October 5th, 2011
SEXY!! METALLIC!! Organic?? OH YES!! THREE WAYS TO REFRESH YOUR HOME NOW
Fall has arrived, officially and in reality.
Living in the northeast, we have the gift of an every-changing landscape, and a lifestyle that changes with it. So- as fond as we might be of summertime living, we also relish the thought of change, something new and different.
As the days get shorter, and we get re-acquainted with the inside of our home, we may find ourselves yearing for some cozy-ing up factors, but coming up empty -handed.
Gleaned from a trade show earlier this year, here are three distinct trends that work seamlessly together, and how you can make them your own, refreshing your home without breaking the bank.
SEXY!! Rich, smoky colors; strong, curvy shapes; textures and embellished surfaces that are umm…inviting to the touch.
SEEN THERE: Shown here in a serpentine chest of drawers in a brushed gold finish, with enameled purple metal soutache trim, applied throughout (my lousy picture, beyond stunning in person, about $28K). Or crisp white twill covering this big, round, very cozy, intimate Lounge Au Deux.
FOR YOU: New microfiber duvet over existing bed covering, a luxurious shag area rug-or brand-new bath towels in an absolutely improbable cream.
What about a bowl like this on your dining table filled with figs…or pomegranates?
Toss out those fake smelling, fire-hazard plug in air fresheners; scented soaps, or essential oil reed diffusers are safer, longer lasting and more authentic: Scents like amber and sandalwood make sense (pun intended), but-like ice cream, V-A-N-I-L-L-A is the way you want to go.
METALLIC! Nothing hard, shiny or glossy or glitzy; rather glimmer and shimmer, iridescent, and subtle sheen…remember those rocks that mesmerized you as a child? Think nuanced, feel engaged…and very special.
SEEN THERE: Bronzed leather, free-standing screen of gold ‘stones’, and oil paintings with very strong lines and thick applications of pigment.
FOR YOU: Rustoleum makes a line of paints that creates a hammered metal look in one can, with one procedure. I used copper for my unfinished wood desktop, and silver(spray can) to clean and update the frame of an old medicine chest.
Pier One has some crazy-beautiful accent pillows in lush colors and nice beadwork.
Metallic threads in a table runner, in the glaze of a ceramic lamp, or the he ‘jewels’ in this fruit (holiday ornaments, bought last January, maybe $1.00 each)
ORGANIC! Yes, REALLY! Natural elements with strength and character. From the genuine world around us, they are perfect in their imperfection, and we connect with these materials in a basic and visceral way.
SEEN THERE: Polished stone tables, a handblown glass ‘garden’, recycled aluminum as tree branches, and paper re-worked and glazed to add big art to empty spaces.
FOR YOU: A shallow bowl, some pebbles and $10.00 worth of bulbs (paperwhites or amaryllis) and you’ve got yourself a living, growing centerpiece that will take you thru to the holidays.
Take a wood tray with multi-color peppercorns, even small dried beans like lentils, barley, even coffee beans–with votive candles set into them.
Use a tall vessel-hammered metal, or ceramic with iridescent glaze, fill it with sticks, add a can uplight on floor behind vessel to emphasize the sculptural nature of, well, nature.
Happy Fall, Everyone!
August 24th, 2011
How to Clean Soot Off A Fireplace Surround
Sooty fireplaces are yucky.
If you are staying, at summer’s end, many homeowners find themselves looking at their home interiors with new eyes, as they make plans for spending more time indoors.
If you are selling, obvious, deferred maintenance will always set off alarm bells for buyers: ‘what else did they neglect that maybe I can’t see?’
Fireplaces are often a prominant feature in a front room, and a big selling point in almost all markets. A clean, sootless fireplace surround pays big dividends: Great listing photos to bring buyers in, and uninterrupted romantic reverie, once they are there.
HUGE BONUS-cleaning soot off a fireplace surround it is one of the easiest DIY projects you can possible imagine. REALLY.
Today’s post comes from channeling my one and only HGTV fav, Sabrina Sota, of Get It Sold…I always learn something from her shows.
You can use any generic spray cleaner (I just have a thing for the bubble creatures), and just so simple…cover the floor, then spray the brick or stone, and grout.
Let it sit for a minute or two, then distribute foam evenly by using one wet sponge, and after it’s foamed up for another minute or so, wipe off using another, clean sponge, and a clean bucket of water.
If build up is extensive, you may have to repeat. Only word of caution is if brick is painted, you may want to test out first on a small, innocuous area.
February 8th, 2011
OK, we know closets aren’t really magical, but funny the power an attractively organized closet does have over us…we …just…want…them.
On the flip side, no matter how big they are, overflowing and unorganized closets tell buyers there is not enough closet space. It can also be taken as an indication of how the rest of the property has been maintained.
Buyers half-believe this power comes along with the property, and those that own these wondrous closets seem so gifted, and seem to have a lot of other things in life just to fall in place for them.
We’ve even lusted and laughed over them– remember the commercial where both men and women gasped and screeched at the beauty in their friends’ respective walk-in closets…hers was filled with finery, his with imported beer.
Selling or staying, having organized closets need not be thought of as an unattainable goal. Here are 5 easy ways to have the closets of your dreams.
1. Lest your home take on the atmosphere of a giant swap meet, do one closet at a time, and finish it completely before you start the next. You will keep perspective that way. Do something upbeat before starting-take a brisk walk, have a good breakfast.
2. Pack/Store out of season clothes. If you’re staying, you’ll be excited, all over again in a few months-NEW CLOTHES!! If you’re selling, think of it as a head start on your packing, because OF COURSE you will have your house sold, and be moved into your new home by the time you need them again!!
3. Make 3 piles of what remains: Gone, Negotiable, Staying. A recent study shows we only wear about 10% of what we own-ouch!
Anything that doesn’t fit, or you haven’t worn in a year goes into the first pile Negotiable needs repairs-or perhaps one more wearing to remember why you have not worn it in a while…ummm-perhaps orange isn’t your color after all? Staying is what you wear, and love-that 10% that you reach for all the time.
Be ruthless and quick; once something is in the gone pile, don’t re-think it. There are people and places that will gladly welcome and use what you have forgotten about, and is taking up valuable closet real estate.
4. Get good, matching hangers-your closet will feel so…civilized. Choose sturdy slimline hangers in a neutral color, with multi-features like built-in hooks and bars, or the ability to add on clips.
Some are covered in a flocked material; they’ll cut down on noise, and keep the slinky stuff from sliding off-but keep a few plastic ones around for anything damp (flocking can come off, onto wet clothes).
5. Put everything in color order, light to dark, even shoes. Seriously. Jest, even roll your eyes if you must, but then take a closer look at all the closets you’ve ogled…closets that gradually flow from one color to another are sleek and polished, and seem more spacious. Sometimes simple can be so effective!
November 19th, 2010
Earlier this week I was in NYC at the Design and Decoration (D&D) building to straighten out a wallpaper dyelot and labeling “situation” (yes, that will definitely be food for another post).
Took the elevator up, but leaving I took the stairs…what a surprise it was to open that door and see this clever way of dressing up the regulation, ordinary poured concrete safety stairs.
Painted like a bordered installed carpet, it was a great way for the project to come in on budget, but it was lovely and well, whimsical.
Good design can make you smile, and details make all the difference. For a few hours of labor and a couple of rolls of painters’ tape, a utilitarian non-space was transformed into a delightful focal point. Well done, D&D!
October 16th, 2010
These last two changes are unexpectedly satisfying-partially because they are so basic, and so simple.
4. Into the kitchen! Regular readers know I consider everyday cooking to be a real intrusion on the rest of my day, and faux-’easy’ recipes from hmm….rhymes with Meal Dimple…are insulting and annoying, so don’t get your apron stings all knotted up…
It’s known science that many spices promote good health-cinnamon helps lower high blood pressure, ginger aids digestion, hot spices fill you up with flavor (not calories), to name a few.
But they just LOOK so darn good, and with the weather changing and the holidays nipping at our heels, nothing exudes hominess, invites creativity and builds confidence in the kitchen and like an organized spice rack or shelf that you can just reach over to and sprinkle from.
Experts say dried spices lose their effectiveness after 6 months…I think that’s a pretty narrow window (probably researched by the sales arm of the National Spice Council), but it is a fact, their potency does diminish with thyme…ummm, I mean time :>
ANYWAY-toss out any container that is dusty on top, has no discernible scent, or you can’t remember using. Think about the upcoming cooking/eating season, look at some of your favorite cookbooks/recipes and make your list:
Ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice for baking; paprika, cumin, chili powder and curries for soups, stews and chili; dill, oregano, thyme and sage for meat, poultry, sauces and dips. Then go NOT to the supermarket (who knows how long those little jars and tins have been sitting there) but instead www.atlanticspice.com.
This gem of a business is hidden just off Route 6 (bayside) on the North Truro-Provincetown (MA) line. Wholesale, but open to the public, ships anywhere, and spices are just the beginning.
Inventory does not stay long, they do business by the barrel, and sell bottles of spices for about $2.25 each (maybe HALF of what they sell for in the supermarket) and in things you may use in bulk-their minced onion and mixed provance herbs are my favorite-maybe $6.00 a pound? Browse their online catalog, and this season, you will ROCK in the kitchen.
5. Let me tell you about the magical restorative powers of new linens…After the age of 25, the most affordable luxuries are a good night sleep, and a refreshing morning shower.
Because things like sheets, pillows and towels degrade very very gradually, we don’t really notice it…but take a look now. If your linen closet is looking like a patchwork quilt, you are due for an upgrade.
Best news, you can do it very well, and stick to a budget….. I mean, have you been to a Kohl’s lately??
Recently I bought a set of 400 count (the number of threads per square inch) pima cotton(longer threads = smoother, more lustrous product) king size sheets for a client. This season’s merchandise, in a classic color; inc. flat, fitted, and 2 king pillowcases-$120.00 regularly, on sale for $49.00, LESS 15% with my coupon $42.50 when all was said and done.
Pillows can be gotten for $10.00 or less, and if you hit it right, you can get a new set of very nice towels-4 bath, 4 hand, 4 wash for maybe $75.00-I got this same client got new Tommy Hillfiger towels for $6.00 each at Home Goods.
EXTRA FEEL-GOOD POINTS: Most animal shelters are very welcoming of your unwanted linens.
We all have busy days/weeks/etc…having a great front door/neat closets/healthy plants/fresh herbs and spices or even crisp, smooth matching sheets and soft, fluffy bath towels isn’t really going to change that, but you will feel a heck of a lot better about it all, and at the end of the day, in’t that what we really want?
October 13th, 2010
Fall usually arrives too soon, sneaking in the back door while you’re still on the porch kissing summer good-bye…all of a sudden you find yourself indoors again, and WHOA!!-what happened to my house?
Instead of seeing all you haven’t done/should do, or striving to achieve overall semi-perfection…again… and making yourself crazy/cranky/etc in the process, how about taking care of some oft-neglected corners of your home?
Here are the first few of my favorite high-impact, long-lasting, quick fall fix-its that are easy, cost you less than $50.00; I guarantee any of them will elevate your sense of personal well-being, and increase the enjoyment of your home.
1. Paint your front door Don’t remember how I stumbled upon this but am oh-so-glad I did! Susan Herin is an afficianado of all things house and home-oriented, living outside of Atlanta. Between Naps On The Porch is her blog, and whenever I read one of her posts, I am transported to a lovely, gracious world.
On it, Susan hosts 2 different blog parties, Metamorphsis Monday and Tablescape Thursdays, but here is link to an absolutely delightful blog post I found this summer about what the color of your front door says about you. http://betweennapsontheporch.blogspot.com/2010/02/what-color-is-your-front-door.html May we all aspire to red front doors, and thank you Susan for sharing!
2 Get your closets in order. Purge with abandon. Holding on to clothes-things-that don’t suit us anymore is really quite a burden. You’ll find a list of happy recipients for everything from kid’s clothes to old linens on the Good Turns page on my website.
Then, replace your hangers with new, matching hangers. Not going all Joan-Crawford on you here (remember, Mommie Dearest was not fond of wire hangers), but toss all those old and nasty hangers from department stores and dry-cleaners long gone.
Not saying you need new, hand-sewn silk paisley cushioned jobbies; but until you try it, you won’t believe the difference a few dozen decent hangers can make. BBB, Container Store, KMart all have very reasonably priced offerings.
Seal the deal by putting your clothes in color order, light to dark. Scoff if you want, but see how much more civilized you’ll feel.
3. Do some interior landscaping Cultivating indoor greenery was a novel thought in 1652, when Sir Hug Platt, an English country gentleman and horticulturist first wrote about it. Designing greenhouses and conservatories-bringing the outdoors in- quickly became a pursuit of the privileged. Happily, you need neither a staff or a trust fund to pursue this now.
Plants can scrub the air of certain harmful chemicals, as well as adding oxygen, now that our windows will be kept closed, it’s time to take care of our friends.
Replace plants that are not well, re-pot the overgrown, cut back the straggly, and fertilize them all. New dirt will add nutrients, and by supporting the base of the plant with a higher mound of dirt, you encourage new roots to form, and stregnthen existing roots.
Paperwhite bulbs should be available soon. Buy a bag-maybe $6.00 for 8?-place them in a bowl, supported by a layer of pebbles and add enough water to come to the top of the pebbles, and prepare to marvel. As the days get shorter, you’ll find new life unfolding-not to mention the wonderful scent-to be a wonderful boost.
NEXT: Viva la cucina, and sweet dreams!!
July 22nd, 2010
Summer into fall is one of the most popular times to paint your home. The hottest color story continues to be the use of saturated colors-colors that can range from light to dark, but have a lot of pigment and have a dense and mellow feel.
No frothy pastels, brights, or hard edges; they are complex colors with depth and nuance. Benjamin Moore Affinity and Historical Colors as well as the spare, but well-edited Farrow and Ball palette are great examples.
Those who will be making choices, but with an eye toward getting their house ready to go on the market might feel some apprehension, but warm neutrals have universal appeal.
1. Color sellls! The tan/khaki/muted greens/soft golds are very livable, and read well in listing photos. They are warm and sophisticated, and appeal to men and women alike, and will snag the buyer’s attention as they click their way thru all the online listings.
2. White walls do not make your space look bigger. Instead, they make it look cold and uninviting. Under even the very best of circumstances, the nuances of Linen White or Cameo White do not come across in pictures, either in print or online; instead it reads as old and dirty.
3. Color on the walls actually can make big furniture appear smaller. When we see furniture against white walls, it looks enormous, because of the contrast. Because the eye registers less contrast when there is color on the walls, the furniture seems to recede into the walls, and it’s a smoother look.
4. Keeping doors/ceilings/trim work in a white, with color on the wall, you will now see the architectural details.
White on white, this was one big vanilla space. On the left is a condo that is just starting to be painted, on the right, about 4 hours later.
In the photo on the right, you now can see the beveling detail on the doors, the crown and baseboard moldings. Using different but complimentary colors, we have slso created separate spaces.
5. Color on the walls bring the eye up, and adds stature to a room. It commands your attention, and your respect-you can’t not look at it.
And yes, these really are the same room.
July 11th, 2010
We’re busy people, we live our lives; and human nature, when a space becomes familiar, we just don’t ‘see’ the things that we actually pass by every day. A a result, little things add up to big things and one day we wake up and wonder just what the heck happened
Sellers often rebel, those staying usually head to Home Goods. Neither is particularly productive.
A clean, maintained and detailed exterior does more than keep the in-laws happy, and provides more than curb appeal: Staying- it’s comfort and peace of mind; selling-it is your cheapest and most effective marketing tool: 24/7, it demonstrates to the rest of the world how you care for your entire property.
the refreshed home believes that when you are in charge of your space, you are in charge of your life. Also, that changing one’s circumstances often begins by changing one’s attitudes. Staying or selling, here are my favorite easy ways to show your house some love, in zero to $50.00.
Wash your windows, inside and out. Depending on the kind of detritus that is on your screens-vacuum or use the garden hose to clean out the cobwebs/dead bugs/etc out from the sill and screen.
Clean out the gutters. Sticks, seedlings, etc all need to go. Get a broom and walk around the house/garage and knock down all the cobwebs/etc.
Turn over the dirt in garden bed and make sure roots and base of plants are covered. Better than just weeding, it aerates the dirt and looks good, and offers better supprot for plants.
Clean all the exterior light fixtures, removing bugs and washing any glass. Make sure all bulbs work and are as bright as can be (creates ambiance for evening drive-bys)
$15.00 or Less
If you have a dog who has the run of the property, make the rounds with a pooper scooper every single day. Besides being unpleasant and unhealthy, acid from urine and feces can kill the grass. Hose down any ‘very favorite’ spots, and re-seed.
Give your older white porcelain tub a lift using Mr. Clean’s magic sponge. Freshen sink and tub drains by pouring 2/3 cup of baking soda down there, then follow with 2 cups of white vinegar…drains will run faster, too.
Using Qtips, detail your kitchen and bath. Around the faucets, around the drains, around the rubber gaskets in the fridge and dishwasher.
Buy a new Welcome mat. Simple and classic will elevate your home. If selling, stay away from images, as well as cute, political, or otherwise personal messages. Paint your front door.
$15.00 +, but Priceless
Color draws people in. Cheap annuals like marigolds, impatience, coleus, petunias and wax begonias are fairly low maintenance, produce a lot of look for the money, and will last til the first hard frost.
Hit the garden shop, buy and plant lavishly where you want to engage people-make a small grouping by the curb/walkway, a big pot by the front/back doors, corners of the deck or patio.
BONUS-July is considered past the peak of the planting season, you should see lots of SALE signs.
May 20th, 2010
Glorious color, gracing the front of River Rock Supply on Rte 9 in Sleepy Hollow 5.20.10
April 11th, 2010
Be Comfortable Picking Paint Colors
Even when I was working in the retail furniture industry, getting paid on straight commission, I always tried to start by establishing the wall color with the client. I didn’t sell paint, have a painter-friend who was looking for business, or have any ulterior motive other than making the design process more complete, and furniture selection process easier, and more satisfying for the client.
Because walls make up the most surface of any room, the choice of color is a meaningful one, but don’t let that hold you back. Here are the other sides of some of the myths I’ve heard over the years.
White (or off-white) walls always make a space seem larger/brighter
They make them colder, more austere, and in listing photos they read as dirty-especially if there is beige carpet or wood floors in a light color. Also, by contrast, your furniture will look bigger and boxier.
A recent Staging job I had was a newish condo the owners had been renting and wanted to sell. It was an open floor plan, and all still in the original builders’ off-white-one big vanilla space. Warmer, more saturated colors not only separated out the spaces, it created new ones, and you saw the nice trim details, now that there was contrast.
Conversely, dark colors can close a room in and make it feel smaller
Sometimes yes. And that’s not always a bad thing. Over-sized or dark furniture recedes into a darker painted wall, and it’s a great way to fill in a big/cavernous space without buying lots of ’stuff’.
Take the individual preference element out of it (one person’s ‘small’ is another person’s ‘cozy’) Color is synergistic and the end result will depend on what else it’s shown with: both natural and artificial lighting, color of moulding and trim work, furniture, floor covering, furnishings, etc.
When a client craves a deep, intense color in their smallish or dark room, I recommend they follow their heart, but remind them the end result can be tweaked and lightened by hanging artwork and updating their lighting.
Semi-gloss finish on walls is durable, plus it adds interest in a room.
Well, yes, if you consider imperfections in the wall itself to be of interest. Easy to wipe down, so very suitable in a kitchen or bath, but shiny walls show EVERYTHING and can bounce light off them in an odd way. For durability in most of your living spaces, stay with latex flat in an eggshell finish.
Tomorrow: Kid’s Rooms, Neutrals, and Accent Walls