Holiday Mantels

Holiday Mantels

 RMS-mysweetsavannah_chalkboard-holiday-mantel_s3x4.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.616.822[1]  thBSZGA3P3‘Tis the season to pull out all the stops and decorate for the holidays! If you have a fireplace then the mantel is the perfect place to make some impact and create a focal point in your living room or great room. Here are some pointers to make a statement: if you have a nice deep mantel 9-10” you can use real pine greens or an artificial garland. Measure the top and sides of the mantel and get at least a 15’ strand or combine 2 9’ strands. The string of live garland comes in 15’ but it only looks good hanging down one side as the other side falls out so I think the pieces of pine greens work better. It is always nice to have it lit with white lights.

Now add tall objects such as candle holders, trees, or other objects mine has 2 large reindeer. You can add a mirror over the top or a large picture (maybe of Santa) or empty picture frames. The idea is to make a collage of different objects and heights, even offset one side with more than the other. On my living room mantel I do use artificial as I put it up early and then I add picks of berries and pine cones to make it more dimensional. In the family room I add balls and stars. So the idea is to add what you have, find or is your favorite Christmas collectable. If you are renting or on a budget just make it sparse but go outdoors and cut holly berries or pine stems from the trees. Also the long handled picks are always available from the craft store. Some of the designer magazines are really full mantels but I think a sparse homemade mantel is just as attractive. In these photos I really like the one where they just used a chalk board and wrote the message on it for artwork.Christmas-Decorating-Ideas-1[1]

Now treat the space over the mantel with something fun and don’t forget to put some tall objects on the floor beside the legs of the fireplace.Myra.jpg.rendition.largest[1]

Pick your color scheme- it can be all white, multicolor, blue, green, gold or all red even wicker. Have fun experimenting and enjoy the season!



0412-sand-stripes-bathroom-l[1]What are the new trends in bathrooms? Most people want a spa or hotel like feeling for a retreat. To accomplish this use soothing colors, stately materials and a well defined plan. Today’s bathrooms can be a place of luxury and convenience.

Here are some trends in bathroom design:

  • Vanities are replaced with cabinets at a 36” height
  • Many vanities are hung off the wall with lighting underneath as an accent
  • Robern has medicine cabinets with not only storage but lighting and outlets built in for convenience
  • Sinks are undermount or vessel sinks that mount above the countertop
  • Many faucets are wall or bridge mounted
  • Chrome and satin nickel are still a popular finish, use a brand faucet for a luxury look
  • Faucets have a “hands free” or touchless option plus you can set the temperature
  • Lighting is at eye level with sconces or wall hung lights and overhead cans as needed
  • Dimmer light controls with separate quiet fan controls
  • Freestanding tubs for a luxury bath feeling with floor mounted faucets
  • Chromotherapy and heated tubs such as MTI’s
  • Walk in showers when remodeled in lieu of a tub/shower unit
  • Control systems for spray or steam showers such as Kohler’s DTV shower or in the ceiling rain showers
  • Delta has a TEMP2O Shower with correct temperature every time1013-open-house-bathroom-l[1]
  • There are many options for built-in auditory systems; Kohler has the Moxie showerhead
  • Bench seats are added for comfort and function
  • Shower doors are frameless
  • Toilets are comfort height and offer dual flush technology for a watersense feature; also they can be wall hung or in wall tank toilets that conserve space with a clean line look
  • Tile can be a mosaic accent or 3”x6” subway; carrera marble is popular
  • Floors are large format tiles; many with heated floors
  • Countertops are granite or solid surface such as quartz
  • Grab bars now have a designer look and can act as towel bars or storage tbh-bath-3-l[1]


Choosing the Perfect Chair

101694145.jpg.rendition.largest[1]What Does A Chair Mean to You?

As you are creating your living spaces and heading out to buy new furnishings, what does the furniture mean to you? Let’s take a nice chair for example. A chair is more than just a place to sit; it is a statement of your style. Here are a few things to check off of your list when shopping:

USE: How will you use the chair? Is it going to be in a formal room as an accent piece or in a casual setting you sit in to get comfy? The first kind can be a unique style, a bit more stiff, with fabric that is more fragile.

STYLE: Traditional vs. Contemporary, transitional, arts and crafts, unusual as a statement piece. Formal or casual. Classic with a twist is a new interpretation of traditional; there are other interesting styles as well. Do you want a skirt to the floor or do you want sexy legs and arms showing. The height and style of skirt can change from chair to chair. Do you have pets, will their body oil stain a skirt. Typically a skirt is a more traditional style. Do you want a loose pillow back or a straight back?

UPHOLSTERY: Do you need durable fabric for kids and pets or can you use silk a fragile fabric. The new outdoor fabrics come in any array of pattern and color and are very durable for families. What type of patterns do you like, a stripe, a classic print, a geometric or a more edgy pattern. A solid color goes in many settings. Does the manufacturer have many choices? Do you want a calm color or a bold color, dark or light? What type of texture should it have? Look at all the fabric choices and check out three swatches to take home and look at in your home and light both during the day and at night.

ARMSTYLE: What look do you like best, a rolled arm, a wide arm, an English arm, and so on? A padded arm style, no arm, some of the wood showing or a total wood arm that’s more open.

HEIGHT: Do you want a tall chair with a high back like a wing chair. Tall chairs usually sit back in a room so the sightlines aren’t blocked. Or do you want a low back. Do you want to lift the chair and move it around or is it going to stay in place. What is the seat height, do you want to use it to pull up to a desk. The arm height also determines how you sit and how comfortable it might be, especially next to an end table. Also how wide do you want the chair to be, really wide for a comfy sit or narrow to take up less space?

SIT: What type of sit do you want a sink into seat with a down cushion that you have to fluff all the time or a tight seat that stays in place. Cushions typically have several options- foam wrapped, down, and so on. Ask to see the inside.

Quality: A quality piece of upholstery has some weight to it, is glued and screwed, with dowel joints not stapled. Upholstery patterns are matched. The seat cushion is wrapped in a cloth and then the cushion options are inside. Stitching is straight and matched.

BUDGET: A quality chair should stand the test of time and wear for a long time. You can cheat with a to “look” at piece that may not last five years. Look for good workmanship and quality with durable fabrics. If the craftsmanship is good you will be able to keep and recover the chair. When you find a quality chair the price will be slight higher. Decide what your budget is after doing some research. Maybe you’d like to wait and save more money to invest in a better quality product for the long run.

Look through some magazines and tag what you like and don’t like. Shop at some stores, from higher to middle range, to learn about pricing.

Soon your style, fabric choices and budget will surface.

New Fall Paint Project

101694126.jpg.rendition.largest[1]Well the summer is coming to an end and now we can start thinking of things to do inside. One of the easiest and most cost effective ways to spruce up the inside is to consider painting a room. A fresh coat of paint or a change of color can really spruce up a space. Here are some things to think about.

Where to select paint: Local Paint stores carry: Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, Miller which is Kelly-Moore, Parker, Rodda, Pittsburg Paints, Pratt and Lambert.  Specialty Paints such as C2, Devine, ect. Then there are the box stores such as Behr and Valspar. There are more but stick with a company that gives you good advice.

How to choose: Whites and neutrals are still in style as well as warm grays and soft colors. Don’t just choose a color based on trends. Choose a color based on your surroundings like furniture, art, rugs, accessories and hard surfaces. Paint manufacturers have web sites that can give you inspiration or go to Pinterest and Houzz. If you need professional help ask for it.

Once you have picked the hue or color test it on a sample of posterboard and hang it on the wall to look at in the daylight and at night as different lights affect it. You can try the darker and lighter version of that same color to see the intensity you like.

Selecting the finish: Flat paints are good for hiding imperfections in the wall because they don’t reflect light but often are not scrubable so I use them for ceilings or low traffic areas. Eggshell and satin are often interchangeable so just check with the paint company to see which is best. Usually the sheen is how to decide, how shiny do you want the walls? When it comes to millwork you can use a satin, eggshell or semigloss, again what sheen do you want. You can paint the millwork the same color as the walls or a white or accent color. Gloss paints are really for special effects or a custom look.

Painting: Always follow the manufacturer’s directions for best results, your local paint store can also guide you. When painting over a darker color or a shiny surface use a primer. Use both a brush for corners and trim and where the ceiling meets the walls but a roller will give you more control and a uniform finish, use for areas larger than 2’x2’. Taping takes time but it’s worth it. Use a tapered brush to cut in where needed for better control. Remove tape as soon as possible.

If you are hiring paint contractor be sure to ask questions to get the correct bid and ask for references. Do they move the furniture? Often you are responsible for electronics such as a TV. What type of prep do they do- remove dirt, fill holes, patch, spackle, and prime a gloss surface. Then make sure what they bid is the paint brand you choose- some brands are more expensive and they may bid a lesser brand due to cost. Who is purchasing the paint? How much is needed for each room and surface- for walls, ceilings, prime coats? Time needed to complete the project, do they clean up at the end of the day, where are items stored, when do they arrive. What is their contact information, who is the crew? “What if” there is a problem, will they contact you before they find their own solution. Be sure and read your contract carefully. If your home was built prior to 1978 or has lead paint you will need and EPA certified paint contractor.

I hope this helps you to get started. Remember that paint is usually the least expensive change you can make to your room. Have fun but do your homework and get your samples and color selected before you hire a contractor. Then be there when they start so you see the color. If you are painting do a couple of walls before you get nervous and let it dry to really see the color. Good Luck!



P1040255 P1040284For the last three months I have been helping my mother move into a lovely retirement home. This was my focus rather than business other than my current clients. I thought I would share the experience as it might help some of you with your parents. I firmly believe that you can make your home prepared for “Aging in Place” by a few extra measures or a small remodel. But when is it time to leave your home? In mom’s case it would not have taken much to prepare the bathroom and add a small ramp to the outside, we already had added handrails in the garage. However she felt that she would not be able to continue to maintain her home or her large yard, which she dearly loved to work in. This concern about getting outside to do her gardens caused her stress and from my standpoint she needed more social interaction. We had talked about this move for years and now at age 93 when a room become available she took it.

My first hint would be to get on a waiting list at the location you prefer, sometimes they are long. And if something happens medically you will need to move fast to secure a room.

I believe the parent or owner needs to go through their own belongings and choose what is important to take. Your job is to be patient in this process, encourage letting go but allow their memories. To do this I removed everything (small items) that we didn’t need to the garage, or you could use an extra room. Her favorite saying was “somebody might want this or give this to… My response was ok I’ll just put this in the garage.” These items were available for the family to see and go through and take what they wanted. Next my sister helped clean her closet and drawers. My daughters and I packed up kitchen items, xmas and photos. We were scaling down from about 1600 sq ft to 600 sq ft.

We had purchased her family room furniture in preparation of scaling down some day so I knew which items were going. When we accepted the room I measured it and drew the layout of the space, then measured and placed her furniture. We were able to take the family room pieces and all of her bedroom furniture. I put her tall dresser in the closet and doubled the closet rods as a space saver. I also took her large desk which she uses all the time instead of purchasing a small table since she eats her meals in the dining hall. I also used a small desk and put it in the bedroom for her sewing machine which was one of the required “memory” items. I tagged which artwork was going. All this was important for her to know what she was taking and how it would fit. Since I knew which furniture was going I added 2 paint colors for accent walls in her new home. I also utilized one set of custom drapes for her bedroom.

This knowledge also allowed me to explain on the walk through of the home with the Realtor how I planned on staging the home so she knew what condition it would be in to show.

We first made the move in one day into her new home and installed and put everything away so that when she came it felt as comfortable as her “owned” home. We hung artwork, made beds the whole works! While we were packing up her existing home I had the helpers move the remaining furniture in place for staging, then we added some artwork. I basically removed everything from an upstairs and merged it downstairs and rearranged art and furniture. We left items for her to be able to live there a few days and her comments were “how beautiful everything looked” but it was still all hers just rearranged! I have to thank my family and the crew who helped us move as I couldn’t have done it without them. So gather your family and friends so you can make it a smooth transition.

Next my girls and sister helped with the cleaning. Then my husband helped update the bathroom with plumbing, we painted it and I add a new mirror and accessories. I did the final stages of staging, mostly her pieces a few of mine and it looked fresh and new. Now we were ready to put it on the market. At this point I had moved mom over to her new home and she was getting used to it.

Now that the home was sold I could move on to the estate sale. I hired a great lady, Darlene, who helped sort, tag and price the items remaining such as household items, linens, yard, tools and more. Then we tagged furniture and art inside. For 3 days Darlene who ran the sale and my 2 sisters and I sold belongings. Some of it was fun as some people were so excited about their new purchase, some of it was sad to see mom’s things sold. At the end of the sale I called 2 neighbors who volunteer for Children’s thrift store and they took some items, a truck from NWC came and we made a trip to Goodwill. Then we took the remaining furniture to a consignment shop for resale and also donated some last pieces. I mention all this because it is not always that easy to dispose of all the belongings in one place, so do some research.

My best advice to someone going through this experience is to take your time and enjoy the process. It is tedious and time consuming. Remember that an elder person isn’t as fast at thinking or remembering as you are, you need to repeat things often. In mom’s case she hadn’t moved for 46 years so this was a new experience for her. It is hard for them to let go of their home and belongings, have compassion. I explained everything I was doing, repeatedly. We laughed a lot, find humor in the process. Mostly enjoy this experience with your loved one, she was so appreciative and I was so glad she was living. And it goes without saying, get good helpers and support from your loved ones. I wish you luck.

How To Size An Area Rug

How To Size An Area Rug

article-new-thumbnail_ehow_images_a08_2o_c3_size-should-used-size-room-800x800Let’s talk about area rugs. Adding an area rug to your room is an effective way to add warmth and color to your space. Rugs come in many shapes, sizes and colors or patterns. So the first thing you must do is determine the size of the rug you need before you go shopping. Rugs are available in retail stores, at showrooms to the trade and on-line. Be sure and read first though about what the rug is made of and the maintenance. When you purchase a rug you will need a pad also, either a carpet to rug pad or a floor (hardwood/tile) to rug pad, these will help to hold the rug in place. Generally it is best to place an area rug on a hard surface rather than on another carpet. Prices range from a few hundred dollars to thousands depending upon the quality and material of the rug.

Here are some tips for deciding on the size of rug:

  • Decide how and where you want to use an area rug. Sometimes you will need 2 in an open space so you will want them to complement each other.
  • Determine the shape of the area rug you plan to use. Common shapes of area rugs are square, rectangle, oval and a circle. The shape of the rug affects the size of the area of the rug.
  • Measure the area or space in the room where you plan to use the area rug. To do this take a tape measure and measure the width and length of where the furniture needs to sit and decide how many extra inches will go beyond the furniture pieces. At least 4-6” should go under the front feet of the main piece, which is usually the sofa and then try to place the front legs of the chairs on it as well.
  • You want to anchor the area rug with furniture, such as end tables or chairs. This creates a grouping and unity for the furniture by tying it together.
  • Record the measurements on graph paper or a note pad. You can layout your room on graph paper which is a ¼” scale where each box equals 1 foot. So if you count over 8 boxes you are at 8’ vertical and then count 10 boxes horizontal and you have 10’.
  •  Area rugs come in standard sizes, but occasionally they are a bit off the standard size of 8’x10’ and might be 7’6”x 9’. If that happens just reevaluate your space to see if the furniture will fit as above on the rug.
  • You can also bind a broadloom carpet with tape through either the store or a rug source such as DA Burns and then you can custom fit it to your space if you have an unusual or extra large space.

Now you are ready to take your plan and start shopping. Select the size rug that best corresponds to your space measurement. Take a photo of the rug so when you go home you have something to look at before you purchase.

KBIS, what’s New

KBIS, what’s New

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              In February I attended the Kitchen and Bath show combined with the International Builder Show and Window Fashions show in Las Vegas. They were combined for the first time making it a very large convention to attend. As I walked the floors I saw great new product designs for storage, cabinetry, plumbing and…….more. Here are just a few Highlights.

Before doing any purchasing it would be a good idea to do some research on the latest designs and solutions as they are not all in the stores as yet.

Wilsonart has added granite looking laminate such as Cosmos Granite and Florence Gold. Consentino introduces Dekton for surfaces, it provides superior strength. Try it in the kitchen. Cambria added new surfaces such as the Coastal Collection, implying salty sea air.

Many lighting companies had added new features in LED strips. Legrand has new switch options.

Cabinets can be fitted with Glideware for access to pots and pans. Rev a Shelf has added a Universal Pul-down shelf for medicines a great storage option, so new the photo isn’t out yet but there is a You Tube video to watch. Ronbow has several new vanity cabinets and medicine shelves that power up and also light with LED.

Plumbing has added even more to their line of touch free kitchen and bath faucets. There is a shower head that plays music, Kohler’s “Moxie.” Tubs not only have air and bubble jets for massage, also lighting for chromatherapy and heat. Plus they can have electronic keypads as a control. Toilets open upon entering the room, have lights and heat. Geberit has an alternative look to toilets for space saving and replaces the traditional tank. Also comes with creative flush pads, one lights up like a rainbow. Luxurious shower systems have been added by all manufacturers, such as Brizo Hydrati 2 in 1 detachable shower head with magnetic locking.

Oceania has added unique styles of shower-tub combinations. Plus more options in their beautiful sink line, either in vessel or undermount.

Elmwood, Hafele, and Richelieu had innovation storage solutions for sliding doors, cabinet storage and lift systems. Ask your cabinet dealer for information on how to add these features.

Grab bars are in many stylish designs and colors. Invisia has discreet bars and shelves for the bathroom. There are also new series of walk-in tubs.

Wellness mats has a new series of anti fatigue mats allowing you to create your own shapes and size.

There are so many resources to list, these are just a few. Have fun searching!

What’s Your Style?

What’s Your Style?

  • 101694126.jpg.rendition.largest[1] 101694145.jpg.rendition.largest[1]102043205.jpg.rendition.largest[1]         What’s your design personality? Tobi Fairley’s views on style were simplified. She divided style selections into 4 groups, each group containing several more. By defining which style group you are in it will make it easier for you to purchase furnishings for your home. Often we enjoy several styles but it might be best to stick to 1 or 2 styles. Yes, you can do all four together but it takes a little more talent to achieve a finished look that is cohesive and not distracting. Try using these ideas in your own homes. What style personality are you?

A. Classic Traditionalist: can be formal or casual. Enjoys classic furniture shapes- sofa and chairs have skirts. Heritage pieces- such as china, knick-knack’s,  room can tell a story. Layering of fabrics. Darker wood tones. This can include: Farmhouse, Shaker, Cottage, Shabby Chic, French Country, English and more.

B. Cool Urban: modern, sleek in scale, shape and form. Streamlined without ornamentation; urban or cosmopolitan, current/trendy; materials are metal, glass; medium toned woods. This includes: Mid-Century modern, Scandinavian, Graphic, Organic forms, Edgy styles.

C. Artistic Traveler: A collected look, BoHo, Trend but not Trendy, Global, Layered, Exotic, Textured & rich, layered, patterned textiles, overdyed rugs, strong pigments. This includes items from travels, different cultures, any sort of style. Can be eclectic but is more global.

D. Sophisticated Stylista: Luxe, drama, fashionable, chic, glamorous, Gold finishes, mirrors, bone inlay, tufting, animal print, lacquer, Lucite, crystals. This style embraces scale- such as an overscale headboard and trends- such as quatrefoil architecture. This includes: Art Deco, Hollywood styles.

Mixing: Usually we tend to like 2 styles or more. When you mix have a point of reference such as color. Think of how the room should flow and function. Pick pieces that inspire you and if they are unique not too chaotic. Make some decisions about the style you want to interpret and decide when even though you like a piece “it just isn’t going to work” in this setting. (It’s like shopping for clothes- not everything we like goes together.)

Try this by deconstructing a room and then replacing items with your new choice in the style that fits you! Are you an A/B, a B/C, a D/A or an C/B? As always, call if you need help. Have fun!

Refreshing Your Home


                                    REFRESHING YOUR HOME FOR 2014


Here we are on the eve of a New Year and I thought it would be good to list the top 5 things I would do and that you can do to “Refresh” your home and make it sparkle or if you are thinking of selling these tips will help too. Most of these tasks are for a DIY’er especially if you are handy with tools, if not try painting and cleaning. Here are the 5 areas to focus on.

  1. Kitchen: If you have a laminate counter use a degreaser to clean the surface, if its granite clean and reseal. Shine the sink with a cleaner approved for the type of surface you have. If it’s not an undermount and it is past its prime consider installing a new sink in the same size so no other changes need to be made. The faucet can be replaced and a nice new higher arched style in chrome will brighten the counter, such as this Kohler-Cruette faucet. Stainless appliances can be polished to remove dull spots. Many appliance stores, such as Albert Lee, carry good products for cleaning. Painting can be done to freshen the walls and hide any grease and grime accumulated.  Product
  2. Bathrooms: Install a new modern light over the vanity and get rid of the outdated light bar. It might require some patching and painting but it is worth the effort. Change the faucet and keep the sink unless you really need a new countertop then an undermount sink can be added. If the room is small and the floor faded and worn it is fairly easy to install a new vinyl floor and is inexpensive, you do have to pull the toilet for this. You can also update the toilet by adding a new seat, some are self closing now. Again painting the walls makes a huge difference.
  3. Storage: Look at all those places in your home that are cluttered and see if there is a simple solution to organize the items. In the closet there are multiple types of closet storage systems. You can purchase through a hardware store or have it installed through a closet company, such as Organized Spaces. There are many metal shelf systems that you can use in the garage, available from Costco, Sam’s or a hardware store. We purchased some tall white cabinets with doors to hide the items from McClendon’s. Check under the stairs too and see what works best for storage there. Clean closets and toy areas to organize your favorite possessions. 
  4. Lighting: Good lighting makes a space really come alive so if you need to add can lighting to a bedroom or family room it can brighten the space. This might require a licensed electrician though. You can change out your lamps, get taller lamps, about 28-33”, and use white shades to allow the light to fan out, these are better for reading by beds and end tables. Also start learning about the types of bulbs available, new law requires the 40 and 60 watt bulbs to stop being produced this year. Now CFL’s, LED’s and Halogen will replace them.
  5. Spruce Up from the Outside in: When weather permits it is time to paint the front door and make it sparkle by adding new door hardware and a kick plate. Clean the entry porch and add colorful pots for future flowers. Add a new doormat. Make your home inviting at the entry. This is especially important if you plan on selling your home.*Just wanted to add that painting is listed more than once as it is the easiest, least expensive thing you can do to change or refresh a room.I hope these suggestions get your mind thinking about what you want to accomplish to “refresh” your home at the start of this year. Keep it simple, plan on one space at a time and don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed.                      You can do it! As always if you need help just give me a call.

A New Word

This month I thought I’d write about a word. The word is “metamerism” and it came up when I was talking to Thomas at a Miller Paint store. We were discussing how the paint color can change and look different in a room, especially if different materials are introduced, such as painting the room with an older beige carpet and then adding a new golden carpet. Don’t be surprised if the golden color bounces around the room and changes the paint color.

Here is a simple definition of the word:

metamerism – The quality of some colors that causes them to appear differently under different light sources. For example, two color samples might appear the same in natural light, but not in artificial light. Computer Desktop Encyclopedia copyright ©1981-2013.This is why it is important to look at a color in the correct light in the room it is going to be used and during both the daytime and at night. Preferably with all the materials that are going in that room. I know sometimes people get in a hurry and neglect this aspect of color chemistry. Often I am called upon to do a color consult in a room with the wrong lightbulbs or very poor lighting. It is difficult in a remodel to get all the items in place and then select color so I understand how hard it can be, just realize when you pick a color and then add new elements that the color may change a bit. I would like to see the hard surfaces selected first and then the paint color, even with a neutral. Usually since paint is applied first this step is done in reverse. Remember paint is the least expensive item in the room, so choose the others first and then be patient. Select paint last, paint the sample on posterboard and place it in the room and check it during changing light to see if you like it….before the painter comes. Try 2 or 3 options if needed.Now back to the story- I am trying to pick a paint color for my master bathroom, we are refreshing it, and my existing tile is like a “chameleon” so I have had trouble selecting the color I want. I know what I don’t want. So I am having to be patient and place a sample on the wall and wait for the light to change.When you get the correct color and add all the new elements to a room it just makes you smile! So remember this word and if you are painting first and then adding new carpet, you might see a change in your color scheme.

Also I think I’ve said it before, but I really like working with a freestanding paint store where all they do is work with “their colors” and with paint. They can be a world of help- just ask. So I hope you have happy experiences painting your rooms, it feels great to have a new fresh color!