Belly up to the bar stools

With summer upon us it is time to start thinking about all the entertaining you will be doing in order to enjoy the longer days, balmy nights and overall relaxed lifestyle. Comfortable seating, including bar stools, is a must for those fun indoor and outdoor gatherings.

Stools are one of the most versatile types of seating as they are available in an endless choice of styles and various heights.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Bar height stools.  A bar top is higher than the standard kitchen countertop; therefore it requires higher seating.  Bar stools usually have a 30-31″ seat height, making them comfortable for use at a bar.  Styles range from backless to those with a high back or some with a lumbar back.  The style you select will be based on your home’s overall design.  Prices run the gamut as well.  Very affordable options can be found at big box stores like Target, Walmart and Ikea while custom or designer labels will cost you more.

This masculine stool from Williams-Sonoma Home would be the perfect addition to your man’s cave, for example, and the leather seat will be able to withstand wear and tear in a game room.

A more affordable option might be this wood and metal stool from Target.  I love the sleek look combined with the warmth of the wood, all at a very affordable $120.

Counter height stools.  A counter height stool is used as seating next to an island or countertop.  They are generally 24″ in height vs. the standard bar stool height of 30″ and can be tucked underneath a counter or table.  The lower height makes them easy to move from one room to another as seating for a meal or as additional seating in the living area when the crowds gather.

This casual backless stool from Pottery Barn will complement most design styles and can easily be moved from room to room.

This swivel seat barstool in red leather is what I use in my own kitchen.  The backless style allows them to tuck nicely under my countertop and are a favorite spot for guests to sit and chat while I am preparing dinner.

design bar stool from grandinroad

A popular trend these days is a counter height dining table and chairs.  I would caution against purchasing this style for your home unless you have very high ceilings as it will look over-sized and crowded in the average home.

Options.  There are many ways you can customize a bar or counter stool to suit your needs.  Consider a swivel seat that makes it possible for people to get in and out without moving the stool, possibly scratching your floors!  A metal footrest is a nice option to protect your fabric or wood frame from being scratched or stained by shoes and dirty feet.  Special motifs can be found to honor almost any hobby, sport, animal etc., making a personal statement in your design.

Add a couple of bar or counter height stools to your furniture inventory and enjoy summer entertaining, knowing you have plenty of seating for everyone!

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Home decor: I am currently loving…

I am currently loving woven baskets hung on the wall or anything that looks a bit tribal or boho chic.  Blame it on the fact that I came of age in the seventies and had a beautiful gallery wall of baskets in the den in my first home, along with a rust/orange chenille loveseat and a brown chenille chair and ottoman.  Amazingly, this is all back in style and I am in love with orange again and those walls of baskets.

Fortunately, this is a very affordable trend.  You can purchase mass-produced items at stores like Target and World Market or you can put your $ to good use and purchase hand-made items from sites like; or if you are lucky enough to have collected these from your own travels you have an instant wall arrangement.  Take a look at these photos and tell me if this is a trend you could incorporate into your own home?

Colorful and fun

baskets on wall colorful from vt wonen

via vt women

Neutrals always work

design baskets on wall from sarah bartholomeow via design chic blog

Sarah Bartholomew design via Design Chic blog

Too much?

baskets on wall source unknown

Are you embracing this new trend?

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Ten things that made me happy in May

April showers bring May flowers but what do May showers bring?  We had torrential rain in May, very unexpected and somewhat unpleasant.  But there are always sunny skies ahead.  Here are ten things that made the month of May special to me:

  1.  Those rain showers did not stop these two munchkins from playing outdoors.  This pic would make anyone happy!ellan and brendan playing in rain may 2017
  2. Two visits from my daughter.  Anytime she is sleeping under our roof, all seems right with the world.
  3. Disneyland with the grandkids.  I have not been to the park in many, many years and it was so fun to experience it once again through the eyes of little ones.  It is always magical, no matter what your age!ella and bren with us in disneyland may 2017
  4. Visits from out of town friends.  We had a month full of out of town visitors, some we have not seen for over 40 years!
  5. Maui, Hawaii.  Our visit in April extended into May so I am going to add it to this list as well.  Just the mention of Maui makes me happy.
  6. Simple fixes.  I have been searching for the perfect set of outdoor porch lights for 4 years now and just could not find something that would work.  Enter my magician of a handyman who simply cleaned up and spray painted my existing lights and they are perfect.  And the best part is that there is no touch up painting or stucco repair necessary as there would have been with new lights.  Makes this girl very happy!
  7. Breakfast in bed and my daughter in town, nothing could make me happier!jenna breakfast tray on mom day 2
  8. The first baseball game of the season for us.  While our local team, the SD Padres, have long been pretty much the worst team in ALL leagues I do enjoy going to the games and eating a hotdog and watching the planes fly over the beautiful skyline.  This game was made even more fun as our friends came down from central California and joined us.  After all, everything is better when shared with friends, right?
  9. Anyone heard of  After just spending over $700 for new glasses at the optometrist I visited this site to get an affordable pair of sunglasses I could use to read outdoors.  With a 40% off coupon they cost me a total of about $9 including shipping and they arrived within just a couple of days along with another 40% off coupon.  Definitely worth a visit and I think they will make you as happy as they made me.
  10. When back-ordered fabric becomes available!!  As many of you know, finding the right fabric for an upholstery project can be a daunting task, made even more so once you find it only to discover it is back-ordered for who knows how long.  The opposite feeling to that is when you receive notice that the yardage you need has been made available.   This designer is very happy…let’s get this project started!

    design robert allen fabric cheetah velvet from beacon hill

    Velvet from Beacon Hill

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Ten things that made me happy in April

I love the month of April.  I love the warm and breezy days that signal spring has arrived in San Diego.  I love all the colorful clothes in the stores and I love the flowers that are growing everywhere! I love the anticipation of summer just around the corner and I love the longer days that make it possible to watch the sunset from many vantage points around town.

  1.  The fact that stores like Target were actually closed on Easter Sunday.  We all move way too fast and fill our calendars with activities that make us feel important and involved but I think it is time to remember how wonderful Sundays were when we were growing up.  Nothing was opened so the day was spent with the whole family either at the park or indoors.  (I spent my early youth in Indiana while my Dad was in college so weather was a factor)  Summers were spent in Arkansas with my grandparents and Sundays were truly a day of rest and family dinners.  Thank you Target and Nordstrom and Costco and anyone else who acknowledges the value of recognizing these holidays.  Makes me happy!
  2.  The California super bloom.  I witnessed some of this in person driving to Northern California where entire hills were orange or yellow.  It was stunning and made me and my travel mate, Sandy, so very happy!

  3. Being as in love today as I was 30 years ago when I married my husband and celebrating in our usual way (quiet dinner at the same restaurant) makes me very happy.  I feel so lucky to have a solid and happy marriage!
  4. Maui, Hawaii.  What else needs to be said.
  5. Be still my heart!  Don’t know if you followed this but here is a link.april the giraffe being kissed by mom
  6. “Fixer Upper” is one of my favorite HGTV shows, for many reasons.  I love the new line of pillows designed by Joanna Gaines that, while a bit pricey, are right on trend but not trendy and offers soft and muted colors that will work in any decor.  This is one of my favorites but visit Pier1 to see the entire collection of pillows and rugs.

    design pillow from joanna gaines

    Magnolia Homes pillow via Pier1

  7. As I get older the simple things in life give me great pleasure.  Card nights with friends, shopping trips with a bestie even if we buy nothing, a completed design project, Old McDonalds (as they call it) with the grandbabies, my list goes on and on.  What are the simple things you enjoy?
  8. Friends who drop off big pots of hot soup and buttered bread when they find out you are STILL sick with that damn cold!!  You’re the best, Kate!
  9. My post on the women in my life last month did not include two very important women, my two aunts–Kay and Sarah.  One is my father’s sister and the other is my mother’s sister.  Both of my parents are gone so they are the only connection I have to my parents.  These two women have been around my entire life (obviously) and I so appreciate their presence, their quiet southern demeanor and their commitment to family and community.  They are truly role models in every sense of the word.
  10. I have had a long love affair with Picasso and Jonathan Adler so pretty much any artwork with a face makes me happy.  My daughter feels the same way so I purchased this little vase for her which she promptly filled with one of our favorite flowers..tulips.  For these reasons this picture makes me very happy.  Picasso, yellow tulips and black and white accents…scrumptious.  (and a daughter who shares my design aesthetic!)

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Say goodbye to all the throw pillow rules you know.

Just as you mastered the art of mixing different patterns properly and just as you finally learned how to spell symmetry, the design gurus change all the rules about the perfect throw pillow selections.

For decades the idea of symmetry has been queen.  You know the look…a matching pillow or two on either side of the sofa along with perhaps an additional one placed on a nearby occasional chair for good measure.  You can see this idea in this photo of a room designed by Joanna Gaines and it looks great and right in style.

But times have changed.  The days of matching end tables and lamps and pillows is long gone…to be replaced by items that look like they have been casually tossed about and chosen at random.  Although we all know that is not the case!

mismatched pillow from alexa hamilton via marcus design blog

Does anyone do it better than Alexa Hampton?

mismatched pillows phot by christopher shane design by andrew howard via house of turquoise

photo Christopher Shane   Room design Andrew Howard

The art of fabric pattern mixing has been a difficult one for many home owners to perfect.  The rule of three–one large, one small and one medium sized pattern–as a formula to follow is now outdated.  In other words, a check, a floral and a stripe, would create that relaxed and casually thrown together look many of us craved during our french country decorating phase.

Today’s look has no formula.  A floral pillow here, a striped pillow there, a few solid colors tossed about and various shapes thrown in for good measure.  The goal is to create a look that is truly casual and tossed together and, while it is sometimes tough for me to wrap my arms around the lack of symmetry, I do like the look when I see it properly executed.

I switch out my throw pillows throughout the year.  I usually “shop” from my own collection but often pick up a new piece here and there as in the case of the dachsund on a bicycle pillow I just could not resist.  Breaking out of my symmetrical comfort zone is not easy…How did I do?

The key to this look is to select pillow colors, patterns and sizes that complement the rest of the space and overall color scheme.  In these examples we show neutrals in an all neutral space, vibrant blues and greens with a bold striped rug and a mix of brightly colored pillows in an all white space.

The good news is that the pressure is off.  No more “rules” to follow; no more worrying whether you are doing it right.  And if you already have or find a pillow you like, no need to purchase two–just introduce it to all the other pillows you have stored in the closet and under the bed and in the garage and you can come up with your own eclectic combination that will be right on trend.

Is this a look you can embrace or is the serenity of symmetry more in your comfort zone?

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Accessories are the key to your spring and summer decorating

You have heard the saying “Jewelry makes the outfit.”  Well the concept is the same when it comes to decorating your home.  “Accessories make the room.” A room without accessories is like pancakes without syrup….it’s OK but something is missing.

The change of seasons is the perfect time to add new accessories to your home and right now it will bring your spring decorating to life.  With a plethora of discount stores and home decor shops, there is something for every budget and every design style.  Here are just a few of my favorite accessories to enhance your spring decorating:

  • Pillows are always my first go-to when it is time to add personality, color and pattern to a space.  They are affordable and available in any color or pattern you can imagine.  And, while shopping for springtime pillows, don’t overlook the value of designer details like cording, fringe, tassels and other trims that will add that little extra that will separate your home from your neighbor’s house.  Check out this multi-striped pillow.  Those colors will work in any color interior and every room needs a touch of black and white!
  • Lampshades are often over-looked as a valuable accessory.  But these seemingly unimportant items can add beauty and personality to your rooms.  Get rid of those inexpensive cream colored fabric shades or, even worse, those awful yellowish plastic items!  Replace them with a shade that features a beautiful texture, fun pattern or special detailing like contrast bands.  Anthropologie features a variety of lampshades that will add a spring touch to your home.


  • Your personal collections are your best resource for seasonal decorating.  Take a look at your closets and cupboards and you just might find a selection of colored glass vases, for example, that, when grouped together, look like a curated collection of prized items similar to those shown below. Fill clear glass jars with last year’s bounty of seashells and sea glass and make sure to leave plenty of room for this year’s additions!  Swap out those photos of the kids playing in the snow or the holiday ski vacation for photos of everyone in their Easter finery or last year’s tropical getaway or the annual 4th of July barbecue.  These memories will make the season even more enjoyable as you anticipate the fun this year’s spring and summer will deliver.
  • Don’t forget the exterior of your home.  Fresh and colorful flowers in pots or a flower bed, a nicely swept front walkway and porch and a fresh, seasonal doormat will prepare your home for the new season.  Take a broom to those porch lights to remove all the spider webs and winter gunk that has accumulated.  And maybe it is time for a new paint job on the front door.  My advice…step out of our box and select a color that works well with the architecture of your home and just might add a bit of a surprise to all who visit.
  • Whimsical items add such a fun touch to any room including the bathroom, kitchen bedroom and living room.  This mercury glass fish is one of my favorites this year and you can even add a tealight for a soft glow.  After all, who doesn’t need a glowing silver fish in their living room?
  • mercury glass fish from pottery barn

What is your favorite way to decorate for a new season?

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A tribute to the women in my life or ten things that made me happy in March

I turn the big 65 this month…what I like to refer to as a speed limit birthday.  And while I have never paid much attention to the number, this one seems to be giving me pause for some reason.  Maybe because the whole damn world seems to know how old I am right now based on the number of phone and mail solicitations I receive on a daily basis reminding me that I am now a medicare recipient and, therefore, OLD.  This is so hard for me to come to grips with since I feel and look like I am 45…ok..55 (on a good day and if you don’t look too closely).  But it is also Women’s History Month where we celebrate all the accomplishments of women throughout the centuries.  So what better time to celebrate all the women in my life who make me very happy every single day.

  • Janis.  Childhood friends are the best.  We cannot get together without talking about and reminiscing about all the people we have known since we were 11 years old.  We became fast friends in sixth grade when I was the new kid on the block and have remained so throughout marriages and divorces and death of parents and health issues and distance and all the things that take place throughout a lifetime. But as we begin this next phase of our lives as seniors and as grandparents I vow to spend much more time with you.
  • Sharon.  I have always prided myself on the fact that I have several friends that I have had for decades and you are part of this prized group.  We grew up together as babies in the business world and while our lives took very different paths I continue to count you as one of my most valued friends.  You know the kind…those you can count on no matter what to defend you and support you and be by your side regardless of distance or how much time has passed.  I mean, really..who else would offer to fly over from Hawaii to help me when Rick had his heart surgery?  I am so happy that you will be almost a neighbor again and we can spend more time together.  March babies rock!
  • Grandma Lou.  You accepted me into your family and your social circle over 30 years ago without question and we have been inseparable ever since.  I treasure our visits to Home Goods and traditions like annual visits to Canterbury Gardens and the Harvest Festival and, especially, the many millions of bottles of wine we have shared in your living room while we solve all of the world’s problems.  You and your wonderful boys mean the world to me.
  • Lisa Lisa.  While 10 years in age separates us I am constantly surprised at how parallel our lives are.  We are so different yet so much alike.  I am so impressed by your creativity and your friendliness to others and your loyalty to your family.  Who knows, someday we may even be on the same page politically…..not!
  • Kate.  No one knows more about my family dynamics than you and I have so valued your professional and personal input throughout the years.  We have been through many storms together yet I learn something new from you each time.  No one can make me laugh like you can.  You are an honorary Haynie, like it or not!
  • Bowlin.  What can I say?  We had an immediate connection from the moment we met as did our husbands, which makes our friendship that much sweeter.  You are the sister I always wished I had and there is no one I would rather watch “White Christmas” with, share a bottle (or two or three) of fine wine with, discuss books or ski down a mountain with than you.
  • Kathy F.  You will always be Kathy “Flirty” to me.  And even though thousands of miles separates us, I think of you often and look forward to the two or three letters/cards we share throughout the year and have done so for the past 35 years.  We need to get together soon if, for no other reason, so I can make fun of your accent!
  • The group.  Sharon, Paula, Deb, Denise, Kathy, Patti, the bingo ladies, and all those other ladies with whom I share fun and special moments.
  • Jenna bear.  While you are my daughter I also count you as one of the most important, if not THE most important woman in my life.  You have become the type of woman I want to be friends with–kind, compassionate, smart, funny, motivated, brave and positive.  While I take much credit for that (lol) in all seriousness, it is all your doing and how you put to work the tools we gave you along with your own personality.  No mother could be more proud to call their daughter a friend than I am.

These are the “things” that made me happy in March and every other month of the year.  My hope is that you have many women friends in your life that bring you joy and laughter every single day.


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