September 15th, 2012
It’s pretty simple to craft a happy space for those born under the sign of Virgo (August 21-September 20). They are consistent, detailed, precise, meticulous. And worriers…big worriers. SO-wait for it- simple…but not necessarily easy. Well, ok, as long as you keep anything loud, bling-y, fussy or high-maintenance out of the picture it’s easy.
Virgo is not a dominant sign like Scorpio, or Leo…used to think I didn’t know too many of them, but turns out I know many. Virgos abound in any occupation that is equal parts focus on detail, and compassion for the human condition: Education, architecture and engineering, law, politics and medicine.
Not usually not the loudest people at the party, or the ones wearing (driving, listening to, fill in the verb of your choice) the latest and hottest whatever. But they are not pushovers, not by any stretch. And a solid pal-neighbor-co-worker you can count on? Every day, and twice on Sunday.
Decorating is not just about how something looks, it’s how someone’s underlying values and needs are recognized, and addressed: For Virgos, start in the bathroom.
Despite their quiet nature, Virgos can worry themselves into a frazzle…the infamous ad “Calgon, take me away!” was probably conceived by a Virgo. They need a soothing environment, where they soak-or steam- their troubles away; give them big fluffy towels in soft blues, greens, jades, even plums.
One of the clearest way to a Virgo’s heart is a BIG medicine cabinet and linen closet. All their worrying, they tend to keep a lot of OTC remedies at hand…antacids to vitamins, they need space to hold it all, and make it easy to organize. Mirrors are big, too. They’re not overly wrapped up in what other people think if them, but being impeccably well-groomed is part of what makes them feel organized and right with the world.
Virgo’s fastidious nature carries all through their space. Fussy fabrics, convoluted floor plans, conceptual art is not the way to go here. No plan-or ‘winging it” will not be well-received. They are drawn to details, done well. Simple lines, crisp tailoring, in classic colors and materials make them happy. A leather Chippendale-style wing chair (in a even, a.k.a. corrected leather) and (exactly spaced, highly polished) nail head trim is a perfect metaphor of their decorating style.
They are frugal, but not miserly. Waste is upsetting, so “green” choices, or anything that can be re-purposed is very appealing. In that same line, a big repeat on the draperies-where there would be waste, to match the pattern-will not fly.
“Home” is a very special place to most Virgos, and they cherish what is done well, and provides comfort to them, their friends and loved ones. Simple, and when you really understand what is dear to them, easy as well.
August 2nd, 2012
Even if you are not a believer, it’s always fun to check and see what the stars are SUPPOSED to hold for you. Each month we take a fun look at what makes each of our boats float, home decor-wise. This month, we wish a Happy Birthday to LEO!
Ahhh…Leo the Lion…born between July 21 and August 20…one of the easiest signs to spot, I think. A strong sign, a real alpha…but not usually harsh, or mean-spirited. They are just confident…very, very confident.
Leos typically have a natural ability to speak well, and lead. It’s a fair statement that Leos are typically found at the top of whatever circles they are drawn to.
You’ll find many in law (current Supreme Court Justices Kennedy and Breyer) and in politics (4 US Presidents). They are pioneers (Amelia Earhart, Neil Armstrong, Bella Abzug) and charmers (Tony Bennett and George Hamilton). Successful and generous (Melissa Gates, Malcolm Forbes, Roberto Clemente), at the top performers with staying power (Madonna, Mick Jagger).
They are larger-than-life sports stars (Tom Brady, Walter Payton, NY Knicks Patrick Ewing, Bill Bradley and Wilt Chamberlain)-one reason the future looks bright for current Olympians LoLo Jones and Ryan Lochte. They also don’t do anything on a small scale-film producers/directors Ken Burns, Alfred Hitchcock, Cecile B. DeMille, James Cameron, Dino DiLaurentis.
Intrigue seems to find them-Watergate’s ‘Deep Throat’ William Felt and Mata Hari were both Leos. Sometimes their confidence can turn the corner into arrogance-Napoleon, and accused steroid users Barry Bonds and Roger Clemmens. And yes, art can imitate life, two of Batman’s most notable Catwomen were Leos-Julie Newmar and Halle Berry.
Last-Schwartzkopf and Schwartzenaegger-both Leos…are you starting to get the picture?
Have listed more famous folks here than usual because this is the best illustration of a Leo: they are used to being seen, to being at the top, and their space needs to reflect that.
Many Leos are drawn to impressive, and expansive spaces-sometimes physically elevated ones (Leo the Lion, on his throne!). Farly adapters for the most part, but they wold not sniff disdainfully at say a set of mid 1800′s original Chippendale dining chairs…as long as they were in mint condition, that is! Pedigree is important, for both quality and status.
So is luxury. Re-purposed, funky, eclectic or retro has little place in the life of a Leo, as does most anything ethereal or soft and fuzzy. Like their personality, there is little ambiguity or frothiness. Best colors are clear, deep and strong, au currant, but not garish.
Leos love to entertain, and their homes typically showcase the finest in design and materials. Silk drapes? Ehhh..silk that came from free-range butterfly farms, where classical music was played for the cocoons as the silk was being spun? Now you’re talking! The music was live?? EVEN BETTER!!
OK< maybe I exaggerate..a little. But budget is a hard topic to discuss with a Leo-they can be extravagant, and who are you-a mere mortal-to offer counsel to Mr./Ms. Leo? Happily, funds are drawn to them almost as much as other people are.
Probably 90% of Leos are meticulously neat and organized, the other 10% not so much-but for both cases, storage and organizational systems will be an integral part of their home.
Years ago , I toured a big Southern plantation house on vacation. The long drive that led up to the house had a line of massive trees-sycamores, I think-on each side. Tall and majestic, their branches touched and intertwined creating a lovely sun-dappled passage, both striking and grand.
Local history says that when the original plantation owner’s daughter got married, he imported many many spiders-from whenever you imported spiders in those days- and set them loose in these trees about a week before the wedding. On the morning of, he had gold dust sprinkled in the trees.
When guest arrived, they saw something quite unlike anything they had ever seen before…the gold dust was suspended in the webs, creating this shimmering canopy, welcoming them to his daughter’s wedding. Safe to say he was a Leo-yes?
June 7th, 2012
Increased activity in the housing market has increased confidence about updating our homes. In my business, that’s translated to a lot of questions about the wisdom of buying new vs. re-upholstering, or just slipcovering.
Helping clients make thoughtful and value-oriented decisions is what The Refreshed Home is all about; so the first step here is to understand what each is really about, and to think through their needs, and expectations.
- Fit over-on top of-existing piece
- Not a lot of middle ground: available very custom-(time and $$$), or very generic (quick, inexpensive, but few choices)
- Will adapt to piece by velcro or zippers (very custom) or by fabric ties, stretchy fabric, or elasticized overskirts (generic)
- Usually unlined, and in a light-weight fabric-to fit, and drape well over original fabric
- Fabric not attached to frame-can shift with use, or not lay as flat as on upholstered piece.
- Can be washable
These craftspeople still exist, but cost, and modern lifestyles have nudged this look out of mainstream favor. Readers of ‘a certain age’ might remember Gimbel’s shop at home service, where someone would come to your house and measure/make a pattern while you chose a fabric cover.
Some furniture retailers offer another choice: they sell both new muslin-covered sofas, and a selection of matching slipcovers separately. This allows them to mass-produce several options of reasonably well-fitting covers at a pleasing price point.
Think about the wear this will get, and your expectations of how long it will last. And because fabric rests on the frame, reflect on your fondness for a more casual look-or your threshold for straightening seams.
New is…well, new! Almost anything you’d hope to find is available, or could be made. Which could be a good thing….
- Used to mean gutting, then repairing/replacing
- Upholsterers today will just replace cover, gut, or do anything in between-depends on condition, and what client wants to spend
- Design details (like piping, trim, skirt, nail heads, tufting) can be added, removed or altered for a truly different look
- Fabric choices are endless
- Modern padding materials can be non-allergenic (instead of down, petroleum-based foam, latex or horsehair) and green (soy-based foam and shredded pop bottles)
- Heavier-more durable-fabrics can be used
Unless a frame has genuinely been lightly to never used, re-covering might not be a great option. The insides of a sofa age as much as the outsides do, putting money into covering shrunken latex cushions, or one that’s not sturdy is a waste.
Do you have pets, small children-or messy big ones? Do you get bored easily, or hate a perfectly good hand-me-down sofa? Maybe you’re just cash or time-challenged at the moment? All good reasons to think about a generic slipcover.
The answer to new vs. re-upholster is not as clear. Age is not always reliable marker of quality, or suitability to be re-worked. Cost of new can be more fabric than quality of manufacturing. And a sofa that is undersized, or that sits at an uncomfortable angle is not going to feel much better with new fabric on it. Even quality, older pieces can have frame damage if say they spent time in direct sunlight, or in front of heating elements.
If you’ve got a piece where the loose cushions are stained or worn-but arms, and rest of frame looks good-replacing inserts, and covering them in a totally different fabric can be both inexpensive and stylish.
Easy to go back and forth, but don’t expect to choose based solely on cost. A solid re-upholstery job will probably run a similar amount of money as the same quality of new.
Instead, first ask yourself if the piece has actual or sentimental value. Do you like it? Is it an unusual size that fits well in a specific space? Even just wanting new-OR-not wanting to cut down another tree-all valid, that will help you more clearly evaluate pricing.
April 27th, 2012
The last time I wrote a blog post with the words “Picking Paint Colors” in the title was over a year ago. Since, I’ve written over 100 other posts…yet, per Google Analytics, this post is my #2 all-time draw-only recently nudged out of 1st place by a post about Michelangelo. So yes, it’d seem there is a lot of interest in how to pick a paint color.
But picking the right paint color goes beyond what is trendy, or what works with the sofa. Yes, color is a highly personal expression, but IMO there is way too much pressure to pick THE color. Here’s how to get some perspective, and get you going in the right direction, confidently.
Whispy, fluffy pastels Even in nurseries, colors are more sophisticated, more saturated-meaning there is a solid, dense appearance to the pigment. I agree with the notion that our world influences our color preferences; these days we seem to want our walls to comfort us, our rooms to embrace us.
Any colors you don’t already have in your closet Because we get dressed every day, we tend to be more confident about the colors we like, and what makes us look and feel good. If there isn’t any ____ in your closet, chances are you won’t be happy with it on the wall.
Believing you can imagine how it’ll look from a 2×2 square. Or a 4×4 square. Or those nail-polish sample bottles. Seriously. Narrow it down to your top 2 or 3, then spring for a quart of each, and just put it on the wall. You can always paint it over, and it’ll probably cost you a lot less than having to hit Home Goods after, to buy a lot of stupid stuff you don’t need to try to make a wrong color right.
Thinking this is a decision of a lifetime Paint is the cheapest and the quickest way to change a room. Look-we get tired of things, we all change our minds, and even sometimes we mis-calculate (!!). I’m not saying it’s not an important decision, or that you should just pick anything and hope for the best, but it’s just paint! Make your best choice, and run with it.
Look at magazine pics, cruise through furniture stores as an easy way to try different colors on for size. Quickly, see what looks you’re drawn to. I recommend NOT fixating on the exact color used there, but use it to guide you, give you direction or encouragement to maybe step out of your comfort zone a teeney bit. Again-color will ’read’ differently depending on how big the room is, what was underneath, how many coats, lighting , and what else it’s shown with.
Know you have some wiggle room. When you paint, everything comes down, or gets covered up; it’s just walls with your new color, and can give you all kinds of pause. But it’ll look different after everything is uncovered or moved back, then different again once you start adding other things in. Don’t rush to judgement, play with it, give it a little time. If you find you like the color, but it needs to be ‘cut’ a bit, an oversize mirror or piece of wall art would do the job nicely.
AND-you have a “Plan B” OK, a week goes by, and there is no way around it, you truly hate the new wall color-just have it re-painted. It’s easy, and cheap enough. The hardest, and most expensive work is already done: repairing-priming-trim-ceilings. Just make the decision quickly: have the painter come back one rainy day to cover work they recently did, then you can get on with your life.
HAVE FUN! Trust your instincts, and go for it. Seeing the process through to get a look you love will more than worth it, and it’ll make your next project easier!
January 29th, 2012
There are three elements I find that absolutely flummox most people about their home. They realize it’s important, but can’t visualize-or rationalize spending money on-anything beyond the basic.
Which is really too bad, because none of these elements need to cost a lot of money, and the right choice can go a long way, no matter what your goals.
Lighting is one of the Big Three most get stuck on. Not only is there rarely enough of it, what’s there is usually outdated, out of proportion, or looks just like what everyone else has…because it’s what the local big box store shows.
No matter if you are staying in, or getting ready to sell a property, if it’s well-chosen and with personality, it will add function and be engaging. It may be counter-intuitive, to spend money on something that will stay when you are selling but think of a small, well-defines area, and remember:
- Engaging buyers in a way that other properties don’t is a big component of a well-prepared property
- When YOU’VE figured something out for the buyer that no other seller has, that is value-added
- You can always have the sales contract written to reflect the fixture is coming with you
- Unless you are buying a close-out, you should be able to purchase another within a reasonable time frame
A solid, overall lighting plan will be unique to each property. In the case of task (end-table, vanity, desk top) and accent (sconces, buffet lamps) lighting-much will depend on the taste and existing furnishings. For our purposes today, I will just share a few scenarios I’ve come up against recently, and what I found that worked.
Chose this (left) fixture for a contemporary bathroom, in a modern apartment. It was a generous-sized room, with darker toned wood vanity, double sinks in a granite counter top and marble floors.
It had been a bachelor pad, new owners wanted to make it a little prettier. Did three of these fixtures, one at either end of the vanity, one in between the two sinks, $185.00 each.
This (right) was chosen for the entry of a 1928 Arts and Crafts home. Many A&C homes are often dark, harsh and austere.
As a design element, stars are signify luck and hope. Antiqued copper was the right material, and the clean lines agreed with the nature of the space, but these curves warmed and softened it.
Smiles from the first step inside the house, $218.00
In a contemporary colonial, there was a pass-through area off the kitchen. It was designed to be a butlers’ pantry, but owners decided to make it a wet bar.
We found this to be exactly the right ‘mix’ of fun and function, $225.00
Money spent on the right lighting is always money well-spent. Materials, scale, lines and light it gives off-both amount, AND direction!-are all to be considered first, but seriously, have fun with it, too.
NEXT: Window Treatments Made Easy
January 4th, 2012
Got some creative ya-yas you need to work out? This Saturday, January 7th, from 1:30 to 4:00, explore your talents, and shake off some winter yuks-all for a good cause-at the 12th Annual “Make A Bowl Day” at Clay Art Center in Port Chester.
Since 2000 the Clay Art Center has partnered with Rye Presbyterian Church Youth Group to sponsor the Empty Bowls program, which raises money-and awareness- to support local interfaith soup kitchens; over $55,000.00 has been raised since the program first began.
Eleven months of the year, the Clay Art Center is a vibrant, totally self-contained clay-centric community where artists and students of all ages bring their inner child to explore creating in clay.
During the month of January, the entire community has one purpose: make-glaze-fire bowls for this event. Going into this weekend they are at over 200 bowls.
Simply, Clay Art Center provides the materials and facilities, and the community provides talent and imagination. The public is invited to come to the studio, free of charge, to create a special bowl to donate. It’s glazed and fired by the staff and artists of Clay Art Center, then brought to the church.
At the Empty Bowls event (to be held 1/29/12) bowls are purchased, then new owners are treated to a simple meal of delicious soup-in their new bowl- from Corner Stone Catering, served with fresh bread from The Kneaded Bread. The next post will go into more detail about the event (but here is the link for Empty Bowls info, if you absolutely can’t wait).
After the event, the bowls are taken home, a tangible reminder that even with all that we have, there is always someone with an empty bowl.
The Clay Art Center is located in the heart of Port Chester, at 40 Beech Street, in a complex adjacent to St. Don Bosco Church.
The event is free, and open to the public, including children 8 and over are welcomed with a supervising parent. Participants should wear casual clothes that they will not mind getting dirty. You can bring an apron if you’d like, or purchase one from CAC.
Reservations are not needed, but if you’d like further info, please contact Leigh Taylor Mickelson at email@example.com, or 914.937.2047
December 31st, 2011
Welcome back to Word Of The Week: where I explain why a certain word has caught my attention this week. Today the word is MANAGE.
When I first started my work life, I thought being a manager was a good aspiration…it seemed easy enough, you just tell people what you want them to do…did I mention I started work when I was very young??
There are two types of takes on the word manage. One is an idiom for coping, or getting by…‘whatever happens, I’ll manage’…pretty passive.
The other is an all-encompassing Snugglie of a job description (not exactly sure what it does encompass, and very fluid boundries) that is much more pro-active.
Earliest roots come from the Italian ‘maneggiare’-to handle, especially as in horses, or French ‘manege’ -horsemanship. The Latin, of course is ‘manus’-hand, as in manual, manacle.
The parallels of directing the path of a large and powerful creature and overseeing all aspects of a project are intriguing; bringing both to their safe, complete and intended destination-even more so.
And NOW I might have a clue as to why John Maggiotto-the camera artist and photographer extroidinaire who took my professional head shots, and kindly allowed me the use of his artwork here-often uses horses as subject matter, and a wild stallion as his avatar on his business cards and stationary. But I digress….
The image of hands, used in several financial and insurance institutions, are meant to convey and assure personal safety and security, but it’s a reminder too of the very basic ways that things get done.
Managing is an absolute hands-on, up close and yes, sometimes personal endevor. Successful managers know there is give and take. There is a need to both listen, and the ability to take charge.
Sometimes you need a light touch, other times… not so much. It requires simultaneously living in the circumstances of the moment and looking/thinking ahead…often far ahead, and in all sorts of directions. There is responsibility, and should be mutual respect.
Lots of talk this week of what the future ‘holds’, and- for me, anyway-reflection of this past year. In times of economic uncertainty, there is reluctance to acknowledge or seek the value of the intangible; so many perceive value to lie solely in the lowest dollar figure, or the finished-visual-product.
Ours is a world where little is simple…sometimes by evolution, sometimes by design. Relying on someone else who is very smart about something is not a bad thing. I will continue to make how I manage projects, and the process for clients my highest priority. And I will continue to also learn how to do it better.
I thank the readers, and clients of the refreshed home for a challenging, and rewarding 2011. I appreciate your faith and trust this year, have enjoyed sharing your excitment as your projects have unfolded, and look forward to the opportunities the New Year will bring us all.
2012 is going to be great…pass it on!
December 13th, 2011
Welcome back to this years’ chapter of Giving The Gift!
The sensory bombardment the American consumer is exposed to this time of year is enough to throw the most steadfast of us off our game. Giving the Gift is a series that highlights local, creative businesses and thoughtful, unique gift ideas that will surprise and delight most anyone on your list, please click here to see all the write-ups.
This is something I fell into quite unexpectedly-and truthfully, equally unexpectedly, loved it!
Earlier this fall, reuniting with high school friends was the plan. We finally picked the date, but now, what to do?
Dinner somewhere or apple-picking were suggested (yawn)…then a colleague of Bert’s came up with pottery painting. I was not enthused, but it was the best option, so there is how we found ourselves at A Maze In Pottery. AMAZE,indeed!
A bright, happy, color-filled space, the feeling of serenity and creativity gives you a big old bear-hug the moment you cross the threshold. TOTALLY NOT an exclusive province for pre-schoolers, this is a place you want to know about for several reasons, more on that later
Set in a busy shopping center in the heart of Briarcliff Manor, it’s both convenient, and an escape. Owner Aggie Radzik, who holds a Masters Degree in Fine Art, Ceramic Design from her native Poland, opened this shop almost two years ago.
Here’s how it works: Shelves line the long walls, full of unpainted forms-maybe 400 to choose from, priced from $5.00 to $60.00. You buy the unfinished piece, and pay a small studio fee that includes time, paint, and glazing.
Idea books and a wide range of sample pieces give you food for thought…you pick your colors, then create, at your leisure. They fire it, and you pick it up about a week later.
There are mugs, plates, figures, as well as plain tiles that can be set into a tray, or a mirror. Glazes are lead-free, non-toxic, dishwasher and microwave safe.
While it’s a little late to have a gift made/fired in time for this years’ holidays, gift certificates are available in any denomination, and I LOVE THIS-given on a decorated tile for presentation! They also have seasonal forms, so not too early to think about a heart mug for Valentines’ Day, a baby’s footprint wall plate for Mothers’ Day, Teacher Gift…
As homage to our reunion, we chose to paint the same form, a big pasta/salad bowl. With studio time I think it came to around $40.00 each (pretty much what we’d spend on a bowl, anyway), but even $20.00 could get someone a complete project.
Aggie and her staff are creative and encouraging. Jessica gently guided Bert, Cindy and I through our blank-bowl terror, helping us arrive at 3 very different and satisfying projects.
On another recent visit, Aggie was helping a customer design a 12-tile tray as a gift to grandparents from their 11 grandchildren. Together they came up with the design: each child had their name on a tile. along with a favorite motif, the 12th tile was for the grandparents’ names and the date.
It is quite the happening place. There are daily specials, and parties galore: great for kids, but grown up events too. Daily specials for all ages and groups, and events can be tailored to most any occasion you can think of.
See details, and calendar of events on their site, but bottom line, it’s a joyful experience, just go!!
November 30th, 2011
Annual Zwilling J.A. Henckels Warehouse Sale 12/2-12/4 In Hawthorne
Got any serious chefs on your shopping list? Then don’t miss the Zwilling J.A. Henckels Anual Warehouse Sale this coming weekend December 2nd-4th, at the Hawthorne location on Saw Mill River Road.
Since 1731 the German-based firm has been committed to the highest standards in quality, precision implements. shoppers can expect to find great deals on quality in the form of Henckel knives of every possible size and use-including those specifically for sushi!- along with blocks and cutting boards; stainless AND cast iron cookware, flatware, kitchen gadgets, personal grooming gadgets, and scissors(regular, kitchen, flower!), as well as all sorts of boxed gift sets.
Even if you’re not quite ready for your own cable cooking show, a good knife makes everything easier. We got several the weekend before-one a serrated-carving type thing that let me cut the leftover turkey carcass into managable sizes for soup, and a pair of great paring knives, each less than $5.00, I believe. There were also melon-ballers, and grapefruit knives-great stocking stuffers!-for I think $7.50
Click above link for directions and hours, and Happy Shopping!
HINT: you probably know exactly where it is, one building north of the Multi-Plex in Hawthorne on Route 9A. They have people to direct traffic, but best to approach from the north so you can slide right in, and not interfere with theater or sale traffic.
Also it’s a crowded space-both with merchandise and shoppers. Keep the big bag and puffy coat in the car, and although there are a few picnic tables outside, probably best not to bring the kids.
November 24th, 2011
The value of my new find is marginal as far as buyers are concerned, it really speaks to sellers. And this holiday weekend, where many of us are visiting/sitting in/sleeping in different places, it’s a perfect time to share this.
Had seen this on TV in recent weeks, and while I didn’t think much of it, I was still curious.
On Tuesday, Doug had a small hernia repaired, and one of the things I had to think through was our living room upholstery. His favorite chair was a tufted, low-slung number, and our sofa-while it had a nice high seat-was squishy. Both comfortable under normal circumstances, but troublesome if you can’t use your abdominal muscles to get in and out of it.
SO-off to the As Seen On TV store at the mall I went. Still skeptical, but $15.00, with a store credit if I returned it seemed to be a reasonable experiment. After two weeks of having them in place, have to say it’s been a good value.
It’s a set of thin, hard flat plastic strips, each about 20″ long x 4″ wide, they look kind of like uncooked lasagna noodles. Along the sides are interlocking tubes, so you can connect as many as you want: One set will pretty much cover each singular ‘seat’ in an average-sized piece of upholstery, and you can stagger the strips if front to back measurement is deeper than average.
While I usually think of this kind of stuff as cheap, interim fixes (which , actually, in this case was exactly what I WAS looking for)-this product has several applications:
When you sit in upholstery, your body should largely be at right angles. But today, even the finest upholstery is made with cushions with a lot of squish to them. They return to their original shape, but compress easily when you sit on them. Even under the best of circumstances, if your butt is lower than your knees, you will always struggle to get in and out of it. Factor in any age or mobility issues-bad back, re-habbing from stroke, or any kind of surgery-it’s even harder.
Although I don’t have a sleeper sofa, would have to imagine it’d be help create a more even and supportive sleeping surface as well.
Don’t get me wrong-if you have upholstery with a low frame, or that is in need of repair, these will NOT help. Similarly, if your regular, every night mattress is causing you grief, replace it, that is not what these things are designed for. But be aware of people sitting in, then getting out of upholstery this weekend. If you see anyone struggling, this could be $15.00 well-spent.
They are available on line, and in all sorts of stores, but dig out those BBB coupons for the best deal.
November 6th, 2011
YES! I feel the stirrings of economic recovery! Parking lots are full, sales floors are busy, and more people are buying big-ticket items like cars (me), and furniture. On gorgeous fall days like today, it’s a beautiful thing!! After on-site Color Consults, Assisted Shopping is the service I am getting the most calls on lately.
Time is money, time is also non-renewable. Nothing wrong with ‘retail therapy’ to clear the mind, but shopping like a pro is a focused, progressive, and results-driven process: information is obtained, and thoughtful decisions are made, relatively stress-free. Whether I accompany clients, or coach them through it, proper mindset comes first.
Channeling Yogi Berra, successful shopping (i.e. making your best decisions) is 90% mental, the other half is physical. Not fun or sexy. But going there on the fly, as an empty vessel, with just your checkbook and heart to guide you is asking for trouble. Here are some of the basics I recommend… get these out of the way, and the fun will follow.
HAVE A PLAN
Don’t go solo, establish a co-decider
And decide who gets to vote. And bring them in at the beginning.
Friend, brother, co-worker, neighbor, kids? Big decision, and no wrong answers, just know this first. Don’t suddenly defer to your six-year old, or realize your sister who lives three states away is the one you need to ask when you lose confidence or need support. YES, reticent partners need to invest some quality time up-front, and single persons should enlist a trusted companion.
It’s not a sign of weakness to do this…the feedback of an interested participant early on will reinforce all that comes later. After this initial go-round, most couples work it out between themselves who does what next. For what it’s worth, in 30 years of doing this, I have yet to meet a sole decider who didn’t call someone in at the last minute…only sole deciders who wished they did, afterward.
Know what you are sure of
Have a budget or a deadline? Partner HATES/LOVES_____? Even that you actually WANT to buy furniture! Looking at things for a home can bring up a lot of things..over the years I’ve met folks who ultimately decided to put in pool, move, even divorce instead of buying furniture. REALLY. Bottom line: a furniture store is not the place to start exploring these issues.
Updating/adding to what you have? First evaluate how you really feel about what you already own. Consider my given, going, negotiable model:
- LOVE IT: It’s a building block of the room
- HATE IT: Can’t get it out soon enough
- It’s OK: Will keep it if it can work well with other things I like, but won’t invest lots of time/money to make it work.
Know what you are looking for
Getting ideas? In pursuit of a brown leather sofa that is 86″ of less? Need new bedroom furniture? Want cool new lighting, or a rug that is $700.00 or less? Worthwhile goals, all; point being to not just wander in aimlessly, and be at the mercy of what is on display, or what is on sale.
An efficient outing will focus on things vital to YOU. If you’re not clear on what you’re looking for, you’ll stop and debate the merits of everything you see, regardless of if it holds any value for you.
Don’t waste time observing “Gee, I really like/don’t like the fringe on the ottoman/that color leather/the salesperson’s hairstyle/shade on the chandelier/MUZAK channel“….UNLESS you are looking for fringe/an ottoman, like leather furniture, need a new hairstyle, want to add zip to your lighting fixture, or are a rep for SIRUS-you are likely to get quickly frustrated, without ever really knowing why.
Everything can be defined, and articulated -even NOT knowing what you’re looking for is looking for ideas. I advise clients to just take it to the furthest point possible before walking into a store.
NEXT: How to Prepare… Dealing with Salespeople… and What To Expect Next
October 20th, 2011
Medical Equipment Drive At Burke Rehabilitation Hospital, White Plains NY 10605
October is Physical Therapy Month, and to mark the occasion, Burke Rehabilitation Hospital in White Plains is holding a medical equipment drive.
Now, through October 31st your unneeded crutches, walkers, manual wheelchairs, canes and braces can be dropped off at any one of their five area collection points.
Things many of us have accumulated in our garage and attics can now be put back to use, and genuinely make a difference in someone elses’ life.
Once all good, working equipment is collected and checked, it will be redistributed free among their patients in need, and to AmeriCares, to aid and assist people in need both domestically and internationally.
Note equipment must be serviceable and in usable condition; anything requiring batteries or electricity will not be accepted. For questions, or more information, please contact Sandra Alexandrou, PT at firstname.lastname@example.org
October 14th, 2011
What A Red Door Means In Scotland
Months ago I had come across this great post..sent myself a link to the page, marked it with purple flag (meaning urgent follow-up, HA!), then it slid right off my radar. Until this past week, when talk of door-painting suddenly seemed to become a very hot topic.
What Does Your Front Door Say About You is a broad look at some of the colors that front doors are painted, and what they mean. Went back, re-read the post, then trolled around Susan’s own site, and it was absolutely delightful.
Between Naps on the Porch is a blog Susan Herin created out of love for all things home: Decorating, tablescapes, recipes-you name it.
I like it for several reasons-it’s professional, detailed, creative and tasteful. Like M*****, without the whole smug-thing. And this was before we had even e-connected, she is just as delightful. live and in person!
Visit, enjoy, even bookmark, and may a red door be in your future, too!
October 13th, 2011
What’s New In My Staging Kit This Week?
Whenever I ‘find’ anything new/different-or think of something unusual that really does a great job at helping me do my job, I always like to share it.
Nothing extraordinary, just simple things that either entertain and engage buyers , or take care of the ordinary, stupid stuff that happens when you live in a house: Fingerprints, pet hair, that sort of thing.
This week I found a new and invaluable tool. Not for the house, or their stuff…but for all the humans in the equation…
Have been a fan of W.S. Badger products for a while….soothing, all natural body care products, their balms are formulated with different botanicals for each task. Sleep Balm? Snooze City! Sore Muscle Balm? Moving again in no time. So it was with great delight I found the newest addition to my Staging Kit:
Cheerful Mind formula: How could you not love this?? Honestly, I’m already happier just carrying it around-I mean, look at that cute chubby little guy on the tin!
But open it, run a little on your wrists, temples, even just a touch on the underside tip of your nose, and the scent of fresh orange and lemon combined with spearmint will lift you-or anyone else-out of the cranky-pants doldrums in no time.
Seriously, it’s subtle and gentle, and for about $8.00 a tin, you can’t go wrong. Available at most health-and whole-food stores, keep one in your car, at your desk, wherever there is stress, and you need a smile to be an arm-length away.
To paraphrase Yogi-selling a house is 90% mental, and the other half physical, I am seriously considering making one of these part of each Staging proposal I do.
Double-bonus-it’s a family-run business, and the products are made right here in the northeast-YAY, Badger Balm!
October 11th, 2011
Fifty Is Not What It Used To Be, And Neither Is Sixty
Have you seen the latest cover of New York Magazine?
A take-off of the infamous Demi Moore cover on Vanity Fair, it’s a bit unnerving. But re-defining the who/what/when/why of what makes up a family, and how they live is not news to the Census Bureau, or to those of us in the home and housing industry.
As a young adult, most of us became familiar with the typical milestones in life: first job, first place, first serious relationship, family, career, retirement.
We might not experience them all, but they were familiar, and by and large, this was the order we experienced them in.
Today, people in their 50′s could be new parents-adoptive or otherwise, sending kids off to school at any grade, welcoming back their grads who have not found a job, helping to raise grandchildren. They could also be be care-givers for an ill or re-habbing child or spouse, or tending to the needs of a parent.
Those in their sixties might have many of the same situations-perhaps less actively involved in children living in their home, but they could be retiring just as easily as they’d be starting up their own business…down-sizing their residence, or upsizing into a 2nd, vacation home. Divorcing…or re-marrying, complete with a new blended, extended family.
Economics, medical science and a society generally more accepting of differences have all combined to blur previously understood definitions and accepted timelines. According to the Pew Institute, a record 49 million-or 16.1% of Americans lived in a household that contained two different adult generations, or a grandparent and at least one other generation.
Add in the burgeoning work-at-home segment, rarely does their space and their things best serve their current circumstances. They all have to live somewhere. That is where the value of hiring professionals lies.
Each family presents its own unique situation and challenges. Home professionals know the questions to ask, and have smart solutions. Architects are trained to address changes and updates in infrastructure; experienced Senior Move Managers are a godsend who help make transitions easy for parent and adult children as well.
Having worked shoulder to shoulder with homeowners, in thousands of Westchester and Fairfield county homes, I understand how people live in their homes, and bring a unique perspective to the table.
Trained/certified as both a Decorator and a Home Stager, I understand how to balance the yearning with the reality, and know how to combine the common sense and the dream, the aesthetically pleasing as well as the functional.
the refreshed home supports and plays well with Architects, Movers, Senior Move Managers, Realtors, Contractors/Builders, Property Managers and Landlords.
Because I understand-and can explain-design principles like balance and color, space planning and lighting-the refreshed home specializes in old, unusual and small-to-average spaces, and also works directly with homeowners, tenants, buyers, sellers, and small business owners.
Bottom line, if your life/family/lifestyle is not matching up with your space, or your possessions, there could be some very easy fixes for you, and we should talk. Soon.
Because life is too short for you not to be in your best possible space.
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!
September 23rd, 2011
Exclusive Offer For Fans of TRH
Free 15 Minute Personal Consult
If your space, or your stuff isn’t working out the way you want, let the refreshed home help get you going in the right direction.
*Not sure what to do on your bare windows?
*Walls covered with sample paint dots or paper squares?
*Not sure where- or how to place your art in a new space?
*Have family moving in-or out-need to re-think, re-calibrate?
*Ready for a change, just don’t know where to start?
No matter if you are looking to down-size or upgrade; if you are staying or selling; need help in knowing how to buy a sofa, where to place it in the room, or just update what you’ve got- the refreshed home has got you covered.
Here’s how it works:
1. Gather relevant info: Send me link to your current listing, take digital photos of what you don’t like-or are considering, scan floor plans or blueprints, that sort of thing.
Detail is important, but so is context, so be sure to include shots of the whole space, even adjacent spaces/issues. Up to 3 links can be considered.
2. Send it to me: email@example.com Include your phone contact info, along with a brief synopsis of your situation, use code THR53.
3. I will contact you: Your preference, one-to-one by appointment on the phone, or an emailed report-we’ll walk through some solutions together
Life is too short not to have a space that makes you happy!
Free 15 Minute Personal Online Consult available for a limited time only, so don’t delay-start the conversation now!
September 3rd, 2011
PAINTING? Why Color Is NOT Your Biggest Decision
(VOC’s: What They Are, And Why You Should Care)
This is a long post. It came from my not finding this information in a single, comprehensive source. For you and your familys’ health and well-being, please read it through, and share it with anyone else you know about to paint.
If you’re thinking about doing some painting around the house, you have a bigger decision to make other than color. Not what you’d expect to hear from a Decorator and Stager, but it’s true. Good news, it’s an easy decision.
“VOC” entered most of our consciousness about 6 or 7 years ago, primarily as in paints that were marketed as low-to-no VOC. You may even know VOC = Volatile Organic Compounds, or that low to no VOCs have fewer fumes.
At an AIA/ASID CE course I recently attended, and my eyes were opened a lot wider, let me share, in lay terms:
VOCs are carbon-based molecules that escape into the atmosphere, many as off-gases from building and home products…that new vinyl shower curtain? new carpet? Yup. Odors from upholstery, paint, even that much-treasured new car smell-all VOCs.
VOCs have several impacts in our lives, none of them good. Depending on the type, concentration and length of exposure, VOCs that are inhaled can be carcinogenic, cause serious respiratory and neurological issues, even death.
Studies show that interior concentrations of VOCs are anywhere from two to five times higher in homes than they are outdoors. Awareness is key, but better to avoid. Minnesota Department of Health has compiled an excellent list of other sources.
Once outside, VOCs wreck another type of havoc. When they mix with nitrogen oxides (gases most commonly found in automobile exhaust) and sunlight, ozone is formed.
Ozone in the right amount blocks about 97% of the harmful UV rays coming from the sun, while regulates earth’s temperature. In the wrong amount, ground-level ozone is formed, which traps pollutants and creates smog; or it goes to the upper atmosphere, keeping harmful gases in, while throwing our built-in thermostat out of whack.
“Global warming” and “ greenhouse gases” sound so…LARGE and impossibly complex. If you are thinking “It’s just me, I’ll get what’s on sale, it’s only a couple of gallons”, keep reading.
Bob Upton is an Architect and Designer Representative for Benjamin Moore, and presenter of this AIA/ASID approved course. According to Bob, in a gallon of today’s typical latex paint, up to 1/2 of it can be solvents that evaporate when applied. Shockingly, that’s a big improvement on what most of us grew up with…when up to 2/3 of the gallon were these solvents!!
On their own, the enviornmental (no fumes, easy clean up) or economical (covers better, dries quicker, more actual ‘paint’ in each gallon)implications are startling enough; when considered together, you have to ask why even consider anything besides a no, or at least low VOC paint?
Some more environmentally-friendly decisions are pricier than others, no VOC paint is minimally so, compared to decent quality regular latex paints. Going forward, it will be the only thing I spec out. And now that I see the economy moving again, watch for future posts on better choices on other home/building products.
Service, and education is the way to run and grow a business these days. . Sharing info that will help you live better, be smarter, healthier, or keep some bucks in your pocket is what the refreshed home is all about, and I respect and support business that do the same, so a few shout-outs, for an ongoing job well-done:
Westchester’s design trade has few better friends than Michael Murphy, and Murphy Brothers Contracting in Mamaroneck. On a regular basis they organize and sponsor to-the-trade CE events. I may not always write about them, but I attend many, and am always smarter for it.
Long before I knew of Murphy Brothers, I had several connections to Majestic Kitchens and Baths, also in Mamaroneck. The Luceno family has also extended themselves, hosting two events I attended, in their beautiful, state of the art showroom.
LAST…there are a lot of paint companies out there… and sure, NOW they all want to help the designers; but ten, fifteen years ago, Benjamin Moore was the only one that did. IMO, they continue to bring the smartest products, and the most user-friendly services to the table for both consumers and the trade. Thank you, to Bob Upton and Benjamin Moore!
September 1st, 2011
September 1st: Did You Know
Recently I wrote about Labor Day as the new New Years’ Day. Turns out September 1st is quite an interesting day in history, LOTS of firsts, and auspicious new beginnings. For example-did you know:
-It’s Hero’s Day in Tanzania, Revolution Day in Libya (!!), and Independence Day in Viet Nam
-The first yacht race took place (1661), between England’s King Charles, and his brother James
- Phillis Wheatly became the first African-American poet to be published (“Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral”, 1773)
-William Becknell left Independence, MO with other traders, for Santa Fe, creating what would be known as the Santa Fe Trail (1821)
-First American settlement was established in the northern Oregon Territory by Marcus Whitman, and his wife, Narcissa. She was also the first woman to have made that trip.
-Joseph Lister performed the first surgery using antiseptics (1865)
-Emma Nutt of Boston became the first female telephone operator (1878)
On September 1st-the first Pullman sleeping railroad car was put into service (1859), first Labor Day was observed in NYC (1882) by Carpenters and Joiners Union, then declared a national holiday by Congress (1894).
September 1st also saw the first triple-header was played (1890, Boston vs. Pittsburgh). Helen Keller graduated with honors from Radcliffe (1904), WWII ended with Japan’s surrender (1945).
VERY INTERESTINGLY, Mommar Gaddafi deposed then-Libyan ruler Kind Idris (1969), Bobby Fischer of the US defeated Boris Spasky ofRussia for the world chess title (1972), and the wreck of the Titanic was found, 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland (1985).
All this courtesy of a daily email drop called On This Day, from Reference.com. You can subscribe for free, they don’t spam you, and in about 45 seconds you can be smarter, every day.
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.