Fresh looks for a new year

The Christmas decorations are down and packed away. The house looks…drab. Normal, back to the way things always are, but just in need of a little perking up.

Who’s with me? (To my very best friend, who texted me last weekend to say that it’s time for a refresh and therefore, she started “spring cleaning”- in JANUARY, with a ten-month-old daughter in tow, days before leaving for vacation…this one’s for you, sister!).

A few weeks ago, I posted pictures on my social media of all the 2020 magazines and catalogs that have been rolling in lately. Ballard Designs, Pottery Barn , Williams Sonoma, Crate & Barrel, Crate & Barrel Kids, even Better Homes and Gardens are featuring fabulous spreads in cheery shades of pink and blue. Pinks in every shade ranging from pale, petal pink to blush to lipstick pink to coral, contrasted with bold, masculine blues in shades of navy to electric blue to soothing baby blue. Pink is my all-time favorite color, and it makes me happy to see it presented in such updated ways, and the blue shades with it tone down the femininity just a touch, and add a bit of calm to the cheery. It’s a perfect balance

Now, I’m not telling you to go out and paint every wall in your house pink…that is, unless you really want to . You do you! Likewise, you don’t have to go out and buy gallons of blue paint. While paint companies advertise their “Color of the Year” every year around this time, you don’t have to repaint your entire house in order to keep up.

If you love painting and want to refresh your walls every year or so, go for it! But there are so many ways to keep up with trends without going through the mess and stress of emptying rooms, taping, patching, and painting when you don’t really need to.The first way to update your decor in current colors is to introduce some throw pillows and blankets in the color you’re looking to include. Bonus points if you want to change up your wall art to tie in the old and new. For example, if you’ve fallen into the grey movement and your walls are moody and neutral like the sample below, try introducing some pink pillows (have fun with it! Mix and match shades and patterns and textures- stripes with florals, solids with geometric, velvet with leather with fur), throw blankets to drape over the sofa, bring in some wall art with shades of pink and blue together, some pretty pink flowers (peonies, roses, tulips, Gerbera daisies- pick your favorite from the silk flower selection at Hobby Lobby or Michael’s, or pick up some fresh ones from the market or the florist until you can pick them from your own garden!) or a bowl of pink fruit: dragon fruit, pomegranates, or pink lady apples. Edible accessories are the best, amiright?

Here are some neutral color schemes with ideas on how to incorporate trendy colors while still keeping it subtle. You can be as bold as you want to be, or keep it dialed back, too. It’s your home, it’s your call. Decorate with what feels right to you, with items that fit into your story– Pottery Barn doesn’t live here, you do. Use meaningful articles- the quilt your mom made, the sip’n’paint picture you made on girls’ night, that souvenir beer glass from your first date- whatever surrounds you with love and happy memories- and incorporate it into your space, to help tell your story.

Another budget-friendly way to introduce trend colors is to collect objects in the colors you’re looking to add and set up a vignette. This could mean a grouping of pink glassware set up on a bar cart or buffet- or even on the kitchen counter- on a nice tray; it could be a collection of blue pottery displayed on shelves in the living room. Perhaps you’ve inherited some vintage glassware in these colors, or found a great deal at a thrift store or flea market. This is another opportunity for one of my favorite pastimes: shopping your home! You could even spray paint some dollar store or thrift shop knick-knacks in a shade of pink or blue coordinating with your space: picture frames, candle sticks, a vase, a platter (as long as you’re not planning to serve food directly from it). A collection of different sized pink candles in mercury glass or brass holders could be warm and inviting on a mantel or console table (think pillars, tapers, votive candles, down to tealights.) Or pull a stack of hardback books from your shelf to stack on a coffee or end table in shades of blue or pink, and accent with a jar candle and a small succulent. Your imagination is the limit here; have fun with it!

Of course, if you want to go on a shopping spree, who am I to stop you? Go for it! You could find some decorative spheres in shades of blue or pink to display in a bowl on your coffee table, dining table, or kitchen island. A pretty pink rug in front of the kitchen sink, in the bedroom, or in a hallway adds a pop of color AND a soft treat for your feet.

You could also line the back of a bookshelf or built-in with a great patterned peel-and-stick wallpaper: a bold stripe, floral , chevron, or geometric pattern would be a great choice to use in a small dose. Maybe you’ve been thinking of doing an accent wall; this is a great opportunity to add interest, color, pattern, and texture as well. Check out this one for a modern and neutral yet fun pattern. Don’t want to commit to a whole wall? Buy a roll or two of paper and a couple of prepped canvases from an arts and crafts supply store. Stick the paper to the canvases (wrap around the back like a present) and, BAM! Custom art! This is a great option if you don’t own your home, and don’t have permission to make changes to walls.

You can even spruce up a bedroom or bathroom easily. I love duvet covers from IKEA; they’re inexpensive, they’re durable, and they come in awesome colors and patterns like this one, this one, and this one. These are only examples; there are so many options. If you’re really crafty, you could even sew together two flat sheets (they can match to be the same on both sides, or coordinating to be reversible) in a color or pattern that speaks to you. For the bathroom, change out your shower curtain and add a stack of colorful new towels to freshen things up.

What I want to show you, through all of this, is that trends will come and go, but the important thing is to follow them in a way that allows your personal style (and your family’s lifestyle) to shine through…if that’s your thing. Just have fun with it. Do what works for you.




The Best Laid Plans…

Sometimes you think you know just where life is going to take you. You plan it out in your head, start to lay the groundwork for how life is going to play out because you took the time to make the plan. And then? Well, sometimes that’s just not how things go. And yet, somehow, I’m a firm believer that we end up where we’re meant to be anyway…sometimes the path to getting there is just lined with a few more life lessons than we ever planned on experiencing.

My client, San, was a teacher at my boys’ preschool, though she’s since retired to focus on her career as a novelist. She contacted me in the spring after seeing a mood board I’d posted on Facebook. I had put it together just for fun, based on a color palate I’d been inspired by and some super fun mid-century modern furniture. My original mood board was a living room, but she asked me to help her to adapt it to a home office/ writing space, using her daughter’s bedroom after she left for college (we were keeping it flexible, with a daybed and trundle so her daughter could still use the space when she came home on school breaks).

The inspiration board that started it all…
…and its evolution to a home office

Over the summer, the plan changed, moving the office space from the bedroom to an upstairs loft space. Because the rest of the house has a masculine, rustic/cottage feel, and the loft is open and visible from the front door, we had to tone down the very feminine plan we had started with in order to keep the flow of the home. We still needed to introduce some more feminine elements though, and what piece of furniture screams “FEMININE” more than a chaise lounge?

The loft space isn’t large enough for a full sofa, and the sloped ceilings wouldn’t allow for anything with a high back and arms, so this Juliette chaise from Wayfair was the perfect choice. The blue velvet upholstery is soft and feminine enough, and the chaise will offer extra seating, be a great place to sit and curl up with a book and a cup of coffee, and even offer a place for an extra friend to crash overnight. The fluffy pillow adds more texture and a more feminine touch, and the equestrian pillow is a nod to her daughter’s favorite past time. San has the chaise angled so she can sit and see out the balcony doors; she’ll have a perfect view when our region’s notorious record-breaking snowfalls start.

Wayfair Juliette chaise lounge

San also wants to be able to use her loft space as an entertaining space; as a creative-minded individual, she wants to have a space where she can collaborate with other creatives to brainstorm ideas or just get together for a glass of wine and some good company. The chaise adds seating, but we wanted to provide some occasional tables to sit drinks or books. These nesting tables were a great solution, because they can stack together to save space (very important in such a narrow area), or they can be spread out when needed.

Tommy Hilfiger Berkshire nesting tables via Wayfair

The desk was the first piece of furniture we purchased for the space, way back when we were planning on using the bedroom. I found it when I was shopping for myself, and San loved it so much we each ordered one! It’s a secretary-style, so when it’s not in use, the lid closes to hide all the “stuff” that accumulates on a desk. We found some desk accessories at nearby antiques shops to add personality- a pottery pitcher to serve as a pencil cup; a stationary organizer for envelopes and notepads; and a beautiful set of heavy antique (we think handmade) horse head bookends. The chair, lovingly dubbed “Lydia,” (actually the “Rissa” dining chair from Pier One) has a similar texture to the chaise lounge, and provides great support for when San is spending endless hours writing.

The decision to use a round rug was inspired by the round nesting tables. And because the loft space is, architecturally, very angular, the round rug and tables (in addition to the pattern on Lydia) softens the angles and emphasizes the beautiful round knots in the wood on the floors and ceiling.

The colors in the space were all inspired by pottery from a local artisan who creates beautiful pieces in all shapes and sizes. This piece was one San already had and wasn’t using downstairs. She has a beautiful collection of vases and serving pieces displayed above her kitchen cabinets; this is one way to tie the two spaces together while keeping her sanctuary truly hers through the furniture, fabric, and accessory choices we made.

Campbell Pottery

While the design for San’s writing space didn’t turn out the way we envisioned it when we started this process, I have no doubt it came together exactly as it was meant to. A conversation she and I had during one of our meetings was about how your home is not meant to stay as it is forever. When she and her husband purchased their home, they were in a very different phase of their life, with two young children and a lot of life to juggle. They wanted a small, cozy home to keep them all present in one another’s lives, without too much space to spread out and separate.

Their children are teenagers now, one a freshman in high school and the other a freshman in college, and while the concept of keeping close remains a priority, the way they use their home now is vastly different from when they moved in all those years ago. It was my job to help them to achieve the same closeness in an evolved way, and I’ve been so honored to have had the opportunity to help them to do so.



Nobody Burned Down your She-Shed, Cheryl

Our area was hit by a hail storm in April, and many of our neighbors and others in our area are filing homeowners claims through the insurance companies to help recover losses caused by the storm. Our home sustained some damage- nothing terribly major, but enough to require some attention and repairs.

We’ve spent most of our summer planning repairs, speaking with insurance adjusters and claims specialists and our agent, and meeting with our contractor to coordinate all of the work we need to have done. This week, we had the roof replaced between thunder storms. (Let me tell you, my friends, there are few things in life as unnerving as a man’s shadow crossing next to the window of your second-story bathroom.)

Incidentally, one of our twins loves the State Farm she-shed commercial. At four years old, he shakes his head and mutters, “nobody burned down your she-shed, Cheryl.”

I think it took my boys awhile to comprehend what a she-shed is, and why one could possibly be necessary. After all, in our home, they’ve completely taken over every possible square foot of space. They feel perfectly comfortable showering their toys all over our home- their bedrooms, OUR bedroom, the guest room, the kitchen, living room, dining room, basement…heck, it’s not uncommon to find Lego’s and other small toys littering the floors in the bathrooms! The idea of Mom or Dad needing their own space is a little foreign.

The more the boys take over, the less space there is for Ryan and I. Even Ryan, though, has claimed his corners and crannies in our home for his work and hobbies. I guess you could say I have my domain too, if the kitchen, littered with everyone else’s stuff, counts. And my closet where I’ve hidden my I Love Lucy collection, because, pink. And boys. And I have my wall in the dining room where my desk goes, to collect my project supplies- paint decks and samples, reference materials, sketch book, etc. Maybe I’m a bit spoiled, thinking I need more…

I’ve tried to make our house homey and welcoming without being over-the-top feminine. I don’t use a lot of floral prints in fabrics- though our living room rug is maybe a little more feminine. It’s balanced with solid grey furniture, black and white accent pillows, and a warm gold on the walls. I did request purple on the dining room walls- it’s a deep, deep plum color that’s brightened by the sunlight that floods in through the ceiling-high window angled to the vaulted ceiling. The purple is accented with a more masculine, dark wood hutch, table, and chairs. I can bring in more feminine touches with how I set the table- a centerpiece, a collection of candles, some interesting accent pieces, dishes, napkin rings, etc. I live with four males; I’m doing my best to strike a balance between masculine and slightly glam.

Since I brought up the idea, my boys love shopping for she-shed necessities. They’ll point out pre-fab plastic shed displays in Sam’s Club and ask me which one I want. Our oldest will point out accessories and furniture and lighting and tell me, “Mom, you need this for your she-shed!”

They’re really indulging in this fantasy of mine.

And so I dream of my she-shed. I dream of my own girly space, where I can have white furniture, white walls, some glam lighting, a fainting couch (a lifelong dream of mine), as much pink as I can cram in (tastefully, of course), and plenty of wine storage. I dream of a space for my most creative moments to happen- both in writing and design. I dream of a reading nook, surrounded in bookshelves, a desk…and maybe more pink.

And I hope to never have to call the insurance company to file a claim on my she-shed. My little guy would take too much pleasure in telling me that nobody burned down it down.



Expanding my horizons (Farmhouse Style)

Awhile back I shared my love of Joanna Gaines with you, while simultaneously sharing that her decorating style isn’t exactly like mine, in a post where I discussed my love of mid-century modern interior design. As a designer, I’m always trying to push myself to experiment with different looks, so while I have my personal favorites, I love the challenge of going outside of my comfort zone.

Through the years, my personal style has been all over the place. I’ve fallen in love with Victorian decor (one day I dream of owning an old Victorian style home renovated to house my bed & breakfast); I’ve ogled traditional, transitional, Mediterranean, Asian, contemporary, global, eclectic, glam… you name it, chances are I’ve dreamed a room in that style.

Over the past year and a half or so, I’ve started playing with design, color, and layout again, deciding it’s quite possible that my dreams are worth pursuing. And so, even without a specific client in mind, I’ve decided to put together some samples of different design styles for my own amusement, to learn new technology, and to build the online portfolio I plan to put in a separate page on this site, eventually.

Since my last post was focused on mid-century modern, but I also nodded to farmhouse as a very current style, I decided to make farmhouse the next decor genre I wanted to tackle, using the same colors as in the mid-century design. For this post, I’ve also put together a fictitious room, complete with a space plan and 3D renderings, because sometimes it’s hard to picture how all the pretty things might come together if there’s no space to put them in.

Let me know what you think, friends! I’d love to hear your feedback. Are you all-in on farmhouse? What are you drawn to?



Joanna Gaines

Rustic farmhouse is the decorating style that’s all the rage these days. I blame Joanna Gaines.  And not in a bad way; that woman is my spirit animal.  Not necessarily in a decor-style kind of way, though I certainly see the appeal.  But more in a, “I love this chick because she can do it all without breaking a sweat and everything she touches is gold” kind of way.  Basically, for Christmas this year I asked for ALL of the Joanna Gaines things: her new book, “Homebody,” her cookbook, a subscription to Magnolia Journal.   We also bought her children’s book, “We Are the Gardeners,” because my kids also love “Jo.”Because the woman is a very classy genius.

Every day my inbox is full of emails advertising the widest array of rustic farmhouse decor from every store imaginable.  It’s lovely.  It’s fresh, airy, reminiscent of wide open spaces, clean air, and days gone by, with a little modern twist. Colors are crisp, light and neutral, and fabrics are the same.  Jute, burlap, sisal, denim, linen, and cotton offer looks so crisp and clean you can almost smell the “fresh.”   It’s comfortable, easy to picture kids running down the hallways,  bustling around the kitchen, lounging in the living room for a football game, or gathering around a big old farmhouse table with a worn wood top, laden with a big Sunday supper of pot roast and mashed potatoes and a big layered cake slathered in fluffy white frosting for dessert. And maybe a goat peeking through a window.

But what of other design styles?  I’m having a big moment with mid-century modern right now.  I’m loving the clean lines and the metallic hardware, and fabrics with bold, bright colors in fun patterns.  Last summer, I walked away from an antique mid-century desk that was priced at, well, basically nothing.  I could easily picture that desk in my house, in any of about six different areas.  Alas, by the time I made the decision, someone else had bought it.  Sad face.  Another life lesson learned the hard way.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, inspiration struck at a strange time (sitting in a chair, waiting at a hair salon), and in my mind I saw a tufted sofa in a rich, succulent green velvet, accented with shades of pink and off-white and pops of metallic gold. I went home that afternoon and assembled a concept board for the fun of it, and posted it to my Instagram and Facebook pages.

Last week, a teacher from my kids’ preschool (who is also a gifted published author, and someone I often turn to for inspiration and editing on this blog) sent me a message that she loved the board so much she wanted me to help her to convert her daughter’s bedroom to a home office using the same style. Her daughter will be graduating from high school soon and then moving on to college. Converting the room from an empty kid’s room to a pretty, feminine space where her daughter can still crash during school breaks, but also a sanctuary for her to relax and write her best work, makes the pain of graduation a little more bearable.

Here’s the living room concept board I posted

And here’s the plan for the office!

What about you? What’s your design style? What object inspires your creativity, or sparks your best memories, or makes you feel comfortable and like your best self?