joy of nesting

joy of nesting
Shiree Hanson Segerstrom Design and Wellness for Women with Arthritis and Other Chronic Pain.

Questions to Ask When Hiring an Interior Designer

“Successful people ask better questions” says life coach, author and consultant Tony Robbins, “and as a result they get better answers”. Whatever you do, whether you’re a doctor, lawyer, accountant or retired teacher much of your success in life relies on the “quality” of your questions. I experience this myself every day.















I was recently looking for a doctor specializing in the holistic care of arthritis. Should I call an allopath or an osteopath? I’ve been working on my marketing plans for 2015 and need a way to organize its many facets. Do I create a “flow chart”, a narrative report or a spreadsheet? In 2007, an accountant suggested to a friend that she invest her life savings in second mortgages for a 10 per cent return. Certain it was too good to be true, she got a second opinion from someone who said that if those homeowners she loaned money to defaulted on the mortgages, she would be stuck with the properties. She declined the first accountant’s suggestion and ten months later, the bottom fell out of the real estate market. Without “quality” questions, questions that are already somewhat informed, you’re like a ship at sea without a compass.   

Occasionally someone will call and say “I’ve worked with a designer before and I’d like you to help me with….chairs and window coverings” or something equally precise. But usually calls come from people who haven’t a clue what they need. They don’t know the right questions and they are relying on me, someone they’ve never met, to essentially tell them which ones to ask.

Questions to Ask Your Designer  

How can I be sure you’ll understand my tastes and lifestyle? How can I be sure you won’t try and sell me something I don’t need? Can we start out slowly, till I gain a comfort level with working with a designer? How do you charge for your time? How will I be able to “envision” the changes you’re suggesting for my home? How do you know I’ll like the changes?

The answers to these questions exist in a transparent, give and take conversation between client and designer. There’s nothing wrong with asking questions. If the person you’re entrusting is trustworthy, they will “want” to reassure you. If they’re not, you’re better off without them.

In answer to the above, the designer will ask you questions about what you like and dislike in your home currently, how you live in it now versus how you’d prefer to live in it, and based upon your input, he or she will build a variety of optional design schemes for your approval. In your first consultations with the designer you’ll be able to tell if she is self-serving or client-serving. One clue that she’s serving your best needs is she will ask a lot of questions as opposed to pushing products without getting enough information from you. Visual aids in the form of pictures, 3D floor plans and drawings, and over sized fabric swatches will help ascertain you get the right things for “you”. On presentation day, you’ll be able to envision the plans from these aids. If the schemes are right for you, something usually clicks. The possibilities of the design schemes and visual aids will excite you.

Ask quality questions again on presentation day such as “are the sofa cushions good quality”; “do the curtains allow enough daylight”; “will my napping dog damage the fabric for the chairs”; and “does the dining room table have leaves.”

Questions Your Designer Will Ask You

What do you love about your current home? What do you dislike about it? Do you get a lot of sun in this room? Will you be doing any entertaining? How many children or grandchildren do you have? Any pets? What colors are you drawn to? What’s your budget? Do you have any deadlines? What do you use this room for? Can we work around this antique table or do I have to omit it from the plans? Any rooms you don’t use in the home? Do you like your home to feel formal, casual or a little of both? Do you like pattern and color? Any physical disabilities or challenges? All of these questions may not seem vital but a designer uses many of them as perimeters for myriad decisions from planning furniture layouts to choosing fabrics and window covering styles to lighting plans.

His or her questions and subsequent answers are only as good as your designer’s listening and communication skills. If you don’t understand something, stop the conversation and ask for clarification. If you or the designer are jotting down notes while the other person is speaking, stop writing, and ask the person to repeat themselves. If you or the designer is writing or thinking about what they’re going to say next, they’re not really listening. Take copious notes. Clarify uncertainties. All of these are key in good communication.

Quick Tips

Start out slow the first time you work with a designer till you get comfortable. As your project proceeds from initial consultation to proposals, design schemes, orders, fabrications and installations you will become more familiar with how designers work and charge for their time.

It really helps if a client has at least some idea of what they like and dislike. We can gain a lot of knowledge from some of the simplest visual aids: pictures of things you like; swatches of fabric; or even a framed painting can act as a catalyst in your project.

The aesthetic quality of the project will be evident in the designer’s presentation. Look for outstanding fabric combinations that also have some flexibility; tear sheets of beautiful, high quality furnishings; well written plans that evolve around your existing furnishings and architecture; and professional, clean looking estimates and budgets with branded logos and signature fonts and colors.

Look for designers who have workrooms with at least fifteen years of experience. I have seen many otherwise beautiful projects look amateurish and silly because of poorly crafted upholstery and window treatments.

Live beautifully. Eat beautifully, Shiree

Click "Pain Free Design and Wellness" for a free chapter of my powerful new book that helps women with arthritis create beautiful, functional homes and take better care of themselves every day because home is where it all begins.

Energy Boosts for Tired Interiors


Being at home should be a positive experience especially for those of us with chronic pain like arthritis. But if you find yourself looking for ways to get out of the house rather than ways to enjoy yourself while there, you might want to consider buffing up your domestic act with one or more of the following improvements. Look at it this way: if your home is a drain on your energy, it’s time for a change and that time is now.



















Fabric

Fabric is one of my favorite ways to update and refresh a tired space. Reupholstering the sofa, dressing the windows, slipcovering the chairs, and having some coordinating throw pillows done up will revive a tired room into something wonderful.

Combining fabric is tricky. If you’re a person who shies away from pattern, using high quality, beautifully textured fabrics will be your best bet. You can start with a beautiful, softly prewashed linen and add subtle luxury fabrics like velvet and silk ticking. When choosing floral fabrics choose a pattern with a limited number of colors (2 to 3) in it. I love using Midi or awning style stripe fabrics as an accent. ’m not a big fan of checks mainly because I feel they wore out their welcome in the 80’s but I do like wool or cotton plaids if they’re well designed.


Paint

Every ten years or so, have one or two fresh coats of paint. Whites are generally cooler now, with more gray undertones than before. Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams and Dunn Edwards offer designer colors with a less expensive cost per gallon while Pratt and Lambert, Fine Paints of Europe, and Farrow and Ball have beautiful, timeless colors, high pigment content and long lasting quality.

Always use a flat finish in the public rooms and master bedroom; satin or eggshell in bathrooms, kitchen and children’s areas; and satin, gloss or semi-gloss on cabinetry, doors, windows and casing. If “white paint” isn’t your idea of redecorating, choose your colors carefully. Today’s homes have open floor plans and they usually don’t look right with multiple changes in color without the visual dividers of doorway frames.

Light colors like pale yellow, pale gray-blue, and light celadon green are good options for colors that “travel” well from room to room.

Keep in mind warm colors advance, making the room appear smaller while light, cool colors recede, making the room appear larger.

Makeovers

A great way to improve and beautify your home is to give it a makeover using the things you already have. A makeover is economical because it saves you from unnecessary purchases. It helps you make the most of what you already have. Big bonus: once your makeover is complete, you’ll really be able to see what purchases are truly needed.

Makeovers for the living room usually take one day while the other rooms take half days. Experiment with furniture placement, placing the sofa and other large furnishings first. Anchor conversation areas with furniture then create focal points with accessories. Move things around till you get it right. Fireplaces are built-in focal points and are nicely balanced with an opposing sofa. Don’t place furnishings on an angle. You want your furniture to provide an anchoring, stabilizing effect and angled layouts are discombobulating.

Accessories

While accessories like pillows, baskets, throws, books, vases, pots, plants (faux and real), and lamps are comparatively inexpensive next to buying new furniture and window coverings, when put together they are not a small expense. As an example, to prepare for a home tour several years ago, I purchased new accessories to add to my existing ones in the living room, dining room, and master bedroom and spent close to $2,000 on accessories alone.

I purchased ten framed prints, five large pots, two table cloths (for permanent use, not for dining), silver picture frames, and a small area rug. This supplemented the things I already had. The tour was a success and the changes provided me with so much joy, satisfaction and even healing. Your home has a huge effect on your psyche.

When shopping for accessories choose things that work around your architecture and existing furnishings, not just your personal taste. Don’t strive for perfection. Often it’s the quirky piece or item that’s a little off that provides visual interest and tells a story.

Un-decorate

If your personal belongings are collecting dust that never seems to get cleaned, if your spouse or children are embarrassed to have guests over, or if “Hoarders” has contacted you recently to guest appear in an upcoming episode (teasing) it’s time to reduce or repurpose.

Don’t take your unwanted stuff to the thrift store yet, however. Do your makeover starting with the living room first, dining room second, master bedroom third, and so on. You’ll be amazed by the things you can repurpose in other areas of your home. Change is harder for some of us, but your quality of life at home relies on healthy, sustainable changes. A home isn’t static. It needs regular attention to keep it functioning and attractive. Just like you!

A Clean Sweep

One of the things I’ve noticed being a home maker and using a professional coach in years past is that the cleaner and tidier the home, the more motivated I feel in general at work, in my relationship, in my self-care and in my personal development. When you eliminate or change things that are a nuisance to you, you get a tremendous energy boost. This is true of many things in life such as excess weight or a job you have outgrown. As someone smart once said, nature abhors a vacuum.

Get rid of the things that drain your energy to make room for better things to come.

Live beautifully. Eat beautifully, Shiree

Click "Pain Free Design and Wellness" for a free chapter of my powerful new book that helps women with arthritis create beautiful, functional homes and take better care of themselves every day because home is where it all begins.

At Home with Arthritis: A List of Design Priorities Part II


Accessories

It just amazes me how the right accessories, or more specifically the right combination of accessories can affect the look and feel of a home. 



















My Spanish style home built in the 1930’s has some significant architectural features like a vaulted barrel ceiling, a stunning plaster fireplace with original tile; wall to wall casement windows; original handmade iron fixtures, stair rail and drapery rods; a curving staircase and original hardwood floors. Yet it looked cold and dated without the mix of old and new accessories I put together. When choosing and placing accessories the trick is to group things in chosen areas so your home will look more planned and less cluttered. I’ve been a designer for twenty years and I owned, shopped for and merchandised five different design stores of my own and I swear to you, getting the accessories right requires way more art than space planning and furnishing a home. They make a huge difference in the overall look and feel of your home. I’m not saying choosing furniture is easy. When you make a mistake on the size of the sectional it’s an expensive one! Choosing the right paint and cabinetry and getting it to look right… it’s all challenging and you need to know what you’re doing. But the accessories are much less forgiving I find.

Don’t skimp on the quality of the lamps. When in doubt about size, go larger. Simple lamps are always the best accent. They’re easiest to choose. Christopher Spitzmiller has a great, classic style but be prepared to spend around $2,000 per lamp. I also love the reflective finish of mercury glass, particularly in small spaces. Having the perfect lamp in your design scheme really finishes the room and makes the rest of the space easier to accessorize.

I love decorating with stacks of books, baskets, plate collections, plants in interesting pots, trays of liquor where appropriate (living room, dining room) and even soup tureens and stemware. Throw pillows and throws add comfort and are a nice place to interject some pattern for pattern-shy women.

The best place to get fresh ideas for accessorizing your home is via Pinterest. You can visit my board Living Well at Home, Shiree Hanson Segerstrom. The last time I redecorated my living room, dining room and entry with accessories I spent around $1,200.00. Granted I already had a lot of accessories from my design stores and from collecting over the years. It took me two days to get it right. I hung several new framed prints too. I like to empty my rooms of accessories completely before placing the new ones. I turn on some inspiring music. I adore rock and roll but for decorating I prefer jazz or classical. I especially love Rod Stewart’s Song Books and Pink Martini. I pour myself a nice drink such as an iced tea and make sure the household has some place to be.

Creativity can’t happen in tense environments!

I’ve created an accessories list for you to make things a little easier.

Lamps
Assorted pots, vases and jardinières
Candlesticks, votive and poured candles
Framed prints, art and mirrors
Hard bound books
Platters
Baskets
Framed family photos
Throw pillows
Lap blankets
Urns
Trays of liquor and decorative glasses
Statuary
Plants and topiary
Novelty items and faux foliage and fruit (use discretion), collections should be saved for personal spaces.

Live beautifully. Eat beautifully, Shiree'

Click "Pain Free Design and Wellness" for a free chapter of my powerful new book that helps women with arthritis create beautiful, functional homes and take better care of themselves every day because home is where it all begins.





At Home with Arthritis: A Quick List of Design Priorities Part I



Home is where we find our sense of balance and stability. It’s where our most effective self-care happens every day.






















With arthritis, you want a home that’s comfortable, functional, meaningful and yes, beautiful. Beauty, particularly in your surroundings has a huge impact on your psyche. I can attest to this personally. After losing my husband of twenty five years, my beautiful 1930’s Spanish style home and terraced garden was a healing respite for me. I love homes that are comfortable and beautifully evolved with just the right amount of furniture and accessories. It’s those types of homes that I create for my own clients who have chronic pain.

To prepare you and your home for the degenerative changes of arthritis, your main concerns will be with comfort; function; ease of use; and ease of access. If you’re building or remodeling your home, familiarize yourself with the principles of Universal Home Design typically found in kitchens and baths and American Disabilities Act compliant layouts if your illness is further along so you can converse with your contractor and/or architect. Universal Design is defined as “the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of age, size, ability or disability”.

If your budget allows you might want to explore new innovations in technology such as in-home hubs, or intelligent automation, or the new smart refrigerators and faucets. Because you have heat generating arthritis and because you live with chronic pain every day you will want to include cooling colors in your scheme like soft blues, grays, tones of blush, soft greens, taupe and cool whites. Textures like plastered walls, baskets, antique rugs, blankets, throw pillows, and beautiful fabrics add comforting elements while books, mementos and framed family photography add sentiment and meaning.

Again when planning and decorating your home keep in mind comfort, stability (both physical and emotional) function, ease of use and ease of access first and foremost. Begin with space planning and once you have the layout dialed in you can choose furniture, fabric and colors and last by not least, accessories.

Space Planning

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Without a good floor plan nothing else you do will make much sense. A contractor or architect can vastly improve the layout of your existing home. Or try one of the easy space planning apps that do 3D walk-throughs. A 3D walk-through is super helpful in visualizing how the spaces will flow. To simplify things, I like to think of a home as a series of boxes. The size and shape of the boxes, how they connect with one another, and what we put on the walls (windows, curtains, doors, trim, sconces), ceiling (crown molding, paint, light fixtures) and floors (base molding, choice of flooring and rugs) elevate the boxes from cottage to mansion. These elements are often the ones an interior designer chooses in the building process.

Kitchens and baths require the most planning but I’ll do a multiple part feature on that another time, either for sale as a book or as part of my blog.

The furniture layout begins by first identifying door to door traffic patterns. Always keep those clear of furniture and cords. I especially dislike walking around end tables with lamps. My balance is off due to arthritis in both knees and feet and I tend to wobble a bit! Place the largest pieces of furniture first.

Repetition is comforting to the eye and creates a sense of stability. You can achieve repetition through many means such as flooring, paint, cabinetry, crown and base molding, window styles, etc. Scale creates a sense of stability too and the fireplace and built in units are both nice ways to display the principle of scale. If you don’t have a fireplace, some kind of large scale piece adds that scale or ‘visual anchor’. And bonus… having a large scale piece or fireplace makes the job of choosing and placing the rest of the furniture so much easier.

Always place the largest pieces first such as the sofa, then the armchairs, then tables and lighting. For small living rooms, choose sofas and chairs without skirts. This allows light to flow underneath them and it will visually enlarge your space. Conversely, sofas and chairs with skirts create a cozier, fuller look in large spaces. Sofas and chairs without skirts in large spaces tend to look cold and impersonal. Choose sofas under 90 inches for small rooms. For large rooms, choose sofas over 90 inches.

I don’t care much for end tables next to the sofa. There, I said it. End tables are cumbersome. Instead, use the cocktail table as a place to set drinks. If lamps are needed next to the sofa, I usually do apothecary style (swing arm) lamps. They come in a variety of metals like polished stainless steel and brushed brass. They don’t disturb the look of the sofa, they don’t tip over easily and they’re easy to reach. The light source is just near the shoulder when seated.

Too much furniture is just as disconcerting as too little. Too much looks silly and too little feels impersonal. For the average size living room you need one to two sofas or loveseats, two armchairs, two wood framed accent chairs, one to two cocktail tables, and one to two end tables for between the armchairs. I like to do two armchairs and two open wood framed accent chairs in large living rooms. Never place sofas or chairs directly against the wall. If the sofa needs to be near a wall, always pull it out about six inches. This is a little designer trick. Call it Feng Shu…call it added dimension… I don’t know! But for some reason, pushing the sofa smack dab against the wall feels uptight. 

The space planning app I like to recommend is Chief Architect. I’ve used it myself.

See you back here Wednesday for Part two!

Live beautifully. Eat beautifully, Shiree'

Click "Pain Free Design and Wellness" for a free chapter of my powerful new book that helps women with arthritis create beautiful, functional homes and take better care of themselves every day because home is where it all begins.


Pain Free Design and Wellness Must Have Books for Arthritis Management


I know the challenges you face having arthritis because I live with them myself every day! I’m Shiree Segerstrom and I’m an interior designer with a passion for helping you live a better, more fulfilling life at home. After all, home is where the real self care happens.  I’ve always loved designing homes for my clients but adding wellness to my job description makes it so much sweeter!

I have exciting news! I have enrolled in a series of nutrition courses specifically for arthritis management. You will be benefit from this training too and I can't wait to use it to help you.




So I bought my first wellness book 15 years ago. The reason I embarked on that particular journey is I knew at some point menopause would arrive and I wanted to  know what it could look like if a disciplined woman decided to make it a healthy, positive growth period. My own mom was not around at the time and I needed answers. In the process I discovered bio-identical hormone creams, not to be confused with dangerous synthetic hormones like Premarin. I won't delve into that here. Read Uzzi Reiss' book listed below for more on bioidenticals (used safely in Europe for over fifty years!) But back to the books. Since that time I’ve purchased over 100 wellness related titles mostly on nutrition and arthritis management.

I’m sharing a big handful of my favorites that will be particularly helpful for your arthritis. One of my greatest joys is to share with you “another way” of caring for yourself. Most women like you and I have been put on prescription drugs to treat arthritis. The new doctors, the ones who are effectively helping their patients are saying these disorders are completely controllable with lifestyle changes! So yes there is a better way. Does that mean your prescribing doctor doesn’t care? No, that’s not what that means at all. Doctors don’t get in the business to make people sick. They are genuinely caring and doing their best. But the idea of prescribing medication for illness is so pervasive via the hospitals they’re associated with that many don’t realize there IS another way. Few even have the time in between caring for patients to stay up to date on medical journals. To compound the problem they're not required to take more than a few weeks of nutrition.

(NOTE: Don’t change your medication schedule without first seeing your new doctor. He or she has the ability to develop a plan for you to slowly wean you off drugs and get you on a new program providing you are willing to make changes to your eating plan and physical activities. But she or he can't help you do so if you're not willing to make the change.)

I get that this concept might be a little scary because it means you have to take responsibility for your own outcome. It’s easy to put your health in the ‘hands’ of your doctor but being a proactive member of your own team is where you get real results. For a long time I was into denying responsibility for my own results too and guess what? It got me nowhere fast. My well meaning doctors wanted to put me on dangerous bone builders, pain killers and high levels of prescription strength vitamin D. Now that I know what I know, I'm very glad I informed myself and took a different direction. I shutter to think of the damage they could have done albeit unintentionally. 

The first step on your new journey to health is to educate yourself and the best way to do that is through reading books by leading arthritis doctors like the ones I’m sharing with you below.

I embarked on my own journey with a strong, clear vision of what I wanted my future to look like. I saw myself vibrant, beautiful, healthy and happy. I saw myself playing tennis with my handsome, athlete husband, wearing form fitting clothes, having glowing skin and hair and a limber, strong body. Having such an enticing picture for my future drives me forward every day as does the thought of guiding you to taking better care of yourself and to finding better answers. You can do this IF you consider this a long game. You'll see immediate results but for lasting solutions you must rethink how you live from now on.

I’m so excited to share these with you! These are just a handful of the titles in my Kindle. I'll share many more with you over the upcoming months.

The Reset Factor
Dr. Mindy Pelz

Healing Arthritis
Dr. Susan Blum, MD, MPH

The Alternative Medicine Guide to Arthritis
Eugene Zamperion ND, MH (AHG)
Ellen Kamhi, PhD, RN, HNC

The Arthritis Cure
Jason Theodosakis, MD

Quantitative Medicine
Mike Nichols, MD
Charles Davis PHD

Living Foods for Optimum Health
Brian Clement, Director of Hippocrates Institute, W. Palm Beach,Florida
Theresa Foy DiGeronimo

Fasting and Eating for Health
Joel Fuhrman, MD

Natural Hormone Balance (hormones play a big role in women’s bone health)
Uzzi Reiss, MD, OB/GYN

Total Renewal
Frank Lippman, MD

           
I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite high performance coaches Brendan Burchard who has  helped over a million people reach their personal, professional and health goals. Brendan says this:

If you have any health concerns or issues, it is imperative to hire a knowledgeable nutritionist sooner rather than later. He goes on to say that if your current doctor doesn’t encourage you to eat right and adopt a fitness program five to six days a week, you need to consider finding a new doctor.

Arthritis is a degenerative disease. To manage it the way effective specialists are now recommending, you will need to be proactive and informed. Having an inspiring self-care space is helpful too. It helps you take better care of yourself every day, where self-care begins. At home.

For help in decorating your home; creating a nurturing self care space; eating plans; and all-natural beauty tools and techniques specifically planned around your arthritis, check out my first book Pain Free Decorating: Creating Nurturing Spaces for Women With Arthritis. 

Live beautifully. Eat beautifully, Shiree

The Only Eating Plan for Arthritis


One of the biggest challenges you face with arthritis is with how you eat. So many foods trigger symptoms, especially dairy and processed foods. I want to share the ideal arthritis eating plan with you today so that you can start adjusting your lifestyle for the challenges you face ahead.




















An organic, mostly raw, plant based diet focusing on dark leafy greens is thought to be the best eating plan by cutting edge, arthritis specialists whose goals are to get patients of prescription pain killers and bone builders. Yes, these doctors do exist but you have to dig deep to find them. I will be mentioning these doctors and including their books on my future blog posts and possibly in my next book. Most doctors today only know how to prescribe drugs. Raw fruits, vegetables and soaked nuts and seeds, and whole grains like quinoa, millet and amaranth are anti-inflammatory. Dairy (especially cows’ milk products like cheese and milk) and all meat (beef, poultry, lamb and pork alike) are not. But why go raw? Raw plants have all their nutrients intact. Cooked foods or to be exact, foods cooked over around 117 degrees F. are devoid of nutrients having had the nutrients cooked out of them. That’s not to say don’t eat cooked foods. Some cooked foods are easier to digest and assimilate than others. Most doctors and nutritionists agree wild salmon is acceptable. And starchy foods/vegetables like beans, brown rice and sweet potatoes are great too.

A plant based, mostly raw eating plan is wonderful for regenerating bones, hair, skin, nails and teeth. I’ve eaten this way for years and I’m seldom if ever tired. My body is extremely limber even with osteopenia, osteoarthritis and scoliosis. And the best part is, even though I’ve been diagnosed with these conditions and several more, I manage my pain and overall health without the use of dangerous pain killers or bone builders. That’s right my friend. No meds.

I realize your life is busy and at times it’s really challenging to balance it with excellent self-care so processed foods happen, right? If you’re buying packaged foods, keep them to a minimum and be sure and take the time to read your labels carefully. For instance I read the labels when I buy brown rice pasta, pasta sauce, tortillas, coconut milk, salsa, beans, hummus, almond milk, tortilla chips and goat cheese, etc. The brands of packaged foods I use contain only one to five real food ingredients. Unfortunately there are many more brands out there that fill their packaged foods up with preservatives, flavor enhancers and fillers. Calcium chloride is not a food! Look for labels that have only food in their ingredients list. They are out there but it will take some effort to find them. Brands often change the ingredients when they discover they are not making enough more money and substitute good ingredients with cheaper non-food one so you have be diligent. Preparing salads with raw fruits and vegetables and fresh juicing take time, but what meal doesn’t?  If you follow my plan, you’ll be doing much less cooking anyway!

Always make salad dressings from scratch. Bottled dressings like almost all packaged foods are loaded with chemicals and devoid of nutrients. For my every day salads I do the juice of ¼ to ½ of a fresh lemon, plenty of Himalayan pink salt for flavor, and 2-3 tablespoons of organic cold pressed extra virgin olive oil. Pink salt has some redeeming minerals and I have low blood pressures so I’m allowed to be generous. If you’re blood pressure is high however, you should really see a good nutritionist anyway, so ask about pink salt. I included many of my most delicious raw salad recipes in my last blog post. My big salads are highly flavorful and oh so satisfying! Be sure and try the strawberry-lime-honey-cilantro combo I created!

What does an arthritis diet look like? It is a majority of dark leafy green salads with romaine, spinach, kale and chard topped with raw veggies, lemon juice and high quality olive oil; fresh fruits; fresh green juices; highest quality starches like brown rice, quinoa, millet; plant based proteins like lentils, garbanzo beans and black beans; and high quality fats like avocado, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil and raw nuts and seeds. They are highly acidifying and our bodies/dna doesn’t recognize them.

Getting enough water is oh so important for your joints! But it’s imperative that you invest in a good water filter. Drinking tap water is no longer an option for you or your family. Tap water is loaded with chemicals and known carcinogens. For daily water requirements a good rule of thumb to follow is take your weight in pounds and divide it in half. If you weigh 130 lbs. you need 65 ounces of water.  

There are a number of products I buy on a weekly or monthly basis that I believe in and I’d like to share with you. I don’t have any affiliation with these companies. I’ve researched them and believe their ingredients are superior to other brands.

I discovered almond milk a few years ago and began a quest for one that only had almonds. What an eye opener that was! Almost every almond milk on the market today has added fillers, preservatives and chemicals in them. They are not healthy! I found two almond milks that are healthy and all real food: Malk and New Barn. I drink almond milk daily with a teaspoon of organic, pure maple syrup and hemp protein powder or marine collagen powder. I’ve included the brands I use below.

Brands I love and use

Malk Almond Milk
New Barn Almond Milk
Synergy Women’s Multi-Vita-Herb
Synergy Bone Renewal
Nutiva Hemp Protein Powder (available on Amazon with Prime for under $12)
Triquetra Spirulina Powder (horrible taste, I plug my nose and think of chocolate milk or iced coffee)
Power Nutri Shop Turmeric Powder
Whole Foods 365 Organic Beans
Sprouts Organic Beans
The Hummus Guy
Amandean Marine Collagen (no bovine, porcine or foul collagen, only fish)
Ezikiel Sprouted Grain Muffins (not delicious if you’re accustomed to doughy breads but I love them when I need a heavier breakfast)
LaTortilla Factory Organic Yellow Corn Tortilla’s (they do have organic guar gum in them but everything else is just food).

With a plant based diet you need to make sure you’re getting enough B12. I eat beans and rice or wild salmon three times a week. I also take a high quality organic food based supplement that has the right amount of B12. It’s listed above.

Live beautifully. Eat beautifully, Shiree

Click "Pain Free Design and Wellness" for a free chapter of my powerful new book that helps women with arthritis create beautiful, functional homes and take better care of themselves every day because home is where it all begins.

Living Well at Home with Arthritis, Hint: it doesn't involve a flat screen television!


One of the roles of an interior designer is to show you how to live well in your home. The pleasures of domestic life are innumerable but it can also be extremely draining if you your home is disorganized, under furnished or worse yet, over decorated. And these are all magnified with chronic pain. Trying to maintain a home within any of these scenarios is so distracting when you’re already struggling with arthritis.
























After so many years as a shop owner, designer and homemaker I developed quite a few philosophies about decorating, organizing, entertaining, cooking, gardening, et cetera. The benefits have been that our home is comfortable, beautiful and runs smoothly. I want to share some thoughts with you to hopefully inspire you to live better at home with arthritis.

Just remember: a comfortable, attractive home takes an investment of time, thought and finances and because of the degenerative changes you’re facing, the sooner the better. It’s imperative that your home serve and inspire you daily to take excellent care of yourself so you can stay ahead of the curve ball life has thrown you.

The Living Room

In my first book “Pain Free Decorating: Creating Nurturing Spaces for Women with Arthritis” I talk about the decorating style or philosophy I created specifically around your physical and psychological needs due to the heat generating, chronic pain of arthritis. I talk about Universal Design elements like rocker style light switches and lever door knobs; cooling colors; and space planning that promotes feelings of stability and permanence.

In order to live your best life at home with arthritis, your day to day priorities can either stay status quo and you can keep expecting the same results, or you can adopt new lifestyle habits that are positive and proactive. A living room planned around a fireplace and bookcases rather than a television encourages a healthier lifestyle of reading, writing, and listening to music. A fireplace and built in bookcases are great ways to give your living room a visual ‘anchor’ too. Television has its place but it shouldn’t be the focal point.

A great way to make television part of a healthier lifestyle is to use it as a motivational tool for workouts. Having a den that’s sole purpose is for watching television is one way to manage your screen time. A combination gym/media room is another great way to encourage daily workouts at home. The bottom line is that making television a little less of a part of your day to day life enables you to replace it with healthier activities like Yoga, meditation, walking, juicing and preparing all of the fresh fruits and vegetables that are integral to the Arthritis Diet.

To put together an inviting, functional living room that supports your new, healthier lifestyle you need comfortable seating with good quality cushions (high density solid foam core with a Dacron or down wrap); throw pillows (preferably feather filled) to adjust the depth of the sofa seat to the individual’s height; end tables and table lamps for task lighting and drinks; plenty of reading material;  baskets for holding magazines and newspapers; family mementos; a few throw blankets; sun and privacy control for the windows; a great stereo; and lots of fresh plants and flowers. These things breathe life into a room. A space without books, pillows, or plants feels sterile. With arthritis, pain is almost a constant and having these things around is incredibly comforting and meaningful.

An anchoring/stabilizing element like a fireplace and built in bookcases also adds to how you perceive the comfort level of your rooms. This is a visual trick I often incorporate into my room designs.

Dining Room

Having a dining area separate from the kitchen is often viewed as lost space today because so few people use formal, stand alone dining rooms anymore. For that reason builders have been omitting them. And the reason no one uses their dining room anymore? I think it’s because so few people know how to make them inviting.

Decorating the dining room is actually much easier than furnishing the living room if you remember a few things. If you don’t, your dining room will turn into what I call “a vast sea of wood” because between the table, chairs and china cabinet everything in the room is wood. No wonder no one uses the dining room anymore. Humans are tactile creatures. We crave many types of textures. A room without texture is sterile.   

So first, add a few fabrics to your design plan. You can incorporate them with fabric chairs, floor length draperies or stationery curtains or sheers. If you already have wood side chairs, add a pair of his and her fabric covered end chairs. For large dining rooms, use ones with skirts and for small dining rooms use ones without.  And second, fill the china hutches and table tops with items you find to be both useful and beautiful. In my own dining room I enjoy having my serving platters, crystal wine glasses, dinner ware, and decanters out where I can see them every day. Yes they get dusty but my dining room isn’t that large so it’s not a maintenance issue. I also have plants in my dining room, stacks of books; and a beautiful tray of glasses and bottles. I even have a small lamp on my sideboard.

Having the books and all my serving pieces in the dining room gives it two more purposes: that of dining area and library. In this way, the room gets used much more than if it was just a table and eight chairs. I also use my dining room table as additional work space when my office is overflowing with fabrics, floor plans, and paperwork. As a result, the dining room isn’t neglected but rather, is a place for large family dinners, buffets, reading in the big sunny window, and for organizing parties and work projects.

The living room and dining room are two spaces that can support you in living a better life at home with arthritis. Surround yourself with things you love and remember to incorporate cool colors, comforting textures and stabilizing space plans.


Live beautifully. Eat beautifully, Shiree

Click "Pain Free Design and Wellness" for a free chapter of my powerful new book that helps women with arthritis create beautiful, functional homes and take better care of themselves every day because home is where it all begins.

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