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Salad and Symmetry

salad organized neatly
People tease me for not liking salad, but I actually do enjoy vegetables, and while I have a similar aversion to decorations that match, a beautifully symmetrical room will always make my heart beat a little faster.

Symmetry is the sigh of relief in a room; the elusive thing that often makes no sense, but can take a mash-up of unexpected pieces and turn them into the most exquisite combination of comfort.It’s a small detail, that bounces and balances what you have around the room, in a fluid, joyful movement; a harmonious dance of design and personality.

 
A symmetrical room feels more interesting, and the trick is to balance what you have, without following straight lines.
Play with opposites, balance a heavy piece with several small one’s on the opposite walls.
Try to think more about shapes and sizes rather than finding things that look alike.

If it doesn’t look right, change it, or take it down. Move things around until it feels comfortable to you. Don’t be afraid to hang a picture too high (or too low) or change the use of a favorite piece (if your china cabinet looks better with linens in it, on the second floor landing, that’s okay…).

When everything matches we become afraid to move anything. Our rooms feel so done, that we don’t want to disturb them, and we have an almost illogical fear that we might forget where everything was. Why that matter’s so much I don’t know, but it also stops us from seeing what we have. If all we see are lots of straight lines and a pair of matching lamps, our brain shuts down, and it becomes bored. So it’s kind of a double whammy; we don’t want to move things, and we aren’t inclined because we barely even see them any more.

But, if we combine some symmetry with a little bit (just a little) of matching, we will get over our fear of movement, and our home will still be interesting, beautiful and composed – like a designed salad.

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/
Photograph from http://abduzeedo.com/neatly-organized-life

DIY Paint Adventures

Giraffe - painted

I would never profess to be a painter, but I am not afraid to open a paint can and dab away at a boring room or an old piece of furniture. The lack of fear doesn’t necessarily make me do a good job, it just means that I am not afraid to try, and if I mess up, it is my own home, and I’ll try my best to fix it.

From small picture frames to bedrooms and countertops, I have learned that painting is an unpredictable process (and there is a lot of “p’s” in this sentence). Just when I think I have it all figured out, the color will not be as expected, a paint can will rust without warning, or I will accidentally spray sunshine yellow all over my new, black shoes.

Some things are best left to the professionals, but before you make the call there are a few DIY paint repairs and ideas that you really (really) can do yourself.

FRESHEN UP BIKES, LIGHT FIXTURES, PICTURE FRAMES, CANDLESTICKS, DECORATIVE DISHES, CHAIRS ETC

Spray paint is a great, fun fix for old and dated items. Just remember to practice a bit first; give it light, slow sweeping coats (too heavy and saturated will make it drip) and I find that it is best to always do it outside (the mist can reach much further than you can ever imagine) wear old clothes and shoes, and put up newspapers or tarpaulin to protect your deck, patio, fence etc. Personally, I do any spray paint projects on the grass, away from the house, then mow over it.

For old chairs, dressers and tables, you can either sand and saturate them with paint, use a very dry brush to give them a worn, antique look, or rub and dab on some diluted color with a damp cloth to see what happens. I wouldn’t do this on anything too precious, but painting a flea market find, or refreshing an outdated piece, is a good way to while away a few hours.

FIX CORNER NICKS

You know those little annoying corners that you and the children bang into, and because the room has been painted so many times it chips off sometimes? Just spot paint them. If you have extra house paint, use that to dab onto the corner nicks, but if not, try mixing some colors from your kids paint box, or go to the craft store and look for a paint color that matches. It doesn’t get much wear, so it doesn’t have to be the exact right type of paint. Layer it, let it dry for a few hours, then add another. Three or four times should be plenty. Use a cotton bud, eye shadow sponge, your finger, or a small art brush. It will wear off again over time, but it will be a good fix for a year or two, and saves repainting the entire room.

WATER DAMAGE STAINS

This is for old, you-are-sure-the-water-and-the-walls-and-ceiling-have-really-dried-out stains because if you paint while they are still damp, you will lock in the moisture and cause a heap of trouble. Use a stain blocker (in a similar or identical color to the ceiling or wall) and dab it onto the stain. I find that a damp cotton cloth is often easier than a brush, and several light layers are better than one, as you can feather it as you go, and it won’t be as new looking. If it is in a very obvious place, try diluting the paint with a little water (if it is water based) dabbing it on gently, then letting it dry. Leave it for a day, then see what you think. Even softening the look of the stain will make a world of difference.

DOOR KNOBS, LIGHT SWITCH COVER AND HARDWARE

I have painted all of my light switch covers, and most of my door knobs. The outside door knobs I painted with an antique copper finish, and the light switch covers I paint to match whichever room they are in. It is ridiculously easy, makes your home look a little more personal, and lasts until it wears off – which by my estimation is coming up on twenty five years.

A few DIY Paint Notes:

  • I find that the original spray paints are the best quality, and have more staying power than the new, more specialized finishes.
  • Sometimes, it is easier to spray a bit of paint onto a plastic plate, then paint from that with a small (disposable) brush. If you do this, be prepared, as it dries quickly and is quite sticky.
  • I have had no luck with the paint that is made exclusively for plastics – it chips off at the first sign of use.
  • Rustoleum Chalkboard Paint is always in my closet. I have used it to paint my chandelier (which is brass, and I didn’t even prime it first), the stand of my floor lamp, my walls (several upstairs and downstairs), labels on Mason Jars, my bathroom floor (with a polyurethane over it for durability) and my outside light fixtures and lamp post.
  • Acrylic paint will wash off your hands with soap and water (and dries within a few hours). Oil based and Spray Paint is a lot more difficult to get off your skin (wear gloves) and can take a few days to dry.
  • No matter what google says, sometimes paint is impossible to remove from your clothes, hair and shoes.
  • When painting anything near electricity, turn the power off, cover the outlet or socket with painters tape, and paint carefully with a brush rather than using a spray (which could easily get inside the wiring).
  • If you’re not confident in the beginning, just try a very small, easy fix; the worst that can happen is that it doesn’t work, but the best is that it will.

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/
Amazing giraffe art from: http://quotesgram.com/giraffe-amazing-quotes/

And for many people, that still means back to school time. So if you’re interested in going back to school to learn a new business, start a new career, or add a new service to your current business, we’ve got you covered! Check out the classes and workshops below for some great opportunities.
 
September also means our webinars are back! And we start out with a great one with Bryan Short of The Sewing Loft of Avon will share with us “Avoiding Pitfalls and Selling Custom Window Treatments”. 
And if you’re really ready to re-charge and re-focus, join us for our conference September 22nd – 23rd in Norwalk, CT! A great opportunity to learn, grow, connect, or reconnect with a fabulous group of designers and stagers!
Interested? Then read more . . .

Visits with a Chair

floral armchair 1
I never took it flowers, or dressed up in my fanciest of clothes, but every week I would go to the old antique shop, say hello to the lady behind the counter, and walk upstairs to visit the chair. She said I was allowed to sit on it for as long as I wanted, but I never stayed more than fifteen or twenty minutes.

It was called a chair and a half; crowded inbetween the plastic flowers and the used books, the chair was covered in a riot of faded flowers and had seen better days. It was squishy in all the right places, fit me perfectly, and just seemed to teeter over the wrong edge of my budget.

She said that no-one would buy it because it wasn’t new, and it wasn’t as trendy as it used to be, but I still loved it. Why wouldn’t everyone want to put their feet up on a giant chair, and feel completely enveloped in comfort? Perhaps it reminded me of Alice in Wonderland, being a bit disproportionate for the average person, but delightfully dreamy for the rest of us.

One day, I went to visit, and the shop was closed. With no warning, my visits had abruptly ended, and the chair had disappeared. I do wish I had bought it, because it just suited me, and unless I am in a waiting room or sitting at my desk, I really don’t enjoy sitting up straight.

For a while, the loveseat was everything, and you could barely buy a sofa without one, but I never quite got the concept; it seems too big for one person, but too small for two, so what is the point? A chair and a half, while still taking up quite a bit of room, seems far more useful to me. It doesn’t imply you are waiting for someone else, it is the perfect spot to spend a quiet hour or two, you can squeeze an extra person in if you want, and yet it doesn’t look lonely when it is empty.
The chair and a half, while having one of the silliest name’s ever, might just be my most favorite piece of furniture…

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/
Photograph from Connie-livingbeautifully 

This one is from Claudia Tiberia of Fresh Spaces, an expert organizer, stager, and redesigner:

For a mini-organizing project, pay careful attention to your routines. Then keep like items together and zoned based on their usage. For example, do you do your children’s hair just before they walk out the door for school? Then keep a container for all hair accessories by the door. Do you pay bills in the family room while watching TV? Then keep a container as a bill paying center complete with checkbook, stamps, and envelopes in the family room. Do you do your hair and make-up in the half-bath while the children are eating breakfast? Then keep containers for everything you need stashed in the half-bath.

Thanks Claudia – great advice!

Are you using Instagram as part of your marketing strategy? What about Instagram video? Interior designer turned marketing expert – and keynote speaker of the upcoming Association of Design Education conference – Nika Stewart of Ghosttweeting shares some excellent advice in her recent blog post. Can’t wait to hear what she  has to say to us at conference!

Using Instagram Video in Your Market Strategy

What type of content gets the best ROI? 51.9 percent of marketing professionals worldwide say it’s video. Four out of five shoppers say a video showing how a product or service works is important, and retailers cite 40 percent increases in purchases as a result of video.

Yes, video is all the rage, and with Instagram’s move to 60-second clips, now is the perfect time for your business to ride the wave. There’s more airtime and lots more freedom to come up with creative content to market your brand. Video is the way to accelerate trust and build expert status. Here, we’ve found the best ways to employ video on the ‘Gram. Read more . . . 

 

Treehouse Book Sculpture with name

There are some people we meet, and we instantly become great friends. While I have never met Stephen Thompson in person, what began as an introduction of designer parallels quickly become a friendship across the miles. Living in Tupelo, Mississippi, Stephen is the owner of Designer Connection, and a writer for the North East Mississippi Daily Journal; his article this week was so beautifully done, that I asked him if I could share it with you.

STEPHEN THOMPSON: Use the power of story to change your décor

Much like a voice constantly whispering in your ear, your décor’s story can either make or break you. You may not be listening to it but, day and night, your décor is talking to you, and it’s influencing the quality of your life.

You may think your story is a secret, but it’s out there. It’s in the color of your front door, the style of your shutters, whether paints are faded or peeling, cracked or in good repair. Listen and you’ll hear its aliveness or tiredness echoed in your upholstery fabrics as you sit or stand. Your sink, stove, refrigerator and microwave speak volumes through their age, size, and, especially, their cleanliness. And subplots abound on countertops, bookshelves and tabletops throughout your home. Is you story clear and well spoken, or is it cluttered, confused and broken?

Broken stories can be fixed. This is especially true when the story being heard isn’t yours, but one you’ve inherited. Hand-me-downs and well-meaning gifts of furniture – the things others gave you that echoed their story, not yours – may be ill fitting and holding you back from living the life you want. Here are nine ways to fix your décor’s broken story.

• Listen to your spirit. Marie Kondo, author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” writes, “When we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.” Keep only things that speak to your heart.

• Clear out the clutter. Methodically removing meaningless mishmash will cancel the background noise and let your story be heard. Discard everything that does not spark joy.

• Speak up. If your hand-me-downs are despised and not prized, reclaim the right to set the tone of your own décor. Don’t keep things you don’t like. Why would you?

• Learn to embrace change. You aren’t the same person you were a decade or so ago; perhaps your décor shouldn’t be either. The place where you live should be for the person you are becoming now. It’s much easier to live in the beauty of today’s story than to continually relive the past. Surround yourself only with things you love.

• Choose the right way. If choosing what to discard scares you, then listen to Mother Theresa, “The more you have the more occupied you are. The less you have the more free your are.” Choose what you want to keep, not what you want to get rid of.

• Be your own BFF. How would you talk to your best friend if he or she were in the same decorating dilemma as you? To revitalize your story, muffle your inner critic.

• Don’t bring home crap. The surest way to ruin your décor is to bring home items that aren’t in alignment with your core story. Be on guard when you shop. Quality trumps quantity every time.

• Cultivate an eye for beauty. To have a beautiful story, you must first know what beauty is. Step out of your comfort zone and discover the many worlds of beauty found in nature, in cultural events, in books, movies and theater. Let their inherent beauty capture your heart.

• Tell an authentic story. It matters not whether your family room rug is a beautiful yard sale find or a Persian antique. How does it fit with your values? The story of what you want to own is actually the story of how you want to live your life. Let your décor be a reflection of the one that’s in your heart.

p.s. Stephen Thompson, has been creating tasteful interiors in North Mississippi since 1975. For questions, comments, or consultations contact Designer Connection, P.O. Box 361, Tupelo, MS 38802 or stephen2816@mac.com
Photograph from the extremely talented, Malena Valcarcel
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