Hazardous Decorating

marble coffee table1

The other day I went to visit someone, and I knocked the end cap off their gate. Because I didn’t know them very well, and it was in the dark, I hastily grabbed it and stuck it back on; mortified beyond belief, but also wondering why it had popped off in my hand so easily. Surely I was not the first one to do it?

When I watched a television show last night, a couple were “oohing and aahing” over a polished-like-glass marble floor. It actually made my heart beat faster (in a bad way) because as much as I dream of having marble counter tops in my kitchen, to look at it on the floor brought to mind images of me skidding on my backside and being carted off, in a very undignified fashion, in an ambulance. I could never wear high heels, children and dogs couldn’t tear around in crazy confusion, I could never leave the shower to grab the phone, and I would have to come in from the rain in a very sedate way, placing my drippy umbrella in a stand, and removing my coat and shoes before I even decided to venture onto the beautiful, marble floor.

Decorating can be hazardous, and I wonder sometimes if the wonder of it all gets ahead of the quality and the practicality? Like most people, I want it to look good, but if something doesn’t work for me, then the novelty wears off pretty darn quickly.

Along with my marble counter’s, I would love to have a gorgeous, new front door, with no screen door in front of it. I even know the exact one which I would get, and the color I would choose. But I like my windows and doors open, and I use the screen every single day; if I got rid of it, I would have a beautiful front door, but it would either be closed, or a welcome invitation to all sorts of unexpected critters coming in and out of my house.

When I get an idea, I do always try to anticipate the pitfalls, but one that I never gave much thought to was ripping up all the carpet in my house. It started off as a small spot by the front door, then slowly spread to every room. Apart from the extreme amount of time that it took, I found myself in the middle of a renovation with my toddler daughter; I knew she was there when I began, but for some reason I never thought about how it would affect her. I guess my post-baby brain assumed that she would just sit and wait, while I spent weeks ripping up carpet and placing thousands of rusty tacks into little porcelain bowls. She was never hurt, but there were more than a few close calls.

What I also didn’t think about was that my home would be twice as cold in the Winter time, that when the dog ran down the stairs it would sound like someone was throwing a barrel full of marbles, and that the floor would be so poorly built that when we laid on our tummies we could actually see through to the cellar below. Useful if we need to yell, or pass a note to someone, but not much good for our heating and cooling bill.

When Winter settles in, I wonder what on earth I was thinking and I crave being able to walk barefoot around the house on the squishy, soft carpet. But then Spring arrives; I forget my mistakes, and all I want to do is lie on my tummy, feel the sunshine warmth of the old, wooden floors, and watch the light peeking down through the cracks …

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

Photograph from Brabbu

The Association of Design Education approved Trainers have a terrific class schedule for April all over the country! Is there one near you? Here’s the schedule!


It’s almost tag sale season! You know, yard sales, garage sales, flea markets… gently worn, already loved bits and pieces with a dash of a history. I’m already gearing up and I have my list of wants and wishes ready to go. Soon, it’ll be time to clean out the car, grab some cash, and hit the road. And don’t underestimate curb appeal. Lots of people are just dropping things off at the curb—for free! My heart still aches the time I had to drive by two beautiful velvet chairs. Don’t let this happen to you.

So what should you be looking for? If you’re a beginner, start with the small stuff. Take stock of what you need and buy with your heart. It’s okay to offer a different price other than the one marked, but be fair. And if you’re trying to embellish existing furnishings and designs, be smart and take along photos of what you already have. Here’s my secret: Bring photos of your roomthis includes close-ups (for pattern reference and overall style), paint chips of any colors you’re trying to coordinate (hold those chips right up to each piece of fabric, rugs, and walls), and a measuring tape. If you’d like to stretch into the big leagues, then it’s best to brush up on antiques. You can find a multitude of books at your local library as well as lots of resources online.

This garage sale meets designer look really works. Notice all of the different patterns, colors, and materials. You might recognize this photo from the Hallmark show, Garage Sale Mystery where the proprietor is always finding treasure. Here are some tips to help you along. When you buy upholstered seats, there are two things to keep in mindcomfort and smell. Once it passes the smell test (yes, you have to get up close and personal), you have to make sure it’s comfortable to sit on. Take your time and be sure. When you’re buying seats for tables, or tables for seats, this is where your trusty tape measure comes in. Make sure the height of the table and the height of the arm (the chairs or yours) is within 2″ of each other to be a good match.

Scratches, worn paint, a few dentsthey’re all part of the charm. How do you like the miss-matched drapes? It works because the colors work well with everything in the room and they’re all the same color family. Don’t be afraid to put something old next to something new in a room. The juxtaposition between the two materials gives a room depth and interest.

What types of things should you look for?

  • Dishes, glassware, silverware – To be used as is or as vases, vessels, etc.
  • Distressed signs – To use in place of art. These really make a statement in a room.
  • Baskets and boxes – Use as is or as end tables, on walls as shelves or shadow boxes.
  • Old game sets – As accessories or hung as art.
  • Pottery and vases
  • Paintings and photographs
  • Light fixtures – Make sure you know how to make them work as you won’t know if they actually do.
  • Die cast metal vehicles and gadgets – Conversation starters for sure.
  • Clothing and accessories – Inspect carefully.
  • Metal or wood cabinets – A horizontal metal office cabinet can be used as a sofa table as pictured above.
  • Fabrics – Sometimes you’ll find fabrics by the yard and sometimes you’ll want to purchase clothing or bedding for the fabric alone.
  • and of course, furniture

Scour the newspaper, map your route, and have fun!

Photos: HallmarkChannel.com, Karlis Dambrans

Kim – http://www.BeautifulLivingBlog.com

The Exit Strategy

box people

They estimate that 1 in 10 Americans own a storage locker, and that at least 2 out of every 10 lockers will become abandoned and unclaimed. Apparently, we spend a tremendous amount of time and money storing things, and the older I get the less I understand why; it is frightful to me how much I have stored in my own basement, and on more than one occasion I have gone to look for something, only to find that it has been nibbled on by mice or become more than a little damp and damaged.

Some things, I honestly don’t know why I even have them, but I am sure they made perfect sense at the time. I’m not so silly as to store rubbish down there, but after last Winter I was so afraid of losing electricity again that I began stockpiling cardboard to use in the wood-burning stove; fortunately, this year has been very mild, but now all I see is an endless, messy mountain of boxes when I walk down the stairs, and the thought of breaking them down makes me want to cry and lose the will to live. It made sense in a random doomsday prep kind of way, but now it is just something that feels overwhelming because of the sheer volume of it all.

There are a few things that I thought I would sell (which considering I have never sold anything before was maybe a tad ambitious) and an old cast iron sewing machine that I love, and is useful for putting things on, but far too heavy to make its journey back up the stairs.

So, while I understand the occasional need to store things, it is often my least favorite idea when it comes to organizing a home. I prefer to think of it as a temporary solution; one that should probably be stopped before it becomes a reluctant place to visit, a small habit, quietly fed with irrational doses of fear, cardboard and avoidance.

When the weather warms up, I will empty my basement as much as I can, and delight the recycling man with my impressive pile of cardboard, but in the meantime I must decide what to do with the rest. Don’t ask me for my life plan, or even a 5 year plan, but ask me to organize something and I will be right there. It makes me so happy, and, I am sure that if my cellar was heated (and not jumping with cave crickets) I would be cleaning it out today.

I donate most things to Big Brothers Big Sisters or the Market Street Mission in Morristown. I like that they are local, they are friendly to deal with, and I know that everything is appreciated and used (or at least sold for their cause). I have found that it is so important to donate to something that you truly believe in, as that will make the process far more motivating and enjoyable (palatable?).

If you want to make money off what you have, there are places for that, but otherwise it is best to give freely, without regrets or conditions; not everything may go to the exact place that you imagine, but someone somewhere will always get the trickle down benefit from your donation, which, as Martha would say, is always a good thing.

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

Photograph of the box people from: Pinterest

If you currently purchase items at “wholesale” for  your clients – or would like to learn how to do so – join us for our March webinar!
Navigating the wholesale shopping world to purchase furnishings and accessories can be very difficult. Many vendors offer discount pricing for designers, but only after minimum purchase amounts have been met. But is that really wholesale? And what is the retail price you need to set for your clients so that they are paying a fair price, but you are also still making money? Are you leaving money on the table because you don’t know how to charge?
If navigating the wholesale pricing world seems too confusing and time-consuming, join Sharon MacDonald of Model 55 and Design Loft’s Designer Services for the March 9th* Association of Design Education’s monthly webinar. During this webinar Sharon will share with us:
  • How vendors price product and what that means to you
  • The many layers to pricing that are kept secret, except to those making large-scale purchasing decisions
  • Secrets to discovering new vendors and how you can order products from them
  • How you can establish relationships with vendors who will offer you the product and pricing to make you and your clients happy
  • Ways to stay on top of the trends so your product purchases are au courant.
Sharon brings her many years of experience in the design business as a stocking dealer of furniture and product to this webinar, making it a must for those of us who want to be more successful in implementing this lucrative part of our business.
*Please note: this webinar is on Wednesday, March 9th from 7-8 pm ET.
And the best part? This is free for ADE members! And non-members only pay a nominal fee of $24.95. For more information and to sign up, go here. We look forward to “seeing” you soon!

Designing with Energy

nook - reading

Y’know when you just have a good feeling about a place?
It’s that inexplicable thing that is there, that you want, but can’t quite see.

Some people say that how a home is decorated can influence our emotional well-being far more than we realize. With the world moving faster every day, many people believe that the core of who we are has become compromised, which in turn disconnects us from our natural environment, and can make us feel out of balance with the world.

From a design perspective, this modern dilemma is one that can benefit from the ancient art of Feng Shui. Used far more often now, Feng Shui is no longer classified as a wacky trend that conjures up thoughts of burning sage and gibberish chants; it has become a respected avenue for many people who want their homes to be a nurturing part of their life.

I thought, for this week, I would share some simple ideas, based on Feng Shui, that can easily (and simply) improve the “happiness quotient” in any space.

  • Begin with the entrance to your home. Energy is attracted to curves. Use plants or garden ornaments to “soften” any angular paths that lead to your front door.
  • Encourage family and friends to stay by having intimate seating areas that are not too cluttered. Add accessories that represent life, warmth and/or movement (eg. mirrors, wind-chimes, pebbles, flowers etc).
  • Attract positive, natural energy by bringing in any of these five elements – Earth, Wood, Fire, Water and Metal. How you interpret them is up to you; no need for fancy waterfalls and sculpture’s, a plant and a metal bracelet is a good start.
  • Open windows and doors as often as possible to circulate (and remove) stale air and refresh the energy in your home.
  • Bring calm, space and abundance to your home with mirrors, positioning them in small or unexpected places.
  • Feel safe and secure by positioning your furniture (and beds) so that you can see anyone arriving or leaving.

When I first learned about Feng Shui, years ago, I was very skeptical about the whole thing, but as I went along, the premise of it started to make sense. This post is such a small interpretation of what it represents, but I hope it might be just enough to pique your interest ….

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

Photograph borrowed from: thoughtsquestionsqueries



Conference is Coming!

We are thrilled to be planning our 9th Bi-annual conference – this year in the beautiful town of Norwalk, CT! Save the date of September 22nd – 23rd for our very special event! We have lined up some great speakers, all around our theme of “Let’s Get Social”. And for our half-day focused on design, we are delighted that the Lillian August Design Center will be hosting us for a morning of design inspiration.

Check out all the details (although we will be adding more in the coming weeks) on our Conference page, then be sure and take advantage of our Early Bird Special. And don’t forget to make your reservations at the Hotel Zero Degrees as our special room rate is first come, first served.

Looking forward to seeing you in September!


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