joy of nesting

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

Creating the Perfect Master Bedroom, Cool Weather Retreat

The days are getting shorter and the nights are a little cooler! If you live in an area with distinct seasonal changes, making your bedroom supportive of your arthritis and other health conditions will be a priority. It will get you through fall and winter much more smoothly. Arthritis is the number one crippler in this country but staying on top of your wellness practices and planning your home ahead of time will give you more balance in life and don't we all need that, right? Let's get started.

Image via Witford SF


A well equipped bedroom looks like this: two weights of comforters (one light weight for warm weather and one heavier weight for winter), one decorative duvet cover (it’s basically a giant pillow case that protects your comforter), two foam pillows for sitting upright or reading in bed, two decorative pillow shams, two extra soft sleeping pillows, two decorative rectangular throw pillows (also called kidney pillows because they support your kidneys when you sit against them), one throw blanket for over the foot of the bed, and one bed skirt. If you don’t have a head board, consider getting an upholstered one. They're functional additions especially if you enjoy reading in bed. Most designers can have these made-to-order for you. They're available in a wide range of prices and styles and are comparatively priced to wood or wicker ones.

One of the best things you can invest in is an electric bed warmer. These especially wonderful for arthritic joints. About fifteen minutes before bed, say for instance, right before you wash your face, brush your teeth and get undressed, turn the blanket on high or semi-high. When you crawl in, turn it down or off. It is apparently not a good idea to sleep with it on. I don't know the ramifications with our circadian rhythms but I've read that they are not healthy for prolonged use. They are however, perfectly okay to use as a bed warmer before you get in bed.


A few things you should know. First you need your room dark and cool. Second, try and slowly adjust yourself to back sleeping without a pillow. I can hear the groans but trust me this is a huge game changer for those of us with back, hip or especially neck problems. Instead, put your pillow under your knees.

One little hack I created is instead of wearing a sleeping mask, I prefer a soft clean sock draped over my eyes. I promise you, there is nothing like sleeping in complete darkness and waking up when you're ready rather than daylight waking you. I wake up completely energized this way.

And lastly, before you get out of bed, sit up and spend three to four minutes doing some light stretches. Roll your feet in circles. Bend your neck. Roll your shoulders. Stretch your arms above your head.


There are so many options on window coverings. In the bedroom your main concern will be light and privacy control. These issues should really be addressed before aesthetics because it's been determined that a dark room is so necessary to get into the deeper levels of sleep. For some great info on sleep, read Arianna Huffington's best selling The Sleep Revolution.

In the master bedroom, plan on a room darkening treatment such as lined Roman shades, lined woven shades, or wooden blinds or shutters. To ensure darkness, have them measured and installed to be big enough for exterior mounting. If you mount them inside the window frame, the gaps will allow light to seep through.  

In my homes I love doing either the small, traditional shutters with 1 1/4" inch slats but most people prefer plantation shutters. Or I love a two layered treatment such as floor length curtain panels over sheers or Roman shades.


Never rely solely on overhead lighting for the bedroom. Matching table lamps on the night stands each with it's dimmer switch is great for ambiance and function both. Dimmer switches for lamps are available at better lighting stores. The lamp dimmer concept is great because you simply plug the dimmer cord into the wall and plug the lamp into the dimmer cord. In this way, you can control the level of light as well as access the dimmer cord’s on/off switch without even sitting up in bed. I love this feature so so much.

Bed Sheets

White bed sheets are clean looking but a little unforgiving so plan on weekly changes. Or cheat a little and go two weeks, but not longer than that. I swear I sleep better when my sheets are freshly changed and smell good. It's a great Friday morning tradition. It makes me feel pampered come Friday night. 

A cozy bed is really an investment in yourself because you and your mate are the only ones who will enjoy these small luxuries. It’s a nice way to express “self-care” too.

The softest, most comfortable sheets are Egyptian cotton or Pima cotton. A 400 thread count is sufficient for a quality, comfortable bed sheet. Anything higher is overkill. Remember there is more to sheets than just thread count. If the cotton is poor quality they will wrinkle.   


Choosing a mattress is a matter of personal taste but my favorite, most luxuriant night sleep is on the Simmons Heavenly Bed System pillow top mattress and box spring, the one Westin Hotels use. The mattress thickness is about 12 or 13 inches and the box spring, about 8 to 9 inches. They are available for special order. I also love a high quality down pillow but the next time I purchase a pillow, I’m going to explore hypoallergenic products.

Decorating with Color

When decorating your own bedroom, keep in mind the room is for relaxation. Reds, oranges, and other vibrant colors are not conducive to rest. Color theory is a topic unto itself but follow these easy tips to understand how you can make color work well for you in your bedroom.

Keep the amount of colors in your bedroom to a minimum. Stick with restful colors like greens, blues, and violet. Muted versions of warm colors like peach, pink, and yellow also work nicely if chosen well. These are gone over in more detail in my first ebook Pain Free Design and Wellness. When doing rooms with neutral color schemes, try to think outside the box. Neutral design schemes in formal settings have been overdone. Instead, add interest to your neutral scheme with rustic antiques and textures, as seen in Swedish and Belgian design schemes. White and gray accents look nice with neutrals too, if not overdone. In my own room I went light with Pratt and Lambert’s Accolade paint called “Half and Half”. It’s a warm white which normally wouldn’t be exciting but you wouldn’t believe how pretty and creamy it is.

In the bedroom, less is more. Incorporate tactile elements like soft throws and pillows, pre-warmed sheets in the winter, and light dimming options for bedtime. The quality of furnishings in the master bedroom should be notably better than in the children’s and guest rooms. Choose quality fabrics, original artwork (or good reproductions), and unique furniture and accessories. Keep surfaces clean and dust free. Enjoy your retreat and remember what it’s there for, to replenish your tired spirit. 

Healthy task for the bedroom are ones that align with your wellness practices and they are reading in bed for enjoyment or general knowledge. Not work documents.  Studying topics you're passionate about. Writing thank you cards and letters. Sunday morning coffee or evening supper. Keep television viewing and social media in bed to a minimum by scheduling it in advance and keeping your word with yourself.

For a free copy of my robust eWorkbook that helps you create a beautiful space to practice Yoga and your other wellness endeavors click here... "Pain Free Design and Wellness"

Live beautifully, eat beautifully, Shiree'

Fall Refresher...High Impact Design Ideas that Make the Most of Your Home

Fall has always been the busiest time of year for the design trade. Many homeowners entertain during this time and want their homes to look wonderful and inviting when company arrives for Thanksgiving.

I’ve put together a list of high impact changes for you to choose from to give your home a noticeable, overall improvement. Any of these are great projects to prioritize this time of year. Starting early will ensure you get your items on time as well as help you budget for the expenses that come along in December.


There’s no use making improvements if they aren’t noticeable. Recovering or slipcovering your sofa and/or chairs is a high impact item. It’s also a relatively cost efficient improvement, meaning you get a lot of bang for your buck.

Sofas and chairs are large surfaces. If they are stained, the arms are tattered, or if the colors are fading it will have a big effect on the overall appearance of your room. Choose high quality, well designed upholstery and light weight slip cover fabrics to ensure wearability and “lasting style”.

Window treatments

Window treatments are another popular item for fall. Spring too. Heat, cold and aesthetics are the main drivers behind this one.

There are a wide variety of styles and price ranges so it’s important to understand your own budget and timeline.

I try and take some of the challenge out of the decision making process for my clients by sticking with timeless, classic styles. I feel simple window treatments are almost always best. The exceptions are large, Victorian homes, mansions or grand hotels.  

I’ve mentioned this in my column before: a good rule of thumb is to do floor length draperies and sheers on traverse rods in the living room and dining room and in the guest rooms do valances and wooden blinds or shutters. It’s a way to control costs, ensure you get a classic look that doesn’t date quickly, and add resale value to the home.

Custom draperies, shades and valances take several weeks (about five or six, barring surprises) to measure, design, fabricate and install. Sometimes alterations are needed (designers, installers and seamstresses are human) so you must also allow for unforeseen contingencies. Shutters and wood or woven shades are generally quicker.


Custom bedding is a nice touch in the guest room as well as the master bedroom. Once you’ve seen a really good seamstress’ work you’ll know the difference. Paying for custom work is a waste if the workroom doesn’t do quality finish work. You definitely get what you pay for!

I always do either a gathered or box pleated bed skirt. I like to do a duvet rather than a bedspread, sometimes with a tiny welt around the outside edge or a pillow case hem. Duvets are basically covers for comforters. They both protect the comforter and make it look pretty. Additionally I like to do two coordinating pillow shams with flanges and welts and two coordinating kidney pillows with welts or fringe. Too many pillows on the bed are problematic for spouses and guests.

One recent master bedroom project had a framed bed that we tucked the duvet into. The duvet was done up in a pale greenish-blue texture, two pale taupe matelassé pillow shams with a welt to match the duvet and two kidney pillows in a beautiful pussy willow print with the same matching welts. We did a handsome, lined woven shade on the window and a russet chenille upholstery fabric on the small bedroom chair.

Another project, this one a guest room, had a duvet in a gorgeous, pale yellow and coral “open” floral-paisley linen, with cream matelassé shams and bed skirt. The architecture of the home is stunning and I didn’t want to overpower it with too many details. We kept it simple and elegant.

We are in the process of doing the second guest bedroom in another beautiful fabric. This time a cream linen with a kind of latte colored, “open” floral. It looks golden yellow at first glance then you realize it’s more tan than gold. And we are doing bench and chair cushions for both rooms in a striped cotton with contrasting welts.


With a price range of $250 to $1,200, a home makeover using the furniture and accessories you already have is perfect for getting your home ready for fall. Having your furniture properly arranged, and pictures, lighting and accessories artfully placed makes a huge difference in a room.

A hidden benefit is that once the makeover is done, it keeps you from purchasing the wrong things for your home. In many cases, it saves you from buying new things altogether.

Sofas/Love Seats/Chairs

Of the fall projects listed here, new sofas and chairs are one of the biggest investments and therefore require some planning. Choosing the right style, size and fabric will create long lasting satisfaction.

Remember my simple rules for sofas. If the space is small, choose a sofa without a skirt (legs showing). Unless you’re buying an apartment sofa or love seat, three cushions are best. No one likes to sit on the crack. If you prefer a solid colored sofa, go with a heavy texture. If you prefer a print, choose a heavy linen blend. Textures and heavy linen blends wear well and don’t show spots and stain’s as much as other fabrics.

Most sofas are 84 to 97 inches wide. If the cushion quality or fabrics are cheap, it will begin to show in a few years. Kiln-dried, hard wood frames are important for long lasting use.

New Throw Pillows

A great way to perk up a tired looking sofa or chair is with new throw pillows. I prefer down blend (although I’m looking into alternatives because of humane issues with down). Two custom throw pillows require 1 ½ yards of fabric, two forms, labor, and an extra yard to a yard and a half of fabric for welts sewn on the bias. I usually do two to three twenty inch pillows for medium to large sized sofas, and eighteen inch pillows for love seats. I like to do a tiny welt in a contrasting fabric rather than pre-made trims. I also do brushed fringes. I never get tired of brushed fringe though it’s been around awhile.

If you love my blog posts and need more help, hop on a free fifteen minute call with me to get your most pressing design question answered! 

Live beautifully. Eat beautifully, Shiree

Or if you need more, read all about my Pain Free Design Strategy Session . These sessions are super targeted to each individual. In the sessions we:

Discuss in detail what you love about your home and what you hate about it.

Identify your style preferences; lifestyle; short and long term dreams and your other unique set of challenges.

Determine how your home is currently functioning and not functioning for you.

Devise a decorating, remodeling, or building plan for a truly unique version of you.

Choose colors, textures and styles that feed your soul.

Create one ideal furniture layout that enhances your sense of stability.

How to Fight New Home Fatigue...and personalize your home's appearance in five steps!

Moving 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 really tells you what it needs.

A home is a work in progress, ever changing, always evolving. Styles change and people eventually crave improvements, even with the best chosen furnishings and fabrics.

I think the thing that holds us back from creating a warm 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 time.

So how to avoid impersonal décor and furnish/decorate your home right from the beginning? I’ve put together some ways to help you identify the usual culprits of decorating a brand new home and some solutions to apply on your own or with the assistance of a decorator.

Step One

Resist 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 those old pieces may have just the aged appeal your new home needs. Further, don’t break the bank purchasing a bunch of new things for the spare rooms. You can always discard your old items later but for now, wait till well after everything is unpacked and placed.

Step Two

Place 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.

Think 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”.

Step Three

Once the biggest pieces are placed properly, you can place the smaller items such as the sideboard, armchairs, accent chairs, cocktail and end tables, lamps and dressers.  

The most common mistake in decorating a new home is to under furnish it. Nothing looks more impersonal than a home without enough furniture or accessories. Still, when prioritizing your budget obviously its best to buy the home first. From a financial standpoint, homes generally increase in value whereas most furniture doesn’t.

In 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. Floor lamps are nice where space is limited providing they’re placed near a wall. You don’t want any exposed cords for people to trip over. 

The second most common mistake is to overlook window treatments. Unless your architecture and views are outstanding and the windows are to die for, you probably need a little fabric on them by way of draperies, sheers or valances. Wooden shutters and blinds are a wonderful option too but they can look unfinished without a pair of stationery draperies or a tailored valance.

Steps Four and Five

By now, it’s 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. These two steps will actually take more time than the previous three.

I 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, spare bedrooms and bathrooms.

I like to work 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.

Lastly, think about how the size of your furnishings relate to the rest of the things in your rooms. Think about texture and line. Vertical lines impart a formal look while horizontal lines are casual and restful. Though paint is the easiest, quickest way to decorate it’s also the most over used element of design. Control the use of color when choosing paint. Paint colors should pull your interiors together, not dominate them.

If your home or room is missing something that you can’t identify, chances are good that it’s scale, texture, fabric, or greenery.

Little things can make a big difference in a new home, like new faucets, new light fixtures, and new doorknobs. I notice these tend to be dated in many homes.  I think the reason for this is because they weren’t chosen well to begin with. When you’re ready to take your home to the next level, here are some nice little “upgrades” that can take your home from fair to fabulous and not break the bank.

Light fixtures
Solar tubes
Cabinet pulls
Custom vanity mirrors

When bigger improvements are a consideration, think about the value of the home and whether or not it can realize the investment of upgrading. In design school way back in the mid-nineties, we were taught that kitchens can be remodeled at about 5-10% of the home’s market value and retain or improve its value but I’m not sure this still applies in our new economy. This would be a good topic to discuss with your realtor at the time of purchasing your new home.

Kitchen and bath remodels (cabinets, counters, etc.)
Stainless steel kitchen appliances
Crown molding
Hardwood floors
Quality baseboards
Energy efficient doors and windows
Upgraded fireplaces, hearths and mantels

For women with arthritis, other things come into consideration that lend to convenience, stability and stress management. For more information, google Universal Design or hop on a 15-minute discovery call with me to talk about a few of your biggest concerns. Email me at and write Discovery in the subject line.

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!

My 7 Favorite Detoxes for Arthritis

Life can be such a joy! Don't spend another week or month or year of it feeling less than the best version of yourself. I am writing this for you today because I’ve been in your shoes, I know what you are capable of doing (‘cuz I’ve been there too!) and because I truly want to help. 

Me above, about seven years on the arthritis eating plan. I still struggle with discipline. I made peach pie recently and ate half of it. Yesterday I bought pizza. I ate half of that too. But as you can see, most of the time I keep agreements with  myself and stick to the A-eating plan.

In 2012 I embarked on a journey that would take seven years, some one hundred health related books, and years of studying and experimenting to discover the right paths for me and my health issues. My goal was to overcome six different degenerative bone and joint conditions and avoid dangerous drugs like bone builders and pain killers but along the way to better bone and cartilage health, I made a pleasant discovery. Everything that positively affects the bones also affects energy, your skin, hair, teeth, gums, overall weight, health and even sense of well-being. In fact your mood and outward appearance are excellent indicators of what's going on inside your body. 

The Cold Hard Facts

The body has an amazing ability to heal itself. Did you know it has its own reset button? It's the ancient practice of fasting. Yet most doctors are unaware of its power because they've been trained to diagnose symptoms and treat them with drugs. 

Most docs are well intentioned. They are a godsend in emergencies. One saved my life several years ago from another one's near fatal mistake. But most haven't a clue how to help you overcome chronic health issues and attain vibrant good health other than prescribing drugs. My own western trained doc wanted to put me on the highly dangerous bone builder Boniva! He also tried numerous times to prescribe indefinite courses of pain killers. It became obvious that if drugs weren't my first choice as they were his, I was on my own. Plus I had to consider what kind of health he was and still is in…not good! I became proactive. Knowing what I know now, I made the right choice and I could not be more pleased. 

If you have serious medical conditions or are on prescription drugs, find a great holistic doctor and a nutritionist immediately to help you develop an eating plan; and to help you minimize the prescriptions or gradually wean you off them altogether. The reason I say this is because cutting edge arthritis doctors now know that arthritis is best treated without drugs. They now recommend lifestyle changes instead. Please don’t take my word for it. I’m a patient, not a nutritionist or doctor. Find a doctor who specializes in this and be willing to make the changes she or he prescribes.

Drugs are meant to help us in crisis. They are not part of a lifetime wellness plan as most people have come to believe! This information is something I’m so passionate about sharing. 

Educate yourself. Be proactive. Don't be afraid to ask your doctor lots of questions. Don't be afraid to say hey Doc, instead of that prescription drug you’re recommending what kind of lifestyle changes can I make instead? Or how can I minimize these medications? 

If you take nothing else away today than this: you owe it to yourself to start reading the right books and start watching the right documentaries. Information is power.

If you've read any recent books or articles on holistic health and wellness you're probably somewhat familiar with some of the following terms. What do these things have in common? They are cleansing to your system. Added up on a daily or weekly basis and they’ll really help you move the needle on your health initiatives.


Rebounding- bounce/dancing bare footed on a rebounder or mini trampoline elevates your mood and moves lymph fluid around. It’s cleansing and energizing and great for the tendons in the lower legs and feet. It’s highly recommended by many health experts. I like to bounce and dance around by bouncing once and then kicking one foot and pulling one knee up towards my chest, right then left. Start slow by bouncing with two feet and use the hand bar for stability.

Dry skin brushing- using a semi- soft dry brush labeled for skin brushing, start at the soles of your feet and work your way up the legs, stomach, palms of the hands, arms etc. avoiding your breasts, up the neck/throat area. Be gentle with the chest and throat. Use long, through strokes. This is a great way to exfoliate away dead skin cells which is good for cellular turnover and since the skin is one of your main detoxifiers, it’s another great way to assist your body in its job of “cleansing” itself.

Lemon water- though lemons are acidic outside the body, they are alkalizing in the body and lemon water is also another great cleansing tool. Many experts say to start your morning with a warm (not hot) cup of water with lemon juice. Some people like to add cayenne and a little raw honey for additional cleansing.

Raw foods- you may have heard that cooking in temperatures over 118 degrees depletes the nutrients and enzymes in vegetables and fruit. Raw foodists are easy to spot…they are gorgeous! Beautiful skin tone and coloring, thin limber bodies. That’s because they get tons of nutrients and because they’re so nourished they have few if any food cravings. Now, this is a fairly difficult lifestyle especially if you have family around the house but I’ve come up with a fantastic solution! Eat raw till dinner. Yep. That’s all it takes! Skip breakfast, I’ll share why you another time why you don’t need it; have a big raw salad for lunch; then pretty much have what you want for dinner. No, not pizza! Real, unprocessed food.  

Green juicing- this is really important if you have arthritis. Nothing (except fasting) will help you move the needle on your health like green juices. They’re loaded with micronutrients. People always ask me, why juices rather than smoothies. The main reason is you can get way more juice, and thus, micronutrients in your system via juices. Smoothies have all the plant’s fiber, which is great too. So if you want, do a smoothie as well! But don’t skip the green juice. I’ve put my green juice recipe on Instagram several times. It’s so delicious; you won’t consider it a chore to drink. In fact, it’s so delicious that it’s totally addictive.
Hot/cold showers- not only is this a great way to move lymph fluid and detoxify your body, it’s also an amazing pain reliever. I personally love hot/cold showers though admittedly they take some practice. Start with only what you can tolerate and slowly, while the water is running, increase the intensity. Give yourself a few weeks, even a month or two to perfect this.

Start with hot water, if possible drench your scalp too. Count to thirty slowly, then switch to cold. Keep making it colder, till you get as cold as you can stand. Count to thirty slowly. Repeat three times total.  I’ve been doing these for three or four years and still screech with the cold rinse, but the feeling afterward is so worth it. It elevates your mood too!

Fasting- according to Dr. Eugene Zamperion, arthritis specialist and author of The Alternative Guide to Arthritis the number one way to manage your symptoms is with a doctor supervised fasting every spring and fall. From what I could gather from his book and others on fasting is that two to three days is the general duration. This is beyond the scope of my article but I will suffice to say that it’s the most effective thing I’ve used in managing my own symptoms. I’m 5’5, weigh 117 lbs. and I love to eat. Though I know first-hand how effective fasting is, giving up food for one to three days is still a struggle for me. But I can do it and you can too. Again, doctor’s supervision is recommended.  

These holistic health practices have enabled me to control my osteoarthritis symptoms, and slow down the degenerative effects of my various bone conditions without pain killers and medication. Don’t try and integrate them all at once! With detoxification, it’s important to start slowly and work your way into cleansing. If you detox too fast, your system will release too many toxins, so detox slow.

Again, find a great holistic doctor and nutritionist and build your own A-Team.

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!


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