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When you live way out in the country, like I do, the likelihood of having overnight guests is good. From my experience, it is always good to be well prepared to ensure a seamless, relaxing overnight visit. Comfort is your ultimate goal. Having overnight guests soon? Here are some basic tips to ensure your success.
Fresh flowers make a great first impression.
The best way to make a great first impression is to have fresh flowers waiting for your guests in their room. Not only are they beautiful but they smell great. Lillies are my favorite because they have such an incredible scent and look gorgeous too.
Let there be light!
Since your guests are new to your space, they will need to have easy access to light. Make sure you have a light on their bedside table and nightlights throughout the space so they can move around easily in the dark.
Provide interesting reading material.
It is always fun to have books and magazines by the bed for guests to read. Why not provide them with reading materials that are specific to your area? In addition, if you have a passcode for your wi-fi, leave them a little note that provides them with the code.
Provide plenty of extra pillows and bedding.
Make sure you provide plenty of extra pillows and blankets for your overnight guests. Have down alternatives on hand should your guests be allergic to feathers. In addition, if they have their own thermostat, provide directions as to how to change the temperature.
Extra toiletries should be readily available.
It is quite possible your guests have forgotten things. Provide samples of everything they may need (just like a hotel) in their guest room and/or guest bathroom. Luxurious shampoo, conditioner, lotion, mouthwash, toothpaste, a toothbrush, etc. are always welcome.
Have plenty of towels and washcloths available.
You don’t ever want to make your guests feel like they are imposing. Leave plenty of towels and washcloths available for their use so they don’t have to ask you for assistance.
Provide a place for guests to unpack.
Nothing says awkward like tripping over your suitcase. In an effort to avoid this, I have a luggage rack (suitcase stand) in my guest room to make unpacking easy and tripping avoidable.
Stocking the kitchen is important.
Make sure you ask your guests what they like to eat and drink in advance. Do they have any dietary restrictions? Coffee, tea, milk, and water are staples. You can never be too prepared so stock up. Having bottled water in your guest room for them to enjoy is always a nice touch.
Finally, and most importantly, enjoy the time with your overnight guests!
Look around your home, whether it was intentional or not, your artwork tells a story. Be it your photos, framed watercolors, oil paintings or textiles, they each provide a chapter in your narrative. By curating your pieces, your story can be expressed in a cohesive way. Having lots of wall space and many different pieces of art can be daunting but don’t let the word “curate” intimidate you. With some simple tips, planning, and creativity you will find great reward.
Where will you start? Think about the space in which you would like to start. Who sees it? How much time do they have? What type of light does it get? What type of impact do you want the collection to have on the viewer? Remember the “viewer” maybe you, who sees it every day, or it may be a guest just passing through.
Consistency is important to your curation and can be achieved many ways. Your artwork can be unified by color, orientation or theme. Let the shape and size of your wall serve as a mirror to your artwork. For example, if your wall is narrow and tall, consider selecting tall thin pieces to adorn the wall. You can also find consistency in the color, border, and genre of the artwork to create a harmonious look. Monochromatic frames really shine. Try using frames that have a common hue to keep your eye moving around the collection. For example, gold frames are a great way to add elegance and impact the mood of the collection. They pair nicely with graphic artwork in a monochromatic palette. The possibilities for themes are endless and inspired by the art you own or aspire to own.
Stories are told through curated artwork or photos. Start your story by selecting your favorite, large focal point (piece) around which your story will unfold. Add several layers to your story, in a variety of sizes, that appear as though they were organically added over time. The pops of color, in the artwork, should all relate back to the original story (your original focal point).
Textiles make a great gallery wall. They are less expected, provide great sculptural depth and are sure to appeal. Consistency can come from the color palette, texture or medium.
Color is great for unification. Consider telling your story through the commonality of color. Your frames should be of complementary tones to ensure a consistent look. For example, warm woods and metal finishes accent cool blues nicely.
Layout ideas are countless but, for the most part, there are three configurations that create a strong statement—linear, organic or random.
A linear layout works well in a hallway or narrow space but it’s definitely not the only option for those spaces. It can be one irregular line of artworks or an organized grid of several lines hung one above together. This also works well for narrow vertical spaces between rooms or on an end wall.
Organic layouts use the shape of the wall as the inspiration and starting point. Analyse the shape of the wall. Is it tall and narrow? Think of an organic shape that either counteract it or balances the overall shape. When viewed, the wall and artwork are seen as all one piece. This technique helps to bring together seemingly unrelated pieces.
A random layout is a mix of linear and organic. It is a good layout if you plan to add pieces over time. It involves mixing different frames, media, colors, and sizes to create a relaxed look. Pieces are hung at varying heights.
Make a plan for your visual direction and give it a test run. You can lay the pieces on the floor then sketch various layouts on paper. Once you have established a few layouts you like, test their impact on the wall by creating cardboard replicas and painters tape on the wall.
The most important thing to remember is that it is your story and can be told any way you like. It is sort of like selecting the right mix of guests for a dinner party. Not everyone has to know each other in advance but there should be commonalities about which they can have a good conversation. Sometimes the commonalities are obvious and other times they aren’t but it’s fun to see the stories unfold!
Remember, with your gallery walls, you can always add, remove or move things around to keep things interesting. Let your story begin.
Whether you start indoors or out, March is a great time to get your vegetable garden going. This year I am going to plant some of my favorite vegetables. Here are some tips to ensure success with your vegetable seeds.
Spinach can be planted 4 – 6 weeks before the last frost.
Spring lettuce should be planted where it will get lots of light but not all day long.
Carrots should not be started inside. Instead, plant them directly into the ground about 4 weeks before the last frost.
You can plant onion seeds, sets or beginning plants.
Sow peas after your last frost. Peas do not grow well in super hot weather so if you live in an area where excessive heat may be a problem, fall is a better time to plant peas.
Peppers can be started indoors and transplanted when the hot weather arrives.
Summer Squash loves the hot sun and needs good drainage so plant them indoors in March and plan to move them later.
Start your tomatoes indoors and plant them outside when the frost is no longer a threat.
Cabbage can be started indoors about 7 weeks before your last frost.
Corn can be started outdoors when the soil reaches 60 degrees. Never should it be started indoors.
The ‘80’s are over so, when it comes to your dining room table and chairs, let’s move away from the matching sets that look as though they leaped from the pages of a catalog. Your table and chairs don’t have to match but they do have to compliment one another. The style and scale should be correct. Here are some important things to consider when selecting dining room chairs for your dining room table.
By finding pieces that share a common design element you are on the path to success. The common element can be the color, period or level of formality. It can even be a single design element, such as the shape of the legs or feet. It goes without saying that the styles should not be completely different in terms of their level of formality. You certainly don’t want a rough farm table paired with super refined, formal mahogany chairs. If the table has a sinuous leg, look for a chair with the same line in the leg or back, or choose upholstery with swirls on it.If the table is square or rectangular, consider chairs with a square or rectangular seat.
As with most things, decorating being no exception, there are very few tried and true rules. I am a firm believer in selecting pieces that work for you. That being said, if you plan to break the “rules”, make sure you deviate in an intentional way so as not to look like you just have no sense of style or taste. For example, if the pairing is so incredibly outrageous, no one will question that it must have been intentional.
Dining tables generally stand between 29 to 31 inches high but it is important to measure your table before selecting chairs. Here are some good rules of thumb:
Twenty-two inches is a good standard width for an armless dining chair, but you can go larger than that if your dining table or dining room is especially large.
Avoid chairs that are more narrow than 17 inches. They are rarely suitable for adults.
Choose chairs that are 20 to 24 inches deep to ensure comfort.
For comfort, the respective scales of your dining table and chairs must be compatible. From the top of the seat to the floor, dining chairs frequently range from 17 to 20 inches high. That means the distance between the seat and tabletop could be anywhere from 8 to 14 inches.
The average diner finds a distance of 10 to 12 inches the most comfortable, but it varies by the thickness of the tabletop, the height of the apron, and by the size of the diner.
18-19 inches is an ideal height for a dining chair seat.
Allow a minimum of 12 inches between the top of the seat and the top of the table.
To find the optimum seat-height-to-table-height distance—test tables with a variety of different chairs.
Much of the formality of a chair is dictated by the upholstery. You may also want to consider fabric based on the amount of use the chairs will get. Remember, things will spill on your chairs in the dining room so if easy care is most important to you, then you may want to stick with leather (real or imitation), Ultrasuede, cotton blends or a commercial fabric. I would avoid nubby fabrics like chenille and velvet because the wear will be more evident. Manmade fibers such as rayon or polyester are best when combined with natural fibers. If you use delicate fabrics, find chairs with removable seat cushions, so the material can be cleaned or replaced.
To ensure comfort, and protect your chairs, it is imperative your chairs slide comfortably under your table without bumping the legs of other diners or your table. Leave at least two inches of space between chairs.
Next, think about how you’re going to use the table. Each place at the table needs anywhere between 22 to 24 inches of table space and larger-scale chairs will require additional space.
If you select chairs with arms, make sure the tops of the arms don't brush or bump the bottom of the tabletop or apron.
The scale is also an important consideration for selecting chairs. This is the difference between the table height and the overall chair height. The height of the chair should exceed the table height by at least two inches.
Just because the temperatures outside are unbearable doesn’t mean your houseplants can’t thrive. It is important not to push your plants in the winter. As humans, we tend to over nurture things. Resist that temptation during this chilly season. That means don’t over water or repot plants this winter. Enjoy your plants but be sure to let them rest.
Less is more with fertilization in the winter too. Until the sun is shining and the temperatures rise there is no need to fertilize. As you get to know your plants, their needs will become far more apparent and your instincts intuitive.
Worried about the chilly temperatures in your drafty window sill? Worry not. As in nature, plants don’t mind a bit of fluctuation in the temperature. It happens in nature too.
Aim for watering the soil and not the foliage as most plants prefer this method. Speaking of watering—should you go a little overboard when watering your plants, fear not. Let your plant dry out. Once two inches of topsoil is dry you can resume watering. You will know if you have gone overboard if the leaves look yellow and wilted. Should your plant get too dry, try watering it from below. Place your plant in a saucer with a thin layer of water and let it drink.
Going on vacation? If you are going for longer than a week, it makes the most sense to hire a plant sitter. If not, cluster your plants away from the light to prevent them from drying out quickly. It will also help to keep the humidity up around them.
String of Pearls
As I mentioned earlier, get to know your plants and their individual needs. Here are some signs of distress:
Leaning towards the light
Leaves are turning pale and yellow
Leaves are wilted
Should your plants exhibit any of these traits, adjust your watering and/or the exposure to the sun. Your plants will let you know what the need if you just listen. Have fun and enjoy your happy houseplants this winter.
We all want to see ourselves in the best possible light, right? That’s why it is so important to select the lighting fixtures in your bathroom carefully. Recently, I have been remodeling my master bath and I found that this was much easier said than done. In addition to the finish and style of your fixtures, you will need to consider the functionality. Are you selecting lighting for your main bathroom in which you not just brush your teeth but shave or put on makeup? If so, it is very important to have lighting fixtures that light your face and not just space. Good lighting should also light the person instead of the wall or mirror. Like I said, easier said than done, right?
When selecting the perfect lighting for your bathroom you may want to consider the following options:
A Pair of Sconces (wall mounted light fixtures) is a great option because they don’t take up much space and can be very decorative. In addition, together, a pair of sconces will evenly light your face from both sides, avoiding harsh shadows.
Your morning routine requires the lighting be evenly lit. You want to fill the space to the sides of your mirror with an extra decorative touch.
You want to accommodate a single narrow mirror or multiple mirrors with spaces between.
You are not able to install lights on the ceiling.
A Single Sconce Above the Mirror works especially well in a bathroom with a tall ceiling, accentuating the verticality of the space and drawing the eye up.
If you lack wall space you may want to select a single sconce directly above the mirror instead of a pair of sconces. The lighting will be symmetrical but it may cast shadows on your face.
Your mirror is wide (60” or more).
Twin Light Fixtures are similar to the single sconce but provide more light and cast light from two sides for better balance.
You prefer the look of more lighting.
You require more, balanced light.
Long, Minimalist Sconces (or LED strip) are popular because they cast a long stretch of light evenly on your face.
You want a modern feel.
You require consistent lighting for your bathroom routine (makeup application).
The American Lighting Association recommends mounting them 65 to 70 inches from the floor as a general rule. The association also recommends placing the fixtures 28 to 30 inches apart, but that depends on the size of the room, among other factors.
A Statement Chandelier or Pendant Lights are great if you love this look in the bathroom and want the functionality of less-dramatic lighting. Think about putting the chandelier in the center of the room or over a bathtub. Combine it with a pair of sconces for a more layered look.
Perfectly even lighting is not a priority.
You want to make a dramatic statement in a powder room.
Multiple Simple Pendants are both functional and dramatic. You may want to consider a series of pendant lights. They could serve the same function as a pair of sconces if hung at the same (eye) level.
You cannot install lights on the wall, either because an architectural feature like a window or post is in the way, or because the wall is already finished (say, with beautiful tile) and you don’t want to open it up just to add a new light.
You want to have it all: a wide, uninterrupted mirror and multiple functional lights.
Sconces are not an option.
You already have power supplied for lights in the ceiling and don’t want to open the wall.
Recessed Downlights (or Potlights) are many times the “go-to” for a bathroom renovation because they are a neutral, safe bet especially if you plan to sell the house anytime soon. If you plan to light the vanity with these lights, they should light your face and not the mirror. Place the lights close to the wall to help the lights reach the person using the mirror.
They are part of a full lighting scheme and you do not intend to light the whole room with them.
You plan to sell your home soon.
You prefer a modern look free of pendants or sconces.
Over the years I’ve had more fun with powder rooms than any other room in the house. I have gone to great lengths to achieve very bold looks. I once painted my powder room the most amazing shade of hot salmon-ish (yes, I made that word up) pink. If I didn’t lose you with that color then you and I will definitely be friends. In my last home, a two-hundred-year-old farmhouse, I covered the bathroom walls with an amazing textured fabric with which I fell madly in love at first sight. It was unconventional, not easy to install but the results were spectacular and a dream for the world’s most tactile person. The possibilities are endless.
The beauty of a powder room is that it is surrounded by four walls so its unique style won’t compete with the rest of the house. Your powder room serves as its own tiny jewel box. Most likely, it’s one of the rooms most visited rooms in your home so why not make a high style, bold statement?
Transform your space with a combination of color, texture, and lighting.
Need inspiration? Here you go...
Winter is here and the temperatures outside are not conducive to much other than staying inside! It’s a great time to spruce up your home. That being said, my next project is our master bathroom. I don’t want to invest a huge amount of money in a complete renovation but I definitely want to give it an updated, more cohesive look. My goal is to create a clean black and white feel (softened a bit with a dark gray instead of black) with up to date gold accouterments. The result should feel interesting without feeling complicated or cluttered.
Take these steps to achieve a similar goal:
Determine the style goal for your bathroom (Traditional. Transitional, Modern, etc.)
Evaluate what you have in your bathroom currently and what you can change easily.
Can you repaint your cabinets instead of having them replaced?
Select a fabric for your new window treatments. This fabric can serve as your color palette for the entire room.
Select a nice, soothing paint color from your fabric to paint the walls.
Replace your current lighting fixtures (wall sconce, pendant lighting or vanity lights) with something more updated to match the style you selected in Step 1.
Replace your mirror or mirrors with something more interesting.
Remove all of your old hardware from the cabinets and replace it with updated pulls and/or knobs.
New towels make a huge difference especially if they coordinate with your new color scheme.
Add coordinating accessories such as toothbrush holders, soap dishes, bath mats, etc.
Plants add life and texture to your newly updated space.
Voila! In just eleven easy steps you have achieved a whole new look for your bathroom.