Monday, January 23, 2012


January always makes me look at my home through new eyes, probably for a lot of reasons. First of all, my husband and I are always lucky enough to take a few days away around the New Year and when I return home, I tend to see things through "new eyes" after being out of my surroundings for a bit.  Also, all of those decorations that filled my home with greenery n' glitter are put back in storage until next year's Christmas season, giving me a valid reason to move things around and refresh my furniture and accessory vignettes throughout the house.

One of the rooms often used but forgotten is the bathroom.  In my home, as with most nowadays, there is one bath that is a designated "guest" powder or rest room, usually near the other most-used rooms such as the kitchen or family rooms.  I know mine could use a little updating, and I'm sure I'm not alone.

I think one reason it's easy to overlook this often-visited room is that once the walls are painted or papered, a few essential accessories and toiletries are added and it's -voila! - finished, and we go on to the other rooms that are more fun and require more thought and budget to re-do.  But don't underestimate the importance of a luxe powder room and how much color, personality and quirkiness you can inject here to make it another space that you and your guests can enjoy visiting as much as the other larger rooms.

A few quick pointers for a new year restroom refresher that doesn't involve renovations and won't break the bank:

1. Add a new, clean waste basket in a fun pattern or color - or even a metallic if you prefer.  If you have small children or mischievous dogs, a waste can with a lid is a better choice.

2. Have clean guest hand towels (disposable or terry/linen towels) available all the time.  Make it clear to guests which hand towels you'd like them to use.  I know I sometimes visit a friend's home and feel a little confused about which towels they use for showering, which are for guests' hands, which are clean, etc.  Make it obvious by adding some hand towels with "guest" engraved or embroidered on them to add a beautiful touch, or simply by placing them near the wash basin so it's obvious.

3.  Scent-sational aromas are important.  We all know that restrooms aren't just for resting, and having a pretty candle scent or other air freshener of your choosing will make it a pleasant place to visit.

4.  Add artwork or other wall decor that shows some personality. Maybe it's a photo of a natural landscape, something comical or inspiring, or some still-life floral.  This is not the best room to display your family photos (hello - who wants extra "eyes" on them in the loo?) but something to add visual interest to the walls is great.

5.  A small floor accent rug.  This is a perfect way to add texture, color, and most importantly some sound-absorbing textile - just be SURE it's easily cleanable to maintain a sanitary environment.

6.  Light up the night! These rooms usually have very small windows (if any) and those windows are going to be covered for privacy, offering only filtered light at best.  Make sure your bath has the brightest bulbs that your fixtures can safely handle, and adding wall sconces or even chandelier light is a gorgeous touch.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Really?? Get real if you're going on the real estate market!

Every once in a while I get bitten by the real estate bug, as in "let's look at real estate listings and see if it's time to move".  I love change... new clothes, new shoes, new decor and accessories around my home.  Basically, I love to keep things renewing and refreshed and I get bored with looking at the same visual picture around me after a couple of months so I love re-arranging and sprucing up, whether it's my home or my wardrobe.  Occasionally that leads to me thinking that we've been in the same house for eight years and how fun would it be to have a new home to renovate and/or decorate....

Then I look at real estate listing photos and I can't believe how many people are clueless about how to properly clean up, tidy or decorate for photograph day!  Now, sometimes the realtor may be at fault for not properly advising their clients how to stage their home to sell it, but I also have good friends in the real estate business and I know that try as they might to be tactful and convincing in their efforts to get homeowners to clean up so they can properly market the home, sometimes homeowners are downright stubborn and just don't follow their realtor's advice.  

Here are some examples of GOOD real estate staging, and BAD for business... guess which is which!

Anyway, let's start with this: PACK UP THE CLUTTER! The plastic bins in bright primary colors that hold all of the toys, the laundry, the stacks of books or paper in office areas.  Imagine if you went into a model home presented by a builder and you saw stacks of paperwork, trash, or construction supplies stacked all over the interior of the model home - what would you think?  Of course you'd think the builder was sloppy, careless and took no pride in what they were showing you. It really boggles my mind the way some people live (we've all seen an episode or two of Clean House or Hoarders), but even more baffling is the way some people think it's in "show" condition.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Waxing Poetic

I adore candlesticks and candle holders for accessorizing!  I especially love having candlelight in my home after the sun goes down so I'm always captivated by interesting candle holders.

Aside from the obvious functional reason for having them, the great things candlesticks offer are an endless variety of colors, shapes, textures and heights.  This makes them a perfect go-to accessory where you need to add something tall to an accent or cocktail table display, something colorful or textural to a bookshelf or niche, and of course the obvious placement in the center of a dining table to create atmosphere and romantic lighting.  Mercury glass hurricanes or votives, or those with cut-out designs, cast beautiful lacey patterns that add a lot to the mood of a room after dark.

The only real caution I have for you (other than using careful judgment with keeping lit flames away from pets, fabrics, draperies, children, etc.) when accessorizing with them is to not "overdo" it, because it easy to go crazy and put them everywhere because of their versatility.  As with all accessorizing, editing your choices can be the most important step.

Here are a few candle holders, votives and candlesticks I love...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Come on baby, light my fire

A trip to any grocer or market in April will remind you that summer is truly almost here again... bunches of bright yellow daffodils, vibrant iris flowers with their intense purplish-blue hue, and armfuls of tulips in almost every shade of the rainbow are displayed at the entrance to most markets.  Just the sight of these new blooms of life are proof that the sun's rays are warming the earth and air all around us.

Which leads my designer mind to thinking about.... patio design!  What refreshing details can I add to my outdoor rooms this year that will give new life to them? What colors and patterns will be dominant this year in design that I can incorporate to give a current, renewed energy to my neutral outdoor furniture?

Well, patterns we'll see again this year are lattice, coral and other sea life, and classic stripes - much like last summer.  Hot color combinations continue to be black and white, lively leaf-green with accents of hot colors like yellow and orange, and this year the addition of a lot more aqua.  Aqua is really hot in design still and is working it's way into the outdoor products and textiles for 2011.  It looks fabulous when contrasted against nautical navy blue or paired with it's complementary opposite orange. 

Outdoor fireplaces in eco-burning fuel options are more abundant this year and I don't see this trend slowing down anytime soon.  The fuel containers are easily available and are a corn byproduct that burns cleanly, and unlike wood burning fireplaces, they require no clearance or venting.  Most products in this category have been contemporary in style, but other options like the barrel style below by Restoration Hardware give traditionalists a great option now too.  Time to mix up some sangria and move the entertaining outdoors again!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Your hair is gorgeous - mohair, that is

It feels great to be back to my blog posting again.  I was undecided about whether or not it made sense for me to keep blogging a few months ago, and every once in a while I would see something amazing from the design world I wanted to share with you but kept it tucked neatly in a file - until now.  These chairs I saw are so drool-worthy that it was all the inspiration I needed to get back to blogging!

These mohair chairs are for sale at and are part of the Antony Todd Collection.  I saw them in a tiny bottom corner of a recent issue of InStyle magazine and they immediately caught my eye.  First, the rich, striking teal color is a luxe attention-getter on it's own.... add to that the gilded, carved frames and the fact that the teal upholstery is mohair, simply one of the most fabulous textiles available.

Mohair is from the angora goat, and is so lustrous, easily dyeable and resilient that it's one of the most coveted upholstery fabrics available.  It has a beautiful velvety sheen but is naturally flame resistant (as all natural protein fibers are).   Because of these desirable inherent qualities it is a costlier choice than velvet but there simply is no hair as gorgeous as mohair in the decorating world.