Five instant room updates

Time for a list.  We all love lists, right?  As a true list-maker I am not going to talk much about each item, just list them so you can cross them off once you have completed those that pertain to you.  Here goes:

  1. Paint.  One of the best room pick-me-ups there is.
  2. Pillows. The easiest way to instantly update a room.
  3. Lampshades.  An often over-looked accessory in a room, a new lampshade will cast new light on your room.  (yes I really said that)
  4. Rug.  Switch out an outdated rug or add a new one, even on top of carpeting.
  5. Frames.  You will be surprised at how different your artwork and family photos will look in updated frames.

Now some photos to prove my points.

This neutral shade of gray paint updates this powder room.

These colorful throw pillows can be switched out for the seasons or holidays, instantly updating the space.
Imagine this room with a solid color lampshade in turquoise.  Better, yes?
This beautifully patterned rug placed atop wall to wall carpeting adds color to this neutral bedroom.
Updating the frames and mats on this gallery wall will make the artwork really pop.  As it is now, they seem to get lost in a sea of white.
Ready, set, go!  Time to begin instantly updating your home.
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Happy Thanksgiving!

Who doesn’t love this video?!?!?!?!



Have a wonderful holiday however and wherever you spend it!  We will be enjoying the beautiful fall weather and gorgeous surroundings in Flagstaff, Arizona.

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Adding texture to your neutral color scheme

If you love to decorate with neutrals then you are already aware of the importance of texture to add dimension and interest to a quiet interior color scheme.
In the above photo you can see how the richly carved coffee table, colorful artwork and display of live greenery adds texture and interest to an all beige color scheme.
There are many ways you can add texture to your neutral decor:
One of the more interesting ways to add texture, color and pattern to your home is through the use of fiber or textile art.  I have a client who is incredibly talented in this arena as you can see from the photos below.  Her pieces are crafted from natural and found items that include pine needles, tree limbs and other naturally shed items.  You can spot her work every year at the Del Mar Fair where she consistently earns blue ribbons, in galleries, and on her website.  If you are interested in seeing other types of fiber art or even take classes, visit the website of Misty Washington’s gourd and basket guild.
third place at fair

made with Canary Island pine needles and Irish wax linen all wrapped around a found tree branch

patti baskets from her website

These unique pieces can be hung on a wall or displayed on a bookshelf and would be right at home in any mountain or seaside retreat.


The fabrics you select can make all the difference in a neutral interior.  Consider tactile choices like chenille, velvet, suede and leather to create that “come and sit awhile” feel in your home.


Fringe on a pillow, embossed picture frames, nailhead trim on an ottoman, contrast welting on a sofa or a beautiful lampshade will add interest and texture to your interior spaces.

Add some life

The addition of greenery and natural elements will always warm up a space.  A vase of fresh, seasonal flowers on a table or a floor vase filled with twigs add instant “life” to a room.

Make it your own

Neutral interiors can easily become boring and bland.  So make it your own through the display of family photos in richly textured frames, your choice of artwork on the walls, a collection of travel or art books on a table or an arrangement of family heirlooms or treasures from your past will add your own unique touch to the space.

With these tips you can sit back and enjoy the restful and serene feel of your neutral interiors.

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Ten things that made me happy in October 2015

October was a busy month full of plenty of happiness so let’s begin:

  1.  I mentioned that we took a road trip at the end of September and into the first week of October and I was very happy to see old friends and spend 9 days in the car with my husband…not every couple could survive this but we do quite well!
  2. A new home for my step-son and his family (which includes my granddaughter).  It makes me very happy to see them have space to run around and play and I look forward to many years of special Christmas Eves, birthday parties etc.
  3. Sunflowers.  How can these cheerful flowers not make you happy every time you look at them?  Says fall is in the air even in warm and sunny southern California.  This is a good time to remind you that fresh flowers add life and color to your home all year round so make a designer happy and go out and buy a pretty bouquet from your local grocer or nursery–you won’t regret it.
  4. Speaking of fall, taking a walk and collecting colorful leaves in gorgeous shades of red and gold while we were in Idaho on our road trip.  I was hoping to bring them home and place them in a dish to enjoy all season long but guess what?  Leaves dry up and crumble once they fall from the trees…who knew?!
  5. News from “home”.  I “friend” a site called “You know you’re from Pacific Grove when…” and they post the most incredible photos of my hometown which makes me happy and a bit homesick.  But check this little guy out….sea lions were a daily way of life in Pacific Grove.
  6. photo courtesy of David Johansen

    photo courtesy of David Johansen

6.  A good belly laugh always makes me happy.  Read this and see if you laugh:


7.  A trip to the mountains.  Some people find the sea relaxing but the mountains do it for me.  The crisp, clean air, beautiful evergreens and chilly nights always make me happy. Flagstaff, AZ is a relatively easy trip for a weekend for those of us in Southern California and I highly recommend it.  There was even snow on the mountains which made this skier very happy!

8.  Trick or treating with this Mermaid Princess.  Her camera shy brother was too busy running around to share is Ewok costume but try to imagine an Ewok with a pacifier!  Do any of us ever outgrow the excitement of this one day event?  Not to mention all that free candy!  One of the many delights of grandbabies is being able to experience these childhood events all over again.

ella halloween 2015 sparkly eyes

9.  Clients who enjoy the decorating process as much as I do makes me very happy.  The ones who love the thrill of the hunt and enjoy the completed project are so fun and, as a designer, it brings me great joy when someone is happy with the outcome.  You know I am talking to you, Sharon!  Here is her re-decorated living room and she is hard at work on the adjoining dining room.

sharon ladd living room after with artwork

10.  Phone calls with dear friends who live faraway.  Today’s technology allows us to communicate minute by minute via email, facebook, instagram etc but nothing is as good as hearing someone’s voice over the phone.

What made you happy in October?

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Did you turn your clocks back?

I must be weird!  I actually enjoy setting the clocks back an hour.  It signals the beginning of the holiday season.  Early sunsets equal cozy evenings and, if the weather cooperates in southern California, maybe a fire in the fireplace and a pot of chili on the stove.  After all, Christmas lights look so much better in the dark than in the bright light of day!

But early sunsets also mean darker rooms in your home and that is where an efficient lighting plan comes into play.  Common sense and a good rule of thumb suggest a minimum of three lighting sources in a room and should include:

Task lighting:

This is just as it sounds–lighting that illuminates the space where tasks are being performed.  For example, overhead lighting in the kitchen, a proper desk lamp in your home office, makeup lighting in the bathroom etc.  Task lighting is designed to shine on the task at hand and is often brighter than other types of lighting.  Light bulbs and wattage is a topic for another blog post, especially if you live in California where they regulate everything, including the type of light bulb you can use.  This desk lamp from Pottery Barn is a fine example of a beautiful and functional source of task lighting that would be right at home in a contemporary or traditional setting.

Lily lamp from Pottery Barn

Lily lamp from Pottery Barn

Ambient lighting:

Often referred to as general lighting, ambient light illuminates an entire space, unlike task lighting that shines on a specific area.  This can be achieved through the use of table and floor lamps, ceiling fixtures etc.  Natural light also falls into this category.  Large picture windows, skylights and accent windows placed high on a wall are just a few ways that natural light enters a room.   Check out this room–I could move in tomorrow!

Accent lighting:

Accent lighting helps set a mood in the room.  It is designed to highlight specific items or areas such as a feature wall, artwork or even a view.  Place one behind a large plant to cast interesting shadows on the wall or install “fish eye” fixtures that can be focused on a single area, sculpture or painting.

Accent lighting to establish a mood can be accomplished with a small and decorative lamp placed atop a dresser, bookshelf or even the bathroom countertop.  It will not only illuminate the space but acts as a night light to put an end to the search for a light switch in a dark room; and they cast a soft glow wherever you use them.  This Dale Tiffany accent lamp from Lamps Plus adds color and style and will compliment any Arts&Crafts, Mission style or traditional interior.

lamp from lamps plus

lamp from lamps plus

Now that you know how to properly light your rooms you can enjoy the ambience that comes with shorter days.  OK, maybe not enjoy but at least not feel quite so depressed that summer is actually over.  Are you convinced?

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Beam me up Scotty with the sputnik chandelier

Jonathan Adler chandelier from Lamps Plus

Jonathan Adler chandelier from Lamps Plus

We were recently roaming the mall with another couple and while my girlfriend and I stopped in Z Gallerie to check things out the guys followed us and found a couple of chairs to sit in and continue their very important (?) conversation.  Right over their heads was a sputnik chandelier selling for about $895.  Our friend was shocked at the price (he doesn’t get out much) but did not like the light fixture at all.

Personally, I kind of like this look.  It is interesting and sparkly and sheds a lot of light, all the things you want out of a chandelier.  And I also appreciate the nod to the past as this was a popular shape when I was growing up.  Does anyone remember “The Jetsons”?  So what is your opinion on this unique chandelier?  Would you hang one in your home?

And in case you are wondering, the original sputnik was one of the first satellites launched into space back in the fifties and looked something like this-

sputnik satellite via wikipedia

sputnik satellite via wikipedia

You’r welcome.

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Its sweater weather for your home

You already know how great it feels to pull a warm and cozy sweater over your head on a chilly day.  Well why not give your home that same feeling?

Pillows, throws, vases and picture frames are all wrapping themselves in cable knit sweaters for the season.  Check it out:

This “cheerful” pillow from Pottery Barn is not just for the holidays.  Use 9 months of the year to remind you to smile.

sweater pllow from Pottery Barn

sweater pllow from Pottery Barn

And while the cheer pillow is year round, sometimes you just want a little holiday cheer-naughty or nice.

Naughty or nice pillow from Pottery Barn

Naughty or nice pillow from Pottery Barn

Wrapping yourself in a sweater throw is almost as good as pulling your favorite sweater over your head.  Added bonus?  You can cozy up with someone underneath, something you cannot do with your sweater.  Well maybe, but who am I to judge?  This throw from Pier 1 even has a fur collar, similar to your favorite winter parka–and it’s on sale!

fur lined from Pier 1

fur lined from Pier 1

And if you can’t wrap your baby in your arms, why not wrap their picture in a sweater frame as cozy as their baby blanket like this one from

design sweater pic frame from middleclassmoderndotcom

DIT sweater frame from

Even your kitchen table can wear a sweater for the season–

dishware from Marley and Lockyer

dishware from Marley and Lockyer

And for the ultimate cozy experience, cover your bed in an entire sweater and stay warm all season long.

Now if only sweater weather would arrive in San Diego!!

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