Monday, July 12, 2010

Shadow Box Display

Are you looking for a fun summer project? Perhaps one you can do with your kids? Creating a shadow box display is an easy and fun way to show off your pictures and souvenirs that are piling up in that "I don't know what to do with this stuff" drawer!

Most craft or frame stores carry a variety of shadow boxes - usually in white, brown or black. And they come in different sizes. To create a cohesive display, I recommend using boxes of the same color and size.

Your first step is to determine what you want to put in the boxes. This will help you decide which size you'll need. You can display photos, souvenirs, odd and ends that have been collected during a vacation or over time. Then, all you need is some creativity and a few push-pins.

Consider creating a box for each child and letting them collect favorite "treasures" throughout the summer or use them to show off your annual family vacation. If you want to get really creative, paint the box frames a complementary color to your room or cover the inside back of the box with your favorite fabric, wallpaper or scrap-book paper!

Monday, June 28, 2010

June PlumPerk

Or should I say green? The last two posts suggested 10 easy things you can incorporate into your lifestyle to save a little (or a lot) of CO2. So, let's share and compare ideas. What have you done to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle? Every thing we do makes a difference, so share your actions - big and small. It could be something small like creating a recycling station or using cloth napkins OR it could be something major like buying a hybrid car or replacing your top-loading washer with a front loader. Share your actions in the comment section by July 3 and the winner will be announced on Monday, July 5. Bonus points for submitting a photo to

And oh yeah, the winner receives a super cute (do I say that a lot?) reusable tote bag woven from 95% post-consumer waste by BlueQ. The design is by artist Helen Dardik. Believe me, you want to win this bag!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

5 more Green Ideas

If you've already starting making household changes from the previous "How Green Are You" post, then you'll find these tips for saving CO2 just as easy!

Action: Modify the temperature on your thermostat
Why it's worth it: There's no reason to keep the house perfectly heated or cooled when you're not home. Modifying the temp just 4 degrees with a programmable thermostat will save energy - and about $130 a year.
Year one effect: 1,300 pounds of CO2 saved.
The effect if everyone in the US did it for one year: equal to 12, 353, 510 non-hybrid cars taken off the road for a year.

Action: Follow the speed limit
Why it's worth it: it may be tempting to drive 75 mph, but sticking to the 65 mph speed limit improves fuel economy by almost 15%. That reduces your car's emissions and helps you save about $200 at the pump.
Year one effect: 1,500 pounds of CO2 saved.
The effect if everyone in the US did it for one year: equal to 28,121,158 non-hybrid cars taken off the road.

Action: Use power strips
Why it's worth it: Is your TV turned off? Think again. A percentage of your home's electricity goes to devices that are not in use but are plugged in (ie, coffee pot, computer, lamps, etc). Kill the current and lower your bill by plugging them into a power strip and flipping the switch.
Year one effect: 1,608 pounds of CO2 saved.
The effect if everyone in the US did it for one year: equal to 15,280,342 non-hybrid cars taken off the road for a year.

Action: Drive a hybrid electric car
Why it's worth it: The most fuel-efficient midsize hybrid gets a combined mileage of 46 mpg; a typical midsize car gets 25 mpg. By not using as much gas, you're saving 4 1/2 barrels of oil a year plus about $560.
Year one effect: 3,660 pounds of CO2 saved.
The effect if everyone in the US did it for one year: equal to 68,615,626 non-hybrid cars taken off the road for a year.

Action: Buy green power
Why it's worth it: more than 50% of retail customers in the US have an option of buying a green-power product from their utility company. Find out if you have this option at
Year one effect: 20,508 pounds of CO2 saved.
The effect if everyone in the US did it for one year: equal to 194,881,372 non-hybrid cars taken off the road for a year.

Monday, June 21, 2010

How Green Are You?

Check out Real Simple's carbon facts to see exactly how your (small) actions can make a (big) difference. Five things you can do right now -

Action: Recycle aluminum cans and steel cans
Why it's worth it: Recycling cans directs valuable metal into new products, saving 95% of the energy required to manufacture aluminum from scratch and 74% to make steel.
Year one effect: 414 pounds of CO2 saved.
The effect if everyone in the US did it for one year: equal to 3,934,118 non-hybrid cars taken off the road for a year.

Action: Recycle newspapers and magazines
Why it's worth it: Americans throw away more paper than any other kind of trash. Recycling the pounds of magazines and newspapers not only saves trees but also reduces contributions to air pollution by 95%.
Year one effect: 581 pounds of CO2 saved.
The effect if everyone in the US did it for one year: equal to 5,511,566 non-hybrid cars taken off the road for a year.

Action: Wash laundry on a cooler setting
Why it's worth it: About 90% of the energy used to wash clothes goes to heating the water. Assuming you already wash half your laundry in cold, moving the other half from hot to warm can save a substantial amount of energy.
Year one effect: 349 pounds of CO2 saved.
The effect if everyone in the US did it for one year: equal to 3,316,442 non-hybrid cards taken off the road for a year.

Action: Switch 5 light bulbs to Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs
Why it's worth it: A 25-watt CFL provides the same amount of light as a 75-watt incandescent. CFLs use a third the energy and last 10 times longer. Switching could save about $400 over the CFLs lifetime.
Year one effect: 500 pounds of CO2 saved.
The effect if everyone in the US did it for one year: equal to 4,751,350 non-hybrid cars taken off the road for a year.

Action: Compost a fifth of your garbage
Why it's worth it: Putting less trash on the curb reduces the amount of fuel required to haul it away. Plus, composting food scraps like apple cores keeps them out of landfills where they break down to release a potent greenhouse gas.
Year one effect: 832 pounds of CO2 saved.
The effect if everyone in the US did it for one year: equal to 7,906,246 non-hybrid cars taken off the road for a year.

Next up: 5 more ways to save some CO2

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Flower Power

Summer is here and so are lots of beautiful flowers. Bring the flower power inside for a fresh, colorful vibe.

This floral pillow (definitely not your grandma's old-lady print) is perfect for a living room sofa of chair. Or, paired with neutral bed linens you can brighten your guest room. Bloom pillow by Area, $72

A bright base is what you need to build a great room from the bottom up. Lay down a bright foundation like this cute graphic rug. Coqo floral rug, starting at $78 at

Adorable 3-D wall decor is a great alternative to wallpaper. Hang and arrange your own bouquet to create a floral focal wall. Flower art, 22 for a set of $25 at

Details in the dining room (or office space) pop with these floral chairs. Swap out a few of your solid chairs with these cuties. Scoop back chair in pattern, $79 at

Do you have a fancy for florals? Share your ideas here!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Feng Shui for your Bed and Bath

Creating a balanced bedroom is really very simple. Consider color, bedding, set-up and styles for a positive, relaxing space.

Color - select beige, brown and accent colors like pink and peach. Bedding - be sure to invest in new items. From a feng shui standpoint, bedding and mattresses contain the energy of other people who've slept there. Set-up - The back of your bed should be up against a solid wall (not a window) and face the door. Styles - be sure to use circular or oval items. Soft-edged chairs and pillows promote the flow of ch'i.
To promote energy in your bathroom, think about spring colors, lowered lids (who wouldn't love that?), warmth, mirrors and good vibrations.

Spring colors - the best colors for the bathroom are yellow, blue, cream, lavender and green which represent health and prosperity. Lowered lids - since it's the largest drain in the room, a toilet can suck energy from your space so be sure to lower the seat! Warmth - multiple light sources activate energy in the bathroom so keep a soft light or night light on at all times. Mirrors - in the bathroom, mirrors circulate energy. Just don't place one directly in front of the toilet which would circulate the dirty energy. Good vibrations - accessorize in pairs such as two towels, two picture frames or two decorative vases.

To learn more about feng shui and your home, check out this book: Feng Shui Your Life by Jayme Barrett.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Feng Shui for the Living Room

Little bitty quickie "history" lesson. Feng Shui (pronounced fung-SHWAY, not fing-SHOO-EE) is an ancient Chinese system of aesthetics believed to use the laws of both Heaven (astronomy) and Earth (geography) to help one improve life by receiving positive qi (known to us Westerners as ch'i). Modern feng shui is believed by many people to be helpful in living a prosperous and healthy life by avoiding or blocking negative energy and increasing the positive energy.

Creating an inviting living room can be your first step to increasing positive energy in your home!
Correct Position - your sofa should back up against a wall and face the main entry to create security. If your sofa must face away from the door, hand a mirror across from it so you can see the door in the mirror.

Create Symmetry - pairs of seats and uniform arrangements can create connection and positive energy.

Keep it Light - let the natural light in, which boosts the mind and augments ch'i. Yellow symbolizes optimism and communication.

Hide electronics (a personal fav, but not happening in our house) - keep your TV, DVD player and other electronics inside a wooden cabinet so their energy is contained.

Next up: A balanced bedroom and energizing bathroom

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

How to Pack for a Move

Finding and moving to a new home is exciting. Packing up and leaving your old one is not. Simplify the process with these tips for packing . . .

1. Get rid of it. Piling stuff you don't need into boxes is ultimately a huge waste of time, money and moving day manpower. Before you start packing, get your junk under control. Go room by room and commit to selling, donating or trashing at least 20% of what you own.
2. Clean up. Once you've shed the excess, give everything in your house a thorough cleaning. You'll be glad to unpack clean, dust free items after the move.
3. Go shopping. For moving supplies. Figure out how many boxes as well as various shapes and sizes you will need for each room. Remember that smaller, lighter boxes are easier to carry than large, overloaded ones. Don't forget the packing paper, bubble wrap, tape and markers for labeling. Ask local stores for extra boxes (wholesale and liquor stores have tons) to save money!
4. Create a system. Make a packing plan and schedule. If possible, pack up an entire room every 2-3 days. In a hurry? Get some pizza and wine and invite friends over for a packing party. Find an out of the way place in each room to store boxes until the big day.
5. Wrap delicates. Even if your move is a close one, carefully wrap fragile items in bubble wrap. If you have an irreplaceable favorite, consider carrying it with you rather than packing it.
6. Label everything. Unpacking is simpler when every box is labeled. Label the box with contents as well as the appropriate room. This makes moving day and unpacking much faster.
7. Give yourself a break. Organization will keep you sane, but if you end up with a miscellaneous box containing a toaster, basketball and stapler, it's not the end of the world!
8. Leave it to the experts. If you are hiring movers, let them put the finishing touches on packing - especially things like bulky furniture and your flat-screen TV.
9. Save a box. Once everything is cleared out, you're sure to find a few forgotten items. Keep an extra box for the odds and ends, then just collect them all and you're on your way to your new home!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Free Class - Backyard Entertaining

Join your local Pottery Barn on Sunday, June 13th for a free class! From a casual BBQ to an elegant dinner party, learn great outdoor entertaining tips. All class participants will receive 10% off merchandise featured in the class. Class size is limited, so reserve your space today.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

May PlumPerk - And the winner is . . .

Congrats to Katherine B. on winning the PlumPerk for May!! Check out this super-cute play kitchen that is actually a repurposed small dresser. Katherine had this project lined up and ready to go when her parents recently made a week-long visit to California. And the proud recipient of said kitchen, Sadie, will get a lot of use out of this cool project!

After preparing the dresser for the transition, several awesome features were added - a chalkboard on one side and hooks for little towels and aprons on the other side. The custom front "drawer" folds down and conceals storage space as does the cute fabric covered front. And to round out the kitchen, Katherine claims "felt food" is really easy and fun to make!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

May PlumPerk

It's that time again! I want to see your design ideas/projects! To win this month's PlumPerk, submit a design project that you've completed - perhaps recovering a stool, repainting a room, or even repurposing a piece of furniture . . . . if you are selected as the PlumPerk winner you'll receive this super cute, versatile treat from Anthropologie. It is a white porcelain dish with a floral motif measuring 61/2 x 5. Use it in a bathroom or kitchen for soap, on a dresser for jewelry, or serve yourself something sweet for a late night snack! AND, to sweeten the deal, if you submit a project that has previously been featured on the blog you'll receive a surprise companion piece as well!

Here are the specifics:
1. email your photo to
2. photo must be received by 8pm on Tuesday, June 1
3. winner will be announced on my blog on Wednesday, June 2

Friday, May 21, 2010

Perfect Palettes - Part 4: In the Bathroom

If you want to feel like you're at a posh hotel at home, refined and relaxing should describe your bathroom. Pale-gray greens and blues enhance what might be a severe white palette. Here's how you can put the colors together:

1. Identify dominate elements - tile generally sets the tone in the bathroom. A celadon floor mosaic and sage wall tiles coordinate well without overpowering the whites.
2. Add contrast in small doses - that means towels, shower curtains and bath accessories. Pale pink salts make the tile seem more vibrant because complementary colors tend to intensify one another.
3. Use reflective surfaces - materials that bounce light will make your room feel larger. In addition to the mirror(s), chrome and nickel faucets and fixtures give this effect.
4. Look up - ceilings can be as important as the walls and floor. Don't settle for white, paint the ceiling the same soft green as the tiles to integrate the two planes.
5. Feature furnishings - light palettes serve as a backdrop for standout pieces with dramatic color or architecture.

Room elements: 1. towel monogram 2. wall sconce 3. mirror 4. console sink 5. chair 6. ceiling color 7. wall color 8. roller shade 9. floor mosaic 10. border tile 11. wall tile 12. faucet 13. bath salts

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Make A Small Space Look Larger

Any room can look larger than it really is with a few room-expanding tricks like these:

1. Add multi-purpose pieces. Furniture that serves more than one purpose is a great way to streamline a room. Think: an ottoman with built-in storage.
2. Paint with light hues. Dark colors make rooms look smaller. Think: pale blues, grays, greens, yellows and creams.
3. Reflect your room. Not the wall-to-wall 70's style, but a little glass will open the area and reflect light. Think: oversized mirror leaning against the wall.
4. Space things out. Give your furniture breathing room, your room doesn't necessarily look larger with the furniture shoved against the wall. Think: angling your bed or floating your sofa with a skinny console behind it.
5. Color code. Favorite items can look cluttered unless you give them some structure. Think: arrange knickknacks, books and vases by color to give a streamlined look.

Coming soon: Feng Shui for your Home

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sell Your Home for the Best Price

Most people who want to buy a home are looking to upgrade - your mission as a seller is to project a lifestyle of success, glamour, happiness and organization. How do you do this? In two words, home staging. Staging helps your home appear more valuable to prospective buyers.

1. Spruce Up Your Curb Appeal: whether it's new sod, fresh landscaping, new exterior paint or simply an updated front door and handle, curb appeal is your best bet to lure buyers inside.
2 Make A Memorable Entrance: the minute a buyer walks into your home, they should think, "looks good, smells good". Put an oversize mirror in your entry and fresh flowers or scented candles go along way in making a good first impression.
3. Update Old or Worn Aspects of Your Home: sand and stain your wood floors to look more luxurious. Steam clean or replace your carpet with a light taupe berber carpet because it appeals to most people and the light color makes rooms seem larger. If you have stone floors, have them pressure cleaned.
4. Position Your Pieces: move your furniture so that potential buyers can walk through without having to stop or adjust their path. This may mean moving a coffee table or chair out of the room. Open your mind to new layouts.
5. Modernize Your Kitchen: stainless steel appliances immediately add perceived value to any home.
6. White Out Your Bathrooms: give your bathrooms a "5-star" hotel look with luxurious white towels, fresh flowers and a scented reed diffuser.
7. Clean Your Closets: your closets should look and smell good. Have closets filled to half capacity; line shoes up neatly; and if the walls are scraped up and dingy - paint them white. Add a cedar block for scent and use matching clothes hangers. Remember, you're projecting a lifestyle of organization - subconsciously your closets should reflect that!
8. Make Your Master Look Luxe: present your master bedroom like a top-tier hotel suite. Use matching bed linens, add scented candles and fresh flowers, paint the walls a nice warm color, and clear the room of clutter.
9. Add the Illusion of Square Footage: increase the look of space by dramatizing whatever outdoor space you have, no matter the size.

Not only does home staging help your home value, it also helps your home sell faster. And for you, that means more money in your pocket!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Paper Records - What to Do?

You can get rid of most documents and go digital with the rest. Some of you may have a stash of boxes or a file cabinet stuffed with old bank statements, tax returns, pay stubs and other paperwork you didn't even know you had! Since you most likely just completed your tax return, now is the perfect time to clean house. With a few exceptions - mainly tax-related documents - you don't need to keep all those papers. If you are willing to use online banking and create digital files of crucial records, you may even be able to go paper-free - good for you and the environment too!

What to Keep:
1. Annual Tax Returns. Keep the returns forever, but get rid of supporting docs after 3 years which is how long the IRS has to initiate an audit. Also save for 3 years any thank you letters from charities that were reported on your tax return.
2. Investment Statements. Save your year-end statements to make sure they match up with your monthly mutual fund reports. Then toss. Also be sure to keep records that show the initial purchase price for stocks and mutual funds so you can calculate your basis when you sell. Then, you can shred after the 3- or 6-year IRS window.
3. Home Records. Save anything pertaining to purchase price and home improvements for as long as you live in the house. These will come in handy when you sell. After you sell your home, keep the docs for 3 years.
4. Retirement Records. Hold on to documents showing how much money went in and came out of your IRAs and 401(k)s - especially if you made nondeductible contributions - so you don't overpay taxes when you withdraw the money.

You Can Toss:
1. ATM receipts, bank withdrawal and deposit slips, and credit card receipts.
2. Pay stubs. Keep them until you get your Form W-2, verify and then shred.
3. Most monthly bills. Shred credit card statements, utility bills and other misc statements unless you need them for tax purposes (ie, claiming expenses for a home office).

Before you start throwing papers away, be sure to invest in a paper shredder to guard against identity theft. And don't skimp - the cheapo, ribbon-cut style produces bands that can be taped back together. Instead, go for a cross-cut or confetti model for about $100. (The Fellowes Powershred DS-2 looks cool and works well too).

exerpt from Financially Fit

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Shutter Organizer

What do you do with your kid's overwhelming assortment of art projects? Or, how do you organize mail, letters, to-do lists, etc. around your desk? Wooden shutters can be just as functional inside as they are on the outside. In this picture, a painted trio hangs on the wall over a hallway console (shelf). The slots are a perfect spot to tuck invitations, display art or hang a message pad. Vintage hooks are mounted on a wooden plaque to keep up with the daily mail.

How to do this:
1. Choose your style and size of shutters.
2. If the louvers are adjustable, lock them in the "up" position by driving a small nail through the tilt bar and into the frame.
3. Sand and paint shutters.
4. Use level to mark position on wall of middle shutter; drill pilot holes in shutter and wall; mount with coordinating hardware; repeat with side shutters butting the snugly against the middle shutter.

Supplies: hammer and nails, medium-grit sandpaper, latex paint, paintbrush, a level and pencil, drill and mounting hardware appropriate for your wall.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Perfect Palettes - Part 3: In the Bedroom

Ahhh, soothing and sophisticated. That's what we want to think about when we envision our bedroom retreat. Purple? No, think Plum . . . purple can seem young and playful, but when paired with graceful grays, subdued browns and chalky whites, the result is a grown-up palette that gives you a sense of comfort and elegance in the bedroom. A few ideas:

1. Give shine to dark surfaces - redo the finish on a piece of furniture by bleaching it to reflect light. A high-gloss white on the moldings brightens the walls that are painted deep shades of lavender and gray with similar intensity.
2. Add contrast - you have a ton of opportunity for texture in the bedroom. A striped headboard, linen and velvet pillow fabric, assorted trim details, and a hand-knotted area rug add texture that contrasts with the smooth bedding fabric. This can also broaden the range of browns and lavenders and can easily be swapped out for a different look.
3. Accent with furnishings - Sleek lines on a side table and a bleached finish on a dresser help reinforce the contemporary palette.
4. Consider views between rooms - Color schemes don't need to be the same from one room to the next, but they should harmonize. Master bedroom are usually located away from the common areas so this is a good place to be adventurous.

Room elements: 1. side table 2. bedding 3. curtains 4. pillow fabric 5. furniture finish 6. wall colors 7. trim molding 8. antique mirror glass 9. headboard 10. chair trim 11. pillow trim 12. lampshade trim 13. furniture pull 14. headboard fabric 15. curtain finial 16. chair fabric (back) 17. chair fabric (seat) 18. slate floor 19. fireplace tile 20. molding 21. area rug

Friday, May 7, 2010

Free Design Class

Tomorrow, May 8th at the West Elm downtown. Spend two hours in the morning and get ideas on decorating your outdoor space. BONUS - receive a 10% discount on anything you purchase after the class. for more details

And the winner is . . .

Beth H. and her impressive garage organization!!

In her words, "I have been planning to organize my garage shelves since we moved here 2 years ago, and was finally inspired to do it. I did this in about 2-3 hours and didn't spend any money."
I think the shelves look great and it's especially gratifying when you are able to use what you have and not spend additional money! Beth said she organized similar items together, put some rarely used items away in the attic and got rid of things they didn't need. She also has some things ready to take to Goodwill. This is a key to organizing - think about what you need/use, what you can give away, and what you can throw away - then get busy.
Congratulations on winning this month's Plum Perk - I'll get your Container Store gift card to you ASAP! Maybe it will help with that kitchen project you're planning . . .

Friday, April 30, 2010

April Plum Perk

It's time for a Plum Perk!! Each month, I'll give away a perk to one of my blog followers. And ohhh do I have some fabulous things to give to you! This month, I want to showcase some of your ideas on organization. So, send me a pic of something you have organized - it can be a junk drawer, pantry, child's closet, your desk . . . let me see what you've done! And the winner receives a gift card to Container Store - just in time for their Spring Organization Sale!

Here are the specifics:
1. email your photo to
2. photo must be received by 5pm on Wednesday, May 5
3. winner will be announced on my blog on Friday, May 7

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Perfect Palettes - Part 2: In the Living Room

Last week we looked at creating perfect palettes in the kitchen and specifically, how to make the kitchen warm and nurturing. When setting the mood with color in the living room think about comfortable and bright. Immediately I think of reds and yellows - however, these colors are often challenging to work with. The key is to ground them with neutral colors like oatmeal gray which results in an inviting palette that's perfect for a relaxing gathering place in your home. Consider these principles:

1. Take a cue from nature - creamy white petals of flowers provide inspiration for accent pieces and the color of honey inspires fabric for upholstery and trimming.
2. Anchor with neutral colors - if your room contains vibrant colors, it is important that your dominant elements remain neutral (i.e., the sofa).
3. Enliven with accessories - bold pillow fabrics bring contrasting color and graphic interest to the overall design.
4. Make style enhancements - floral prints create cheerfulness and the inspiration of "nature" while an eclectic mix of furniture conveys a relaxed feel even if some pieces are more formal.
5. Add texture for variety - a patterned sisal rug and trim on curtains/chairs provide additional tactile elements as well as subtle color variations.

Elements: 1. Floor finish 2. Pillow fabric 3. Sofa fabric 4. Sofa 5. Sisal rug 6. Ceiling color 7. Trim color 8. Lamps 9. Curtain trim 10. Curtain fabric 11. Wallpaper 12. Stool fabric 13. Stools 14. Chair 15. Chair fabric 16. Chair trim

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bedroom Update

I think the bedroom is one of the best places in your home to show your personal style. Because this room is all about you (and OK, maybe your spouse), it's the perfect place to get creative and do something you might not otherwise do.

If you really like graphic prints, try combining different prints in the same or similar color for a unified, glamorous look. In this bedroom, the prints on the wallpaper, bedding and rug are all very different. They create a cohesive look because they are all in the same color palette of brown/white.
To showcase some of your favorite art or photos, make them into a collection by framing them the same and hanging together as a focal point above the bed. This technique gives you a fresh, modern look using something you already love!
Mismatched furniture looks great when painted the same color. In a neutral room, painting your pieces a bold, favorite color shows off your own style. By painting these mismatched pieces, you get the color you want without committing to big purchases you might regret later(remember that oversized red sofa?).
When changing up your bedroom, don't forget all the elements you have to work with - wall color, bedding, flooring, window treatments, furniture, accessories and art. Don't be afraid to try something new - your creativity just might surprise you!

photos from [the nest]

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Perfect Palettes - Part 1: In the Kitchen

As a child, choosing your favorite color was fun. Now, color often goes from fun to confusing but choosing perfect palettes for your home doesn't have to be daunting. To start, let your inner child come out and think about what colors you truly like the best. Paint chips and magazines are a great place to start, but you can also look to nature and everyday objects for inspiration. Keep a folder with your favorites and soon your preferences will emerge.

In the kitchen, we typically think of warm and nurturing colors. For example, a deep yellow-gold provides just the right visual temperature for a traditional look. For a fresh, updated look think about cooler blues and grays. Consider these 5 basic principles:

1. Seek ideas from the every day - a yellow bowl can inspire the paint color used on cabinets and a table. Walls can be painted the contrasting blue gray from a spoon.
2. Keep it simple - choose mellow colors in similar value if you're worried about making a mistake. Use slightly contrasting shades for the accessories.
3. Try unusual materials - with a conservative palette, you can be more daring with surfaces. Think about colors and design on the floors to create visual interest.
4. Find nuances in finishes - don't forget about the colors naturally in wood, stone and metal.
5. Think about how color feels - in a kitchen, this principle refers mostly to food presentation. Generally, food will look more appetizing against warm backdrops as opposed to cool tones.

Remember these as helpful hints rather than design rules. When it comes to color, the only real rule is that you choose your favorites! Stay tuned for Part 2: In the Living Room . . .

Elements: 1. Painted table 2. Cloth tape on blinds 3. Chair trim 4. Wooden blinds 5. Appliance finish 6. Chair fabric 7. Windsor chair 8. Wall color 9. Trim color 10. Table color 11. Countertop 12. Cabinet hardware 13. Floor 14. Runner 15. Vintage cupboard 16. Cabinet color 17. Cabinet hardware

Monday, April 19, 2010

Customize a Cabinet

Don't get rid of those furniture pieces you are tired of - turn them into a new, customized cabinet. Or, if you don't have any extra furniture in need of a face-lift, you can purchase unfinished "cubes" to make your own like this stylish green media cabinet.

This design project is as easy as downloading your newest fav app for the iPhone! Whether you use your own or buy something to repurpose, adding some unique knobs, curvy feet and gorgeous paint will evoke cool elegance. By combining open and closed storage, you'll have a place to showcase your favorite pieces or collections and conceal electronics (or other shame-inducing items like that "O.C." boxed set)!

How do I do this you ask?
  1. Select your furniture or basic storage cubes for your needs and space (for cubes, try or
  2. Pick out some decorative knobs at, or ebay
  3. If you want decorative feet, try or
  4. Decide on paint color - you might even consider two-tone
  5. Remove all existing hardware and paint piece inside and out. Let dry.
  6. Install knobs
  7. If adding feet, drill holes in the corners of the base of the bottom unit and screw on feet
  8. Stack cubes to form one piece, placing lighter ones on top
  9. To hide wires, drill a hole in the back of the cube or furniture that will hold electronics; run wires through opening and plug in
This photo: various cubes all at Gothic Cabinet Craft; painted in Cambridge Green and trimmed in High Park, both Benjamin Moore; knobs at Anthropologie; bun feet at Premier Wood.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Peg Board Garage Organizer

Why is my garage the place in the house that gets the most cluttered the quickest? Probably because all the "extras" go there and I'm usually just trying to get them out of the house and someplace out of sight! And in addition to that stuff, there's the actual garage stuff!

A great weekend project is to hang a custom-sized peg board on a garage wall to help keep everything in it's place. And, if you paint the peg board first, it really defines the area you are organizing.

Tools & Materials:
  • Peg board
  • Pine 1x2s (or other scrap 1x2s you might have around your cluttered garage)
  • Wood screws and washers
  • Plastic anchors (optional)
  • Screw gun or drill
  • Paint
  • Hooks and holders
How To:
  1. Peg board is available in 2x4, 4x8 and 4x4-foot pieces. Buy the right size for your space and if needed, Home Depot or Lowe's will cut it for you.
  2. With pine 1x2s, build a perimeter frame of the same dimensions as your peg board. Mount the frame to the wall. If you are mounting to dry wall, be sure to use plastic anchors along with your screws.
  3. Using a screw gun or drill, mount the peg board to the frame with 3/4-inch wood screws and washers. You can also drill a hole first and then insert the screws with a screwdriver.
  4. Paint the peg board and then add hooks and holders.
Use your peg board to organize tools, brooms, mops, etc. If you have a cart, use that as a mobile workbench and for additional storage. Placed near your peg board, adjustable shelves organize an assortment of containers for things like small garden tools, gloves, picture hanging supplies, hand-tools, light-bulbs, batteries, etc. And, small jars will help you easily contain and find all those small nails, screws and miscellaneous items that get stuffed into otherwise organized drawers!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Repurpose Your Lamps (or someone else's)

I know you've searched for tchotchkes on eBay. Have you ever considered reinventing one of your finds?Two kitschy fixtures like these are begging to be reinvented. Think about focusing on the unique shape of the lamps rather than all the colors. To make the pair more contemporary, you can spray-paint them in a glossy head-to-toe color and add some new shades.

This statuesque pair cost about $45; to score your own, search for "figural lamps" on eBay. As for the shades, go with very thick paper so the light spills out of the top and bottom, rather than shining through the sides (and illuminating any streaks once the shade is painted).
And voila, your fabulous new (repurposed) lamps!

Monday, April 12, 2010

What Is Home Staging?

Did you know a potential homebuyer makes up their mind within 10 seconds of stepping in the door?

Home staging is not a new term, but for many homeowners and real estate agents the concept of “professional staging” is a new way of thinking when it's time to sell a home. In the past, homeowners were left to their own discretion as far as preparing for home showings. Though they could occasionally rely on an agent for instructions, more often than not real estate agents were just as perplexed at working out the details as the homeowner.

Real estate agents are experts when it comes to selling homes and usually know exactly what factors can help sell a home. However, most agents will readily admit they are not also designers. If you've ever sold a home, you know it's not easy to get a home into selling condition in a timely manner without some sort of experienced assistance. That's where a home stager can help.

Professional home stagers are practiced in the art of preparing a home for resale. They work with the “flow” of a home, eliminate clutter, edit and arrange furniture, and even assist in enhancing curb-appeal. With the aid of a home stager, your house can make a notable first impression on potential homebuyers.
And that first impression is what will give you, the homeowner, the quickest sale for the most money.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Where are those Keys?

I've always wanted a really great way to organize keys. You know, the extra car keys, the back gate key, your neighbor's spare house key, and the list goes on. And, I realize I either cram all the keys in one place or scatter them around all over the place. Either way, I can't easily find them when I need them.
Rather than clutter a single hook with several sets of keys, make a custom board that gives each set its own clearly labeled space. To make the board, have a piece of fiberboard cut to fit into a picture frame. Cover the board with a piece of fabric or extra wallpaper, and staple it at the back. Tuck the board into the frame, then nail on labels and attach one screw hook for each set of keys.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Try Mythic

What is the easiest way to update or change a room? PAINT! What can be the most frustrating decision to make? PAINT COLOR! Today there are so many choices – choices in color, brand, no-VOC vs. low-VOC, type of sheen, to prime or not to prime – not to mention how much paint you will need and what will it really look like . . .

While some of these choices are made solely on personal taste, others are a matter of practicality. For instance:

  • An eggshell sheen is the most versatile due to it’s “cleanability”
  • Colors actually do affect your mood – stimulating colors are usually found in kitchens and dining rooms while soft, muted colors are usually in the bedroom
  • Dark and warm shades make rooms appear smaller while light and cool colors make rooms look larger and more spacious
  • If the new paint color is lighter than the current color or if you are painting a dark color, you will probably need primer

Mythic Paint is a non-toxic, ultra low odor paint that provides durability and coverage as well as a wide array of color options. Their web site offers a lot of great information, but my two favorites elements are the Paint Estimator (it accurately calculates the amount of paint you will need) and the Mythic Room Visualizer (you can play around with wall and ceiling color combos to get an idea of what your color choices will look like). Check them out!

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Top 10

We want smaller houses and are willing to strip some of yesterday’s most popular rooms – such as home theaters – from them in order to accommodate changing lifestyles, consumer experts told audiences at the International Builders Show held last month in Las Vegas.

After the recent economic strain, most homebuyers are looking for authenticity. Buyers want cost-effective architecture, plans that focus on spaces not rooms and homes that are designed green. For many of today’s buyers, their new homes will be smaller than their current one and high on the list are things like large kitchens that open to the main living area, old-fashioned bathrooms with relaxing elements and small, unique spaces such as wine grottos.

The home is all about family togetherness – casual living, entertaining and flexible spaces. If you are buying a new home or planning a remodel, here are the 10 Must-Have Features in homes today according to the annual survey of homebuyer preferences by AVID Ratings Co.

  1. Large kitchen with an island
  2. Energy-efficient appliances, High-efficiency insulation and High window efficiency
  3. Home Office/Study
  4. Main-floor master suite
  5. Outdoor living space
  6. Ceiling fans (yes, they’re back)
  7. Master suite soaker tub
  8. Stone and brick exterior
  9. Community landscaping with walking paths and play areas
  10. Two-car garage


Thursday, April 1, 2010

It's Official

Today is the official launch date of my blog, PlumBliss and this coincides with the launch of my business endeavor, PlumBliss interiors. I’m excited to start this journey, I’m looking forward to sharing it with you, and I’m not all that surprised this is the path I’ve chosen.
A little history. Some of my earliest memories are of blueprints, drafting templates, wallpaper books and paint samples. My mom was an interior designer and designed and decorated custom homes for over 20 years. My dad could draw and build anything. Together, they made real estate investments, designed and built homes as well as commercial buildings, and unknowingly taught me a lot along the way. As a child, I loved going to work with my mom and spreading out those heavy wallpaper books, fabric swatches , and Formica chips (it was the 70’s) and pretending that I was a fabulous designer creating an even more fabulous home!
For the past 15 years I’ve dedicated my efforts to a marketing and technology career which I loved. And in my “spare” time I designed, styled, recommended, staged, painted, shopped, referred, organized, planned (you get the idea) for myself, my family and my friends. Now it’s time to dedicate my efforts to my first love.
Visit me often. I plan to post a few times a week – specifically, on Design, Staging and Organizing. And keep your eye out for PlumPerks – I’ll be giving away fabulous finds each month to my blog followers! And if you’re so inclined, please share my blog and my website with your friends!