joy of nesting

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

Exercising at Home

Leading a healthy, what I like to call "vibrant" life with arthritis requires managing symptoms like inflammation, pain and in many cases even depression. That means some habits and systems have to become pretty structured, even non-negotiable in your life. Things like consistent daily exercise, highest quality nutrition, stress management, and sufficient down time. These things have to become daily occurrences in order for you to feel good and maybe even great or symptom free.

In order to follow through with this high a level of self-care you are going to need well planned spaces to help you get structured enough and inspired enough to follow through… as in, every day my friend!

In order to be effective, in order to actually move that stubborn needle on your fitness-o-meter (I think I hear your joints begging for consistency right now) you will want to do the majority of your exercise at home. Why at home? Because that’s where you will be your most consistent!

“Motivation is overrated. Environment often matters more” says James Clear in his book Atomic Habits. Well, the majority of my workouts happen in my own environment: at home in our den and out in nature around the neighborhood. In the den, I have a stationary bike; a rebounder that I love to dance on; a yoga mat; stability ball; ankle and wrist weights and hand weights. These didn’t cost a lot of money. And they don’t take up a huge amount of space and that’s why the den is so perfect for them. The den is also where the big flat screen is. When I work out, I allow myself to watch Netflix and Amazon Prime movies. The rest of my days are so tightly scheduled that there really isn’t much time for television. Most of my free time is spent on learning about arthritis and personal achievement studies, two topics I’m passionate about.

So I don’t know about you, but a designated, in home space for exercise is really necessary so that I can be consistent on a daily basis, not just when I have time to go to the gym. Going to the gym allows too much room for excuses. I’d have to do my hair better or drive somewhere or I’d get sidetracked by other issues. Sometimes even the short eight minute drive to the club and finding a parking spot and walking to weight room can be too much when compared to the thirty second walk to my den. So I will leave you with one last thought on working out at home. A fancy stand-alone exercise studio is great and yes, many of my clients do want and have these but please don’t let this stop you from planning your own at home exercise spot. Practicing this one habit alone will make a huge difference in your pain level, your balance, your overall strength and even your appearance. And I want that for us both!

Now let’s talk about the kitchen. I'm going to use my own as an example. My pretty red VitaMix blender and my handsome Breville Compact Juice Fountain juicer both have special places in my kitchen. No they don’t have specially designed cabinets. They are actually out on the counter and part of the kitchen’s overall “look” or “décor”. Every morning I make myself the most delicious green juices (if they didn’t taste so good I wouldn’t spend so much time making them!) from romaine lettuce, kale, cucumber, cilantro, apple, lime or lemon and chia seeds. I’ll admit it, juicing is time consuming! If I had to keep the juicer tucked away in a cabinet, it would require an extra step and with my arthritic thumbs it would add the risk of dropping it on my floor, or worse, my toes! So fresh green juices, consumed within 15 minutes of extraction or placed on ice in the freezer are a real game changer for those of us with arthritis. For me, they are non-negotiable. Truly, they are loaded with enzymes and micro-nutrients that our bones and cartilage need to improve bone building.

My blender is also out on the counter and I use for my weekly hummus and delicious, homemade vegetarian soups. They blend up in a jiffy and clean up pretty quickly too. They can even heat your soup right there in the jar.

What else about my kitchen? Well, I have large D-shaped door and drawer pulls. My light switches are rocker style and the dimmers are easy to use. I have a lever style sink faucet. Everything in my kitchen that I need to take excellent care of myself is easy to reach. I designed it that way.

Arthritis is a degenerative disease, and my home was built with several Universal Design elements so if I have more severe physical limitations in the future, I know my home will support them.

So why is home so beneficial to your well-being? Besides being the place where you make yourself excellent food and hopefully now, practice much of your exercise, it’s a place where all routines happen and it’s proven that routines contribute to discipline and success. Think about it. When you go to restaurants do you feel tempted to veer from your eating plans? I know I do. I am invariably tempted by the bread and wine, both big no no’s with arthritis. At home, I have my routines that keep me successful. Does your home fill you with energy? Does it drain you? Does it inspire you? Does it function at its highest level? Is it appealing to your eye? Those are things to think about going forward.  How do you want your home to look and work in the coming years? Is it ready for the degenerative changes that arthritis often brings?  

I grew up in a household where we constantly ran out of things like batteries, light bulbs and toilet paper, or things were misplaced, like scissors or scotch tape. Or things didn’t work properly. I knew someday that my own home whether large or small, costly or not, would work well for me and my family. It would be beyond just looking beautiful. It would feel beautiful too and things would be in their places. My intentions came to fruition because I have had that for many years and I rely on it now that my body requires so much care.

And guess what? I do occasionally run out of toilet paper!

Live beautifully. Eat beautifully, Shiree’

And if you want more arthritis related design and wellness guidance, click here... "Pain Free Design and Wellness" and you'll get 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!

Energy Boosts Around the Home for Women with Arthritis

 Being at home should be a positive experience but if you find yourself looking for ways to get out of the house rather than ways to enjoy yourself while there, or even to practice the at home self-care routines I talk to you so much about, you might want to consider buffing up your spaces with one or more of the following improvements. If your home is a drain on your energy, there is so much that can be done to help it serve you better!

If you’re going to stay on top of a degenerative condition like arthritis, you have to be supported by your home. You have to stay balanced and unstressed and focused on taking excellent care of yourself daily, with fresh homemade green juices, big raw salads and joint supporting exercises like Yoga, weights, walking and stay-biking.

Updated Fabrics

Fabric is one of my favorite ways to update and refresh a tired space! Reupholstering the sofa, dressing the windows, slip covering the chairs, and having some coordinating throw pillows done up will revive a tired room into something wonderful. Fabric is also a great way to pull together disparate elements like mismatched decorative styles and wood finishes.

What I love about this option is that it doesn’t require you to replace tables or case goods, which I tend to think of as heirloom pieces, or pieces that are passed down through the generations such as with Baker’s outstanding collections. Even if the wood finishes are out of date, current fabrics can do so much to update the overall look.

Combining fabrics and pattern can be a little tricky if you don’t have the knack for it. If you’re a person who shies away from pattern, velvet and linen solid fabrics in pale, cool colors add comfort to arthritis sufferers and people with other chronic pain.

Patterns that I love that are also easy to work with are faded floral fabrics and color coordinated stripes. I tend to avoid plaids and brocades as they look dated to me. If I do a toile, I make sure it’s an updated look as they can look a little over the hill too.

Custom fabric treatments are all about the contrasting welt, right? I do love a solid welt on a printed slipcover. So crisp and classic.


Every ten years or so, have one or two fresh coats of paint applied to your interior walls. Color trends evolve. Whites are cooler now, with gray undertones. Kelly Moore, Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams and Dunn Edwards offer beautiful designer colors while Pratt and Lambert, Fine Paints of Europe, and Farrow and Ball have luxury products with high pigment content. I can personally attest to Pratt and Lambert and Farrow and Ball from working with them. Pratt and Lambert’s color specialist helped me choose a beautiful color palate for my arthritic clients and followers in my first ebook Pain Free Decorating.

Always use a flat finish in the public rooms and master bedroom; satin or eggshell in bathrooms, kitchen and children’s areas; and 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 cool, pale gray-blue, and light silvery celadon green are good options for colors that “travel” well from room to room. Reds, terra cottas and other dark, warm colors are much harder to work with in an open floor plan and are definitely not cooling or restful for those of us with heat generating, painful arthritis.

Keep in mind warm dark colors advance, making the room appear smaller while light, cool colors recede, making the room appear larger. And again, since arthritis is a heat generating disease, pale, cooling colors are really comforting for you and your home.


A great way to improve and beautify your home is to give it a makeover. What I totally love about a home makeover is once you do the makeover, you can actually “see” what you need which saves you from making unnecessary purchases. It helps you make the most of what you already have. It keeps you from getting rid of things that you really should save. Once your makeover is complete, you’ll then be able see what purchases are truly needed much better than before. Does that make sense? So a makeover solves multiple challenges.

Makeovers for the living room usually take one to two 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.


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 without expense. As an example, to prepare for a home tour a few 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, silver picture frames, and a small area rug. This supplemented the things I already had. The tour was a success and I enjoy the updates more than I can say.

When shopping for accessories buy only the styles that truly resonate with you. Keep in mind you need to work around your architectural style and existing furnishings, not just your personal taste.


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 some of the furnishings in your home.

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 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.

A Clean Sweep

One of the things I’ve noticed being a home maker and hiring professional life and business coaches (yes, I’m a design coach and I have coaches myself!) is that the cleaner and tidier the home, the more motivated I feel. 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’

And if you want more of arthritis related design and wellness, click here... "Pain Free Design and Wellness" and you'll get 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!

“Refresher Course: Twenty To-Do’s for a Better Home for Fall"

Here is a list of my favorite ways to freshen and organize your home for fall. Some take as little as ten minutes and others require a day or two. Prioritize, budget and start with baby steps and by the end of four weeks your home can be serving you well for twelve months to come.

You will be amazed how much energy you derive from having a home that’s functional and aesthetically pleasing. If being at home doesn’t leave you feeling re-energized it’s definitely time to take steps to improve it.

 Toss out dead plants and flowers and replace with new, fresh ones in interesting pots or jardiniere.

 If your rooms are missing something it’s most likely texture, greenery, scale, or focal points. Add texture with two or three new throw blankets in trendy new colors and baskets in a variety of sizes. I like natural finishes like bleached or honey toned willow.

Clear out all old newspapers and magazines dated earlier than January 2012. Get a nice deep basket to store them in a reading corner. You can go through them every season and either give them away or recycle them.

Rotate and plump up sofa and chair cushions every month. Weekly for feather cushions. It wears the sofa evenly and looks so much better. Instant energy boost.

Add three new 20 inch feather filled throw pillows to your sofa in one designer fabric that really pulls your room together.

 Have carpeting and draperies cleaned professionally. Recently I had my dining room slipper chairs professionally cleaned. What a difference.

Redecorate your cocktail table with one or two tall stacks of hardbound coffee table books and a pot of good quality faux flowers. I love chartreuse or white hydrangeas. The cocktail table is one of your living room’s focal points and really benefits from this special treatment.

Hire a housekeeper to come in two to four times a month or if it’s not in the budget this year, schedule time to clean it yourself at least twice a month. You will be amazed at how much better the house looks with just a cleaning.

Get fresh candles. They don’t all have to be the $30 scented ones. Most of the candles in my house are inexpensive white 6 inch pillars or small votive candles. But I do burn one or two scented ones daily to drown out some of the pet odors.

 If your lamps look dated and you don’t want to invest in new ones, try replacing just the shade with a white linen one. They run around $25 to $40 each. This tip is especially fun if you have cool vintage lamps.

For a whole new look on a budget, invest in slipcovers for your two main armchairs and have matching pillows made for the sofa. Choose a fabric that really pulls the room together.

Use colorful artwork or boldly framed mirrors to play up your living room’s natural focal points: the fireplace, and built in bookcases.

 Faux plants and floral arrangements need to be cleaned and fluffed up occasionally. I see a lot of dirty, bedraggled faux plants out there. It’s also good to replace them after ten years, especially if they’ve gone out of style. Willows and privets are out. Fig trees are in.

Kid’s rooms require lots of storage. Baskets and tubs are a great way to get them organized. Set them up for success by creating storage systems and teaching them from an early age to use them. Make clean up a game by singing or whistling or telling stories while you do it. It worked for me when my son was little and with consistency, it will work for you.

Mail is a problem in any home and has a way of accumulating in the kitchen or home office. Stay in control of the paper lion by sorting and tossing daily. Use separate baskets for bills, insurance, taxes, and personal correspondence. Galvanized metal or wicker wall units are great for this job.

With children at home it’s even more important to be organized at home because if you leave things untended, they accumulate like graffiti. You have to stay on top of it. Set a good example and make kids follow suit. You can’t expect kids to clean up after themselves if you can’t do so yourself.

Treat yourself to some new white towels for the bathrooms and white high thread count cotton sheets for your bedrooms. February is a great month for this as some department stores have them discounted over President’s Day.

Open up your curtains and shades. If your views aren’t nice, invest in sheers that allow light but omit the blighted scenery.

Strive to keep it all nice. Once you have your home organized and decorated it’s easier to keep it that way. If you let it get messy you’ll be back to where you started and that’s no fun.

Some of the tips above are more time consuming than others but if you accomplish one of the easier ones each day, you’ll be living better in a few weeks. To keep up your momentum, don’t let a day go by without doing something on this list. By doing something daily, you will utilize the energy you created the day before!

Live beautifully. Eat beautifully, Shiree'
And if you want more of arthritis related design and wellness, click here... "Pain Free Design and Wellness" and you'll get 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!

The Well Stocked Home

It takes years to accumulate the furniture, accessories, linens, cookware and serving pieces that make home life convenient and enjoyable. I’ve observed the different levels of efficiency of my own homes from my days as a new housewife, to new mom, to business woman, to my current state of working empty nester with the many degenerative changes that arthritis brings. 

Since I entertain quite a bit and host several family holidays throughout the year, I keep a lot of home related products on hand, both decorative and functional. My ways of entertaining have been vastly simplified over the past four years, preferring to set myself up for success, rather than disappointment that I can no longer stand for long periods of time.

Jeffrey Alan Marks

When you’re first starting out you of course need a lot of basics: furniture, dinner ware, mixing bowls and measuring cups, serving platters, a blender, a toaster, towels, sheets, prep knives, cookware, coffee maker, and canisters. But as time goes on you want more specialized conveniences like a great espresso machine, a Kitchen Aid mixer, a heavy roasting pan and rack, a large stock pot, a bread bowl, and a Cuisinart food processor. I remember years ago receiving a Kitchen Aid for Mother’s Day from my late husband. I felt I’d arrived. I felt like Donna Reed or Mrs. Cleaver, although a decidedly more liberated version.

Being an interior designer and homemaker, and loving to entertain, I’ve often pondered the things a couple might accumulate over the course of their marriage, to make their house a “well-stocked home”.

These are the things I’ve been accumulating over my thirty-five years of homemaking. I hope you find it helpful whether you’re building your own nest, or helping someone in an effort to build theirs.

The obvious initial furnishings to be purchased are a dining room table with two to three extension leaves; six armless side chairs, two larger, coordinating his and hers chairs with or without arms; a china hutch, buffet or breakfront; a comfortable three cushioned 90 inch sofa, or if room allows a 100 inch plus sectional; a unique and classic cocktail table; two 36 inch armchairs and matching ottomans, two smaller accent chairs, possibly wood framed in coordinating fabrics; one to two end tables to be placed between chairs, not at the end of the sofa which is cumbersome and potentially hazardous for people with problems with balance; a queen or king sized bed, two dressers, and classic, high quality floor and table lamps.

The well-stocked home can also utilize many other items that add beauty, function and comfort to everyday home life but these are the starters and will take many families five to eight years to collect.

Start with the best quality mattress and box spring you can manage. Sleep is the ultimate luxury, and the better quality the mattress, the better quality sleep you will get. You won’t regret it. The basics of bedding are a down comforter (down is preferable because it’s light weight and has great insulation), a duvet (a protective cover for your comforter to keep it clean since down comforters are not washable, two firm polyester pillows (for support for sitting up or reading in bed), and two down pillows for sleeping. If you have allergies to down, there are synthetic alternatives available. For aesthetics you can add two down filled decorative throw pillows. I like the rectangular ones because they not only look nice, but I can also use them for extra support to my lower back. A massive amount of pillows on the bed is inconvenient and passé. I never liked that look anyway. Too frou frou! A cashmere or ultra-soft throw is nice for throwing along the foot of the bed in case your feet get cold.

I love my electric blanket. I don’t keep it turned on while I sleep but it’s so, so lovely crawling into a preheated bed in the winter. Sheets with high thread count (300-400) have the most sensual comfort. Egyptian cotton is prized for its softness. As well, natural and even organic fibers are easier to keep stain free. Fiber’s matter to arthritis sufferers because it’s an auto immune disorder and allergies and toxins are daily concerns.

I love the look of white sheets, a white duvet, a pair of white pillow shams and color coordinated custom designer bed skirt and pillows. All the white has a relaxing, spa like appeal. I also like matching my bed skirt and armchair slipcover and coordinating it with my curtains and decorative throw pillows. I keep my bed sheets extra white with all natural Borax, which you add to your usual detergent every wash. Again, with arthritis, you definitely want to keep toxins to a minimum so choose laundry detergents that are less toxic such as Ecco, Seventh Generation and Mrs. Meyers.

Each person needs a night stand and individual lamp. I have mine set up with these great dimmers I found at IKEA. You plug the dimmer into the wall and plug the lamp into the dimmer. Since my night stands are slipcovered there’s no storage. Instead, I have a big basket next to the bed that holds my current reading materials, dental floss, extra prescription glasses, and a box of Kleenex.

I still believe in doing single beds in the guest room. Guest rooms are so simple and fun. They’re kind of the room in the house where you feel free to pamper someone, guilt free. You need a night stand and a lamp and if budget allows it’s nice to provide the same luxuries you do for yourself such as high quality sheets, one firm pillow and one down pillow for sleeping per bed, an electric blanket, a down comforter, and a duvet. I also provide an individual oil heater. If the room has no ceiling fan an oscillating fan is a nice touch.

For dining and entertaining I like to keep one dresser or armoire in the house open for items pertaining to entertaining like tablecloths, napkins, napkin rings, formal silver, place cards, and an extra supply of candles like votives, pillars, and tapers.

Only put in your kitchen the items you can easily store. If you don’t have room for a Kitchen Aid, chances are wherever you store it, it will be too inconvenient to pull it out and it will go unused. If the laundry room is large enough and close enough to the kitchen it’s easy to set up a storage space for such lesser used items.

Some superfluous appliances I’ve accumulated over the years that I’ve really enjoyed are my Cuisinart ice cream and yogurt maker, my espresso machine, and swoon, my electric can opener. If you’re still struggling along with a manual can opener, it’s time to “catch up” on your modern conveniences women with arthritis! I don’t use a ton of canned foods but organic beans in non-bpa lined cans definitely line my pantry.

If budget allows seriously consider investing in your library at a young age. It takes a while to build but I’ve never regretted having my own library of fiction, biographies, business books, cook books, and design books. And bonus: built-in bookshelves appreciate the value of your home.

As time goes by, our financial means hopefully increase. Art, rugs, and high quality antiques (I know many people are anti antiquity these days but some of us do still invest in them) are big investment pieces and it’s a good plan to call upon a trusted expert who specializes in them to help you with details like aesthetics, budget, and appreciation. With such purchases you want to know they will retain their value certainly, but mostly, purchase to enjoy and use.

I admittedly have a ridiculous amount of things in my own home but I treasure and use them all. Well, I use most of them anyway. So many of the things I have came from a beloved family member or from my travels with my late husband. Some are quite valuable. Others are just comfortable old friends. The things that were passed down to me, I find hardest to part with.

My definition of a well-stocked home is a home that is evolved. It’s beautiful in a complex, multi-faceted way. It’s a mixture of era’s and styles and masculine and feminine elements. It has evolved over a period of twenty or more years. It has scale, unity, function, and non-function. It’s lots of books, baskets, extra throws and a few newspapers in the corner. It has a few nicks and maybe a tad too much furniture. It’s well stocked and lived in. Edited, but seldom minimal.

Live beautifully. Eat beautifully, Shiree’

And if you want more of arthritis related design and wellness, click here... "Pain Free Design and Wellness" and you'll get 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!

Living an Amazing Life With Arthritis: Let's Get You Proactive Again!

Have you lost much of the joy in your life? Do the smallest tasks seem like a chore even if completing those means you’ll have happier circumstances? Would you like to live a life full of meaning and purpose? Do you know what that looks like? And let’s be truthful, do you even know what ignites your spirit anymore?

I’m talking to you today about living a vibrant, rich and full life and this is how it looks!

You enjoy life. You heart overflows with love for your circle of friends and family. You have the energy and enthusiasm to meet your responsibilities, you give back and you still have plenty of energy left over for play. Your home is beautiful and functional and supports your lifestyle and your self-care systems. It’s a comfortable haven for gathering friends and family. Your skin, body and hair glow from the great nutrition, exercise, down time and sleep you lavish on it. But man, it’s almost impossible to achieve or even maintain these things when you live a life with pain! I get it because I have been diagnosed with half a dozen degenerative bone diseases myself! You most likely take medications and if we can be truthful once more, they add to your problem. Cutting edge arthritis specialists now know that bone builders and pain killers create more problems than they solve! I’m not saying go off your medication, but if your doctor doesn’t know this by now, maybe it’s time to begin searching for one who does.

In my book Pain Free Decorating: Creating Nurturing Spaces for Women with Arthritis we talked about creating your self-care space and about the things you do for self-care.

Well I’m here to tell you the key to getting your joy levels humming, being happy in your own skin and in your relationships, stems from one thing… well two things that are essentially the same: how you live at home and…how you take care of yourself while there.

Living at a higher frequency, looking gorgeously healthy in your own unique way and living a richer life is at its roots, about taking excellent care of you! It’s about valuing yourself enough to keep agreements with yourself. It’s about offering yourself the best lifestyle choices. In your case they are a plant based, 75% raw, organic eating plan, devoting yourself to the right kind of exercise for arthritis sufferers; and plenty of rest and rejuvenation.

So let’s talk a bit about the steps to take to make them happen for you. I’m not talking about perfection. In fact, perfection is a joy killer! But there is a certain level of advance planning and implementation that goes into designing a life you love. Let’s get started.

Develop a plan

Living with higher levels of joy requires some planning and implementation. These steps should be exciting. They should make you stretch your comfort zones a bit, like going on vacation to a foreign land. But please don’t go on a labor intense mission that’s going to make everyone around you miserable! That’s counterproductive.

These plans should be enjoyable in themselves, like when you take a vacation. You have to put yourself out there to experience new things and explore. So remember these words, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”! This is a new experience you are exploring. Strive for balance!

Action Steps for Home Design

Develop a budget
Develop a timeline
Develop a solid furniture layout with one or two great anchoring, large scale pieces that give you a sense of stability.
Use cooling colors like light grayish taupe, pale gray, light lavender, pale skin-toned “blush”, muted celadon green and pale cool blue.
Use warming textures and soothing elements like throw blankets, books, baskets and feather pillows into your plan.

Action Steps for Excellent Eating

Identify all the areas in your eating plan where you most often fall short.
Identify what tools you will need to inspire and give you the daily impetus you’ll need to follow through with them such as an easy to clean, easy to use juicer for green juicing, a sink basket for washing produce, etc.
Develop a sustainable eating plan that you will stick to and then hold yourself accountable!

Action Steps to Help You Prioritize Exercise

Identify all the areas in your exercise plan where you most often fall short.
Identify what tools you will need to inspire and give you the daily impetus you’ll need to follow through with them such as a stationary bike, a rebounder, two or three days a week with a personal trainer.

Develop an exercise schedule that you will stick to and then hold yourself accountable! I love to break mine up, rebounding or stay-biking in the morning, Yoga in late afternoon before dinner, weights on alternating afternoons.

Schedule Rest and Rejuvenation Time

The body’s healing mechanism is sleep and rest. With arthritis, it’s imperative that you get a good night’s sleep. The best sleep comes from keeping your room as a place for rest. Cool, restful colors, comforting elements and textures like throw blankets, feather pillows, books, good reading lamps, light blocking window coverings, and the thermostat set at a cool temperature create an ideal environment for a good night’s sleep.

Mindset tips

Once you have identified what a joyful life looks like to you, only then can you implement and sustain it.
Finally, once you have achieved it, be happy with what you have my friend and maintain it joyfully! Gratitude is energizing for you and everyone around you!

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.

Planning Your Next Home Decorating Project

Planning a decorating project or remodel can be a daunting task if you suffer from daily chronic pain so I've taken some of the pain out of planning for you today. I get it. You need your home to support you with the degenerative changes that arthritis brings. You want to choose things you’ll love and enjoy for years down the road. 

In writing this week’s blog, I hope to help my readers learn how to plan ahead and prioritize their home design projects. I’ve done several articles on various types of home improvements but how this one differs from the rest is that it’s aimed specifically at how to prioritize improvements for your special physical needs so you can build your own personal action steps, budget and timeline. This in turn, hopefully, will give you clarity as well as impetus to take those first daunting steps.

Universal Design

As an arthritis sufferer, you may already be familiar with the term Universal Design. It's 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 their age, size ability or disability. 

The following items fall under this classification and can greatly ease day to day challenges for you particularly with arthritic hands but also when your sense of balance is impaired.

Swing handle kitchen sink faucets

Rocker style light switches 

Remote controls on lighting, window shades, heating and air, Alarms and sensors 

Lever-style door handles

Push button front door entries

Low-profile thresholds for transition from  carpet to flooring. 

In some cases it’s also advisable to use different colors when transitioning from one flooring type to the next. 

Space Planning 

Space planning is one of the best services interior designers offer their arthritic clients. First, identify traffic patterns. Place largest pieces first. Don't place furniture on an axis. It destabilizes the space visually. For arthritis sufferers, we want stability. We want at least one large piece to act as a visual anchor. 

Resist the urge to use end tables at the end of your sofa. This is one of the areas where our hands and feet get caught up, turning a corner or rushing to answer the phone or door.

Test sofa and chair heights before purchasing. Make sure the seat height is comfortable for you. This varies from person to person. Test the depth  of the seat cushion so the knee breaks where the cushion ends. Today's sofas are often too deep to sit comfortably for any length of time. 

Avoid seat cushions that are too soft. Go for a solid core with a dacron or down blend wrap.

Inspire Yourself  

At about four o’clock one day this week or whenever the light is prettiest in your home, turn on some of your favorite music, light a few candles, and get a tablet and pen. I like Pink Martini or Frank Sinatra for home decorating, background music. And I mention four o’clock because that’s when the shadows are longest and the light is warm and golden. Please make sure your home is clean and tidy for this exercise.

Walk around and look at things objectively. Since you’re doing this during the prettiest time of day hopefully you’ll be able to observe the positives. Try and look at things in different ways, maybe try looking at the room in the reflection of a mirror. The idea is to get a fresh perspective: to see the room with new eyes, like a visitor would see it.

Focus on just one room at a time, preferably the living room, to start. You can move to the dining room next, and then the entry since it’s relatively small. After that move to the master bedroom, guest rooms and so on.

As you’re walking around the room, identify the features that are really lovely. These are the things you want to call attention to visually. If it’s a handsome fireplace, a striking painting will help define it. If the fireplace is lacking a mantel, consider making that one of your next investments. If it’s a beautiful view, note if anything is detracting from it. Think of ways to call more attention to it. 

Now identify the things you don’t like. Maybe the room’s worst feature is its carpet, or paint, or sofa. Or maybe it’s as simple as outdated table lamps. Write that down too.

Now comes the planning part. Pull up a chair and sketch out a rough draft while it’s fresh in your mind.

Rules of thumb…

I believe prefer to have my client's refurbish whenever possible (painted, polished, recovered, cleaned, or refinished) rather than replacing them. My philosophy is about “building” a home’s décor over a period of decades. Not replacing everything every ten to twenty years. I always say a home ages gracefully with a variety of eras and styles in it. One way to achieve this is to keep what you have in good condition and occasionally refurbish it. If there’s no hope in refurbishing the item, then you know it will need to be replaced. It will probably take a bigger chunk out of your budget and that’s why you have to plan this out and prioritize well.

Prioritize it…

You’ve identified the room's best and features and how to call attention to them. You’ve identified the room’s worst features and know whether to paint, refinish, recover, or completely replace them. Go through the lists and identify the most important three to four projects and plan to update them for fall.  Having these projects identified and prioritized is a good step forward. Good for you. Always keep in mind the items that made the cut. They are your starting point. As you make decisions, always be thinking “how will this work with what’s already in my home”.

You’re ready to put your plans into action.

Tricks of the Trade

·        Buy yourself a binder and a set of divider pages. Label the divider pages with the project’s name such as paint, carpet, sofa or lamps. You’ll use these for receipts, estimates, orders, magazine clippings, paint chips, etc.

·         Start a page of contacts and phone numbers.

·         Make a list of tools, products or materials you’ll need.

·        Write up a projected budget based on the priorities you’ve listed and a corresponding, projected timeline.

·        Make contact with any sub-contractors or outside help you’ll need. Get references. Be sure and let them know if you have a deadline. Educate yourself on the current prices in home décor, and then share your budget up front to save you both from being frustrated.

·        Keep projects on task by calling or emailing your contacts daily or weekly. Treat your subs and professionals like you hope people would treat you or your family if they were in similar situations.

·        Do the necessary shopping via local retail stores wherever possible.

·        If you have a finish date in mind, allow plenty of time. September, October and part of November are the busiest time of year for home decorating projects. Measuring, getting estimates back, ordering materials and arranging delivery and installations take time. 
     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.

Live beautifully. Eat beautifully,


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