Friday, May 28, 2010

Sometimes you just want to change the look of your home without an all day trip to the mall or home improvement store. You’re looking for a new feel to your space without spending all weekend or even all day. So in recognition of Memorial Day weekend and the kickoff to summer, let’s talk about some quick and simple ways to spruce up your home without breaking the bank while still having time to fire up the grill.
If you have neutral color palette to your room, it will be even easier to make some changes. However, even if you do not have neutral walls and furniture, you can still apply these ideas.

Throw Pillows: Possibly THE easiest way to dress up a couch, bed, or chair is to add a throw pillow (or better yet several!) I like to change with the seasons, so think along those lines for color inspiration. Bright or pastel colors for spring and summer, earthtones for fall and deep warm tones for winter. Also don’t forget to mix and match patterns with solids. Don’t buy all of the same pattern or texture, mix it up with a large pattern paired with a small check or solid. I like to use pillows in the same color family or sometimes, contrasting colors, such as aqua blue and light orange, for instance. Either way you go, throw some pillows down and see what you think. The next best part about pillows: if you’re not happy with the ones you bought, just exchange them for the right ones.

Plants: Plants can easily change the tone of a room from stuffy and sterile to warm and inviting. Don’t over do it, we don’t want to look like Little Shop of Horrors, but just enough to compliment your space. Don’t forget a beautiful container to coordinate with your room. Here is another chance to bring in color and even texture to an otherwise neutral room.

Window Treatments: For a bit more time, you can change the curtains in your room. Maybe you want to evoke the feel of your favorite hotel room in the Caribbean and just use sheers in your bedroom. Maybe you’re looking to make your dining room more formal and therefore choose a sophisticated pattern. Maybe you don’t want curtains at all and opt for a beautiful roman shade or sliding panels. As you can see, the options are endless, but don’t underestimate the power of window treatments to transform a room. For another change, replace the drapery hardware; the options are endless here too!

Area Rugs: If you have a bare floor, area rugs are a super easy way to ground your space.

If you have rugs down already, think about changing them out periodically. You’ll not only end up with a different look, but also reduce the wear and tear on your floor decor.

Lamp Shades: Purchase new ones with exciting colors and patterns or if you’re feeling really “Martha Stewarty,” recover or repaint your existing ones. Just be cautious not to get a really thick fabric or your light will be dimmed.

One quick idea: Add a beautiful throw blanket to the corner of a sofa or chair. It instantly adds color and texture and works great to soften hard edges. It also encourages cuddling :)
*Oh, and don't forget the outside. Many of these same techniques will give new life to a dull patio or porch.

Obviously, these are just a few ways to make simple changes, but all very effective. So look around and see what you can tweak this weekend. If you’re like me, you have a closet full of items just waiting to be used! Happy Memorial Day!

Till next time….

Monday, May 3, 2010


I have always felt that every room in your home should have something living, and/or organic in it. Fido and Fluffy aside, I’m mostly speaking of plants. Plants can instantly liven up a bland room with color and style. An empty corner that once faded away is brought back with a potted plant. A drab entryway shines with a new arrangement, and a single rose is sometimes enough to draw out a smile.

Two basic types of pot plants:
First...flowering plants that may either flower all at one time or keep flowering over various periods of time. Some of the favorites are geraniums, azaleas, begonias, hydrangeas, lilies, roses, gardenias, chrysanthemums, African violets, tulips, poinsettias, daffodils and hyacinths.

Second... foliage or green plants, mostly tropical verities professionally conditioned to grow in almost any climate. Some of the more popular are philodendrons, ferns, jade plants, Chinese evergreens, dracaena, caladiums, coleus, bromeliads and cacti and other succulent plants.

Now, don’t panic! You might be saying, “Sure John, I love plants too, but I somehow tend to kill them all when they enter my house!” Don’t fret! I, for one, am not a plant expert either. I can water and fertilize but I don’t dwell on learning all of the Latin names (or everyday names for that matter) and what upkeep is best, etc. I even have *gasp* silk arrangements!! I know, I’m banned from interior design for good now, but I’m here to tell you, those silk plants make me just as happy as the real ones.

"DON’T eat your fruits and vegetables"

Here are some things to consider when adding plant life to your rooms:

Scale: Just as you wouldn’t want a tiny table with a huge sofa, you don’t want a mini plant all alone in a large space. Picture the plant in the spot and if it’s too big or small, choose another.

Color: Some people are scared of wall color, the same might be afraid to add color via plants. I for one, think plants are the perfect addition of color (just the way that your pillows and accessories add a punch of color). So find a vibrant flower and incorporate it in to your space.

Go Green: If choosing color isn’t your specialty, you can never go wrong with a simple green plant. The varieties are endless, and again, when scaled correctly, they almost always work. Potted palms also usually work in any situation.

Formal or Casual: Your sofa has a distinctive style, and so can your plants. Make sure that you consider the style of your room before bringing in the plants. Don’t go too formal or casual with the arrangement if it doesn’t fit the room.

DON’T eat your fruits and vegetables: Decorate with them! Some of my most favorite arrangements have been done with simple fruit or vegetables arranged in a glass vase or platter. Again, they’re all natural, bring in life, and are beautiful when coordinated with your room.

Pots and Containers: Dont' forget style when it comes to what holds your plants. The container choices are endless and can work with any decor. Think of the pot or container as another accessory in your room and make it beautiful.
"Don’t go too formal or casual with the arrangement if it doesn’t fit the room"

No need to water:

Ok, so if you’re dead set on not having any responsibilities with your plants. Here are some non-living choices for you…

Silk arrangements or flowers: I always look for the flower that most closely resembles the real one. I also like to mix and match real and silk. Most people can’t tell and it saves some money. I also place the faux flora farther away so that it’s not entirely obvious that it’s not real. (I do this with orchids as I cannot for the life of me, keep them alive!)

Branches: From curvy willow to colored twigs. Lots of homeowners are adding some form of branches or dried plants to their interiors. Dried branches can be very sculptural and original. Moreover, they don’t require watering and can pep up a boring space in an instant.

Organic objects: There are lots of products on the market that are made from natural materials that were once alive. Look to these to bring some life in.

"Dried branches can be very sculptural and original"

One last note: look to magazine for inspiration on plants and flowers in rooms. Magazines will stage a room to make it more pleasing to the eye; take cues from them and add similar plants, flowers, fruits, vegetables, or organic items to your home. You’ll be amazed at what you can do without a lot of money!

And if all else fails, just hang a picture of a flower!  ;)

Till next time….