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Our monthly webinars are now open to the public!

Join us for our September Webinar Light Bulbs & Smart Home Technology—It’s the New Norm on September 8th at 7:00pm and don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter for more details. (Free for members!)

If you are as confused as we are about the new light bulbs – and new lighting technology – as we are, you will definitely want to join us! Lighting is an extremely important part of the entire design process, not to mention the impact it has on home sales. Learn from ADE approved Trainer Margaret Innis of Decorate to Sell all about the new technology, and its many benefits including what works and what doesn’t (especially involving the new light bulbs) as well as how technological advances make homes more comfortable and convenient.
Not a member? Click here to register.

Cabinet Conundrum

drawer knobs
Did you know that the average kitchen has 20 – 40 cabinet knobs and drawer pulls? More than you thought, right?

Have you been shopping for them lately? I am not quite sure whether it is terrifying or fun, but I do know it can be confusing. A bit like when we are choosing a paint color; we are dazzled by the endless array, told to choose wisely, surprised by the cost, advised not to scrimp on quality, then wander back home with an exhausted face and an empty shopping basket.

We are told that they are the jewelry of the kitchen, and the finishing touch that we need to pull the entire home together. We start to believe that without these coveted little gems our dreams will surely be squashed, and our kitchen will never, ever be featured on the cover of a beautiful magazine.

But I don’t really agree. I think they are both less and more important than we realize, and I find that when we rush to buy them we can easily add a lot of unwanted clutter to our homes. I wouldn’t pile on twenty five versions of the same, pretty necklace, or dot thirty three lamps around my living room, so why would I place dozens of tiny, repetitive objects all around my kitchen without more than a moment’s thought.

I know I always tell people to buy what they love, and it will all magically work together, but this is totally different; of course you must like them, but if you are buying multiples of something permanent, that all look the same, they automatically become part of your design instead of just a random decoration. I think I actually just confused myself with that sentence, but hopefully you know what I mean.
Forget the usefulness of them for a minute (we know they work) and just think of cabinet knobs and drawer pulls as being lots and lots of small (sometimes shiny) accessories on display in your kitchen.

It sounds frightening (and a bit weird) but really all I am suggesting is that you plan before you buy. Try to decide ahead of time whether you want them to blend in and be part of the design, or a deliberate style statement. If it’s a deliberate style that you want, then go ahead, but if you want them to seamlessly fit into your kitchen, do your research, and see what will really suit your home.

And, don’t forget to count. It doesn’t matter whether you want to have an entire zoo attached to your cabinets, or the simplest of brass pulls, no-one ever has just one.

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

Photograph from www.ebay.co.uk

pic monkey collage thingsThe other day I went to sleep with most of the windows open. It was one of those deliciously breezy nights, where I almost didn’t care whether I slept or not; all I wanted to do was listen to the trees, feel the cool air, and dream of sweet, Summer days.

But, because of the breeze (enough to send a vase flying, and knock almost everything off my desk) I balled up a t-shirt and put it against the bedroom door to stop it from slamming shut. As I lay back in bed, thinking my lovely thoughts, all I could think of was that I had just crumpled up one of my favorite tops. Yes, it needed a wash, but now it would also be covered in dog hair, the cat will probably sleep on it, and the image of it being on the floor didn’t exactly fit in with all of my idyllic imagining…. So, I got up, put it in the laundry hamper and grabbed a favorite rock off my dresser to place against the door instead (everyone has rocks in their bedroom, right?).

This week, inspired by my favorite rock, I wanted to share with you some photographs of a few ordinary, beautiful things.

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

Photograph Credits: CHANDELIER – Wendy’s,  BUTTONS – Kate Kessling,  HELLO MAT – The Store,  PLATES – Pinterest, SOAP DISH Pinterest, MASON JAR SOAP DISPENSER – She Knows,  EGGS – Wendy’s,  SHAVING CUP –  Butcher Shop Glasgow, STRING TIN – Pinterest,  I LOVE CAKE – Pinterest,  ROCK DOOR STOP – Shelterness,  DUTCH OVEN – Ebay

The Memory Dance

shadow dance

I was watching the Rachel Ray show the other day, where uber Organizer, Peter Walsh, was talking to Regis Philbin about how to declutter his memorabilia room. Regis, a collector and a celebrity, is the recipient of so many awards and accolades, and had an entire room filled with wonderful memories; everything from autographed football helmets to vintage posters and designer clothing. But, for all his celebrity status, he was just like us, and his biggest fear was that Peter was going to see it as “too much stuff”, and tell him to get rid of it.

But he didn’t, because it wasn’t about value, or taking up too much space, it was about memories, and I loved seeing the relief on Regis’ face when he was told that everything could stay (but it just needed to be a little more organized). Nothing was going to be thrown away.

This was Peter’s philosophy…

I have paraphrased what he said, but Peter is right; if something is that important (or sentimental) that you want to keep it, then give it meaning, and put it away safely, or display it well, and, most importantly, have it accessible…… Be able to find it. If you can’t find it, or see it, is it really that important?

Watching the show reminded me that I will always be a sentimental clutterer, and I don’t have to force myself to live in a spartan house or get rid of things that seem too old, all I have to do is honor my memories, visit them often, and use them to feed and nourish my happiness …

Wendy E. Wrzos

http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

Photograph from: Poems about Dance

Stairs - spiral from Morgue

You know that I cringe at rules,
but now and again we all want a simple answer
to something that we can’t quite figure out.
We want to know what the magic is, what other people have,
and how we can get it before we have to run off and do something else.
I do it myself,
and in a mad moment I will find myself googling the most ridiculous of things.
So, in answer to what I got asked twice this last week,
here are seven things that I think every room needs.

SOMETHING BLACK

A room can’t breathe without a touch of something inky dark.
 It doesn’t have to be much,
but a smudge of black here and there (even a squiggle on a pillow)
will add something that is almost inexplicable but so necessary.

CURVES

Nature rarely does straight lines.
Organic curves and shapes will bring warmth, life,
and a natural, reassuring comfort to your home.

HISTORY

Something from the past.
Whether it is an old photograph, a vintage piece of furniture,
or a beloved book from your childhood,
it will always invite a question and a story.

A FAVORITE THING

Represent yourself in a very personal way.
Old or new, you must have something that you absolutely love,
beyond a shadow of a doubt, in every single room.

SHELVES

You don’t even need to own a book.
Shelves will instantly add interest to your room,
while organizing your endless collection of bits and bobs
into a neat, confined little rectangle.

BEAUTY

We are a fickle bunch, and we like to look at pretty things.
But we don’t need a designer.
If it makes you happy, and you like the way it looks,
then it will be beautiful to you.

GREEN

Every home should have some.
It feels calming, balanced, and energizing all at the same time.
For moments of green without commitment,
grow a plant, use apple scented shampoo,
draw a picture with a green crayon,
and spend at least fifteen minutes wondering why people eat artichokes.

During one of my last classes, we started to talk about social media. Students wanted to know just how important is it? Which ones should they contribute to? Who should they follow? What about likes, posting, blogging….and on and on it went. 

After giving them my stock answer (follow your demographic, choose the ones you like, and don’t think you need to do it all), it got me thinking about my own social media experiences. Some of my accounts are strictly for business, while others are for pleasure. And then some of them actually cross over. I prefer FB to Twitter. I enjoy the visual, so Pinterest and Instagram are favorites. And even though I don’t really care for either, I’m told I must be on LinkedIn and Google+, so I am.

After taking a look at my web presence, and social media in general, I was a bit shocked at what I found. Because I spend a decent amount of time on FB and Pinterest, I expected a certain number of followers or likes and I’m right where I thought I should be. On the other hand, I really like Instagram, but I don’t post very often, so I guess the numbers are okay. Then there’s LinkedIn (I’m okay), Twitter (not as big as I thought), and finally Google+. That was the biggest shocker of them all. I repost my blog posts to several outlets, including Google+, but that’s about it. Yet I have had over 5 million page views! Yes, 5 million. What? Why? How? (That’s the 5 million dollar question.)

On Pinterest, I’ll repin something I love and get no response, while several of my pins have more than 3000 repins. Go figure. It’s the same with this blog—not a peep for weeks and then I’ll get lots of comments. Or I’ll get emails instead of comments. And it’s usually never on the posts that I really took extra care with. 

What I’ve concluded is that the numbers really don’t add up. So if you’re worried about followers, likes, comments, and the rest. Don’t be. My stats tell me my blog is doing well, regardless if people comment or not. Who has time to comment these days? I certainly don’t. So why should I expect anyone else to. I know I’m reaching my readers because they email me, contact me on social media, and some have even called me! So take heart. Your hard work is paying off more than you think it is. 

The Pinterest pins above are from these posts (or pins) and range anywhere from 80 to 3300 repins. Go figure. (Color pin, small spaces, quote, color pin)

Take A Picture

fox and camera

My phone is not very smart, and I still have to open it up like an old-fashioned, mirrored compact; it isn’t in a hurry, can take several hours to get a message, and when it finally arrives it will have been jumbled into neat little piles of 140 characters or less.

I know I am holding onto it a little too tightly; resisting change, and dreading the time when checking my email might become more important than noticing a flower, or driving my car in a straight line.

But, I can barely see the screen, it no long likes to type the letter m or b, and it doesn’t take photographs anymore. Well, it does, but they are the size of a postage stamp, and by the time I have squinted enough to see what I am doing, it has gone back to some random setting and politely asks me if I want to send a message. Some days, I am not sure who is more confused.

And, I need photographs. Whether it is stored in a cloud (don’t ask me, I don’t even know what that means either) or in a basket on my dining room table (much better) I need memories and art in my everyday life.

They are also one of my favorite things to use in decorating. It is so hard to be objective about our own space that taking a photograph will instantly help you to see what others see. Like they say, the camera doesn’t lie; it might add on ten pounds, but it’s okay if your sofa and chair are looking a little plump that week.

A photograph gives you time to sit and look at what you truly have. It’s a captured moment of your life, and even though you walk through your home a dozen times a day, it is a rare person who will actually notice what is there.

If you’re selling your home, it is also the absolute best way to see your house from a buyer’s perspective. Try to imagine that you are the Realtor, and take photographs from across the street and all throughout your home. Be honest, or show a friend, and ask yourself how it really looks. Let these photographs be a reference, and use them for making a few changes, and tidying up a little before you put your home on the market.

The same goes for decorating your home. If you feel stuck, and don’t know what it is about a room that you don’t like, or you do but don’t know how to fix it, take a photograph. You will be amazed at how different your home looks through a lens (it’s a little like buying skinny jeans with your eyes closed, then coming home and realizing that the view from behind could traumatize small children).

Ironically, to be able to take photographs is probably the only reason that would push me to get a new phone, which is kind of funny, because then I think the obvious solution would be to actually buy a camera….

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

Photograph from: http://animalsandcameras.tumblr.com/post/35827073793

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