When it comes to designing and decorating your home, you want to do it right the first time, and there is some advice given out often that, in my opinion, needs to be ignored.
It usually comes from a builder, a worker on your home, or a well-intentioned friend. Trust your gut, or better yet, hire a designer you can trust with one of the largest investments (your home) you will ever make.
So here goes…. A few pieces of friendly advice you should ignore:
1. Don’t paint your brick – If you have a new or cookie cutter brick home and you used the standard brick you see everywhere, painting your brick can be one of the best things you can do to make it look a little more custom. Yes, you cannot go back, but who would want to when it’s the mass produced brick you see so much of these days? Painted brick is so pretty to me and it is a great way to give your home a new, cohesive look. See how gorgeous this home is below?
It is the home of Milieu editor, Pamela Pierce, as seen in Veranda magazine. If you have not checked out Milieu, you must do so as it does not disappoint.
2. Using 6″ recess cans throughout a space– Heard of a swiss cheese ceiling? Yep, this is exactly what I mean.
If you must incorporate recess, use the smaller ones that provide lots of light from a small bulb. Yes, the smaller recess cost more than the typical 5″-6″ builder cans often speced, but the look far outweighs the cost. Use dimmers to soften the lighting, and use a variety of different types of lighting to create warmth and layering. Table and floor lamps that direct light in the living areas is best. It allows you to see things better, puts a nicer light on your face, and illuminates the colors and textures in your furnishings better.
3. Selecting granite over marble because you do not think marble is durable- This one is a BIG one and I am constantly having to educate my clients about this stone.
I can only hope I am aging as well as marble does, because to me, there is nothing prettier than a well worn piece of marble after several years have passed. I have had it in my house for almost eight years, and trust me, we live hard inuse my kitchen and bathrooms. And guess what? Do not tell my dirty little secret, but we are not the neatest group either.
The key is to choose a honed marble so etching wont take place if something hot is placed on it, and if you like red wine, don’t leave it spilled on the counter for days on end. If something does happen and the stain bothers you (which it shouldn’t- it’s called patina), the material can always be resurfaced.
4. Hanging artwork too high– Keep the center of your artwork at eye level or a little lower to create intimacy in a space. In a room where people will mostly be sitting, artwork should be hung a little lower.
5. Arranging all of your furniture against the walls– You never want to create a furniture arrangement that makes conversation difficult. If you have a room that is big enough, be creative and float your sofa and add a couple of sitting ares to the space. A sofa can look great off of the wall, so use open spaces to be creative and create intimacy.
What advice have you been given when it comes to your house that you wish you’d ignored? I’d love to hear from you so please share!
With spring right around the corner, I am ready for my garden to be filled with color and fragrance.
Before I go any further, let me assure you that I am no expert when it comes to gardening. I have been doing my homework, though, as I am trying to learn more about what I can do now to make it as pretty as it can be.
Below is a picture of my garden last spring. It’s this time of year mine looks the best, and while I love it, life gets in the way so I do not always nurture it as I should.
I am trying to do better, hence the reading and researching. Here are a few tips that stood out to me that I thought might be helpful to you as well:
1. Create a composting area
This is something I really want to begin doing. The compost can be a ready-made compost bin or we can build a compost bin using spare bits of wood. Not only will we have somewhere to put garden waste, but the plants will benefit from the rich compost created when it all breaks down! Make sure you have a good mixture of grass clippings, vegetable peelings, paper and woody prunings. To help the process along, we will have to turn the compost with a garden fork each month to keep it aerated.
2. Prep the beds. Remove winter mulch, leaves and any other debris from your beds. Cut back the old dead growth of deciduous grasses and perennials to make room for the new growth. Any weeds that appear in your garden will be easiest to pull now, as the roots are shallow. I have done this and am making one more go around this weekend.
3. Fertilize the soil
Now’s the time to make sure your soil is properly balanced and ready for new plants. Once the beds are all cleaned out, it’s time to till the ground. This will help aerate and loosen up soil that has compacted over the winter, which will encourage the soil to absorb nutrients better. It will also make it easier to plant.
It’s time to prune back tree or shrub branches have been damaged by the cold, snow, and wind. Make sure to do so before buds begin to break into bloom or you’ll stress the tree and get a tiny crop, if any. Use a handsaw for any tree or hedge larger than ½ inch in diameter. Shaping hedges with hand pruners, rather than electric shears, prevents a thick outer layer of growth that keeps sunlight and air from reaching the shrub’s center.
5. Order bulbs and seeds
Decide now what flowers and plants you want in your summer garden. Order the seeds or the bulbs from a local plant shop like my local favorite Leaf and Petal or online. Hold onto the seeds and bulbs until the warmer weather arrives, but make sure that the seeds and bulbs will not deteriorate or lose quality if they sit for some time.
Let me know how it goes for you, and if my efforts pay off, I will share my progress as well.
PS If anyone feels extra inspired and wants to come to use these tips on my garden, I will happily welcome you, and I know my garden will too.
We have decided to spice things up and we are now sending out a newsletter periodically.
The newsletter will include a variety of design tips and tricks. You’ll receive ideas on how to create beautiful rooms, learn about my “must-haves”, find out my favorite paint colors, and so much more.
In the first newsletter, I give a few tips on how to make a dramatic impact in a room.
You won’t see this information anywhere else from me, so sign up now. The newsletter is ready to be sent, so to receive it, please click here.
Have a good one,
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There are a few things when building, renovating, or just plain working on your home that, in my book, you want to avoid.
Here is my top five list of things NOT to do to your home:
1. Do not plant landscaping that is too small.
There is nothing worse than driving by a beautiful home where it’s obvious they have invested wisely in the materials chosen, only to see a bunch of dinky plants surrounding the beautiful structure. Yes, plants grow, but by the time some plants are finally a decent size, five years have passed. Buy larger when it comes to plants that are slow growing. I promise, this makes such a difference. See below how landscaping that is invested in can add to your home’s aesthetic.
2. Never buy a piece only because it is on sale.
Do you love the piece or did you buy it because it is a good deal? If it is the latter, you bought the sofa, bookcase, bed, or whatever it is for the wrong reason. Never, I repeat, never, buy a piece just because the price is good or because you need something to fill a space. If it is for one of these two reasons, you will eventually tire of it and you won’t enjoy it in your home for very long.
3. Don’t buy an entire room off of a showroom floor and never match all your furniture.
Regardless of your taste- modern, traditional, or transitional- you always want your home to look like it has been collected over time, even if it was installed in the same day. This leads me to the next point of making sure you don’t match your furniture. There can be an overlap of the same material for continuity, but make sure you have a mixture of elements in the room to cause a little tension in the space. Use a mix of upholstery, stained wood, painted wood, glass, iron , etc….
4. Do not have a room that doesn’t serve a purpose.
Do you walk through a room, only to have it be a “catch all” or a place to host guests once a year? If so, you are missing out on a room you could be enjoying, and you need to rework this space. Gone are the days where rooms sit unused or are “saved” for special occasions. Repurpose a room and ENJOY it.
5. Don’t wait for tomorrow to pull your home together and make it a place for you and your family to make memories.
Money does not necessarily guarantee good design, so don’t wait until tomorrow to make your home something you can be proud of and enjoy. Stop comparing your house to your neighbors’. Instead, focus on making your home a cohesive safe haven to build memories for you and your family.
Are there others you would add to the list? If so, let me know. We love hearing from you.
Have a great day, everyone-
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It’s that time already! Can you believe the holidays are here?!
Radio stations are playing Christmas music, and lights and greenery are hung.
We thought it might be nice over the next few weeks to offer a few quick tips on how to simplify this crazy time of year.
Homes will soon be filled with festive décor, food, friends and family, and hopefully our tips will help you not stress enjoy this season.
Today, I am sharing a TV segment I taped a few years back for NBC-13 Birmingham with David Lamb on a few easy ways to fold napkins. David and I had a lot of fun perfecting the art, and I promise, if we can do it, so can you. Take a look:
Little tricks – from hand-written place cards and unique napkin folds – can help make for memorable meals during the holidays.
Watch this video to see how easily you can add elegance to your table and set the scene for a delicious feast.
I hope you found this post helpful. Stay tuned for more holiday entertaining ideas.
Ready or not….. Tis the season,
We will be announcing the winners of the “Birmingham Style” book giveaway Friday so stayed tuned for that as well. In case you missed the giveaway details, check out my blog post from last Friday. It’s not too late to enter!