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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

lingerie 1

When we reach a certain age, our lingerie drawer suddenly becomes an unrecognizable mess of fun and function; we lift, we tuck, we squeeze, and we spend a ridiculous amount of time rearranging ourselves into all sorts of things to make us feel pretty, and, dare I say it, youthful.
It’s just not as easy as it used to be, and whereas some days make us imagine we could be Dita Von Teese (or is that just me?) others find us reaching for the vast sea of elastic beige that Bridget Jones regretted wearing on her first date with Daniel.

With these dilemma’s comes a new sort of organization; one that says we are grown-ups, and that maybe it is time to go through our drawers before we sort through our closet. What we wear underneath is just as important, so let’s get rid of what doesn’t fit, what is hanging by a frayed thread, and throw away the sad, dull colors from years ago. Having everything that fits, and does what it is supposed to do, saves us a ton of time, and makes us feel better knowing that our underneaths are just as lovely as our outside.

One of my favorite things to do is to ditch the traditional tiny drawer at the top of your dresser; the one that is supposed to be for your underwear. I use that for my earrings and tights instead, which leaves the larger one below for lots of underwear, and plenty of space to stack my bras upright. Stacking bras vertically makes it easy to see what I actually have, and everything seems to keep their shape.

If you like to match all of your colors and styles, there are wonderful, inexpensive drawer dividers that slot right into place; they help us to keep everything separated and organized with barely no fuss at all. Many of the generic organizers used to be a bit small for the curvy figure, but fortunately manufacturers are becoming more aware of different sizes, so there are far more options than there used to be; these foldable drawers (above right) are one of my favorites.

Lingerie chests originated in the 1700’s, and will take your organizing to an entirely different level (actually seven levels, one for each day of the week) and they can still be found, old and new, very inexpensively.

If you are lucky enough to have oodles of space, then hanging your bras in the closet is even better, and will keep them from getting smooshed and damaged.
Use a
 men’s tie rack, or find coat hangers that have little clips on either side. I even found this sock dryer that I think would easily hold bras if you had the extra space to hang it; kind of like a bra chandelier.

For special occasion pieces, I would store them in a separate place, just to keep the specialness of them. Some can hang on lingerie clips, or, for mere mortals like me who have limited space, a beautiful fabric bag is just enough. If you love vintage, then an old hat box or vintage train case could be perfect, or, if you prefer something new, check out the selection of decorative containers at your nearest home or craft store.

With those other necessities that are more functional than fun, I would treat them just as well as the pretty things, but hide them in the back somewhere; no-one wants to stare at their Spanx every time they get dressed, reminding us that perhaps if we didn’t love ice cream so much we wouldn’t feel compelled to buy them in the first place. So, fold them up sweetly, and put them in a small box in the back of your closet for the next time you need a little extra bit of emotional reinforcement.

Organizing our underthings doesn’t seem like a big deal, but once we do it we are left with a lot more time (and space) for fun, function
and frippery ….

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/
Photographs from Bloglovin (lingerie and slippers) Lovetheedit (drawer organizers) Horchow (lingerie chest) and Pinterest  (train case) and Aliexpress (sock dryer)

A Spider at Home

trio lights1
When I walked into the bathroom there was a small spider hanging from the chandelier. I gently blew at him, and he scampered straight back up to the top. Within seconds, he dropped down again and started to hover in front of me.

I looked at him for a few moments, then blew the tiniest piece of air at him again; like something out of a storybook, he swung back and forth a couple of times then quickly spun a line of silk and dropped to the black tile below.

As I watched him land on the floor and run under the cabinet, all I could think was that this spider (who had never read “The Power of Now”, organized his closet, or contemplated the meaning of life) was probably so much happier than most of us would ever be. He lived in my chandelier (old and rarely dusted), jumped when he needed too, and created the most temporary form of beauty every single day.

I want to believe that he was looking at me, but I don’t even know where his eyes were, all I know is that it felt like a magical experience, and I was grateful to see such a small creature do something so amazing.

Much of what we do is magical, yet rarely do we see it. When I visit people’s homes, I am always astounded at how often they apologize for what they have, when all I see is a lovely room; it may not be exactly how they would like it to be, but there is so much more to like than they realize.
We are all guilty of doing it; our thinking often gets in the way of what we see, and we get so caught up in what we want, that it is easy to forget what we actually have.
Now and again, it is good to make a list of what we truly enjoy about our home, and why (kind of the opposite of a “Honey Do” list). We should remember what it was like when we first moved in, and how excited we were to do something, anything, just because it was completely ours.

We should revisit the memories, sit on our favorite piece of furniture, and take inventory of how far we have come. And we should take a lesson from the spider; love where we live, move forward as needed, create something beautiful (no matter how temporary)
… and stop thinking.

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/
Original Photograph from Anthropologie (spider added by author)

It’s funny, home offices are becoming more popular, but so are portable devices; people want a separate office space, but then they sit on the sofa to check their email and pay bills. Which to me, is a little like wanting a Kindle, then buying a cover on it that looks like a book. See, I’ve managed to confuse both of us in a single paragraph.

We want things to make our life easier (and less cluttered) but our mind and body still craves tasks that require some form of effort, and make us feel connected. It’s a weird dilemma; like the difference between peeling an orange, and grabbing a glass of juice – peeling and eating an orange boosts our cognitive processes a hundred times more than if we just open the carton and pour out the juice, so we have to decide whether we want to peel the orange, take off the pith and divide up the segments, or should we just open the fridge and grab a glass? They can’t compare really, and I forget why this reminded me of home offices, but I would always rather peel an orange than drink one.

Anyway, like many things, a home office needs to move forward in life, and the need for huge, sagging shelves and walls of metal filing cabinets has become unnecessary for most of us. Paper is used less, and while our workload hasn’t been reduced, we use our spaces differently, and we want everything to work harder and more efficiently for us. And, we want it to look good.

This home office is all sorts of dreamy, and it still has everything you need to get some work done. The glass sawhorse table doesn’t spoil the view, and it blends perfectly with the over-sized baskets and the modern lines of the simple, white chair.

If you need a bit more storage, you still don’t have to scrimp on style; this inexpensive bookcase holds far more than you would imagine (and keeps you organized) while the comfy chair reminds you that you’re not sitting in a cubicle.


This is perfect for someone who has to squeeze an office space into their main living area. Find a classic desk, a simple chair, and decorate it to your heart’s content. Drawers hide all of your bits and pieces, and the shelves keep your books and files where you need them. A few minutes clean up at the end of the day, and it looks just like a picture.

This is a serious work space, but it has so much fun built into it. Spray painting the file cabinets costs next to nothing (which reminds me, I need to do my own. Note to self: It would have been much easier to paint them before I had filled them all up with papers) the notice boards give the homeowner endless room for notes, and the Mason jars keep small clutter under control.

I just had to include this one, because it made me smile, and one of the luxuries of working from home is that it is yours, and you are free to add as much (or as little) of your personality as time and space will allow …..

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/
(p.s. click on the photographs for original sources).

We have more details about our time at the Lillian August Flagship store in Norwalk on Friday, September 23rd – and boy, are they taking good care of us!

 

Six of their experts will be sharing information with us in breakout groups. And they are covering everything! Here’s what you can expect:
  •  Lillian August Licensed Furniture collections: Where do those beautiful designs and ideas come from? (And can we see some of them please?)
  • Business Development: How you can make money working with the Lillian August designer program (and you don’t have to be local).
  • Visual merchandising: Learn some creative  new ideas for pulling together vignettes and accessories.
  • Window Treatments: What you need to know about custom window treatments, working with a workroom, and making money doing it.
  • Design Trends: What’s the latest and most exciting trends in color, fabrics, styles, and more!
  • Rugs: Learn a brief history of rugs and the story behind the tradition of rug-making, then experience the myriad of styles and custom options available.

Now that’s what we call a fun – and educational – morning!

 

So now are you ready to register? Then just do it! But you better hurry – there’s just over two weeks left to save $70!

We do! And when we read this blog post from Sandra Long of Post Road Consulting we knew we had made the right choice in having Sandra as one of our featured speakers for our September 22-23 conference.

Just to give you a little taste of a few of her favorites, ” Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.” and” You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!” and even ” You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
And she has more! Just read this post from March (in celebration of his birthday). What’s not to love – and learn from?  We can’t wait until September!

This week we’re sharing some excellent advice from Patsy Overton of Patsy Overton Interiors .

“When choosing paint, paint the samples on several pieces of white cardboard or paper (at least 8 x 11) instead of swiping on walls. Pin them at all different spots around your room, and live with the color changes for several days before deciding.”

Like this? Patsy has lots more to share so be sure to check out her work!

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