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giraffe soapWe are a culture of excess, and while I can’t explain my obsession with vintage silverware (does anyone else sit and lovingly clean their silver on a Saturday night?) I have no hesitation throwing out that last piece of Tupperware that has no lid.

Being attached to our stuff seems to be part of our DNA, and while some pieces harmlessly serve to feed our soul, others just zap our energy by taking up unnecessary time and space.

As I push back at the influx of technology (slightly disturbed that my television is now smarter than I am) I have found that there are some things that we will always need, and some that we just have to get rid of. Here are six things that all of us should throw away right now.



That pile of old cables, routers, chargers and remotes that you are keeping just in case.  Let’s be honest, your old equipment is not coming back, and your neighbor is probably not going to be drilling a hole and snaking the coaxial cable down through a hole in your ceiling anytime soon.

Vases, dishes, pots and pans that you have never used. Will you ever turn into Martha Stewart and spend days arranging flowers and cooking beef bourguignon? If not, keep your most beloved, but donate the rest, or make food in the pots and fill the vases with flowers to give to your friends as gifts.

Reusable Shopping Bags. How many do you really need? Five at the most? True story – for some reason, a person (who I won’t name) gave someone in my family a reusable shopping bag that was covered in advertising from a funeral parlor. Some are not worth keeping, and others should never have been made in the first place.

Fancy soaps, body lotions, scrubbies and matching toiletry sets that you got as gifts or stole from a hotel over five years ago. I love this stuff, but some people don’t, and it can go off quite quickly, which is such a waste. Either pop the soaps in your undie drawer, or, if the toiletries are in nice, new condition, donate to a local organization that will appreciate them.

Chairs and sofas that are uncomfortable, or damaged. Whatever the reason, frightening guests, or making it impossible for them to stand back up after a cup of tea isn’t a good idea. Fix it, or send it to the curb.

Pens that don’t work, pencils that you will never, ever sharpen, and promotional pens, notepads and post-its from your local bank.  Why do they do this? Do they really think it makes up for the hours we waste on the phone, and the teller who was absent on the day they taught them how to smile?

I was going to mention plastic containers without their lid, but it kind of goes without saying, and, as I am never planning on getting rid of my lovely old silverware, you are more than welcome to keep your mismatched pieces of Tupperware:-)

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/
Photograph from: http://littlegreendot.com/kiddie-prize-soap/

lamp with horse
My very first design conference had me almost in tears with the amount of talent that could fill a room, but from the moment I sat down all I could think about was the light that wasn’t working above Kim’s head. The one that matched the one on the other side. The one that wasn’t working. The neglected one that sat in darkness.

For goodness sake, we were at a design conference, and a part of the room was in shade. The room felt uneven, and I found myself wondering if I could slip out and run to the nearest hardware store to fix it. I wanted to listen, but my eyes couldn’t help travelling to the sad, empty space at the left of the screen.

As she talked, I wondered if I was going insane, and I was mad at myself for feeling so persnickety over something so trivial. When she came to a close, Kim thanked everyone, gave a laugh, and asked, “Is anyone else as distracted as I am by the broken light behind me?”. Relief washed over me, as I knew I wasn’t alone in my madness. She would become one of my most endeared friends, but my first memory will always be of bonding over the broken light bulb.

When I was little, I thought we all saw the world the same way, but we don’t, and designer’s are no exception. There are some that must have everything match; the blue in the drapes must match the color on the wall, and the accent in the vase, and then there are others who go by the color wheel, always wanting everything to be the opposite, and insisting that orange does go with blue whether you like it or not. Some just want to make a bold impression, and others daydream of nothing but soft, baby neutrals.

A designer friend might casually make over your bookshelf in the middle of a conversation, and another will quickly turn your toilet paper the other way around when you can’t see them (didn’t you know that it should come from the top, not the bottom?). We are weird, and our minds work in strange ways.
There are designer’s who won’t go near a flea market, and will bring white gloves to every appointment (just in case) and others who lives for the excitement of a weekend, with a pocket full of crumpled cash and a rolling, rickety shopping cart.

To match, or not to match, brings out strong opinions, yet for someone who frets endlessly about a broken light bulb, I almost break out in hives if I am presented with a living room full of identical table lamps. I agree that it makes no sense, and I need, love and adore symmetry, but exact, repetitious matching kind of disturbs me in a way that I can’t explain. That being said, I do honestly appreciate a beautiful room, and I know that an extravagant balance of coordination is a skill assigned to the talented few.

You see, the thing is, whether we live for serene white walls and minimal looks, or jump with joy at the mere mention of adding even more layers to a crowded room, we are all so different ……… just wanting the same thing.

Wendy E. Wrzos  http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/
Photograph from: Design Milk and Emily Henderson

shoes in fridge

Even though it is cold and rainy outside, I am optimistically determined to get my clothes ready for Spring.
With a closet that is smaller than most American refrigerator’s, I have to be organized; my mom will tell you that it is the excessive amount of clothes that just makes my closet appear to be smaller than it is, but I am sure she is wrong, and have convinced myself that if it looks neat then I obviously don’t have a problem.
Anyway, with Spring here, I wanted to share some easy ways to get you and your small closet ready for any new season.

  • It seems obvious, but take out everything that you probably won’t be wearing for the next three months (eg. heavy sweaters in the Summer and string bikinis in the Winter).  Store these in airtight boxes, another room in your home, under the bed, or in the least accessible part of your closet (if you need them, you will know where they are, but they won’t be taking up important real estate).
  • Do the same thing with your dresser drawers, coat closet and shoes, making sure to clean and repair shoes, coats and string bikinis before you store them away. (By the way, I still haven’t got my favorite pair of boots repaired, so I spent all Winter trying to avoid puddles and changing out of wet socks).
  • While you’re at it, check for items that are worn, don’t fit, or you just don’t like any more; throw out anything that is damaged beyond repair, and donate the rest.
  • Place the clothes you love and plan to wear the most, in the most convenient spot of your closet (usually right in front of you, at eye level). The fancy and rarely worn items should fan out to the left and right, according to how often you reach for them (it is silly to be pushing aside your ball gown every week to reach for your denim jacket)
  • Swap around your coats and shoes too; if it is Spring, make sure your light jackets and sandals are front and center, easy to get to, then plan out the rest according to when you think you might need them. (If your boots will be retired until Winter, then tuck them away in a corner underneath your wool coat).
  • If you want to really go the extra, buy huggable hangers – these will double your small space, and the consistent color and style will make everything look a hundred times more neat.
  • A hook or two, on the inside of your door, is handy for storing belts, scarves, necklaces, tomorrow’s outfit etc.
  • It seems a bit contrary, but if you can, try to leave the floor or shelf of your closet empty – some empty space creates the illusion of calm (and makes you feel impeccable organized …. even if you’re not)

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

Photograph from: Pinterest

And we have lots to share with you! We have an information-filled May webinar on using Houzz Pro to grow your business. The Decorating and Staging Academy is holding their Deco-Zone conference at Atlanta’s Mart in July. And the ADE conference is coming in September – with a wonderful addition. So we really are Springing Forward – and we want you and your business to do the same! Check out all of our May news!

Curate not Decorate

living room - loft

I can’t take credit for the title of this blog; I read it somewhere recently, and I think my heart actually skipped a beat because I knew exactly what he meant. I know it was a designer who said it, and I think it was a gentleman, but it could have been in any one of the dozen magazines sitting in my china cabinet. Does anyone else store magazines in their china cabinet?

Any decorator will tell you that a home needs accessories, but I find that the word kind of reminds me of when my daughter was first told to study at school. Barely able to read, she said okay, went home and read her books; but she didn’t know what studying was, or why it needed to be done. We just assumed that if they were in school then they must have known how to learn. Fortunately, her teacher’s were wonderful, and it was a fleeting moment in time, but I sometimes think that accessories fall into that same category.

Waving our arms around, we say that you must accessorize, and while it all looks lovely and decorated when we are done, there is sometimes very little explanation about the magic behind the pretty room. In our haste, we forget to tell you the most important part.
Because accessories take time. They are the warmth in a home; the layers of comfort that draw us in, cozy us up, and tell us stories about the person who lives there. It’s about a journey, and they should feel collected (not as if you got trapped in a home goods store, and when they found you they said you could keep as much as you could carry).

Accessories are the bits and pieces that say who we are; they bring us happiness by being so cherished, and they allow others to really get to know us. They don’t need to be loud or provocative, they just need to be genuine; a carefully placed pile of books, no matter how beautiful, will always feel hollow if you bought them for looks instead of what was inside.
We want to know why you were compelled to buy that painting, or what made you love that rock so much that you didn’t mind paying the extra fee to bring it home in your suitcase. If it’s in your home it should matter to you.

If your need for accessories and doodads are few, then make them count; buy only for love, not just because it is on sale and someone said you needed to fill a space. Be open to looking in different shops, searching attics, and wandering through garage sales to discover what you are drawn to. Ask friends about their home, what they like, and why. If you still don’t know, go old school and tear out favorite magazine pages, or create an idea board on Pinterest.

There are no rules about what you should (and shouldn’t) like, but from a collected jar of pencils to the most exquisite piece of art, your accessories should make you smile, and they should be able to speak for you.

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

Photograph is from www.mydomaine.com

We are thrilled to be offering – for the first time ever – two post-conference educational workshops! Join Diane Agricola, ADE-approved Trainer and Master Trainer with the Decorating and Staging Academy as she teaches Opening and Operating a Retail Establishment and Closing the Sale and Pricing Strategies. Join Diane for one or both of her workshops the afternoon of Friday, September 23rd!

With her years of experience as both a business owner and trainer, Diane is the perfect person to teach you to manage your current business – or to expand into a whole new area! Interested? Then register now! And we’ll see you in September!Diane teaching

And there’s still time to sign up! If you’re interested in starting a new career, opening a new design-related business, expanding your current business, there’s a lot of choices available to you! Check out our May schedule throughout the country!IMG_0384

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