into a newly purchased home would seem to be an ideal situation. There’s fresh
paint, clean carpets or flooring, and all that empty wall space waiting like a
blank canvas for your first decorations. But trust me when I say it’s not that easy
to make a new home feel warm and inviting. It can take years before a home
represents your tastes and lifestyle.
Above via Witford
home is an evolving, work in progress. Styles change and we eventually crave
updates, even with the best chosen furnishings.
think what holds us back from creating a warm new home environment is uncertainty,
but there is also this misconception that a home looks better when sparsely
furnished. Unless you happen to prefer the look of a museum or a mass-mailed
furniture catalog, nothing could be further from the truth. A home looks and
feels better when it has a more personal appearance, one that has evolved over
Above Janie Molster
how do you personalize your home right from the beginning? I’ve put together some
ways to help you identify the usual culprits of decorating whether the home is
brand new or simply new to you.
you’re going to enlist professionals to remodel, repair and paint now is the
obvious time. I’m biased, but employing a designer at this time will help pull
all your ideas together and help you prioritize projects.
Above designer unknown
the temptation to discard any furniture or accessories until well after the big
move. You may “think” you don’t like an old chair or desk or lamp but in
reality with fresh paint or new fabric those old pieces may have just the touch
of character your new home needs.
the biggest pieces first: the bed, area rugs, the sofa, the China hutch, the
dining table, and the entertainment center. Place these correctly before
proceeding. Don’t place anything on angles. That idea is passé and never worked
well to begin with.
of big pieces of furniture as anchors. When placed correctly, these anchors
will “feel” like they’ve been there “forever”. Like matured landscaping, they
give a space a sense of “permanence”.
Above Designer Unknown
a little trick I came up with many years ago. Use your existing pieces as
markers for helping you with future purchases. For instance, if you know you’ll
be ordering a new sofa, use your current sofa in the place where the new one
will go for a short time. How does it fit? Should it be a sectional? Should it
have a skirt? Would a different fabric pattern go better in the new
surroundings? The same goes with other items. Use them as measuring sticks or
barometers for planning new purchases.
Above via Simple Details
the biggest pieces are properly placed, you can place the smaller items such as
the sideboard, armchairs, accent chairs, cocktail and end tables, lamps and
the living room, if the space is large you’ll need two to three seating
arrangements: one dominant and one to two subordinate. For small spaces one to
two seating areas is plenty. Accentuate each area with at least one accent
table and/or lamp.
Above Grant Gibson
second most common mistake is to overlook window treatments. Unless your
architecture and views are outstanding and the windows themselves are to die
for, you probably need a little fabric on them by way of lined or sheer
draperies. Clean looking wooden shutters and blinds are wonderful for modern
Above Designer Unknown
Five and Six
time to gild the lily. You have your big anchor pieces and small accent pieces
placed. Now you get to place accessories and hang pictures.
like to start at the beginning, the entry. From there I like to move on to the
formal living room, then the dining room, then the master bedroom, then the
family room or den if there is one, then the kitchen, then spare bedrooms and
Above Hamish Bowles
I like working in a circular fashion viewing my rooms as I go, from the point of
entrance. Try and mix up styles and eras as you furnish and accessorize each
room and aim for a balanced “coverage” throughout, yet leaving little areas of
undecorated space as a place to rest the eyes.
Above Via Domino
Above Jeffrey Allen Marks
Here are some common upgrades, some of which are required for building to code:
I adore spring. Its my favorite time of the year to be outside. The freshly sprouted greenery, the sound of the pond and waterfall, the fountains, sitting on the back patio with my dog and an iced tea. An old garden is the best sort, and mine is almost 90 years old.
Decorating the patio is so popular and fun right now. To help get you started, your local hardware and garden supply stores have great selections. Once you do your space planning and understand your sizes and furniture needs, you can use this article to help you choose items that will add style and uniqueness to your project.
SHIREE HANSON SEGERSTROM photo credit
Rather than choosing all matching furniture en suite (tres boring), coordinate your furniture choices made from a variety of materials. For instance, iron looks great with wicker or wood but not so great with aluminum. Iron and aluminum are too similar to create visual interest. Choose just two or three matching pieces like I did with my dark brown settee and chair. They provided my anchor seating. I then added an iron settee and a black woven egg chair which provided variety and gave my outdoor room a unique, custom vibe. Not like it's been furnished from a catalog. Adding even one piece of interest like a fashionable teak daybed with lots of pillows makes a big statement.
PHOTO credit unknow
For accessories, choose useful items such as oversized lanterns, candlesticks, potted topiary, big comfy pillows in weather resistant fabrics, and even subtle wall décor. By accessorizing your patio with things that have a purpose you’ll keep it from looking pretentious or overdone.
I'm also liking the look of black and warm white cushions on the patio. Black and white add a crisp counterfoil to whatever patio material you have be it concrete, flagstone or brick or even semi-soft ground material like crushed granite or pea gravel. I don't like my fabrics to upstage the greenery and garden color.
PHOTO credit unknown
I initially found my own patio very hard to plan. It's a huge square space which always creates challenges and to make matters worse it has a large, upright central wooden beam. Since I often entertain 6 to 12 dinner guests during the warm weather months I needed ample seating and dining space. Growing plants is problematic too. It has half light shade and half deep shade making plant choice very difficult. I softened the central beam with large shade tolerant potted plants like asparagus ferns, woodwardia and star jasmine. I surrounded the furniture with double and triple ball ivy topiary which both accentuates and softens the seating areas.
ecause a portion of my patio is covered I can get away with feather cushions and pillows with indoor fabrics but I must admit outdoor fabrics and materials last longer even under cover and are so much less stressful.
Living in California means our life outdoors is extended to nine months. All the more reason to have an outdoor space you love!
How many times have you
started a project, like painting your home office or choosing new throw pillows
for your living room sofa, or organizing your junk drawer and not followed
through? If you’re like me lately, a lot!
I’ve been planning a big move. I'm selling my home and relocating life and business to Sacramento County, California.
For four and a half months I
lived in disorganized despair. However, that all changed this week. My home is
back in order and better than ever. With less furniture and fewer accessories the
focus is now on the architecture.
Here are some tips for staging that I've picked up in my almost twenty year design career.
Shiree’s Style File: Staging an Owner Furnished Home For Sale:
All large surfaces like
windows, windowsills, carpets, lighting, chandeliers, floors and walls should
be clean and freshly painted where needed. Just because you can’t see the dust
doesn’t mean others won’t.
Furniture and draperies should
also be clean and in good condition but unfortunately not everyone selling a
home has that advantage. Services like Coit Drapery Cleaners do come to the
house and will clean upholstery provided it’s not frayed. If it’s frayed,
cleaning will cause the fabric to further deteriorate.
If the sofa or chairs are
especially unattractive, discount stores such as TJ Maxx have a great selection
of fine quality pillows. I like to use three matching twenty inch down blend
throw pillows on an average sized 94-98 inch sofa. Red is always a good pillow
color for neutral color schemes. Cream colored throws also hide a myriad of
Keep small table top
accessories to a minimum. Instead use larger items like stacks of hardbound
design books, lamps and faux or natural plants in decorative pots or
Keep framed family photos to a minimum. For my home, I removed all table top photos and retained my rogue's gallery in the stairwell and at the top of the staircase.
Keep all mail and clutter
Sanitize bathrooms with a
little Clorox here and there. Yes it is toxic so use sparingly but it gets rid
of household germs and smells and gives the rooms a really fresh, clean
Fluff the pillows and throws.
Open the windows if possible.
Nothing beats clean, fresh air. It not only smells better, it feels really
healthy upon entering a home. Like a walk in the woods.
Fluffy white towels, white
sheets and white toilet paper give bedrooms and baths a spa feel.
Lastly, a few small vases of scented fresh flowers are a nice touch. Scatter them in unexpected places too like the hall, kitchen and bathrooms.
Room Service is
my makeover for the home using
the furniture and accessories you already
have. It's perfect for
people who have some furnishings, but
have trouble pulling them together in a functional,
attractive and cohesive manner.
shopping for or planning future purchases,
a home makeover is very helpful in
clarity on a variety of issues such as size
color, style and function. Often times, you’ll find that the item you want to replace, can be utilized
elsewhere or enhanced with new accessories.
Room Service Home Makeovers are perfect for people
combining homes like newlyweds, people
who are downsizing, and even those who are
purchasing a new home. It is a dynamic, invaluable tool to get your projects started.
Mistakes are a common factor in purchasing home furnishings. They can be frustrating, especially with large budget items such as sofas and window treatments. However, during my home makeovers I provide clients with invaluable clarity on function, size, color and style so they are much better equipped to shop on their own, with or without a designer.
a personal style that’s unique
furniture in the most functional,
visually appealing ways.
artworks for the most visual
accessories in new and interesting ways.
or incorporate items to and from other rooms.
future purchase plans to go with your new scheme.
My Valentine's Day Gift to you!
With your purchase of a four hour Room Service Home Makeover, refer a friend and receive your choice of a complimentary year's subscription to House Beautiful or a 15 minute phone consultation upon receipt of their order! Save up to $145 on my annual special pricing on two and four hour Room Service makeovers February 1 through 28. For reservations call 209-728-7701 before February 2nd to make your reservation.
I have to confess, winter is
not my favorite season. Even though I live in California we have our fair share
of cold and even the occasional snow. I’m not complaining. Okay, maybe a
little. But by the time Christmas is done I crave tennis, the longer days of
daylight savings time, and the sight of fresh green growth in my garden.
Over the years, I’ve found effective
ways to lighten the winter doldrums like bundling up for walks with my mate and
canine companion; building evening fires in the fireplace; keeping warm and
hearty vegetarian soups and stews cooking on the stove; and finding appealing ways
to add warming, visual interest to my home and garden.
As an interior designer,
gardener and former owner of five retail design stores I’ve been exposed to as
well as have come up with my own, ideas to make the dreary winter months
pleasant, warm and aesthetically pleasing.
Here are ten of my favorite
ways to brighten your winter mood at home:
WINGS VIEW AT HOME
1.Forcing bulbs and branches-
Paper Whites, Amaranth, flowering quince, forsythia and hyacinth are super easy
to ‘force’ into flowering. Cold storing bulbs mimics the effect of winter cold
and tricks the bulbs into thinking its spring when brought inside to the warmer
temperatures of the home. Quince and forsythia need buds on them before they
can be forced but bulbs can start without growth.
2.Texture- in design terms
translates to warmth and visual interest. Functional, beautiful elements that
add texture are baskets and heavy throw blankets. For fall think in terms of earth tones like
russets, golden yellows, and warm browns. For Christmas, winter white, greens,
reds or icy blues if that happens to be your color scheme.
3.Swapping throw pillows- is a
bit more challenging especially in rooms that are already decorated. Look for
fabrics in warm tones that also coordinate with the other elements in the room.
If you don’t have a lot of patterned fabrics in your design scheme it will be
easier to find the right coordinating pillows.
4.Greenery, fresh or faux- bringing the outside
in is never a bad thing but it’s especially effective during long winter days.
Having greenery, fresh or faux in your home signals spring and can be
incredibly mood enhancing. Some of my favorites are ivy and honeysuckle
topiary, red and white amaryllis, and fragrant paper white Narcissi’s.
5.Mirrors- are also strategic year
round decorating elements and during the winter months they help by expanding
light during shorter, darker days.
6.New lamps- to shed light on
those dark corners of the home. With lamps, you really get what you pay for.
The design and quality of high quality lamps is truly an investment that will
pay off. Cheap lighting seldom looks good to begin with, and doesn’t stay in
7.Cocktail trays and carts- add
a touch of festivity and function to your rooms. I love freshly washed
stemware, interesting liquor bottles and attractive cocktail accoutrement like
decorative cheese knives and stir sticks. Also a nice touch: fresh tea towels
to hang casually from cart handles.
8.Silver or China tea service-
are other great ways to add festivity and function to formal rooms. I love
putting them in the formal areas like a corner of the living room, on the
dining room sideboard or even in the entry if it’s near the dining room.
JEFFREY ALLEN MARKS
9.The color red- in little
touches here and there is a subtle yet confident way to add warmth and
brightness to any décor or color scheme. It doesn’t take a lot: a red nosegay
in a small green glass vase, a red cashmere throw tossed casually over the back
of a chair, a lampshade in red silk. Even if your color scheme contains no red,
small touches of the color add so much.
MARK D. SIKES
10.Hard bound coffee table books-
are my favorite “fillers” for table, sideboard and dresser tops. I have them in
every room because they add character, beauty and a feeling of permanence to
any home. It’s very hard to have too many so don’t be shy.
11.Solar tubes and skylights-
are one of the best upgrades you can make in any home. I’ve done them in
designer showcases and client’s homes and they’re indispensable in winter
months. Care must be taken, however to protect furniture and flooring from
12.Drapery sheers- I have long
been a fan of unlined, white linen, floor length curtain panels on rods and
rings layered in conjunction with lined, functioning (traversing) stationary
(non-functioning) drapery panels. I love the options the two layers allow. Keep
in mind how much glass and light will be covered by the expanse of draperies.