design for Mankind

I am in love with the color and Otomi pattern on this chair via Eric Loechner and Design for Mankind

Orange is one of those colors that people either love or hate.  It can be mentally over-stimulating so is avoided in mental health units but can also stimulate appetites and therefore, is a popular color for use in restaurants.

Beautiful orange desk from Live Like you and Marmalade blog paired with turquoise and animal print...something for everyone!

Beautiful orange desk from Live Like you and Marmalade blog paired with turquoise and geometric print…something for everyone!

While I am not sure of the origin of the desk shown in the photo above, it looks like a fairly easy DIY project for those of you who have an old desk sitting around.  New brass hardware and a high shine coat of paint and you have an unexpected focal point for your home office.

When found in nature you can see how well the color works with all other colors—yellow and gold, any shade of blue and green, red and pink.  It is so versatile it could almost be considered a neutral!

Fall flowers courtesy of Slim Paley blog

Fall flowers courtesy of Slim Paley blog

And, of course, as the title says–a beautiful compliment to black, especially during the holidays.

A natural for the holidays DH Design

A natural for the holidays DH Design

But you might be asking how you can use orange in your home.  Well never fear–here are several suggestions:

  • While I am somewhat tired of this color combo, orange and turquoise remain very popular and is a slam dunk for those of you who want to liven up a beach house or child’s room.
  • Orange and pink spell preppy with a capital “P”.  So cute in a young girl’s bedroom.
  • Orange and brown is sophisticated and will warm up a masculine space such as a den or library
  • Orange and yellow is a bright and cheerful combo.
  • Depending on the shade of green you choose, you can transport yourself back to the days of the Brady Bunch with an orange and green color scheme.

How do you feel about the color orange?  Love it or hate it?

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You can enjoy Memorial Day and still remember the reason behind the holiday

Flags are placed on headstones at Arlington National Cemetery via wikipedia

Flags are placed on headstones at Arlington National Cemetery
via wikipedia

While Memorial Day is most often associated with the beginning of summer and is celebrated with backyard barbecues, picnics in the park and an extra day off for many people, this day is actually a day of remembrance for those who have lost their lives in service to this country and dates all the way back to the Civil War.

My father lost his life as a result of 30+ years of service–not in combat but many years later from the havoc breathing in things like Agent Orange during his three tours in VietNam and who knows what else, wreaked on his body.  He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, a fact I am very proud of.  So, along with everyone else, we will be enjoying the weekend festivities and looking forward to a fun summer; but we will take a moment and thank the men and women, like my father, who fought for one reason and one reason only—because they believed in and chose to defend the freedoms we so take for granted here in America.

Show your support and appreciation by displaying the American flag in your flower pots,

hanging the flag on a pole attached to your front porch or deck,  tossing a flag pillow like any one of these from Pottery Barn on your furniture or go all out and display a beautiful piece of artwork like this one from talented artist K. William Kautz, available at www.paintedfurniturebarn.com that can be enjoyed all year long.

Flag folk art available at www.paintedfurniturebarn.com

Flag folk art available at http://www.paintedfurniturebarn.com

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I struck it pillow rich when I discovered this site

One of the final projects left to do in our empty nest remodel was the small backyard.  Long story short, we were able to extend the back fence and gain about three more feet of depth which made a huge difference.  It allowed us to create a seating area, a dining space and a spot for the barbecue as well as a fun buffet and storage area (not shown in the photo below)  Once that was done we opted to have a stamped concrete patio poured to eliminate the upkeep of a wood deck.  And then the fun part—-furniture and accessories.

Pillows from Target and World Market

Pillows from Target and World Market

As you can see from the photo above, I quickly became frustrated with the selection of outdoor pillows.  They were in colors I did not want i.e. lots of blue and turquoise, and in rather ordinary patterns.  Then I stumbled upon this site,  www.outdoorpillowsonly.com and thought I had struck the mother lode!

This site carries designs, colors and patterns that will please any homeowner.  They have stripes in every color and color combination imaginable, along with coordinating solids for a pulled together look.  Florals and geometrics are sure to please the traditionalist and for those looking for something whimsical and unique, check our their Novelty line that includes dogs, birds, a quirky flamingo and even a moose or two.  Not to mention, plenty of beach motifs,  fun graphics and pretty scenes.   And I love the size options including a hard to find bolster, lumbar and various dimensions in a rectangular pillow.

While most often associated with summer fun (hence the limited choices in color and pattern), outdoor pillows can be used all year long on front porches to create an inviting welcome or scattered about to celebrate the changing seasons.  Check out this adorable snowman

 

 

 

 

Baby it's cold outside pillow from outdoorpillowsonly.com

Baby it’s cold outside pillow from outdoorpillowsonly.com

Whether you are decorating a brand new outdoor space or looking to update your existing patio or deck, you will not be disappointed with the selection from outdoorpillowsonly.com.

 

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What message is the exterior of your home sending?

Contemporary Entry by Bend Architects & Designers Christian Gladu Design is simple, clean and inviting with a few seasonal items added in the form of pumpkins and gourds.

Take a good hard look–what  message is the exterior of your home sending?  Does it say “We are proud of our home and we welcome you” or does it say”We do not have time to take care of things outside so who knows what the interior looks like”?

The exterior and entry of your home is the first space visitors see when they visit.  What would you rather they see?

  • Scuffed paint on the front door, windowsills and siding
  • A dirty and crooked doormat
  • Filthy porch lights
  • Dead plants

Or:

  • A fresh paint job
  • A welcoming doormat lined up with the door
  • Clean and sparkling porch lights
  • Fresh and alive plants

If you chose the first list this blog post will not be helpful.  However, if you chose the second list it is now time to step outdoors and take a look at your home with a critical eye.  If you are falling short in any area it is time to make a trip to your local home improvement store to pick up some paint and flowers and get busy.

  • Hopefully, an entire house painting job is not needed.  But step out of your comfort box and paint that front door in a new color that appeals to you and compliments your home’s exterior color.  Sophisticated gray, bold yellow, luscious green, your favorite shade of green or the perennially popular red will create a welcoming greeting.
  • One of my pet peeves is a crooked doormat.  The purpose of a doormat is to catch dirt before it enters your home.  How can it do it’s job if it is lying somewhere near the front door?  Please keep it lined up and in its proper place.  And if it is beginning to look a little “hairy” due to weather and wear and tear, now is the time to find a new one.
  • Remove all the spider webs and gunk on those porch lights with the hose.  Another pet peeve of mine (yes, I have a ton of them) is when the bulbs in porch lights do not match.  One might be the new squiggly bulbs while the other one might still have a standard incandescent bulb.  So replace the bulbs and enjoy the new sparkle and shine.
  • Is there anything more unattractive or unwelcoming than an old pot with a dead plant?  I don’t like to look at that so I assume neither do visitors to my home.  If you can’t plant new ones right away at least get rid of the offensive one until you can.  And, for goodness sake, take them out of the black plastic pot and place them in an attractive holder that coordinates with your overall color scheme.
  • Add some personality.  Whether you hang a fun door knocker that represents your favorite hobby or a chic monogram or (heaven forbid) group your favorite gnomes on the stoop, personal items will set your home apart from your neighbors.

Remember, you only have one opportunity to make a good first impression and that is what your exterior entry does—creates a first impression of you and your home.

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4 design trends I hope disappear in the near future (and three that can stay forever)

Boy am I sticking my neck out for I know I will get a lot of “hate” mail for some of the items on this list.  Don’t get me wrong….I love a good trend and I admire those who introduce trends into their home’s decor.  But some trends catch on so quickly and so vastly that I see them in every single blog post, pinterest photo, houzz ideabook, magazine cover and model home.  Let’s see if you agree with me (and don’t be afraid to tell me if you don’t…I can take it because I plan on reading the comments with a bottle of my favorite chardonnay nearby to kill the pain).

  1. Fiddle leaf plants.  I love plants and fresh flowers and all living things but this humongous plant seems to be multiplying as fast as a rabbit and appearing in every single room setting I see lately.
  2. Chevron.  Oh, I can hear the screams now!  But I am so over chevron patterns on everything from throw pillows to window treatments to floor patterns to upholstered furniture to dishware to glassware to painted furniture to …see what I mean.
  3. Orange and turquoise color scheme.  Another colorful trend that seems to be enjoyed by many.  While I like both colors and, in some instances, together, I prefer to use them in my jewelry and summer barbecue outfits.  A hint of one or the other is fine but an entire room….not so much.
  4. Chalk paint.  While this is not one of my favorite looks I do appreciate it when used properly i.e. in Rachel Ashwell’s home.  But I am a little bored with Grandma’s dining room server with a coat of chalky white paint and hand-rusted hardware.  It was already an antique, why make it look even older and more distressed?

And the three trends I hope are around forever?

  1. Glass tiles.  These little works of art offer such a luminous glow to any kitchen or bath and the color combinations that are available are truly stunning.
  2. Black accents.  I don’t care how it is used, I have always felt that a touch of black is necessary in every well-decorated room.  It could be a lampshade, picture frame or vase or something larger like window moldings or upholstery fabric…..it just works.
  3.  Animal prints.  This classic pattern has been popular for centuries and remains so to this day so I guess I do not have to worry about it going out of style.  I am not talking about a safari themed room here…I am referring to the chic animal prints that appear in carpeting, on upholstery fabrics and even home accessories.

I said three but I can think of many more–edison bulbs, subway tiles, wood floors, nesting tables, sisal rugs, mid-century furniture, the color red in any form, gourd lamps, gallery walls, custom anything.  What are your three favorite and least favorite (you know you have one) design trends?

OK, I have said my piece.  If you are hanging on to one of the trends that just might be a bit over-used, as Queen Elsa sings in “Frozen“–let it go.  Scale back or replace them completely with something new and unique.

Speaking of Queen Elsa, if you have anyone in your home under the age of 10, then you already are familiar with the popularity of this movie and song.  And my 2 year old granddaughter is here to prove it (when she put on this costume she thought she was stunning and said “I really am a princess now”.  Melt my heart!!

ella as princess anna

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