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!