Holiday decorating and spirit, for me, doesn’t start until December. It isn’t December 1st or anything specific like that, I just like to take some times to decompress from the Thanksgiving craziness, then start focusing on Christmas and the New Year.
This year I decorated on December 7th, because it was the first weekend following Thanksgiving holiday. I had already heard a number of Christmas songs on the radio, saw the decor in stores and commercials on television and felt the holiday spirit bubbling inside. Now I don’t go all out, but I do like to bring holiday joy inside and outside the house. So here are a few of my tips for creating the perfect holiday decorating experience in your home.
1. Pick a style and color combination to carry throughout your decorating. There are a number of styles you can choose from and they usually coincide with your home style or family traditions.
a. Classic– red and white
b. White Christmas – just as it sounds
c. Traditional – red and green, heavy ornamental and décor emphasis (I think of my Grandma’s Christmas tree)
d. Rustic – pine cones, mason jars, burlaps and plaid, natural elements
e. Glam – metallics, sequins, mirrored glass, with a few bright colors
f. Modern – unconventional colors and items: think white faux tree, hot pinks, and turquoise décor.
g. Vintage – antique items, Saint Nick décor, muted colors, heirloom items.
h. Coastal – blues and whites and seaside decor
i. Bohemian - lots of bells, tassels and beads
j. A combination of these or your own personal style
I would call my style a whimsical classic theme. It starts with my use of Santa Claus and nutcrackers figurines, there's an air of playfulness in my loves of snowglobes, but also includes romantic elements with multiple flameless candles and glass votives. I gravitate towards classic reds and metallic golds with a little green and white splashed in there. I prefer white lights outside my house with a mix of muted colored lights inside.
2. You can’t go too big or too small – maybe you’re a Griswald and want the brightest house in the neighborhood and your house to look like Santa's workshop. Go for it. New York City interior stylist Erin Swift, featured in Better Homes and Garden Magazine this month, uses the rule of 100 light per 1.5 feet of tree and 10 ornaments per foot. Her tree is overflowing with pezzaz. On the other hand, maybe you just like simple understated tree and a quaint wreath on the door. Or maybe you are somewhere in between. The holidays are about family, traditions, being thankful for what we have, giving back to others. Do what feels best for you, your family, and your fur family. And if that is sitting on the couch watching some football and ignoring decorating and music, well that is fine too.
3. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get in the holiday spirit – Sure if you want to get the mercury glass set of ornaments at Pier 1 or West Elm, do it! But you can also get steals at your local thrift stores and the dollar store. You can take the dog and kids for a nature walk and pick up evergreen pieces and pine cones to decorate the entry table, dining table or breakfast bar.
4. Play your favorite Holiday music! I was excited to decorate, but not exactly overjoyed to climb up on the roof and string my icicle lights myself. But you know what? I put on my favorite Michael Buble Pandora station, ate my breakfast and drank my latte, sang along to Santa Baby, rocked out to Trans Siberian Orchestra and was ready to roll. Music always makes everything better in my mind!
5. Last but not least - don’t take yourself too seriously. Here's is one of my two cats sitting under what he believes is his own safe space. I have come to terms with this annual tradition of his!
According to a Rockefeller University study performed in 2014, the human olfactory system can sense 1 trillion different smells1. That is a far cry from what you can find at Yankee Candle or Bath and Body Works.
Therefore it is no surprise that smells can have a strong influence on our psychology; most notably memory and emotions. With that in mind, surrounding your home or office, whether being staged for sale or for your own living comfort, with specific fragrances can have very positive results.
Here are some of the most common and pleasing smells, broken into different categories of their scent2, that you can incorporate into your life to stimulate a number of different emotions and feelings depending on your use.
Lavender - Calming and soothing. Reducing stress and increasing relaxation. Great for use in bubble baths, in a bedrooms before to assist with insomnia or relaxation.
Peppermint – Cooling and stimulating. Great for use with Epson salt baths for tires and sore muscles, for headaches and migraine. I have a smell stick of peppermint oil I keep with me to swipe across my forehead when I feel a migraine coming on. The smell and oil on my skin does wonders. Lastly peppermint can also be used for stimulating your mind to wake up and work in an office setting.
Chamomile – Calming and soothing effect for relaxation and sleep, often mixed with vanilla, lavender and other scents to emphasize this.
Bergamot & Citrus fruit – zesty, bright, can boost your energy and increases your alertness. Often used in cleaning supplies and diffusers, citrus smells are great for conveying a clean fresh house. For an office, reception or common room setting Citrus scents would be ideal, not to strong, nostalgic or unpleasing to anyone.
Roses, jasmine, peony – sweet, perfumey, fragrant – Floral scents can boost your mood and brighten your day, but can sometimes smell too overwhelming to others.
Fruit scents are very much the same as floral. Sweet, tropical, nostalgic of places and foods we have experienced, but frequently too "sticky sweet" for some noses.
Lawns and grasses, - Australian research shows that the smell of cut grass can make people feel relaxed and joyful. These scents are again great for clean, bright spaces, both at home or at work.
Cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom – The warm and sweet scents can be sensual, increasing both nostalgic memories, warmth in the body and soul, and passion.
Birchwood, cedar, pine, sandalwood, amber – Festive and forests aromas often reduces stress. depression and anxiety, by reminding us of winter activities and being outside in nature.
Oak moss, leather, smoked wood, musk – The scents can be described as woody as the name implies, rich, earthy and sensual. Often connected more to the masculine, stimulating a sense of smoldering and beneficial for romantic endeavors. However they can also be fragrances people love or hate, often never indifferent of. So this category can be a little tricky.
If you are looking for inviting, homey smells for use in staging, house warming, or entertaining, you can't go wrong with your sugaed vanilla /cupcakes/cookies/pies scents. Those always bring a sense of nostalgia and make people think you are baking cookies! What more could you ask for? Of course if there is something specific, like the smell of cinnamon apple pie that brings back warm memories of your childhood, you should absolutely work that into your space as well!
I hope this has brought you some new ideas or helped you decide on something you were thinking of! There are plenty of ways you can incorporate these smells, whether purchasing a candle, using essential oils in a diffuser, making your own candles and diffusers, or boiling fresh peels and herbs on your the way my mom used to on our wood burning stove in the winter. Happy smelling!
When speaking of the ideals of functionality, balance and peace of mind that I hope to offer clients, customers, friends and family it is hard to leave out some of my own personal habits.
According to crystal healing theories, Amethyst has the powers to help cure: physical ailments of the nervous system, emotional issues, insomnia and nightmares. Amethysts are also used in Chakra balancing therapy providing purifying, healing, and protective energies to help clear, open, and balance the Crown chakra.
So, what does this all mean for you and me and interior decor and style?
For myself, I have taken an interest in amethysts and have incorporated them into my home and lifestyle. Most days, I wear an amethyst pendant around my neck. I now have two and a pair of earrings. Sometimes I wear them more for style than for balance, but when I am feeling especially anxious, worried or having a bad day, I will wear my pendants to clean the negative energy away and keep my feeling balanced.
In my home, as well as my father's and mother's, I have placed small amethyst stones in the corners of the house an a large cluster on my office desk. The purpose of these stones are to provide protective energies throughout the home and stress relief from the work day. Additionally, because I sometimes have problems falling and staying asleep, there is a stone by my bed. I recently gave a friend a nice uncut stone to hang in his room to over him some healing energy from his mental and physical ailments as well. Can I prove these things work? No of course not. But does it hurt to try to add some balance, purifying energy, and peace to your daily life, not at all.
If you would like to learn more about how to use crystals in your home, browse around the internet, visit your local crystal shop, or check out your library. But be sure to read about how to energize and cleanse your crystals.
According to a 2010 National Sleep Foundation study, fresh sheets have a positive impact on our sleep. This study found that 78% of Americans are more excited to go to sleep and 73% reported a more comfortable night’s sleep when fresh sheets are on the bed. Furthermore, the study found that 7 in 10 people who made their bed almost every day reported a better night's sleep as well! Did you know the average American owns 3.4 sets of sheets for their own bed and reportedly swaps them every other week?1
The owners and founders of Brooklinen, a relatively new online seller of quality and inexpensive sheets recommends replacing your sheets every 2 to 3 years. While the owners of luxury brand Vero Linens believe that luxury linens can last up to 12 years. Whether you believe one or the other, the fact is that the quality and care of your sheets has an effect on their lifespan.
Here are some key factors that will impact the life span of your bed linens:
Bed Sheets made with low grades of cotton will wear out quicker.
Exposure to high temperatures wil cause fiber breakage.
Stubble from shaved hair scrubs against sheets causing premature wearing.
Harsh chemical detergents and brighteners will lower the life span of sheets.
Heavier people and restless sleepers induce more friction and wear on sheets shortening the lifespan.2
So just think to yourself, how many pairs of sheets do you own? How often do you wash them? How old are they? Do they feel worn out, pilled or rough? If you don't know the answers, you may want to start reconsidering your sleeping patterns.
I personally tested this theory and found that I had a wonderful night's sleep after changing my sheets for a fresh set! And another source close to me states that he too had a good night's rest after fitting his bed with brand new sheets and making the bed "properly". So the results are in! Why don't you try changing yours out tonight and let me know how you feel tomorrow! Sweet dreams!
Continuing on my theme of helping you sell your home this month, here are some relatively simple upgrades you can do now to sell your home faster and get a better return on investment. Home buyers want a model home, ready to move in look, without having to pay for it. Therefore the best way to sell your home is to create that as best you can.
Paint - This is the first and foremost upgrade that home sell usually complete. But I am not just talking about the walls in your home. Sure, if you have a blue living room and a red kitchen, and a brown study, you should tone those colors down with neutrals that are more appealing a wide variety of prospective buyers; tan, pale yellow, off white, grey. However paint can do so much more! Consider a dated kitchen with dark wood cabinetry. A kitchen renovation may be due, however that makes no sense for your ROI, instead paint all of the cabinets white to attain a modern and bright look. Sherman Williams has a wonderful app (Color Snap Visualizer) in which you can upload a picture and test how their colors will look. I highly recommend that. tiles can be painted if you have outdated patterns or colors in the kitchen or bathroom. And you can really make your interior and exterior pop by painting the shoe molding, crown molding, chair railing and trim. Consider whether you want to have the trim blend into the walls/siding with a monochromatic look, or stand out with a complimentary color. Don't forget that your choice of paint should match the style of the home as well - American Colonial, Traditional, Victorian, Tudor, Craftsmen, Modern, etc.
Monochomatic - Craftsman home
Complimentary - Colonial home
Contact Paper - This is not really one of my favorite recommendations because contact paper is not very easy to work with. It is extremely sicky and difficult to get perfect without bubbles or creases. However, it can make a big difference if you have plywood shelving in your cabinets that is not easy to paint. It is also a practical solution to cabinets that already have aged contact paper that does not peel over easily. If that is your situation and you have that crazy 1970s Austin Powers/ That 70s Show pattern in your cabinets, I would suggest slapping a coat of primer down first so that the old paper does not show through. The positive thing about shelving paper is that is extremely multifunctional. It can be used on cabinet doors, shelving, counter tops, backsplashes, tiles, basically anywhere. Although I would not recommend it on a main thorough fare.
Carpeting - Here is the age old question: carpet or wood floors? Well if you have wood floors, in decent shape, under the carpet I always suggest removing the carpet and refinishing the floors. If that is not an option, you should always have new carpeting laid. It doesn't have to be special, stain resistant, or anything since you won't be living there and the new owner will more than likely replace it themselves. However again, we are trying to attain the model home, cared for visualization and a plush, clean, unused carpet will do that.
Fixtures - A home fixture is anything attached to the house, expected to be sold with the house. Replacement of some of the simplest to more complex items will give your home an updated and 'cared for' feel, especially if your fixtures of outdated or if you are drawn to a particular style that isn't common or doesn't go with the original character of the home. Below an outdated overhead light was changed with a more modern dome light, changing the feel of the breakfast nook immediately. Replacing overhead and scone lights, kitchen and bathroom faucets, and cabinet knobs and pulls are your go-to choices. These can be done in a matter of hours. Then for maximum impact consider toilets, appliances, and bathroom vanities as well if you have more time and flexibility.
Bathrooms - A good bathroom is one of the most sought after places in a home, so while you don't want to spend too much of your time and money on this if you are moving out, you do want to give a prospective seller a good reason to buy your home. Consider re-glazing the bathtub if it is cast iron and looks dated, chipped or worn. You can also purchase Rust-Oleum Tub & Tile finishing kit to update a discolored or worn ceramic, porcelain or fiberglass bath or shower yourself. Lastly, bath fitters for bath and shower combos are also highly popular. While I don't like that concept as much as updating the current tile, placing a whole new fit fiberglass section over your tub, shower, or combo is a quick and seamless way to get a new modern look.
Power washing - As I will discuss a little more in the home staging piece next, curb appeal is a HUGE part of selling your home! So power washing is a really quick, cheap and easy way to upgrade and stage your home for sale. Many people don't notice that their sidewalk, driveway, home siding, and roof have become discolored and stained over the years. It's not until you actually power wash that you realize how bad it was before. This one little clean up can make a huge difference in giving your home a manicured look, as seen below.
I hope these ideas and tips have given you some things to think about and plan for in order to sell your home for the highest value in the quickest time! If you would like me to come out there and give you personlized recommendations, please feel free to reach out. And if you have some of your own proven ideas or suggestions, I would love to hear about them! Happy selling!
Resources: Exterior house colors - Better Home & Garden https://www.bhg.com/home-improvement/exteriors/curb-appeal/best-exterior-house-color-schemes/
As I said in my previous post, I grew up on a small farm in Connecticut. There was always things to do outside, riding the horses, cleaning the stalls, playing in the makeshift tree house, swimming, jumping on the trampoline, playing (and shoveling) snow, ice skating, sledding, raking leaves, and playing basketball on the concrete slab where we simultaneously hung my hoop and a clothesline. I think my favorite outdoor activity was probably mowing the lawn. I would pretend I was an open road race car driver winding around the intricate garden plots Mom had planted in a sort of open square with each side on its own and a bird bath in the middle. And just like a driver, I had to watch my course because mowing over the tiger lilies, tulips, hydrangeas, bleeding hearts, or echinacea flowers was just as dangerous as a crash.
That all being said, it is no surprise that an outdoor space in my home is a must. And the cute little screened in patio attached to my ranch house, has given my a small little retreat space I also wanted when we lived in a town house. Now my perfect outdoor space is the Hanging Garden of Babylon! Ideally there would be a Weeping Willow and a lake (like the Constitutional Gardens in Washington D.C. below) or a Weeping Cherry Tree, but that is a little extravagant for my budget and ability.
I would even settle for this pagoda with hanging wisteria I saw in the National Arbortetum last year. Purple is my favorite color…
But as a renter, it is hard to achieve that look without spending a ton of money that is really an investment in someone else’s home. So taking the key concepts for making a personal space indoors, I created a cool little boho vibe in my patio for under $500 and never really set out to.
So to continue on my theme of using home spaces to boost your mental health I wanted to share some ideas on outdoor spaces. Here are my must haves to transform your outdoor space into your very own retreat.
Not just patio furniture, but furnishings – Furnish your outdoor just as you would your home. Pick pieces that capture you and speak to your room’s purpose. Do you want to entertain or relax? I like a bit of both. So I have a table and chairs for outdoor meals and friends to gather around as well as a chaise lounge for myself to sit in the sun, read, listen to music or lounge (that is what is it for, right?). You don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for decent pieces. At Home, Target, Wayfarer, or even Big Lots all have good looking items for packaged deal prices. If you want to splurge and get some really sleek looking pieces then go for Pier 1 or Pottery Barn.
Comfort every time – My mission in life is to bring you functionality and peace of mind, therefore if you need to decide between style and comfort, choose comfort. (Ideally you can have both). My chaise lounge is green wicker. Its not fancy, its functional. My mom gifted it to me and it blends into the background of trees and plants. But it was the item that first set the tone and direction for my patio.
Just add pillows – If you love the Moroccan vibe, then you know what I am saying! Just like indoor throw pillows, by adding beautiful statement pillows, you change the enter feeling of a space. And don’t be afraid to experiment and mix prints and patterns. A combination of patterns work well together when they are paired with a neutral background. Just make sure there is a single color that is creating continuity in the space. When I added my medallion pillow (above) and red lounge pillows from Lowes garden center to my chaise lounge, it right away gave my boring patio a softer feel and me a direction for decorating the rest. Red is my central color and green is my secondary (most because of the greenery throughout and outside the patio emphasizing the few green items within).
Make a statement–Among the cement floor and solid sling back chairs, that pillow became my statement piece. I followed the colors patterns to choose a bright green metal drum style table, and decided I wanted hanging plants instead of flowers. I saw a cute solar latern that I thought had a similar mosaic feeling at Plow & Hearth to put on the table. Then all of a sudden the personality of my patio started to come together. So what is your statement piece, do you have one? Next time you go to a store, why not buy that little thing you thought would be so perfect for the space.
Bring your personality – Just because it is outdoors doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be a little piece of your in your patio, garden, porch area. What do you enjoy? What brings you joy? Similar to the indoor personal space, you want to feel at home, whether relaxed, energized, confident, or reminiscent. If you like hosting, have a little bar area. I crave that relaxation sanctuary feel, maybe something to do with reaching back to my childhood and feeling peaceful in the outdoors. I wanted to incorporate my travels and the sounds that bring me relaxation and peace of mind. So I put up Tibetan prayers flags on one side, which reminds me of being on the cement rooftop patios in India, and windchimes. It has now honestly become an obsession. I started with one. Then I bought a beautiful handmade beach glass one in Jekyll Island, Georgia. And so it began... and now I have 5 windchimes in my patio, each one gives off a different sound. Once is glass, two are seashells (but different types), one aluminum, and one steel. I have yet to find the perfect bamboo one. So whatever brings in that vibe you are looking for, go for it!
Lighten up – Light and ambiance can change everything. Think of a dim light bedroom, a bright and airy sitting room, a fluorescent office. They all have their own light and feel. So jazz up your outdoor space with lighting. A friend of mine has Edison bulbs all along his fence in his pool area, it has a rustic without being too fancy. Since I was going for the hanging gardens feel, I bought solar light strings on Amazon, put them in mason jars I had and bought at the thrift store, and then hung them along the columns of the patio. There are 8 total solar lights, so now as the sun sets, each jar starts to sparkle and the mosaic glass on the table shines brightly. Its not enough to light up the entire patio, but it definitely adds a great ambiance that I have received many compliments on.
Tie it all together – Area rugs are used to tie a room and it's furnishings together, adding physical and emotional warmth. So the same can be said of utilizing an outdoor rug. I'll admit that I thought the idea of an outdoor rug was silly when my boyfriend first suggested it. However after researching the options, ranging from cotton to wicker, I settled on a light weight plastic material that could easily be shaken out and hosed off and complimented my medallion pillow and bohemian style. When I put it down the room transformed into a… room. It no longer felt like an outdoor space, but like an extension of the house. And my cats loved the ability to have a soft place to crouch and experience the sights and sounds of nature. Therefore I highly recommend adding this last item to your space.
Putting it all together, above is my beloved patio retreat.
Martyn Lawrence, interior designer to the stars says, “don’t be afraid to be eclectic.” So have fun with your space, make it your own, be bold, and make a statement. Most of all get outside and enjoy the outdoors! I'll leave you with a picture of my cat, Mau, enjoying the full glory of our patio in hopes that you too may create such a haven for yourself in your patio, porch or backyard.
Growing up in Connecticut, I lived on an 8 acre horse farm and we were always encouraged to be outside even if I was just reading my book. Now I live in a cute little ranch style house with a screened-in back patio, (which is what made me over look the age and condition of the rest of the home and the lack of usable backyard space, when we signed our lease 3 years ago). I enjoy going out there with my cats almost every day, but it wasn’t always like this.
I have lived in my fair share of dorm rooms, volunteer shelters when I worked in AmeriCorps, and the unbearable one bedroom 3rd floor condo with my boyfriend when I first moved to Maryland. What made that condo unbearable to me was the idea of not having a private outdoor space to enjoy. I felt like my skin would start itching and my feet start tapping. However, it dawned on me at some point that my need for “being outside” wasn’t really always about being outdoors. To me, the outdoors is a sanctuary, a calming, enjoyable space that feels refreshing to my mind and body. To others it isn’t as much. And since I had just moved in with someone for the first time, what I realized was that I really needed my own personal sanctuary space that would foster that same feeling, but indoors so that it was accessible year round.
Soon after that I created a little nook in the corner of our room. It had an alter that I set up with statues and stones I had brought back from my studies in India, a thangka (aTibetan Buddhist painting on cotton and silk appliqué, depicting dieties, symbols or scenes) and a comfortable place to sit next to the window. It was minimal but effective in giving me a sense of myself.
That was 9 years ago and since then we have lived in 4 other homes. After all the moving around in my life I have become pretty creative with making a personal space, even when there is not much room to work with. With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, I think this is a great time for everyone to consider whether they have a personal space and how they can create one. So, here is what I have learned.
The first step is to decide the type of spot you want to create. As I see it, there are two types:
Power Spot – think energizing, uplifting, invigorating - Marie Kondo says that you should embrace the things that make you happy with pride and confidence and use those to create a power spot.
My running medal rack - my biggest source of pride courage
Reflection Spot – picture calming, quiet and nurturing - A place to unwind; reading, meditating, yoga, knitting, whatever brings you joy and peace.
A sweet reading spot seen in a house for sale in Maui, Hawaii
Now this isn’t to say that these cannot be combined. I, personally, have taken aspects of both of those categories and tied them into my space. And if crafting or kick boxing is your passion; makes you happy and confident and also helps you unwind, then that may be your combo space.
Once you have decided what type of space you would like to have, its time to design it. While each space is personal to the owner, there is a formula to the creation.
Choose your color wisely. Colors matter! Depending on the use of your space, you will want to utilize different hues. Warm colors (red, orange and yellow) are energizing, positive, and passionate. Cool colors (blue, green and purple) are more peaceful and balanced. Navy blue was just determined the world's most relaxing color! Green goes a little of both ways, bright green can be energizing, great for creativity and brain power i.e. reading and craft rooms. Light green is often coupled with pale blue in yoga, massage and therapy rooms. Purple which is located between blue and red on the color wheel has a great combination of both, leading it to be a romantic and whimsical color. Your neutrals (black, brown, grey, white) can carry mystery and sophistication, however can also be stark and generic. For personalization I wouldn't recommend sticking only with neutrals., but using them to compliment color. Joanna Gaines, star of HGTV's Fixer Upper, says that "committing to color in a small area is also a lot less risky than having to repaint a whole house", so go bold!
Bring the outside in. If you can, place potted plants or flowers in your space. There are numerous mental and physical benefits gained from having greenery in your home. Taking care of plants teaches you compassion and empathy towards others, and also eases anxiety and depression. Research concludes that even the sight of plants can bring these feelings. Furthermore the oxygen released and carbon dioxide removed by plants can keep your home and inhabitants healthy. helping your body to heal faster, sleep better, stay focused, be productive and more.
Sit facing a window or perpendicular to it.For many of the same reasons discussed above that bringing plant life into your space is beneficial, so is having an accessible window. You will have the added benefit of being able to open it for your senses to grasp the outdoors – sights, sounds, breeze, warmth, coolness, smells, etc. You can also gaze off and daydream when you need a break. If you are creating an office space or something with an electronic screen, a window is particularly important to follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. A few of the outdoor my also entice you to get up and go for a walk or step outside for a it. And the natural light will illuminate your room for added radiance and energy. (This was very crucial during my condo days).
Carve out a space for your hobby. If you enjoy reading, add comfortable and cozy seating with pillows and blankets and whatever else you need to snuggle up with your book and fade away. Enjoy yoga? Make sure the space is large enough for your mat and pose extension. If you like crafting, set up your own craft corner or table that you could store and work on your projects.
Surround yourself with things that you love. This is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. If this space is your personal spot, then it should be able you. Some of the things that come to mind are pictures of family, friends, or places you have visited. If you are a collector, then you should have those. A friend of mine said she collect snow globes, so I would expect her globes to be displayed in her favorite spot for her to always see.
Ensure there is space for company, if desired.While this space is made to be yours, to bring you the feelings of comfort you need, our friends and family are also what and who we love. And we may want them to be able to experience our space. If you have kids, they may want to crawl up into your reading chair with you sometimes, or stretch out next to you when you are doing yoga. Instead of pushing them away, embrace their need to be close to you and your mutual love for each other as it will make you feel even more powerful and confident. Our fur family is no different. They often want to be with us for hours out of the day, so giving them a spot in your space. This will ease their minds and yours as well.
The picture above is my personal space. It has a reading nook piled with pillows, my bookshelf with stories, mementos and pictures from my life, as well as some artificial flowers because unfortunately my cats will eat real ones. A window to my front yard is just out of the scene. I can stretch out of the floor in the morning and usually have a furry companion while I do so. My favorite color is purple, so I have that and different complimenting colors to foster creativity, peace and power. Since we rent, I can not paint the walls, so unfortunately they are still white. Having spent 20 years competitively running, one of the recent additions is a place to hang my medals. I only just recently moved those from our television room that we had decorated in a sports theme. I had always had them in my space in previous homes and my space didn’t feel quite complete without them, but now, I truly feel that this room reflects me. It is calming when I need it to be, as well as providing me with confidence and energy from my past accomplishments and future goals.
And now that we finally have an outdoor area, I have made the patio more of my reflection spot, filled with the items that calm and sooth me. But that is for my discussion of outdoor spaces for next time!
I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite pictures. My sister created the peaceful spot seen below, left, for herself to read her Reiki and other books after moving in with her fiancé and feeling some of the same things I had experienced. Yet soon after she enjoyed her spot, so did her dog Pacha. Now it is Pacha’s favorite space to sit, just as my cats love to snooze on my reading ottoman, whether I am in the room or not.
Do you have a personal sanctuary space in your home? A power spot, reflection spot or something else? I would love to know what’s in it!
If you are looking for high quality items, there are a number of stores where you can purchase beautiful furniture, fixtures and accessories local to your area and nationally. However I am not going to talk about those, because that isn't my thing. If you are a little more cost conscious, like myself, then you are familiar with Overstock and Wayfair (some of the most popular online stores) as well as the popular physical store Pier 1. Then for organizers, The Container Store and Amazon can be our holy grail. But if you are on a budget and just looking to spruce up your space with a few decor or organizing items, those places can really add up. So I have put together a few of my favorite bargain recommendations for you, that go beyond your local Target!
Home Goods – part of the same conglomerate as TJ Maxx and Marshalls, but as the name implies Home Goods is household oriented. This is probably a well know one, but I thought I would start us off simple. They are great for cheap kitchen and bathroom items, canvas artwork to fill odd spaces or blank walls, and ohh the selection of canvas totes and boxes for organizing! But beware, finding things there is hit and miss; they never have the same things twice and items are spread out across the store. So, if you see something you like, you better snag it because you will probably never see one again.
At Home – This store is new in my area. Maybe you know of it, but I absolutely love it! The first time I walked in, I just strolled up and down the aisles in awe. The throw pillows were organized by size and color. It was like a dream. Here is the awe struck picture I snapped, its ridiculous I know, but everything is arranged very easily to understand with tons of options. So as opposed to seeing only one kitchen pot rack, there are 6 kinds. Bathroom accessories, two aisles. Storage totes and boxes, 4 aisles. Not just one centerpiece vase, but you have your choice of silver, yellow gold, nickel, rose gold, brushed metals, ceramics and glasses of different colors… I think you get where I am going.
Big Lots - This is an interesting store. To be honest the quality is not very good. It's a step up from the Family Dollar or similar, but if you are looking for something really simple like a cheap shower curtain, those plastic stackable storage drawers for the kids bathroom, basic outdoor furniture, or even a cute little gnome to put in your garden, they have all of that. Just don't expect it to last more than a few years or make it through a few moves.
Charming Charlies - This is a jewelry and accessory chain store. So you are probably wondering why I suggest it. Well, they have darling little jewelry bowls, stands, and plates. If you are shopping for a statement piece to stage a home for sale, you may be able to grab something cute for cheap. Also perfect for pre-teen and teen gifts. I bought this little ceramic white and gold decorate plate that is perfect for a bathroom or a master bedroom, for $8.00.
Thrift stores! - This is really more for decorating than organizing. I am addicted to this one by my house, Wagging Tails. It’s similar to an antique mall in that it is HUGE and there are tons of things spread across the warehouse. But, it is all donations AND the proceeds go to MCHS, our local county humane society. Bargains and helping animals, what more do you need?! I have found great gems there including these amazing red glass votives, a mercury glass bottle, unused candles (flame and flameless), and surround sound speakers (ok that last one is irrelevant to home decor, but I wanted to make a point that the options are endless). I think it helps that I live in an affluent and diverse area as well. If you have a wealthier neighborhood/county near you, I would definitely suggest scoping out the thrift stores in that area as you will find better quality items. If you don’t have anything like that, Goodwill and Salvation Army are worth a peak as well. I personally haven't had good luck at yard sales or estate sales because often those items are out of fashion or very used, but if you have had some good finds or again a wealthier neighborhood, go for it!
Your own closet! Ok you came here looking for suggestions of places to buy new to you things, but I just started really thinking about repurposing and re-using items in a different way lately, so wander around your house and take a look. Is there something that you aren't using that may be better somewhere else. Because not buying anything is the best bargain of all!
I hope this has been a little helpful, that I at least gave you an idea or two you didn't already have. Let me know in the comments if you have other suggestions for your area, local to me or on a national level that myself or others should check out. Happy bargain hunting!
Just like raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, I have prepared a few of my favorite home decorating (and also staging) accessories that don’t cost a lot if you know where to look for them (i.e. check out my next post on great places for bargain buys!). I think these items give you the most bang for you buck; eye catching and attractive. For staging, that little little emotional connection that a few of the create, is ideal to give a potential buyer the feeling of a home, not a house. So without further adieu, here are my 8 personal favorite staging/decorating items.
1. Glass mosaic votives - I'll admit it, I may have a collection of mosaic votives in different shapes sizes and colors. I love them all. Some give off beautiful spectacle of light when holding candles or the sunlight hits them, others just remind me of stain glass. I have a gold glass one that is sophisticated and eye catching for a modern, chic staged home. This large red glass one holds a large pillar candle around the holidays, and my small challis style votives are more earthy; remind me of a Moroccan outdoor eatery. Whatever you choose, I don't really think you can go wrong, however it does have to fit the style of the rest of your furnishings. So keep that in mind.
2. Decorative entryway bowl/tray – Mine is actually a candle stand, I bought it at a thrift store. There are only two of us in our household so it holds our keys and my boyfriend's wallet. Many people use ceramic or wood bowls and sometimes trays. For some families this is also the mail drop, but don't let this become your catch-all. Your entryway should be clutter free!
3. Imitation flowers - Not just any fake flowers, they have to be excellent imitations that make you take a second look to confirm they aren't real. Hearth & Hand (By Joanna and Chip Gaines) have adorable ones; Magnolias (obviously) and Hydrangeas. Home Goods has them in all different shapes and sizes; loose and in vases. I bought a few with gel that looks like water. And I even bought a few succulents, because somehow I always kill the real ones.
4. Windchimes – There’s nothing that says summer to me like windchimes blowing in the wind. Now I am slightly biased (I have 5 sets), but I think that for a home with a great patio or porch, this would be a marvelous little touch to the home staging. It would really create the ambiance of relaxation in the outdoor space.
5. Pillows with gold accents - As I look around my home I see that I have multiple sets of pillows with gold accents, all in different rooms. I would have thought that earthy reds and browns are the colors that tie my home together, but I think it is actually brown and gold. Gold accented pillows are great because they add a little pop and sparkle when natural or artificial light hits them. You can choose modern styles like this pattern or a rustic twist like this adorable vintage pickup truck I picked up at the At Home store. My boyfriend has worked on cars his whole life, so I bought it for him (but obviously it was really for me 😀 )
6. Flameless candles - These can come in unscented or, somehow, scented. I love these because they are safe around pets and children, you don't have to worry about putting them out, they don't melt everywhere, and they give off the same alluring glow of a flame. I have bunched a few together on my table for quiet evenings. Sometimes I even light one real candle or wax melt, while those are flickering in different rooms to make it seem that I have many candles glowing. I have to admit, this is my friend's arrangement, I just thought it was so beautiful that I took a picture.
7. Nest candles – And what candle burns that gives off enough fragrance to trick someone into thinking all of the flameless candles are also scented, you ask? Nest candles! They are expensive but last a while and are totally worth it. Birchwood Pine is my ultimate favorite. It smells like the holidays to me for some reason – it reminds me of nutmeg and cinnamon and mulled cider and Christmas trees. Its funny because I was introduced to it by a friend in Hawaii so that is the opposite of my experience, but none the less. This says “home” to me, if I walked into a house for sale with that burning, I might be sold. I burn it before people come over and when I am trying to unwind.
8. Large decorative mirrors - These are a pretty well known tool of the trade, but I can’t make a list without mentioning it. Mirrors open up your space, making any room appear larger… just don’t put mirrors across the entire wall. It was a trendy idea in the early 80s, but it makes the room feel like a carnival. Boy am I glad that is out of fashion.
So there you have it. A few things you might want to pick up to spruce up your house before your next gathering, your in-laws come over, or if you are interesting in renting or selling your house. But if you really want to get the most for your home, hiring a professional stager is really your the 9th and best purchase you can make. Let me know what you think of my list and if you have any to add of your own!
One of the things I have been asked frequently as of late is how I got into this business. While a lot of this information can be found on the About page, I thought I would give everyone a little bit of my back story, pull all of my thoughts together into one place to explain My Journey to Home Organizing, Staging and Redesign.
I was born and raised in a small town in Connecticut. We had two tiny gas stations, an orchard/petting zoo, and a few stop lights. No other commercial business were and are allowed to this day. Starting at a very young age, every few months I would get the itch to reorganize my life. For a child this essentially just meant my bedroom. I would go through my clothes, books, and accessories to get rid of the things I wasn’t using, either by donating them to the church where we served hot dinners once a month, having a “tag sale” or just throwing them away. Once this started, it would inevitably end with my mom finding me dragging my furniture across the room to create a new and more pleasing layout. I'll tell you a secret, I always thought the girl in the mirror had a cooler room than me. I may have grown up, but that itch has never ceased.
After graduating from Emory University in Atlanta, I spent a year doing AmeriCorps service across the country. During that time I got my first real taste of the home improvement industry, working alongside volunteers and professionals at Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans and Miami. I specifically worked on framing and roofing. However, when my service was completed, I assumed it was time to start working in the "business world" So I began my professional career in the Residential Property Management field, something that related to homes but required bookkeeping and administration. Over the years I excelled in financial management, business management, operations, and social media marketing. In 2015 continued to achieve my Master of Business Administration (MBA).
So in 2013 when my father expressed his desire to renovate his New England Colonial house as well as a concern that he would not be able to manage everything with his busy travel schedule, I saw an opportunity. See after graduating from college, I had got my first taste of home improvement while completing a year of AmeriCorps service; working alongside volunteers and professionals at Habitat for Humanity. My father knew that I had loved the work. Due to some extenuating circumstances outside of my control, my long time boyfriend and I found ourselves in a position to make a move. Therefore he and I decided that I would move home and become the general contractor and designer on hand for my father's project.
Over the next year and a half, I supervised the renovation of the kitchen and four bathrooms, as well as the overall organization and redesign of the rest of his home, inside and out. We addressed a variety of items that had just been overlooked in the last 30 years ranging from pulling down the dated wallpaper, to refinishing floors, sealing the home, upgrading the electric, landscaping, and more. And I loved it! It was amazing to see how the small and large changes not only upgraded the quality of the home, but also my father's life in it. He would like to move out of the old family home one day, maybe not right this minute, but now it has evolved into a modern Colonial home with those options available.
While I was home, I also saw up close the snowball effect that "collecting" can have on a person. Someone close to me has unfortunately spiraled from collecting, to cluttering, and now to hoarding. And at some point, the "organized mess" I remember from my youth turned into an overwhelming task that no one even knows how to start. And while I don't think everyone has tendency of having this happen to them, I just wished that something had been done earlier; organizing and de-cluttering along the way. And more over, I wished I had been there to help and slowly encourage progress. Too often, this happens to seniors after a loved one passes away, or they are unable to physically address their belongings, or they must downsize to a different location.
Upon completing my father's renovation project, I tried to return to the business and financial management world I had known, taking a position as a Business Manager at a national commercial furniture liquidation company. Using my precision for planning and process, I helped to streamline the company procedures and finances. Having some history in home improvement and styling always helped my understanding of the services and assets we dealt with, however something was always missing. Something about the things I had done and seen stayed with me. Something about being inside of the office, without the ability to touch and feel and put my thoughts into physical action bothered me. I spent some time researching and considering what my strengths and interests during the past had been. And what I realized is that I enjoyed the work at my father's the most. Working my brain and my body and seeing the tangible results of my labor! So in 2018 I spent the year studying the theories and ideas behind the work I had been doing instinctively, and become an HSR Certified Professional Home Stager and Redesigner. And after a total of 11 years in various offices, I took a leap of faith launching my own business that combines my professional experience with my creative and problem solving abilities.
Most importantly I want people to have a happy, healthy and safe living environment. Since one of my main inspirations has been seeing my own family's experiences sorting out finances, belongings and paperwork after a death, I hope to help other families and businesses avoid that in their future by getting an early start now. It's not just my name, these things really are my forte!