Posts Tagged ‘decorating’


With Fall sprinkling the first yellow leaves onto my garden, I suddenly see a million things that need to be done. Some days, my attention bounces from one thing to another, imagining what I should be doing, while also getting lost in the moment (like being distracted by a small, red salamander, or wondering why I have a leak in my ceiling when the sun is shining down so brightly).

Today is one of those days; I walked the dog, dug up some weeds, threw down some flower seeds (then realized I should have waited until Spring), cleaned the garage, dragged some branches as far as I could, moved an outdoor table until the leg fell off, watched the red salamander, painted the back door, cleaned the grill, then came inside to work. All before noon.

Wait a moment, before you stop reading, don’t be too impressed; none of them were done well, and most weren’t completed, but my jumbled approach satisfied that urgent need to feel the cool change in the weather, get my hands dirty, and move a few things around.

It is so easy to get lost in what we think we should do. We decide we must have the perfect tool for the task, the right type of gardening clothes, and simply can’t do anything until we have the exact amount of hours left in a day. But that is just silly; life never goes as planned, we get distracted or tired, and we catch ourselves endlessly waiting to do the simplest of things.

Settling sounds so awful, but in the land of home improvements (and decorating) striving for perfection is even worse; it’s the ugly sister of settling. A word that is almost like a stop sign on the road to getting things done. I hear someone imply it, and I catch my breath, knowing that it is going to be a long time before something happens (if ever). Of course, there are things that can’t be skimped on, and should be done perfectly – your walls should be fairly straight, and the leaky faucet can’t be fixed with a dollop of chewing gum and hope, but there are many things that fall quite happily into the good-enough category.

I tend to start with a list of my ideas, then when I get stuck I whittle it down to random intentions. Random intentions seem a little kinder, and definitely more forgiving. They give me a moment to focus on what is really important (and what can I do myself – today) rather than procrastinating about a fantasy list of distant “What if’s”.
Definitely a bit of a Dr. Seuss mentality, but next time you find yourself wondering what to do, or where to begin with your DIY project, why not take perfection out of the equation, and figure out the quickest and easiest way to get (almost) there …

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/
Photograph from: Australian Pinterest

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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)

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fairy light collage2Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a slight crush on Nigella Lawson; her cooking style is really similar to mine, and while I will never be as talented as she, I do tend to waltz around the kitchen at all hours, want everything to be delicious, and just know that daydreaming is an under-appreciated art.

One day, I was watching her cook, and I noticed that she had fairy lights around her kitchen window; assuming it must have been filmed during Christmastime, I thought they looked pretty, but didn’t think too much about it. The next time I watched, they were there again, and I realized that they weren’t just there for special occasions, she had them up year round. It was the first time, apart from being styled in magazines, that I had seen anyone use fairy lights in their everyday life.

It seemed so indulgent and fancy, that it just gave me another reason to like her even more. While I had often thought about buying my own fairy lights, I was never sure where I would put them, and I suspected that they might look a tad silly in my own corner of suburbia; after all, my home isn’t featured on television, and I can only ever pretend to be Nigella.

So, I added them to my wish list, and went about my daily life, until a few months ago when a friend and I visited our favorite home and garden shop. When we walked through the door, the sky high room was literally dripping in branches that were covered in teeny, tiny fairy lights. Excruciatingly beautiful copper wires had been delicately wound throughout the shop for miles; we couldn’t even see where each one began, all I know is that we couldn’t stop smiling. and we decided that we must curl up in a corner and spend the night there.
We never did, but our reluctance to leave was a small price to pay for a few, giddy hours of happiness.

When December came, I had my Christmas tree lights on all day, and I started to wonder how it would be when they were gone. I would miss having the small sparkles appear at the press of a button, but I petulantly told myself that they were only for special occasions, and they would be plugged back in again next year. Besides, who buys fairy lights when there are so many other important (grown-up) things to worry about?

A few days after the tree had been taken down, my friend and I exchanged presents. Inside mine were glorious strings of copper, fairy lights, and the happy, grateful madness began. My inner child took over, preconceived ideas were abandoned, and I immediately put them on the small tree in my living room. Now, whenever I want to, I just press the button, and the room (and my life) feels just a bit more special ….

Thank you, Stephanie!

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

Photographs: Top left: Pinterest Top middle: One Kind Design Top right: We Hang Christmas Lights Middle: Tesco Bottom right: Babble Bottom middle: Pinterest Bottom left: Home My Design



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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

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Styling shelves can be a little overwhelming. Although you want each shelf to look good, you also have to look at the collection of shelves as a whole. First things first, begin placing the items you have the most of. In this case it’s books, but it might be a collection of pottery or plates. Now start placing these items in some kind of pattern formation. You can start on the top left, work down to the right, and back over again. You may choose to leave some shelves blank while filling the others entirely. Stand back and look at what you’ve created a few times before moving forward. In fact, take photos as you go so you can reference past designs that you preferred. Now go ahead and add in a sprinkling of color, pattern, and texture with a variety of accessories.


  • Use bottom shelves for storage. They’re perfect for boxes or baskets and to store mass market paperbacks, magazines or newspapers without adding visual clutter.
  • Never place family photos on any shelves below eye level or on the very top.
  • Never accessorize the top of shelves unless you’re finished with the shelves first. (And you don’t have to touch the top if you don’t want to.)
  • Bring books forward so you can see them and have better access. (Bonus: you now have extra storage behind books and accessories.)
  • Hanging pictures or mirrors can be attractive, but think how functional this technique actually is. If it gets in the way of reaching for the things you need, don’t do it.
  • Alternate both horizontal and vertical placement of books. Horizontally placed books make great pedestals for accessories!
  • Don’t cram too much in. Even with a packed case, you still need to leave a little negative space. Notice the gaps between shelves walls and books and accessories.

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decorating style
Sometimes, we don’t know what we like until we like it, but, if we don’t know what we like, then how do we know what we like?

We are all indecisive (and decisive) in different areas of our life. It’s a strength that I have with decorating, but am woefully lacking in almost every other department. Ask me what I want to eat at a diner, and I will always choose one of three things; the choice is overwhelming, and asking me to decide from more than two hundred items on a menu will have me quickly ordering the grilled cheese before you have even turned the page.

Finding our decorating style is a bit like reading the diner menu; we can’t decide, then, when we finally do, we wish we had what the other person was having. But, if we had just ordered what we wanted instinctively, without too much thought, we might really like our choice, and we probably wouldn’t be drooling over the other person’s spanakopita (well, we might, but I am sure if we asked nicely they would share a piece with us).

So, if you’re not sure what your decorating style is (and, like me, diner menu’s make you close your eyes and order the grilled cheese) here is a great little quiz from Houzz that might just help. Unfortunately, you do have to make a few decisions here as well, but I promise you, it isn’t hard at all, and no-one is holding a pen and a notepad over your head waiting for you to finish.

Honestly, I was going to make up my own quiz, but I found this, and it seemed pretty fun and accurate when I took it (it labeled my style as Eclectic), so I thought you might enjoy taking it too.

Just click on the picture at the top, and it will take you right there.

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

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Fall Nesting

As I was unpacking my fall decorations, it struck me just how many times I’ll take the same items and reinvent them again and again. Books are a decorators best friend, so there’s always a pile of those lying around. I have several baskets of every shape and size, dishes, vases, and vessels of every kind to hold just about anything. To add a bit of fall to your home décor, simply gather a variety of organic materials—both faux and real—and have fun playing.

I stacked a few books, topped them with a square dish and then added a couple of faux over-sized acorns. My copper-handled tureen holds everything from flowers to Christmas ornaments. This year I decided to line it with faux laurel leaves and then fill it with real hazelnuts. You could use Spanish moss, dried maple leaves…just about anything. And a bag full of hazelnuts is just a grocery store run away.

I hang this 3′ long basket on an interior door, but I brought it outside because it photographed better. This basket is filled with tulips in the spring, pine boughs in the winter. For fall, I’ve collected a good amount of berry branches, twigs, and grasses to mix together. The key is to pay attention to color, texture, depth, and height. The majority of materials should be gathered at the mouth of the basket. Mix the colors and textures to balance the arrangement. Anything free-flowing, like branches, should reach for the sky. Tuck and twist until you get the look you want.

You may also like…
Fall Mood Board
Fall Home
DIY Fall (Door) Decoration
Black and Brown

Kim Merritt: http://beautifullivingstyle.blogspot.com/

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We’ve just had our third frost of the year. The leaves are scattered on the lawn and there is a definite nip in the air. Soon the house will be un-haunted and my harvest decorations will make an appearance. I was inspired by some of the photos I posted to my Pinterest board and I wanted to share some thoughts and ideas on how you too can cozy up your home for fall.

We are fortunate to have an abundance of birch trees here in New Hampshire. I like to use the fallen trees on my property as props. I have a large branch that I use on my porch which I sometimes cover in white lights. I also cut up a tree or two and use the logs as hearth decorations in the warmer months when the fireplaces are no longer in use. But I think my favorite way to use these trees is to cut small logs and then hollow them out to use as containers just like you see in the top left photo above. Simply cut a hole into the center as wide as you’d like and then insert a waterproof container inside. (You can use them as a vases or candleholders.)

Also I’m not a huge wreath fan, but I do like to use them in creative ways. I’m drawn to this berry wreath because of the addition of the letter (cut from sturdy cardstock or thin plywood depending on how protected the door is and then painted), and simple decoration. You could even choose red berries instead and hang it on your door straight through Christmas.

My sister-in-law brought me some Ponderosa pine cones from her tip out west years ago. My collection sits in a half-round basket that hangs on my kitchen wall and I use the rest for decoration. I sit one on top of a candlestick, I use them to hide the Christmas tree base, and I tuck them into my living room bookcase. They are works of art all own their own.

I really want to mix up my Thanksgiving table this year and the photo on the bottom right above is my inspiration. I already have the rattan chargers, the garden statuary, and my Spode turkey plates, now I just have to pull together some other key elements that will combine red, orange, and gold together. These vintage leaf plates from Etsy will do the trick. (Take a look at a few other Thanksgiving table decorations here.)

Nature will always inspire my decorating regardless of the season. I like lots of texture so anytime I can bring something outdoors in, I do. When creating any type of table setting, it’s best to layer a variety of different materials (shapes, sizes, colors) together. If you don’t have rattan chargers, why not use some grapevine to wrap around your dishes. You could even use a grapevine wreath if you find the right size and if it doesn’t happen to be growing wild in your backyard. Dried leaves, branches, berries, pumpkins, gourds…these are just a few of the things that you can use to add style to your fall home and for very little money. And I’m wild about hazelnuts. I use them as filler in decorative dishes, and in glass hurricanes surrounding a candle or two.

Kimberly Merritt – http://beautifullivingstyle.blogspot.com/

images via stylemepretty.com, etsy.com, frenchcountrycottage.blogspot.com, homeiswheretheboatis.wordpress.com, stonegable.blogspot.com, pin4fun8634.blogspot.com, ruthdent.blogspot.com, thefullerview.tumblr.com

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Have you seen the recent decorating shows that try to define a homeowner’s style? Apparently, we crave a label, and it is their job to come up with fancy names that tell us who we are, and how we should decorate. I was watching one the other day; after several minutes of very intense questions, the designer declared loudly (with a triumphant flourish) that the style was “Bohemian Classic Traditional with a hint of Asia”. Really? What they ended up with was a lovely room, but I am not quite sure if it will ever live up to its rather grand and obscure title.

Maybe we think that it makes decorating easier, and giving it a name helps us know where to begin when we are feeling a little lost. Whatever the reason, I think that style is a very elusive entity, something that can take a lifetime to grow. But, for those days when we just can’t wait, there are a few easy ways to figure it all out.

One of the simplest, is to take a look at your favorite clothes and accessories. Write down some words that  truly describe your personal style, and use the exact same words to find items for your home. eg. classic, eclectic, polished, comfortable, modern, simple, bright/shiny, fitted, vintage etc.

Another idea is to look around your home at what you already have; what do you enjoy, and what do you wish you didn’t have? Do you prefer easy-to-clean surfaces, copious collections, a large or small television, squishy or straight-backed sofa’s, familiar or original art, rustic or modern, carpets, tile, linoleum or hardwood, chandeliers, lamps or recessed lights. Be honest with yourself, keep what you love, and don’t worry about what other people may think.

If you’re still not sure, take a few moments to think about your ideal home, and how you would want it to feel. This isn’t a pipe-dream, and it may not be your current reality, but it will help you to create your own design inspiration.

Of course, how could I write about this without mentioning some of the fun on-line quizzes that will tell you your design style. Here are just a few for you to try…

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

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There is something very iconic about the Union Jack. Of course, all countries have flags, and many use them as promotional souvenirs and symbols of patriotism, but I think that the Union Jack may be the most decoratively used flag.

While reading an article about a popular British model, I was struck by a beautiful vintage flag that she had in her New York apartment (a Union Jack, loosely pinned up on the wall, implying that it wanted to be a headboard).  My mind fell in love, and I had to see what other Interior Designs I could find that were inspired by this graphic favorite.

I suspect the bold graphic has a lot to do with its visual appeal, but I also like to think that it (subliminally) fills our minds with thoughts of royalty, tradition and a murky reminder to move forward, hold our heads up high and carry on.

In this children’s room, it is nestled between the two beds; echoing the preciseness of the design, but (thankfully) adding a bit of personality, saving it from being just a little too sweet.

Perfect for almost any room, it evokes a certain nostalgic, pop-art vibe that is the muse for many designers. English designers in particular, are well known for incorporating the flag into their fashion, and some have even stepped into the Interior Design market, creating exclusive pieces for an elite list of clients.


This rug, by Vivienne Westwood, is fabulous in this home. The casualness of the setting totally belies the expense; it manages to feel a little undone, but enormously grand at the same time.

This rug is definitely another item for my designer bucket list!





Wendy E. Wrzos  www.thebluegiraffe.com

Thanks to Vivienne Westwood and The Rug Company for the inspiration!

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