Living Well

Simplifying Our Lives In A Not-So-Simple Season

As much as I want to say I am ready for Christmas, I am not.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have had two installs the past week.   Work, on top of a Christmas birthday for one of my girls, has made this time even more busy than usual.

Village Living, a wonderful  paper for the Mountain Brook community, asked me to write an article on decorating for the holidays.   I loved writing for them as it made me reflect on how I approach the holidays and what I can do to simplify my own life.   Here are a few of the tips I gave on how to make the holidays stress free and more enjoyable.


Simplify.  Simplify.  Simplify.

No, your decorations do not have to be elaborate; they just have to be a reflection of you and your family.  You do not have to have a Christmas tree or a nativity scene on every chest or open space to create a beautifully decorated home.  Less is more, so keep your decorations simple and use only what you love and has special meaning to you.


Strategically Place the Decorations You Use

When walking into a room, where does your eye go first?  Where does it go next?  Decide where your focal points are in each room and strategically place a decoration in one or two of these places.


Choose Holiday Colors Cohesive With The Colors In The Room

Just as you want the colors of each of your rooms to flow nicely into one another, you want your holiday décor to do the same.   If a warm palette is used throughout your home, use warm colors in your holiday décor.   If your home has more cool tones, try silver, white, or blue tones when choosing holiday colors.


Layer Contrasting Textures

Contrasting textures layered in subtle ways is one way to create dimension and make a room look like it has evolved over time.  Think of placing an iron lamp on top of a wooden chest versus a wooden lamp on a wooden chest.    Apply this same concept to your Christmas décor.   Instead of placing a nativity scene directly on top of a hard surface area (such as a glass top table or marble chest), add a little texture with Christmas greenery, moss, and magnolia leaves first and then place your Christmas items on top.  If you are placing greenery on your mantle, think about mixing in some shiny ornaments or candles to add another texture to the mix.  You will be delighted how much prettier your decorations look just by layering different materials.


Pull the Outside In

There is nothing like the smell and texture of fresh greenery.  Holly, magnolia leaves, fraser fir, birch wood…I love it all.  Incorporate natural materials into your holiday décor as your imagination is the only limit.


Involve the Family and Create Tradition

Every year, my girls and I gather the leftover limbs from our Christmas tree (along with any other scraps of greenery we can find) and we make a few small wreaths.  If you know my girls, you can probably guess which wreaths belong to whom, as they truly reflect each one’s personality.  One wreath may be wrapped neatly and tightly all the way around while the other child’s wreath is looser in style.  No, they are not always perfect, but each is beautiful in its own way.

I hope you find these tip helpful in simplifying your own holiday season.   To read more, visit Village Living and let me know your thoughts.

Living Well

Christmas Is Here

Not sure when I blinked and discovered Christmas is around the corner.  I am just now putting up greenery as I have been busy with two installations and a child’s birthday this week.   As I am deciding how I am going to decorate my own home this year, I thought I would share a few photos from Christmas past in the Wolter household.

When my home was on the Independent Presbyterian Church’s Home Tour in 2009, I added a few trees to the mix.  Here they are:

traditional christmas tree
painted tree of sticks in my daughter's room. picture courtesy of southern living christmas
tree made from birch branches
Some other decorations found around my home…..
photo courtesy of southern living christmas


I will keep you posted on how I end up decorating my home this year.   The holidays are upon us……Are you ready?  How will you celebrate this year?

Living Well

Sharing My Story

I had the best day last Friday!  I spoke at Career Day to a group of ninth graders at the local junior high.  (Oh, and I was given strict instructions by my eldest daughter not to embarrass her since the room was filled with her contemporaries.)

I was in good company  — Lauren Marsh of Lauren Marsh Dance and Geoff Mitchell of Jamm Entertainment also presented.  Lauren, Geoff, and myself had one thing in common:  all of us spoke about taking what comes naturally to you to find where your passion lies.  Lauren began her dance studio over six years ago and has grown her enrollment from six to over 350.  Geoff began working as a DJ in high school, and now his company has expanded to provide entertainment for everything from ESPN events to bass fishing tournaments.

Lauren, myself, and Geoff at Career Day

My daughter also advised me not to come empty-handed, so here’s the giveaway I handed out to the students:


fun little gift

It’s my hope that the bigger gift was our message.  For me, it was a winding road to find my passion.   I loved sharing my story with the upcoming generation as it’s exciting to consider what they will be doing with their lives as well.

Living Well

Thank You for Reading!

I am constantly reinforcing to my girls that if you think something nice of someone, tell them.  Why hold back?  Who doesn’t like to hear something good every now and then?!

When we started this blog a few months ago, it was a little daunting.   I found myself putting information out into the cyberworld and not sure who was reading it or what would come from it.  I am grateful for all of you!   Thanks to all who have stopped me in the grocery store, commented on my blog, or sent me an email about a post.  I am honored as my subscriptions have grown quickly as I have tracked my journey thus far.  If you ever have any suggestions or topics you would like for me to tackle, let me know!

from Letterpress at Pinterest

Living Well

Feng What?

Have you heard of feng shui?   If not, you are not alone.   I was familar with the term but knew little about it. Recently,  a high school friend emailed me that her cousin, Katie Rogers, had moved to Birmingham and that she thought we should meet.

Katie graduated from Vanderbilt University with an English degree before becoming a certified feng shui specialist.  Originally from Mobile, she was living in Los Angeles and Sun Valley, ID the past ten years when she decided to move back to her home state to be closer to family.

When Katie and I met at the local Starbucks, we immediately hit it off.  Here was this warm, Southern-bred girl who was as genuine as she could be, yet she also had this artsy side to her as well.   A friendship was quickly formed, and I am honored to call Katie my friend.

I have enjoyed learning more about feng shui from Katie and thought you might like an intro into it as well.

Take it away, Katie ……

“Feng What?”  That’s what I usually hear when telling my fellow Southerners that I am a feng shui (pronounced: fung schway) consultant.  I smile and repeat the words a little slower, and I’m then met with a blank stare.  “What in the world is that?” they ask.

Feng shui, in its essence, is how you feel in a space.

Let me put it this way.  When you walk into a beautiful home, where everything is in order and there are possibly healthy plants here and there and other happy details, you just feel good!  Right?
foyer by Dana Wolter -- comfy sofa says "come on in!"

Compare that to a cluttered mess!  Yuck!

clutter!!! (from this website)

Like photosynthesis is to a beautiful garden, feng shui is to a beautiful home (or office or anywhere!)  It’s what’s happening — energetically — behind the scenes.

Let me give you an example.  Below is one of Dana’s gorgeous designs.  While she could tell you how it works from a design perspective, I can tell you how it works from a feng shui perspective.

1.  Yin and Yang. Dana talks about mixing hard and soft and using different textures and materials.  In feng shui, there is yin and yang.  You may recognize this symbol:

Yin and yang represent  balance. Notice how this living room has both curvy (yin) and straight (yang) lines; light (yang) and dark (yin); and hard (yang) and soft (yin).  The yin elements would be the cushiony pillows, the curtains, and even the nook in the corner.

"yin" curtains, pillows, and round window




The yang elements would be the sunlight streaming in, the lighter color scheme, and the hard center table.

the large mirror and exuberant floral arrangement are yang too!




Dana had no idea that she was balancing yin and yang to create optimal energy in the space.  But her intuition knew!

2. Colors and elements.  Dana tends towards a neutral palette, so in feng shui, we’d say that she likes to decorate in the element of Earth.

examples of "Earth" colors





Earth represents a nurturing and grounded energy, so this is optimal for homes of busy families, who need a respite from life!  However, again, with the elements, we want a balance.   Dana also added the element of Fire (the amber-colored vase and the outspread flower arrangement)…

….and Water (the painting by Arthur Price)…

painting by Birmingham artist Arthur Price


…as well as a good dose of Wood (ceiling and center table).  Metal appears too (chandelier and fireplace) to create a perfect harmony.  Again, this was Dana’s intuition in high gear, unbeknownst to her!

3.  Bagua map.  A hot topic of interest in feng shui is the bagua map.  Did you know that your home is actually a map to your life?  If you were to divide your floorplan (given that it’s in the general shape of a rectangle) into nine equal sections, you could use the bagua map to discover what part of your home represents which part of your life!

from the iPhone app by Tish Morris

Amazing right?  So, say your kitchen was in the far back left corner of your home (facing the front door), then that is your Abundance section.  Therefore if your kitchen is in disarray, your finances may be in disarray.  If your kitchen is clean, your fridge filled with healthy foods, and you always have an overflowing bowl of fresh fruits displayed, then a feng shui consultant could deduce that your finances are perhaps overflowing and in good health!

even a bowl of fruit is good feng shui...Abundance! photo by cdavies

The living room we’ve been talking about happens to fall in the “Helpful People” sector according to the bagua map.  Notice how the seating allows more than three people to chat without straining to hear or shouting.

8 or 9 people could sit in here comfortably! (Notice sofa on the left)

This is very auspicious in feng shui as group-seating represents community, and that’s what this sector is all about!

I’m just giving you a taste of feng shui here.  It’s an in-depth art and science that is better understood when put into practice.  And more than that, it’s a fun way to get your home – and your life – in order!  For more information, check out authors such as Sharon Stasney, Terah Kathryn Collins, Karen Kingston or Denise Lynn…or my blog The Sparklit.  You can also check out the International Feng Shui Guild for a feng shui practitioner in your area, or call me for a distance or in-home consultation.  And let us know what you think!  I always love a good feng shui success story!

Happy feng shui-ing!

–Katie Rogers

Living Well

Kitchen Must-Haves

Who doesn’t love a beautiful kitchen?   Throw a little — or a lot — of function in there, and you may possibly end up with your favorite room.

I am working on a kitchen remodel right now, and there are a few must-haves I always try to incorporate.

1. Natural Stone Countertops: To me, there is nothing prettier than an aged piece of marble or limestone.   I love the texture it provides and the fact it has endured many years of the elements.

looks clean but still has texture thanks to the gorgeous marble! (Image from...)

2. Warming Drawer: Okay, not a must have, but I sure do like them.  For a family on the go, it is a wonderful luxury.

3.  Function: Yes, a kitchen can be beautiful, but if it is not functional, what’s the point?   Make sure the flow works well and that there is plenty of good workspace. After all, this may be the most lived-in room in the house, and cooking is so much more enjoyable when everything has its place and is within reach for your next great meal.

beauty + function = perfection (image from...)



4. Soften the hard surfaces: With so many hard surfaces found in a kitchen, try to incorporate ways to soften the room.  Many of you know I love adding banquettes whenever possible, as they are a great way to make a kitchen more functional and unique.

banquette design by Dana Wolter, photographed by Jean Allsopp

Also, wood is a great texture to incorporate against shiny surfaces found in kitchens. Whether on your island, on the ceiling, or as an accent, it whispers “nature” and takes the edge off all those kitchen appliances.

5.  Good lighting: Natural lighting is ideal, but a good kitchen also needs task lighting in all of the right places.  Again, think functional!

6. Make your kitchen a reflection of you: Yes, you can create a beautiful kitchen many different ways, but if it does not look like you or fit your lifestyle, what good is it?   Your home should be your haven, and your kitchen is no exception!

a little piece of heaven! copyright kalamazoo


Living Well

Fun Fall Trends

My segment on fall trends for the home is airing TODAY, October 19th, on NBC-13 Daytime Alabama at 11:30 AM.  I have to say, I adore this season’s looks!  If I had to sum it up in one word, I’d say — lush!

Here’s a preview for what’s in for fall 2011:

1.  Brass —  It’s back!  Whether it’s lacquered or unlacquered, this is not your 70s flashback.  The shapes are uber-modern, and the color is rich and refined.  I’m also loving bronze right now — see the large handle below.

2.  Driftwood — The gorgeous shape and color of wood touched by the sea is showing up in homes all over.  It acts almost like a piece of sculpture, and I’ve found some amazing accessories made out of it.   What better way to bring a bit of nature into your home, while still keeping it chic?  Check out the chandelier below to see what I mean…

unhung chandelier made from driftwood

The wall below makes a bold statement, but check out the crafty yet chic driftwood lamp next to it.   Driftwood in the home is definitely a trend, so a little goes a long way.

from pinterest

3.  Colors — We saw a lot of turquoise last spring and summer, but as it cools off, the deeper hue, teal, is popping up in its place, and it is beautiful!  I especially love it as an accent with warmer neutrals and even grays….  Other colors to pair with gray are the softer purples that I’ve been talking about, as well as eggplant.

Here is a great example of grays and purples by Susan Ferrier:

Another color that is a must for 2011 — saffron!

close up on fall colors!

4.  Wool — As far as materials go for fall, wool cannot be beat.  Softer wool is making its way into homes and fashion this season.  The look is draping, feminine, and sophisticated.  In homes, it is being used as upholstery as well as on pillows, rugs, and throws.

Tune in tomorrow to NBC-13 — that’s Friday, October 7th– for more on these amazing fall trends!

Living Well

Home Trends…on the Air

A favorite opportunity that has come my way as a designer are the television segments I do with NBC-13 Daytime Alabama.  It’s a fun way to share tips and home trends with local audiences.  Wendy Garner and David Lamb are the co-hosts and they, along with the crew, are just really great people on and off the air.  If you have a chance to catch their show, do!  You will certainly enjoy their fun personalities.   It airs at 11:30 AM Central and is televised in Birmingham and surrounding cities.

a great team!
David, Wes, Wendy and myself posing for a picture after the last taping.

If you would like some tips on decorating your home, here are a few of my previous segments:

Design on a Budget

Tips on Decluttering (aka Bookshelves)

Serene Spots in the Home

Investment Pieces



In each segment, I try to give helpful, budget-friendly suggestions that are easy to incorporate.   If you ever have a topic for me to tackle, let me know, as I’d love to showcase your idea!    And….if you live in the Birmingham area, tune into Daytime Alabama on October 7th where I will be discussing fall home trends, and then again on October 25th where I will show you how to make an impact in a room in an hour.  These are fun ones!

Living Well

Falling for Fall Colors

I know it’s hard to believe because it is still hot hot hot outside, but fall is around the corner!  And what’s hot hot hot right now in design are color schemes that reflect the season.

Warmer tones are a no-brainer when it comes to fall’s inspiration.  I love how designer Vincente Wolf used these beautiful colors in his own loft.

a gold and cream dream

Gold, caramel, taupe, tan, rust.  Notice how he tosses in gray here and there to cool it off a bit — on the pillow, coffee table, and in some of the artwork.  Subtle and beautiful!

So yes, gray is definitely another hot color I keep seeing everywhere — and loving!   So sophisticated.  Think of it as the new softer black.

Here’s Donna Karan’s take on a light gray dress from her Fall 2011 collection.  For more shades of this season’s grays, visit her website here!

I’ve also been gravitating towards purple, as it is big this fall.   Not the Mardi Gras purple that may come to mind but something a little more sophisticated.  Here are some fabrics I’ve recently pulled to use through a client’s home:

I love the depth purple gives — it’s full of confidence, yet these more discreet shades whisper rather than shout.

So this fall’s tones are rich yet chic, a bit audacious but within the realms of taste.  And I have to say — I’ve fallen!

Living Well

I Feel Like I’m On Trading Spaces

Maybe having three daughters of my own has something to do with this…but I love designing girls’ rooms.   I also love that girls’ rooms give me the chance to be playful with color schemes and whimsical patterns.

I am excited about one of my latest projects, as it’s a bedroom for a precious nine-year-old girl who loves the color blue.   What makes this project so fun is that it’s going to be a surprise installation for the entire family.   Full rein to design as I see fit as long as I stay on budget!  I kind of feel like I am on an episode of Trading Spaces

Here are my inspiration fabrics as I am in the beginning stages of planning the room.   I absolutely adore the combinations!

turquoise & chocolate!

What do you think?   What colors do you love to use in children’s rooms?

Living Well

Five Ways to Make an Impact in a Room In An Hour

Are you looking to update a particular room, but you (like the rest of us) are short on time?  Good news!  You can make some major improvements in as little as an hour!   Try one or all of the following tips and poof! that room that was bothering you may just become one of your favorites.

1.  Accessorize: Is the top of your coffee table cluttered? Do the tops of your end tables look messy?  Tired of seeing the same accessories?

Begin by clearing off the tops of furniture.  You’ll get a fresh look this way, and it’s easier to add to than take away!  Remove the lamps, the books, the candles, the ceramic pears, everything.  Now that you have a clean surface, ask yourself: what kind of furniture is it?  Is it a wooden chest with a marble top?  If so, begin with a wooden lamp and go from there.  Mix up the textures, materials, and styles to see what suits you best.  Be a little daring!  Playing with the hard and soft surfaces creates tension that works.

In this client’s home, I played with shiny and rough textures; metal, wood, and ceramic; and curves and lines to create the perfect combination.   Even the stick in the corner adds dimension!

notice the juxtaposition of materials in this one small corner!


2.  Create a Vignette: By definition, a vignette is a “small picture.”  In decorating, it’s a part of your home — say, a nook, a window, an entry way — that, after your creative touch, will tell a story and shed some personality.  Do you have a corner in your home that is empty and boring?  If so, find a purpose for it, and make every inch of your home count!  For instance, I took this bare hall in a client’s home and made it warm and inviting:

the family photos in style-y frames give it extra warmth

3.  Paint: I’ve said it before, but it’s a must for instant impact.  Paint!  Even painting one wall can create dimension in a space.  Paint also makes the space look fresh and can give a light fixture an entire new look.

4.  Clean out: Sometimes we just have to get rid of it.  Bookshelves that are overcrowded, china cabinets with plates that haven’t been used since 1977, bedrooms with stuffed animals that haven’t been played with since 1987 —  you get the idea.  Even spaces guests don’t see count!  Is your make-up drawer out of control?  Has the storage closet collected so much that you have forgotten what was in there?  When you hold onto items you aren’t loving and using, you — and your home — are being weighed down. Say ba-bye, and feel lighter!

5.  Reframe Your Art for a New Look: While you are cleaning out that storage closet, you may come across some treasures as well.  If you’ve been meaning to hang some forgotten pics, do it! Whether it’s artwork that suddenly appeals to you again, or photographs that bring back fond memories, walls welcome anything that warms the heart.  It’s good to change these things out from time to time too, perhaps using different frames or switching the bedroom art with the living room’s.

This is a room I designed for a client’s daughter.  See how the child’s owl art is taken to a new level when mounted on black?

whooo whooo!

Customizing a room doesn’t have to be over the top.  It just has to be creative and well-thought-out!  With a clean slate and a few good ideas, your home can go from ho-hum to custom in no time at all.

All photos by Jean Allsopp Photography.  Thanks, Jean!

Living Well

What Your Designer Wants You to Know but May Not Tell You

So you’re hiring a designer to help you with your home?  Congrats!  Below are a few tips to ensure the process is fun and smooth-sailing.

Have a Budget in Mind.  A good designer will be able to work within your means whatever your budget may be, but you must be forthcoming with the numbers from the beginning.   A designer does not want to spend hours pulling items that are over your budget nor does he or she want to skimp and miss out on the custom and higher-end items you can afford.  Know from the beginning what you want to spend so the design process can evolve accordingly.

Buy What You Love. I cannot tell you how many times I have walked into a home and the first thing the homeowner will show me is a specific piece of furniture or art that she has bought on sale.  As the conversation continues, she will proceed to tell me she does not really love it, does not really have a place for it, but nevertheless, it was a deal.   Regardless of the price point, if you do not love a piece, do not buy it!

Show Your Designer Anything You Can to Convey Your Taste. Communication  is key, and pictures are worth a thousand words, as they say.  Pull pictures from magazines and off the Internet that inspire you, such as specific rooms or landscapes or artwork.  Giving your designer a visual will help him or her evoke your unique taste into the look of your home.  It’s also helpful to show your designer your current home and what you love and don’t love about it.

How Involved Do You Want to Be? Some clients want no part in the design process, while other clients want to be involved in every detail.  It’s your home, and either is fine, but it’s helpful to let your designer know up front how involved you would like to be and in what capacity.

Trust your Designer. At the end of the day, you hired this particular person for a reason – because you like his/her style.  When a designer gives you an opinion, it comes from experience and skill.  This is why you are paying them.   Some of my best results have been on projects where my clients were willing to trust me and take a few risks.  If you do not have this confidence in your designer, find someone else to help you.

We Want to Make You Happy. Yes, your designer wants to please you, and yes, your designer wants you to be ecstatic with the end result.   We work hard and do not always convey the million times we have had to call about the fabric that was never shipped or that we had to send something back as it was not up to our standards.   In the end, we are in this together, and we have the same goal:  to make your home beautiful and something to be proud.

Hopefully, these tips will help you and your designer work together harmoniously so the process will be enjoyable and the end result will be the home you always imagined!  Have fun!

Living Well

Portfolio Peek!

Below is the home of my client and dear friend.    I am pleased to announce some of these photos recently appeared, much to my delight, in the March 2011 issue of  Birmingham Home and Garden.  A big thanks to Jean Allsopp Photography for allowing me to post!

I had so much fun designing this house, and I think it shows — enjoy the peek!

functional and sleek kitchen
breakfast nook
child-friendly family room


close up look


master bedroom
does it get any cozier than this?

Living Well

Happy Father’s Day to Some of the Best Dads I Know

My husband, daughters, and I met my family at my parent’s cabin to celebrate Father’s Day.  I am one of five children, so to arrange for all of us to be in the same place at the same time, is not always an easy feat.

on the way there
only 30 minutes outside of birmingham but feels like a million miles away


We lounged around

and swam.

even though the water was muddy


We made homemade ice cream.

We danced and sang

and hung by our toes.

We played with our cousins

as well as with our siblings.

two of my girls


 Happy Father’s Day, not only to my sweet dad,

my dad with my nephew


and to some of the other dads in my family,

but to the fathers in your family as well.

Living Well

Beach-Inspired Living

Do you ever feel like this?

completely frazzled???? (image from


Yes?  Me too.

And there’s not a better cure than completely unplugging… and heading to the beach…..which I did last week.

Talk about rejuvenation!


So, with sand, sun, and stress-free days on my mind, I’m motivated to incorporate more relaxation into my daily life.

Best way to do this?  Bring it into the home!  Beach-inspired living doesn’t mean you have to have sand for flooring, but a few details here and there work.

I love accessorizing with coral, driftwood, and shells, not only because of their color, but also for the texture they provide.

client's master bath accessorized with shells

I also love the Regina Andrew line and the shells they sell!  So gorgeous.


clam-shell by Regina Andrew

Have you ever been in a beach house that is dark and dreary?   No, and there is a reason for it.   Keep the interiors light, bright, and pay attention to the detail.  (i.e. Check out the planking below!   Love it!)

jonathan adler

See if you can’t bring some of your vacation home with you, as I intend — in home-style and lifestyle.   You may be surprised by what you fall in love with — like, your life? — but a more relaxed, kick-backed version!

Living Well

From Blah to Beautiful in a Few Easy Steps

I’m a big fan of layering.  Big.  Layering helps make a home look like it has evolved over time.  With so many hard surfaces found in a room (especially in kitchens and baths), it is important to balance them out.  You do this through fabrics, rugs, throws, etc. — anything that can add softness and dimension to a space.  Take a look to see what a difference layering can make…


before = blah. notice how everything is the same height as well? boring!

Making Changes:

layering begins -- much better!


wallah! accessories take it to a whole new level!

See how adding a few accessories can completely change the look of a room?!

The before picture shows the bones of the room, but it’s too hard!  By adding a rug,  mirror,  ottoman, and bench at the foot of the bed,  it is slowly being softened and dimension is being created.  The final touches were the accessories ( notice the shoes??!!) such as the books, the throws, and artwork.

Here is another example:

before- awkward table, incorrect height on stools, and mismatched shades

This client’s kitchen held a few custom pillows as well as a custom banquette we made out of some discard fabric; the rest were hand me downs in the space.

See what a difference mixing the elements (wood and iron) and softening the edges can make?

after- beautiful!!

Bottom line:  Mix it up!  If it’s a hard surface, find a way to soften it.  If there is a lot of new, add some old.  If wood is the theme, bring in a little metal.  In short, layering will “take the edge off” — literally.

Stay tuned…..More tips coming soon on creating dimension in a space!

Living Well

Love the One You’re In

Do you walk into your home and go, AHHHHHHH, this space just feels so…soooo…right?????

from Urban Grace....sooo lovely!

If not, what is holding you back?

Many times clients call because they cannot pull their home together and they need major help.   STAT. They aren’t exactly sure what is wrong, just that something is definitely not right.  

what's wrong with this picture????

The next time you think knocking down a few walls is the answer to your home-woes, try the following tips first.  If you still aren’t ahhh-ing when you come home, give me a call.

1. Get Rid of It! Yes, it is okay to part ways with a family piece you do not love.  I give you permission, so get rid of the guilt, and let it go. if you don't love it, don't keep it.

 One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  The rocking chair from my daughter’s room was her great-great aunt’s, but because she has outgrown the need of one, it is about to go into storage as well.

teddy bear's seat was my child's great-great aunt's rocker

 Just because it is a family heirloom or your aunt gave it to you for your wedding doesn’t mean it belongs in your home.  So many tastes are out there, and I bet you can find a home for it (your sister? your niece? your neighbor?). So do it.  Pronto.  De-clutter.  Keep only what you love and use…and you will definitely see and feel a difference in your home immediately!

2.  Every Thing Has A Place.  Every single thing in your home should have a place.   Pencils. Phone accessories. Cucumbers.  Summer hats.  Screwdrivers.  Blush brushes.  Every thing. Whether it is in a specific drawer or in a particular closet, it has a home.

yes, cheese graters can act as pencil holders... sometimes

This recalls the de-cluttering process mentioned above.  As a designer, I can find a home for any loved piece, but if you do not love it, repurpose it or get rid of it.

don't the objects here just FEEL loved? by Nate Berkus

I have had many clients in my career who simply cannot let go of things, for fear of perhaps needing it “one day.”  Let me tell you, take your chances.  Ask a friend who has a discerning eye to help you decide what should stay and what should find a better home (including the garbage can or Goodwill).   If there is something you absolutely cannot part ways with, box it up and put it in storage.  Chances are, after a year of having it out of your immediate experience, you’ll have an easier time saying farewell to it.

3. Assess the Function of Each Room.  Yes, each room should have a function.  It does not matter whether you have a 1,500 or a 15,000 sq ft home, every room should have a purpose.  The goal is to utilize every square inch in your home, and love it!  Is that extra bedroom a study, a guest bedroom, or a workout room?  Or is it just pretending to be all of those things when it’s really just storage?  Give each room an identity so you can organize and decorate accordingly.

4. How Do You Want Your Home to Feel?  Do you want your home to be a retreat from the crazy world we live in…

so serene from Mary McDonald

…or do you want it to reflect your bold personality?

show the world your personality! by Jan Showers

Whatever you decide, make sure each room flows from one to the next.  A retreat space will have more muted colors and softer furnishings, while one that is more bold may have pops of color.  Figure out what you need when you are at home.  Perhaps you need quiet time, but your home feels loud and busy.  Perhaps you need a little more energy in your life, but all your furnishings are heavy and dark-colored.  All of these things make a difference!

lighten up and keep it simple... by Thomas Filicia

Your home can make you feel inspired and at peace, or it could possibly be draining you.  Start by applying the above tips before doing anything long term or drastic.  You may be amazed how donating a few things and making a trip to the Container Store can make you fall in love with your home again.

Living Well

Summer Is Officially Here

With the school year ending and Memorial Day around the corner, the markings of summer are here.

fox valley mom


better homes and garden


better homes and garden



Hope all of you have a wonderful, relaxing holiday weekend-


Living Well

Color is the New Craze

Color is hot, hot, hot right now.  I’m mostly a neutral girl, but I’m finding myself integrating more bright color, such as citron, purple, turquoise, and hot pink into many of my interiors.  Color attracts attention fast, so the key is to make sure there is a place for the eye to rest.  I personally like to use light walls, neutral upholstery and pull color in through pillows, artwork, and accessories.  This way it is not too trendy but definitely makes a statement.

Check out this kitchen from the Beneckis out of Atlanta–

I love how color is used an an accent in this kitchen, as it pops against the crisp white.    Not too trendy, just clean and fresh.

Below is an older image from Southern Accents, but it is still one of my favorites to this day.    Absolutely gorgeous!


When trying to decide where to place color in a room, find an inspiration.   Whether it is an accessory, a fabric, or even a paint chip, you need a starting point.

The Trina Turk line for Schumacher is my latest obsession as far as color goes.   The prints and patterns are — in a word — incredible.

Here’s something beautiful in blue.  Talk about fresh!  Looking at this photo makes me breathe deeper, which is always a good thing!

adore the blue and white colorway here


…and check out the purple, pink, and red.  This print is a great catalyst for a girl’s bedroom, as I see it used for pillows and a bedskirt.   It would be fabulous with white or light lavender walls and an upholstered headboard.


A great way to pull in color is through painted furniture.  Check out this piece from Bungalow5:

Just because I am incorporating more color into my interiors does not mean I am leaving neutral behind.   As I mentioned in an interview for Design File, gray is the new black and is THE neutral to use right now.

i love this pattern from schumacher


I have never considered myself a yellow person, but the way gray and citron play off one another has me sold.

See what I mean?



Color can give a room a finishing touch; mixing it with neutrals will keep it modern and fresh.   So go bold and  give your home the surprise it’s been wanting.