Monthly Archives

January 2016


Time to Declutter!

minimalist diningI will be turning 60 this year and although I am not ready to retire, it may be time to downsize. Many of the things in my home have surpassed any usefulness, but slap me in the face whenever I see them and know I no longer have a use for them. Red patent leather roller skates, skis, a wet suit, aging furniture which no longer has a place all take up space without delivering the function they once did. A computer tower, TV cabinet, fine china and several closets full of bedding enjoy space that could be used for better things. All have a place in my heart and history, but now look lost, forlorn and useless, at least to me.


I started decluttering/downsizing everything we owned several years ago, more through necessity than desire. I was moving to a smaller home and did not have the room to store it all. I gave many items to my and donated more items. It is always hard to let something go that has been in the family for generations, but there comes a time when possessions can take over and become more a hindrance than a help.

I keep a donation bag handy all the time and when it is full, it goes to the car to be dropped off. My advice on this is, that once in the bag, never look back. A box for each of my children sits ready for their next visit. If they don’t want it and take it with them, out it goes. Anything dog-eared and worn goes in the trash or rag bag.

I am discovering that I like the clean and spacious home without having things to put away, clean, dust and repair. Fumio Sasaki, a Japanese minimalist blogger and write says, in his blog Minimal & Ism “I think many people have learned that gathering things does not make you happy,” Sasaki says. “The older generation experienced the bubble economy, which praised material abundance, but our generation didn’t. You can feel more liberated by having fewer things around you.”

breakfast room

I am not an advocate of stark cold interiors, rather spaces with useful and beautiful items which function properly. Purge gently and often. Limit new purchases to necessities and try, as hard as it is to throw out two things for every one that comes in.

Outdoor Furniture

Plan Now For Summer Gardens


I have found that the cold icy months are the very best time to order new plants for the gardens and plans for landscaping decks or patios for the coming spring. In only a few short months it will be spring and with plenty of outdoor activities, projects and planting to be done, you will be happy you took the time now to plan. Keep in mind that patio furniture may take three months to deliver, so order now so it will arrive in time for any summertime events.Table-Biarritz-Fermob-Album

Start with measuring the area. Remember that many locations are not level and may need special attention. Place a stake at each corner of the space at the lowest point. Tie a string to each stake and use a bubble level to determine the where the level point is. A patio or deck should lean slightly (about 1/2″) away from any buildings to prevent water runoff. A vegetable or flower garden should be relatively flat to ensure that water is absorbed efficiently.


Garden and landscape planning is easily done indoors. Pick a sunny spot by a window. This will put you in the right mindset to begin planning. If you receive seed and plant catalogs, pull them out for inspiration. Some of my favorites are: Burpee, Springhill and Gurneys. Some states have DNR publications that offer trees, shrubs and other plants at a discount. Clip pictures or visit social media sights for garden inspiration. The more inspiration you can glean from these, the better your project will be. Let your creative juices flow. Sketch out a few ideas, even if they are unrealistic. This will give you a starting place. You can always add or delete something later.50cb41372539071549

For decks, patios, or landscaping, consider the scope of your project and determine if you need to hire contractors and landscape companies. Entice family and friends to help with the project. You can pay them back with a backyard barbeque later this summer.

Keep in mind that summer is a few short months away. Enjoy your future space while planning it. Walk through a day. Have coffee on the deck, follow by picking vegetables in the garden and taking a bouquet of flowers from your garden to a friend. Have wine on the porch, a fire in your backyard fire-pit with toasted marshmallows, and suddenly the winter has gone away. Summer is here, replete with all of the wonderful sights, sounds and smells.  Do I hear crickets?



The Organized Entryway


Wood-Bench-In-Entry-White-Paneled-WallsAn organized entry way is the key to a great start on the day. If you have ever started out the morning searching frantically for your keys or sunglasses, you understand that having a spot for everything where you can grab it and go is key to simplicity and calm in the morning.

If you are lucky, as I was, to have kids, mornings are a chaotic mess if there is not a plan and a place for everything. Start with the school stuff. Homework, soccer shoes and notebooks need a special place, hopefully close to the door and large enough to house the day’s necessities. Each person in the household needs their own space, or it won’t work. Hang coats, leave gloves, shoes and scarves here. Anything that comes in and must go out, must be put in place before bedtime, or the time consuming final paper will undoubtedly be left on the night stand or kitchen table. The plan is that everything is in place the night before. For lunches or refrigerated items, leave a sticky note on the door, so it won’t be forgotten in the mad rush out the door. Grand Central Station

The entry or rear entry should contain an easily cleanable flooring material to handle muddy or wet boots and shoes, a bench or seat for removing shoes, cubbies for storing footwear. Hooks, which are handier for coats than hangers are a good choice. They also work for scarves, umbrellas, back packs and bags. Upper cubbies are great for hats, bags and packages. A small table or counter works well for mail, packages and cell phones. A dish or small hooks keep keys in check. The important thing is to purge this area often to keep it from becoming a catch-all.

cubby bench

Sporting goods are best kept in individual bags, backpacks or cubbies so that they can be grabbed without sorting. Leave bag unzipped until all of the items have been washed and returned. If the bag is open, there is something missing, like socks, t shirt or dance shoes.

My personal checklist includes sunglasses, keys, purse, coffee mug and cell phone. In the winter I add a scarf and gloves. Keeping these things near the door and in the same place greatly decreases the possibility that they will be forgotten at home or missing just as I head out the door. A phone charger near the door works well even if you keep your phone by your bed at night. When you get up, plug it in by the door and grab it as you go already charged.

Items to deliver, drop off, donate, mail or ship can also be left in this convenient area, so they can go out the door with you. I often move these right into the car so that they are ready whenever I am.

“Out of sight out of mind” is an old cliché that is a perfect reminder that works like a charm. If you need to remember to drop the check at the bank, mail the payment leave it on the front seat along with your child’s bag or backpack, so they don’t forget it in your car. These all serve as a visual reminder of what you need to accomplish before you go home.

entry benchWhen you come home at night, this is a staging area for the next day. A cue that the day is over and it is time to relax. Knowing that everything is packed and ready to do for the next day makes the evening much smoother and more enjoyable.


Interior Forcast

pink door reports that the newest colors for 2016 are Rose quartz and Serenity Blue. Pale pink and Pale periwinkle reprise the 90’s pastels in a big way. Along with soft salmon/coral called “peach echo”and a warm lavender called “ lilac gray.”

All this is important because as any interior designer knows, what fashion colors do this year is what their customers will want in their home décor in a year or two.  After years of neutrals and bright colors, easy on the eye pastels are just what they are looking for.

  • pink rugs

Pastel colors add a warm glow to a room and are relaxing to live with. Think of strawberry ice cream or a soft sunrise in pink, blue and soft coral. Imagine a room with pale pink walls and white or off white slip-covered furniture. Even the name, “serenity blue,”invokes a sense of calm and well, serenity. The soft periwinkle color looks like a summer sunset. Peach and gray add additional colors to the livingroom.jpg

The new pastels are gender neutral. Soft lavender and pink in menswear will open up the next few years to more “masculine” design in softer hues. Think of a pink bedroom or soft cream and blue office space.

pastel office

Paint any room a soft neutral and see the magic happen. Put your feet up, sit back and ….relax.



Accents, Bedroom Design, Organization

Make the Bed.


Nothing says comfort like a well-made layered bed. Climbing into bed at night should be a relief, not a chore. Think of a turn down service at a luxury hotel, complete with chocolates on the pillow. Sateen high thread count sheets and a down duvet speak of royalty and providence. Extra pillows add a feeling of comfort and relaxation. An extra throw for the cold nights and a neck roll to add height and support and a good night’s sleep is guaranteed. Add a bench or chair to sit on to remove shoes, a pitcher of water on the night stand and a lamp for reading. A comfy carpet or area rugs are a welcome addition to stretch your toes. Soft music, a small TV for viewing and a charger for cell phone. Don’t forget to set the alarm.



Start with the bedding. A comfortable and attractive bed starts with a comforter, duvet and cover or quilt and matching shams. A down comforter and/or feather bed is especially nice in cold winter months.

Comforters and Comforter Sets
The market place is full of ready-made synthetic fill comforters and sets. They are usually inexpensive. These are easy to launder and generally hypoallergenic, but the quality and desirability can be questionable.
Down Comforters


Duvets: according to Wikipedia, are a type of bedding consisting of a bag filled with down, feathers, silk, or other synthetic fibers. They are generally made of white cotton and then protected with a removable decorative cover. There are a number of natural duvet options, but down is most often recommended due to its flexibility. Except in rare occasions, feather and down allergies are a result of dust and dirt collected inside the duvet, not the down itself. Shelter magazines use a high fill count down duvet and beautifully crafted duvet covers.

Synthetic Fibers: More economical than feathers or down, synthetic duvets are easy to clean, but not as insulating as feathers or down. They also are considered more hypo-allergenic.
Feathers: The contoured shape of feathers provides a supportive quality which makes them appropriate for use in sleeping pillows, decorative pillow inserts and feather beds. They are generally not used for insulating purposes.
Down: The three-dimensional plumage found under the belly feathers of ducks and geese is referred to as down, which work as insulation. Unlike feathers there is no spine, making them more comfortable, insulating and breathable. Fill power refers to the volume one ounce of down occupies. The higher the value the more volume the one ounce will occupy. Fill power also provides an index for determining the lofting, insulation properties and quality of the down.
Silk: Silk duvets are generally expensive and are prized because of their superior thermal properties, and hypoallergenic properties. The best silk duvets are made from wild silk.
Feather Bed: A feather bed is much like a duvet, except it generally uses a lower quality of feathers/down and is placed just over the mattress, under the bottom sheet.
Baffles: The construction of vertical walls of fabric between each box allows the fill to achieve its greatest loft and a smoother surface texture. The boxes are stitched closed to prevent shifting of the fill material. The box shape is more visible because the top and bottom layers of fabric are sewn together

Caring For Down Comforters:

down comfortersA down comforter will last many years if cared for properly. Always protect your comforter from direct contact with body oils by using a duvet cover or by placing between two flat sheets and launder no more than once or twice per year unless there is obvious soiling. More frequent washing will shorten the life of your comforter. In between laundering we recommend you occasionally place it outside in fresh air and direct sun to restore freshness. Frequent fluffing will help retain the loft that makes your comforter so lush and inviting. Dry cleaning is an option, if you must, but we prefer not to see the chemicals added to your beautiful down bedding.
Profession laundering (note laundering, not dry cleaning) is recommended based on the fact that most consumers over apply detergent and fail to rinse and dry the item properly. If you choose to home launder please use the following guidelines:
• Check seams and fabric carefully – if weakness is evident do not home launder!
• Machine wash in an over-sized machine without a center agitator, using warm water and mild detergent on the delicate cycle.
• Do not use bleach or fabric softener.
• Repeat the rinse cycle an additional 1-2 times to ensure the detergent is completely removed.
• Dry using the low heat. Place a couple of clean tennis balls or dryer balls inside the dryer to add the process. Removing frequently to shake will help minimize wrinkling and aid the drying process. Dry well beyond the point where the outer fabric feels dry so that the down clusters will be fully dry – this often takes 3-4 hours.
• If possible, allow the comforter an additional 24 hours to air dry and release any moisture before placing inside a duvet cover. If you notice a lingering odor or clumping then the item was not fully dry when it was removed from the dryer.

Matelassé Quilts


Matelassé is a weaving or stitching technique which yields a pattern that is quilted or padded. Matelassé may be achieved by hand, on a loom, or a quilting machine. Because of its tightly woven nature, it stands up to heavy wear and tear, is washable and ages beautifully. It is very pet friendly bedding. The tight quilting is durable enough to stand up to heavy pawing and clawing and provides a sturdy protective layer over fine linens.

Pillows and Shams

Pillows, whether down-filled or fiberfill add to the ambiance of the perfect bed.

Euro Shams: European shams and pillows are the standard in French décor. 27” x 27” square pillows are often covered with fabric to match sheets, duvet covers or accent fabrics. They are usually are placed next to the headboard for extra support or to add interest to the bed. Shams are covers only, and fillers are generally purchased separately from the shams.

Standard Shams: American shams generally fit standard sized pillows. These are usually 21” x 27.” Queen and King shams are also available on some products, which fit larger pillow forms.

Accent Pillows: Accent pillows are added to enhance design or for specific uses such as neck-rolls for neck support.

Bed skirts or Dust Ruffles


Bed skirts and dust ruffles, although usually commandeered to Country or Rustic designs, are making a come-back. Look for soft voile, gauze and burlap fabrics to embrace the new rustic and industrial markets.

Sheets and Pillow Cases
Cotton sheets are the most comfortable because they absorb perspiration and “breathe”. Egyptian cotton is the best quality, but other high count sheets are also acceptable. The higher the thread count the smoother and silkier the sheets will feel. Avoid blends of cotton, polyester or other fabrics, since these tend to pill and are not as absorbent.

Lastly. Add a throw to the foot of your bed for these cold winter nights. It adds an extra layer for drama and a little extra warmth.

Climb in and enjoy!

Kitchen Design

Hoosier Cabinets


Hoosiers were an early form of modern kitchen cabinets with storage and work areas designed for functionality. According to Wikipedia, the cabinets were first manufactured by the Hoosier Manufacturing Company of New Castle, Indiana. They were also made by several other companies, most of which were also located in Indiana in the early 20th century. Hoosier cabinets gained popularity with housewives who previously used only rudimentary equipment and kitchen tables for preparing meals.  hoosier cabinet

Original Hoosiers featured individual compartments and drawers and an area for making bread and pastry. Many had slide out shelves, a roll top section and casters. There was storage for canned goods and equipment. There were glass containers for flour and sugar with built in sifters to make measuring and sifting easier. Salt and spices were displayed in jars to add to the convenience. Having everything organized and close at hand saved many hours and steps per day for the homemaker of the day. Most cabinets were initially wood with a pull out or under cabinet counter along with a pullout counter of enamel or wood to accommodate baking needs. oak hoosier

Many later versions incorporated enamel tops, sides and elements in the current color trends of the day. Red, green and white being popular choices.
enamel hoosier



Although modern kitchen cabinets eventually replaced the Hoosier cabinets, Hoosiers are still popular pieces of furniture for kitchen or dining room adding storage and versatility and nostalgic charm to cottage kitchens or period homes.

Southern Pine Hoosier Cupboard.jpg

Bedroom Design

How to make a small space feel larger.

In the last few years, the trend has been to reduce the size of our homes and apartments. Tiny houses, cottages, cabins and smaller apartments have gained popularity over the sprawling great houses and lofts of the previous generation; Millennials, concerned about the environmental attempt to reduce their footprint on the world, are looking for smaller, simpler homes. All this requires viewing our spaces with a new eye to function and design.


white example

Choose white walls and light colored rugs instead of darker colors. Dark walls can make a statement and feel cozy, but they also make a room seem smaller. You can always add the dark or bright colors for accents throughout the room.

Use fewer pieces of furniture and select pieces that have multiple uses such as trunks that store blankets and act as a coffee table. Shelving units can house books, electronics and decorative items. Sleeper sofas add extra room for guests.

Eliminate clutter and scale down. Less is definitely more when it comes to a small space. Purge items or store away neatly. Smaller spaces require more organization and a ruthless eye and adequate storage.

Mirrors can make a room appear double its size. Carefully place mirrors with interesting frames in dark corners, alcoves, above fireplaces or on large wall spaces to enlarge the space and reflect light.

Stripes make a room appear longer. A striped rug can make the space seem either wider or narrower depending on the direction the rug is placed. Add vertical stripes to make it taller.

Frosted glass hides clutter, with a feeling of space behind. Glass coffee tables let the light and the rug show through. Uncovered windows let in the light and make the outdoors shine in. Place glassware on open shelves to add space and airiness to a close area.

Furniture placement is key to small spaces. Make sure that there are clear, defined traffic patterns. Cramped walkways make spaces feel smaller and confined. Allow at least 24” for walking between or around furniture.

Enjoy your small, uncluttered space. This leaves more time for enjoying life and less time looking for lost items, cleaning and maintainence.