Revisiting a favorite Halloween post

One of the most popular blog posts on my site is on the topic of decorating for Halloween all year long.  Written three years ago, in 2013, most of the ideas are timeless so I thought it might be an appropriate time to share it again.  Read on to see how I might update the ideas for today’s trends.

Halloween decorating all year round?  But I don’t want to look at witches and pumpkins in the middle of summer and I certainly don’t want ghosties and goblins surrounding my Christmas tree.  Relax!  I have found items that certainly celebrate the Halloween holiday (even if in name only) but don’t really have anything to do with the celebration.  Don’t believe me?  Check it out—–

I see dead chairs.   Ever heard of the “ghost chair”?  (Insert scary laugh and maybe a high-pitched scream)  This acrylic chair is appropriately named as it is see-through and is one of  my favorites.  In fact, I use this chair as a desk chair in my home office as it is surprisingly comfortable and very sturdy.  Can you even spot them in the photo below? Now you can have ghosts in your house all year long and no one will ever know.

photo courtesy of Lloyd Ralphs Design

On to something many of you may appreciate even more than the ghost chair–vodka! The makers of the highly prized Crystal Head Vodka skull bottle hit the jackpot with this design.  I didn’t know it was designed by Dan Ackroyd, did you?  Anyway, no well-stocked bar is complete without this scary skull, especially during Halloween, but it looks pretty cool all year long.  Check out this site and you might get lucky and find a “rehab” bottle turned into a vase or candy dish.

Crystal Head Vodka

Pumpkins and gourds are harvested during the autumn season and so, are naturally, a Halloween tradition.  But these blown glass gourds and pumpkins are way too beautiful to be hidden in storage after the festivities are over.  Chef and styling extraordinaire, Lisa Leonard, supplied us with this gorgeous photo and she keeps her own collection on the kitchen counter year round.

Photo courtesy LML Artworks

Skulls have made their way into the mainstream of interior design and can be found on fabrics, in artwork and wallpaper.  Designs range from the whimsical
Sugar Skull - red

to the elegant
Skull Damask - black on white

to childlike and everything in between.  One might say there is a skull for every season (or not).

And owls.  How could we not include the ubiquitous owl?  While not exactly a Halloween motif they do seem to make an appearance this time of year.  Regardless of whether you prefer something whimsical or realistic, they are definitely a year round accessory.  I have this little owl pillow in my living room and I love seeing the shine and sparkle every single day.

Pillow from Pier I Imports

And we mustn’t forget the worst creepy crawlie of all…spiders!  This adorable burlap lampshade with a spider motif would delight the budding scientist in your family.

Spider lampshade available on Etsy

Do you believe me now?  These beautiful items will add a designer look to your home and do not have to be hidden away after the holiday, but rather, enjoyed year round.

Update-September 2016

What is it about skulls?  They continue to make an appearance in home decor but I am here to tell you that they are not in my home.  However, I can appreciate a good design so here are some of my favorites:

This chair is just so cool…I might consider it in a teenager’s room.


By Geoffrey Bradfield for Kyle Bunting

While not for my home, this skull artwork showcases artist Ali Gulec‘s talent


Living/Media Room


The ghost chair has multiplied and morphed into pretty much any item of furniture you need as evidenced by the set of nesting tables in the room above.  Console tables, benches and occasional tables are all now made in this ghostly material and available in all price ranges.  Check out affordable sources like CB2, All Modern, DWR or even Neiman Marcus.

So how do you decorate for Halloween all year long?

Posted in Decorating and remodeling tips, holiday decorating | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

These are not your grandmother’s subway tiles

When you hear the phrase “subway tile” what comes to mind?  Dirty subways, old-fashioned tile, time to renovate?  If any of these words define subway tile for you then you, my friend, are in for a big surprise.

For those of you who’s first thought was dirty subways, you are partially correct.  The tiles were named after the white wall tiles found in underground train stations (subways) in the early twentieth century.  At the time they were white in color, made of ceramic and rectangular in shape, 3″x6″ to be exact.  And oh so practical–easy to clean, heat resistant and light reflecting–they soon became the go-to surface for use in kitchen and bathrooms.  So, based on this information I guess those who felt the proper word is old-fashioned would also be partially correct.  But for those who think subway tiles means it is time to renovate–you might want to think again.

Today’s version of subway tiles are available in any color imaginable and crafted in ceramic, glass and even metal.  Edges can be beveled and various sizes make them so versatile.  These tiles are being installed in kitchens and baths as well as mudrooms, laundry spaces and fireplace surrounds.  And they are equally at home in a contemporary high-rise as they are in a traditional bungalow, in a beach cottage or a rustic slopeside retreat.  Feast your eyes on these beautiful subway tiles and then let me know if your definition has changed:

Clean and reflective, white subway tiles and white grout are the perfect choice for this traditional bathroom.  Nothing old-fashioned about this room!

Shelter Island Beach House


Metal subway tile backsplash turns what would be an OK kitchen into a real show-stopper
div>Chicago Net Positive Luxury Home

Turquoise glass subway tiles add a jaw dropping pop of color to this white kitchen
Cabinets, Kitchens and Bathrooms

I did say subway tiles are finding their way into other rooms in the home and this laundry/craft room is a shining example of this.  The use of white subway tile throughout is a wise choice since they will resist moisture and are heat and stain resistant. I wouldn’t mind spending all day in this space.

Lido Isle Home


My own contemporary kitchen with white subway tile and white grout.  The perfect complement to glossy white cabinetry and stainless hardware.

Do any of these gorgeous spaces alter your opinion of subway tiles?  Would love to see how you have used subway tile in your own home or design projects.

Posted in Decorating and remodeling tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The holidays are here??


No, not yet!  No need to panic just now but it is definitely time to start thinking about any home decorating or renovations or new furniture you would like done before the holidays.


Whether you are purchasing a new sofa bed for out of town guests or have finally decided to recover your husband’s favorite chair, the eight to twelve week production time can put you beyond the holidays and you will be very disappointed!  And while reupholstering does not take that long, this is a very busy time for your upholsterer and fabric back orders can also create delays.  So get going on that decorating plan and you will be ready when the doorbell rings.


If you want to undertake a remodeling project in preparation for the holidays I sincerely hope you have already begun the process.  Any construction process is synonymous with “delay” so just prepare yourself and have an alternative plan if you should run up against those delays.  If you are lucky, that new bathroom, kitchen or outdoor area will be complete and ready for you to enjoy during the holidays with your family and friends.  And be sure and send some photos…would love to see what you have done!


Catalogs and retail stores are just itching to begin selling this year’s holiday decorations. They start early which means they sell out early.  So if you see something you like, snatch it up right away rather than wait until you are ready to decorate your own home as you will, once again, be disappointed.  Candles, seasonal throw pillows and other decorative items are fun to buy so keep your eyes open.  I am intrigued by this year’s mongolian fur trend so may just have to add one of these to my already huge throw pillow collection.  How cozy for the Christmas holidays.

design faux fur mongolian lamb red pillow from houzz

Small projects

Keep in mind that if you are planning on sprucing up your home for the holidays, chances are so are many other people.  Therefore, your painter, handyman, carpet layer or other trades people will be busy.  Plan those jobs now to insure that you can get on their calendar and complete your project before the holidays arrive.

The day after Labor Day signals to me that fall has arrived and I start switching things out.  I replace summer’s cheerful throw pillows with something that is warm in color and textural such as brown velvet and a suede patchwork, for example.  The fun black and white throw gets replaced by a warm golden check and the bowl of seashells goes back into the closet to make room on the coffee table for some potpourri and pinecones.  Once October 1st arrives I add in a few halloween themed items and, on November 1st out comes anything Thanksgiving related.  We have several December birthdays so the Christmas holiday items do not make an appearance until after December 8th.  Trust me, this waiting period is not an easy one for someone who loves holiday decorations as much as I do.  But no worries, the Christmas music starts playing as soon as it is available on the radio!

When do you begin your seasonal decorating?

Posted in Decorating and remodeling tips, holiday decorating, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ten things that made me happy in August

happy face back to school from mpsazdotorg

Along with January, August is my least favorite month of the year, But after everything that took place at the end of July, August could only get better!  Fortunately, there were many happy occasions and happenings that made me happy, not the least of which was, my husband came home from the hospital and is on an amazingly fast road to recovery!  I made a point of being aware of my surroundings and those small happy feelings all month long that took place and here are the top ten:

  1.  This sweet girl’s first haircut and how pretty she felt.  Ladies, we all know the feeling of a good hair day!ella first haircut and cute braid aug 2016
  2. Fall items in the stores.  I am loving the color palette that is available this year in both fashion and home decor.  My new favorite is what I am calling tobacco.  Mix it with my other new favorite, mustard, and you have a warm and cozy fall look.  This sweater has now joined my collection along with these boots.  And check out this room—-so inviting!
Olstad Drive Residence Master Bedroom 3
3.  Get well cards.  It is amazing how something seemingly so simple can bring such comfort and joy when one is recovering from an illness.  We have wonderful and thoughtful friends who sent cards, flowers and gifts of prayer and all were much appreciated and made my entire family happy in August.
4.  A fat-free, sugar free vanilla yogurt cone that only has 136 calories makes this girl very happy.  Oh yea, it only costs $1!  I didn’t think one could beat Costco’s $1.35 sundae but this comes pretty close!!  Thank you Ikea.
5.  My husband driving!  After his “ordeal” each little step becomes a milestone.  3 weeks ago we did not know if her would live or, if so, if he would walk etc. so this hurdle jumping makes me deliriously happy.

6. This photo.  I love flowers and I love original art so this kind of satisfies both of those.  I think it should be turned into fabric or wallpaper.  Some people are just so clever!

design fall flowers from leaves from thistlewood blog

Thank you Thistlewood Farms for this link

 7.  Military bands.  Heard the Marine Corps Band over the weekend and I am such a patriot that I always get goose bumps just seeing those young men and women in their uniforms and marvel at their courage and their talent!  Does this make me a nerd?  If yes, then so be it!
8.  New pink shoes.  I am in love with this color for some reason and I am a major shoeaholic so had to add these to my closet that holds more shoes than I care to admit!
pink shoes
9.    Hooking up with old friends.  How can almost two years go by when we only live ten miles away from each other?  So good to catch up on everyone’s lives!
10.  The fact that this month there were more than ten things that made me happy!
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Do you have a favorite blankie?

You know what I mean…that favorite piece of cloth you pull up over your legs when the weather gets a bit chilly or you just need a tender touch, and here in San Diego that means as soon as the indoor temps drop below 70 degrees!  These blankies gave you comfort as a child so why not re-create that feeling now that you are an adult?

I am not a fan of forced air of any type, hot or cool.  Therefore, we have always had a large basket of blankets and quilts within easy reach of a TV chair.  They are a mishmash of colors, designs and fabrics but they all have one thing in common—a COZY factor of 100+.  The current basket includes an old lap quilt my daughter used in her room as a tween, hence the favorite tween color combo of pink and purple.  It is just the right weight to toss over your legs on a cool evening in front of the TV.  Also in the basket is a felt blanket my sister-in-law made for us that requires no sewing…just cut the fabric and tie it together to create the fringe on the ends.  Here is a link to a tutorial if you are interested in making one of these.  Also in the basket is one of those fleece throws you can buy at almost any bed and bath or discount store for about $14.99.  They are indestructible and warm and fuzzy and large—perfect to wrap up in on a cold winter’s night.

design throws in basket from our house

Here are some of my favorite blankies you can purchase right now in anticipation of the soon to be here fall and winter months:

We all know how good a thick and warm sweater feels to wear.  Well you can experience that same feeling with this cable knit throw from Pottery Barn.

One of my all-time favorite blankies is a faux fur throw blanket purchased at Sam’s in Flagstaff, Arizona for $14.  Similar items can sell for over a hundred dollars in high end stores but the cozy factor is worth whatever price you pay.  High-end is this beauty from Williams-Sonoma….more affordable options can be found at stores like Home Goods and even Target.

design throws from william sonoma faux fur

Like accent pillows, while functional, a pretty throw can also be used to change up your decor.  Toss a holiday inspired one across the back of the sofa or a add a patterned throw to the arm of a solid colored chair for contrast.  It creates an inviting and warm look any time of year.

So ‘fess up….what does your favorite blankie look like?

Posted in Decorating and remodeling tips | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A new source for one of a kind art

I have many passions.  I love unique art, I love random gallery walls and I love to find undiscovered talent.  My personal art collection features a variety of originals, prints, watercolors, oils, canvases and pieces done by my daughter and they are all proudly displayed throughout my home.  I hope they tell a story about the people who live there. Fortunately for all of us, I have discovered a new site that addresses all of my passions—

Artlifting offers original and print wall art as well as an array of fun items like tote bags, coffee mugs ,t-shirts and greeting cards.  And the best part of all of this is the fact that the artists featured are individuals who suffer through homelessness or disabilities that make it difficult for them to earn a living or live a normal life.  The idea that an otherwise unknown talent is being given the opportunity to use their talent to earn a living is so exciting for someone like me who loves art that has a back story.  Just take a look at some of the amazing creations that are available to all of us.  And you thought you couldn’t afford original art!!

Prints are an affordable way to fill your home with artwork that is pleasing or memorable to you.  Imagine a gallery wall of unique art that might represent your travels or hometown or favorite vacation destination.  So much better than a fuzzy iphone picture.  This depiction of Bear’s stadium, for example, would be a fun way to remember that game of a lifetime or your favorite team.  The artist, Krishaun Williams, suffers from a mental illness that has hampered his ability to paint in the past. But with treatment he is now able to share his lifelong love of the Chicago Bears with all of us.

design art bears stadium by krishaun williams via artliftingdotcom

Bears stadium by Krishaun Williams available at

I absolutely love these whimsical floral paintings from Alicia Sterling Beach.  Living with a degenerative disease that results in constant pain, Alicia finds comfort in creating something memorable through her art.  A trio of these hung above the bed in a child’s room is a great way to introduce children to the beauty and appreciation of original art.

design art from artlivingdotcom by alicia sterling beach artist

Floral silver leaf original art by Alician Sterling Beach and available at

Posters are the most affordable way to add art to any space.  Imagine how inspiring this Yellow Saxophone poster could be if hung in a music class at school or in your own budding musician’s bedroom.  Charles Blackwell has been partially blind due to a childhood accident which only serves to make his talent even more inspiring.

design art saxophone poster form artlivingdotcom

Yellow Saxophone player by Charles Blackwell and available at

Please visit and help change the lives of these incredibly talented people.  I am certain you will find something that inspires you.

Posted in Decorating and remodeling tips | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Acrylic by any other name is–

Acrylic, also referred to as a Lucite or plexiglass or,for those not in the know, just plain clear plastic, has long been a favorite of mine.  I don’t know what it is about this translucent material but I love the simplicity and cleanliness of it for the same reasons I love the clarity of a beautiful emerald cut diamond or clear crystal quartz or round glass balls.  And the apple does not fall far from the tree as my daughter chose to use acrylic accents at her recent wedding selecting, for example, this clear acrylic ring box over the more typical ring pillow.  She also used a pair of ghost chairs at the sweetheart table that she can use in her own dining room after the wedding, a clear acrylic box to collect cards and the pen used to sign the guest book sat in a clear acrylic base.  All of the centerpieces sat in clear glass bowls to continue the “clear” theme.

design acrylic wedding ring box

Acrylic ring box via

Along with the iconic Ghost chairs by Philippe Starck, today’s manufacturers are providing many beautiful pieces that will be right at home in any contemporary setting but also add an unexpected touch to other interior design styles.  And, like glass furniture, acrylic is the perfect choice for small spaces as it takes up very little visual space.  One visit to Viyet and you will be rewarded with a smorgasbord of acrylic furniture designs from chairs to end tables to benches and even a bookshelf made entirely of lucite.

A newfound favorite of mine is this end table from Pottery Barn.  For those who think acrylic might be a tad too contemporary for their home, this mix of aged bronze and acrylic is the perfect choice.  Loving this!

design end table fro pottery barn barton c table

Barton table from Pottery Barn

And for those who want to instill a sense of sophisticated design in their newborn family members, Pottery Barn is offering an amazing crib with lucite panels that is somehow more appealing than the standard “jailhouse” bars that appear on most cribs.  I think I need to hurry my daughter up on grandbabies so I can use this crib!

design acrylic crib from pottery barn

Acrylic crib from Pottery Barn Kids

An acrylic dinette allows the magnificent view to take center stage in this apartment kitchen.  A wooden table and chairs would make the already small space seem cramped and also block the view.

Luxury High-Rise Apartment by Gallery315 Home


How do you feel about acrylic furniture and accessories?  Is it something you use in your home?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment