"But they came as a set!"
What do you do if you purchased a matching set of furniture? Maybe you have the sofa AND the loveseat AND the matching chairs AND...... You get the picture. All in the same room? Yawn.
Breaking up is easy to do
If you have a suite of furniture that’s all matching, consider breaking it up. Luxury model homes like the Toll Brothers, do this all the time. You’ll see the sofa in the family room, and the matching loveseat in the master bedroom, and maybe the matching chair in yet another room. It gives your rooms visual continuity, without being so matchy-matchy in all the same room. Change things up!
Take it one step further and find new homes for some of your dining room chairs. Perhaps you need a pair of chairs for your office (pictured). Or try a chair or two in the guest room. Again, you'll have visual continuity and your home will look more "designed".
Tools of the Trade
If you’d like some tools to make this easier, I recommend the Super Slider movers, readily available at Target and online at Amazon. You slip them under the furniture legs to make moving much easier. If you have hard wood floors, they even have Super Sliders with little slip-on type socks that go over the sliders so you protect your wood floors.
If you’d like to play with various arrangements before you start moving furniture, go online and look for ICOVIA software. It’s free, and you input the room’s dimensions, and your furniture dimensions, and you can play with various arrangements on your iPad or computer first, before you start moving furniture. See? It's easy.
Oooh, your home is so beautiful
That's the secret. Break up those matching sets. Sprinkle them around your home, and viola! You have no more matchy-matchy-I-had-to-buy-the-whole-suite. Instead you have a lovely, "designed" home with visual continuity. Pat yourself on the back. See? You really can be your own designer.
Most people think they have to push the furniture up against the walls. We often talk about it on the radio show – my rule is “No Wallflowers”. Pull the furniture away from the walls, so you can have an easy conversation with others in the room. Unless you are square dancing in the middle of the room, you can explore all sorts of options.
For example, this picture demonstrates how placing your sofas (or sofa / loveseat) perpendicular to the focal point can look fabulous. (In this case the focal point is the fireplace). How easy is that! Now everyone seated can have an easy conversation with everyone else in the room.
This is a perfect arrangement for a large family, or for people who entertain.
The Toll Brothers luxury builders know this trick. Notice how the seating is all arranged to the focal point.
When staging someone’s home for sale this is the trick I use all the time. I want to call attention to the home’s feature – whether it’s the view or the fireplace, a gorgeous piece of art or whatever…. And I’ve had clients say “we didn’t know the house could look this good! maybe we don’t have to move after all”. What’s the difference? You’re using what you already own, and simply rearranging for better flow and functionality.
In my recent staging workshop, one of the students brought me a picture of her family room. She had her sofa and loveseat perpendicular to the fireplace. The arrangement was open and inviting. I was so proud of her! And it turns out her mother had taken my Be Your Own Designer workshop earlier in the year, and had shared this tip with her. A family that decorates together, stays together, I say.
And now YOU know this tip. No wallflowers. Rearrange the furniture to highlight your room's best feature.
It's a New Year, and time to refresh your home: 3 easy steps that cost you $0
Sometimes when we take down the holiday decorations, the house feels a little sad. We loved the festive decorations and there’s a little feeling of loss, when we take it all down. It’s not a letdown – but it’s a set UP for you to make some positive changes in your home. Let’s give your home some new life. You need a box, a towel, and a hammer.
Step 1: Let's go boxing
Look around your room right now. Is there anything that does not spark joy in your heart? For instance, if you’re in your home office – are there any books that really are not you anymore? If so, grab that box and gather the books you are going to donate. Move to the next room and repeat this process. Someone will appreciate these books – whether it’s the library, or the local thrift shop that benefits your favorite charity.
"HEY CLOTHES, COME OUT OF THE CLOSET". If your clothes are so jam packed into the closet that you always have wrinkled clothes, chances are you can let go of a few items of clothing. If this is you – get the grocery sack and pull out all the clothes you haven’t worn in the past 12 months. Pull out all the clothes that still have the tags on them that you never got around to wearing this past year. Eliminate all the clothes that don’t fit. Ladies, if you have a dress that’s a few sizes smaller than you are, clothes do not exist to shame you. Put all these items in the donation box. Guys, if you're in your 30's and still have high school tees, time to let them go. It’s a win win - Every time you walk in your closet, only have clothes that fit you and make you smile when you wear them, and the clothes reflect who/ what you are today. And you’ll donate to organizations that will benefit others with your old clothing. That is the first step - fill up a box (or two or three! ) and donate them.
STEP 2: Grab a towel. We're going to move some furniture.
Think about the room you had your Christmas tree, or your holiday decorations. Could that room use a bit of a refresh? You can easily do this by rearranging your furniture in a more conversational set up. If your furniture is pushed up against the walls, pull it out a little – ‘no wallflowers’. The towel under the furniture make moving furniture easy. (Or you can use Super Sliders, available at most stores. During January I'll have these on the Links page.) If you always have the recliner in that one corner, switch it up a little – and see how the room feels. If you have always had your room arranged straight on, with sofa parallel to the wall, consider changing it up by putting the sofa on an angle.
We were celebrating our anniversary at the Inn of the Anasazi in Santa Fe, and I noticed the little living area adjacent to the concierge was arranged on an angle. Something as simple as shifting the arrangement to be on an angle can dramatically change the look and feel of a room. Or if you have a kitchen table that’s square to the wall, try turning it 45 degrees. I encourage you to rethink your rooms, and rearrange – change it up. This step costs nothing, but can make the room feel brand new. That was fun. What's next?
Step 3: It's hammer time.
When refreshing a room, I like to take down every piece of art and reconsider where they are placed. Could you regroup your pictures / artwork in a new way so it’s more pleasing to the eye? Go ahead – take down all the artwork in a room, and look at your walls – it’s a blank canvas! Rearranging your artwork can completely revitalize a tired room, and again – it costs you nothing to do that. So many times we just throw artwork up to fill empty spaces. But if you’re more thoughtful about it – you will love the results.
The key is to group like with like – such as landscapes all together, or a certain colorway together. Perhaps you have different pieces all framed in a similar fashion – that’s your common denominator. Group like with like items together and you will be pleased with the new arrangement. (The example above shows how brightly colored art from different artists and genres can effectively coexist.)
Play with the artwork arrangement over your bed – try something different behind your sofa – and change it up. All you need is a hammer, and an adventurous spirit. If you have lots of family photos, instead of having pictures here there and everywhere scattered throughout the house. Gather all the family photos and create a hall of memories. I was at someone’s home recently who did exactly that and it looks fantastic. It’s a nice reminder of our loved ones every time you pass through that hallway.
There’s a medical bonus to this work. If you’re over 50, studies show that rearranging your artwork and furniture can help stave off Alzheimer’s – giving your eye a new arrangement to look at is good for you.
REFRESH YOUR HOME this New Year. All you need is a box, a towel and a hammer to refresh your space. Fill up the box with donations of that which you don’t need any more and know that you’ll be blessing someone else with your donations. Use the towel to slip under heavy furniture when rearranging for better functionality. And the hammer is for rehanging your artwork in a new way.
Here's to your New Y.E.A.R., Your Easy Affordable Refresh. It's not a let down, it’s a SET UP for you to give your rooms new life, at no cost.
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The holidays are a great time to find out what is working in your home, and what’s not working so well. When you had Uncle Fred and Aunt Linda and their kids in your home for Thanksgiving, did you notice anything? After dinner, and everyone is sipping a cup of chocolate or noshing on another piece of pie, were there enough table surfaces for everyone?
Most of us have the furniture too far away from the coffee table, as the photo above. The human form only needs 18” between the sofa and the coffee table. If you’re not one to carry a tape measure around all the time, here’s an even easier way to figure out if you have the placement right. I call it the drink test. Sit in each seat in your living room and determine if you can place your drink on the coffee table. Move the sofa or table nearer – again, about 18” between the sofa and the table will do it. You'll love being able to set down your hot chocolate without getting up.
Now that your coffee table is in the right place, let’s make sure all your guests can place their drink easily within reach no matter where they sit. To figure this out - sit in every place of your sofa, your chairs, and wherever people sit in your room. Make sure everyone’s seat has a place for their drink. You may have to move the side tables a little closer, but this is easy, right?
If you find you’re lacking appropriate tables, let’s be creative and think outside the box for table options. I love to use something out of the ordinary. Once I used an antique steamer trunk with a piece of beveled glass on top as my coffee table. Use those clear plastic buttons you put on the back of your paintings and it keeps the glass up off the trunk. Another time I used a child’s red flyer wagon, again with a piece of glass on top. It was a real conversation starter. You can sometimes pick up the glass at your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. It's economical, and you are supporting a good cause. Or you can take a fabric ottoman and place a mirror on top for your coffee table. That’s what’s in my Living Room right now.
What about side tables? You could also use one of those Chinese garden stools as a side table with a pop of color. I like the garden stools at Wayfair or Overstock.com. There are some beautiful ones for less than $100. Another idea for a side table would be a smaller tree stump that has the bark removed. It makes a nice statement and brings in the organic element. I spotted some at the Modern General store in Santa Fe, NM. Check them out.
Be creative and look at items in a new way. I was in a home recently where the homeowner took an artist’s palette, the curved pallet that you mix the paints on. She added legs to the bottom of the palette, and it became a beautiful side table. When you're considering out-of-the box options, if it’s within 3-4” of the sofa or chair's arm height, it’ll work.
I know you’re creative and I’d love to see what you come up with – email me your pictures email@example.com.
If you really would prefer a table, and you are on a budget, www.Target.com has some attractive side tables for less than $80. I love getting the high end look for less, don’t you?
TABLE TIPS: make sure every person has some place to put their drink. That’s how you know if you have a) adequate tables, and b) placed appropriately so you can put your hot chocolate within reach. Pass the marshmallows, please.
Decorating your home is as easy as A-B-C
A = Always allow your authentic self to be expressed in the home. What do I mean by authentic self? It’s your true self. What is most important to you? Spending time together as a family? If so, ensure there is ample space for the family to gather & play games together. What if your authentic self loves to socialize and to have friends over? Arrange your furniture to allow meaningful conversations. Avoid the temptation to arrange furniture to only face the television – “worship the box” arrangement. In fact, if you do not have a television in your living space, you’re on trend! Elle Décor reports that tech-less living spaces are trending. Wouldn’t it be nice if we went back to a time when families actually talked to each other after dinner? What a concept! Arrange your furniture so you actually face one another. Placing another sofa opposite, or two chairs opposite the sofa will do the trick, allowing you to have a conversation with friends & family. Allow the space to support how YOU live, to support your Authentic Self.
A also stands for allow only artwork and accessories that speak to YOUR spirit. If rustic farm chic does nothing for you, but antique glassware reminds you of your beloved grandmother, then display antique glassware. Or display grandmother's favorite candlesticks (pictured). If the design magazines encourage us to display some trend, only do so *if* it brings you joy. Your home is YOUR home and it must reflect what is important to YOU.
B = Ban Builders Beige. Last week I met with a great family that loves outdoor activities. Their family photos were filled with gorgeous greens and glories of nature. Yet, their walls were a sea of beige. That's where paint comes in! Painting your walls is the least expensive way to completely transform your home. A soft green – like Dunn Edwards’ Glisten Green - can warm up a room for less than $100. Or if you’re looking for a tranquil feeling in your bedroom try Behr’s Crystalline Falls or Sky Light View. You’ll feel like you’re living in a high end spa. Ban Builders Beige. If you need help choosing the right color for your space, I’m happy to help you. Contact me here.
B also stands for bringing in nature's beauty. I believe every room should have a touch of nature's beauty. A gorgeous crystal geode. Cuttings from your garden. A rustic side table made out of a log. God has made such beauty. Bring a touch of nature's beauty indoors.
C= Creativity. Create spaces to encourage your own creativity. Whether you’re a bookkeeper or a CEO, creativity is essential to succeed in what you do. Allocate space for the hobbies and activities that bring you joy. You know the joke – when you’re only in your left brain there’s nothing right and in your right brain there’s nothing left. Set up a space to do that woodworking you so loved when you were in school. Set aside a crafting corner for creating beautiful crafts. Last year the popularity of adult coloring books soared! Why is that, do you think? When you’re being creative, you lose track of time, and you open up to the Creator of the Universe. There is something so healing when you allow your creativity to flourish. Creativity.
C also stands for create cozy spaces in your home that are conducive to conversation. (Okay, I'm getting carried away with the "c" words.) Instead of ignoring your fireplace, pull up two chairs on either side of your fireplace. What a delightful place to sit and de-stress after a long day of work. Cultivate cozy spaces in all the rooms. I have a pair of chairs at the foot of my bed so we can read, or sit and chat. Very cozy spaces make your house a HOME.
A – Always allow your Authentic self to be reflected in your spaces, as well as keeping only artwork and accessories that feed your spirit.
B – Ban Builders’ Beige. Bring in color and nature's beauty to warm up your home.
C – Create cozy and creative spaces to allow your house to truly be a home.