Sometimes You Have to Pivot
I create design plans that are tailored very specifically to each client. I scour their inspiration images, I ask them questions, I have them fill out an extensive style questionnaire. Still, there are always a few items they want to change after I show them my presentation. Below is an example of a pivot for an Upper West Side ladies' lounge: the mood board on the left is my original vision, the one on the right reflects the edits. We went from gold to silver and added a few modern touches.
Can you spot the subtle shifts?
Must-Haves for Your First Place
Moving into the first place you can truly call your own? Even though you may be on a budget, this is not the time to cut corners on everything. If you have any money leftover after you pay first/last/deposit, below are the top things I think you should spend it on.
1. A good sofa is a must-have for any space. Second to your mattress, it is the place that you will spend the most time so spend a good fraction of your budget on this piece. Since you are spending more, be sure it will look great for awhile by choosing a fabric that is not too light, like cream or white, as it will show every stain. But don’t go too dark either as navy and black shows every spec of lint and piece of dust. Stick with a mid-tone neutral color like gray or tan.
2. A first apartment needs a great coffee table. You may not have room for a dining table. So getting a coffee table with a hard top that can hold Chinese takeout as well as beverages and remotes is a must. I love using a trunk as they are small in footprint and the inside can be used as storage.
3. Every space needs a box of Mr. Clean’s Magic Erasers. Move in and scrub away the soap scum from the previous tenant in your tub. Did you movers scuff your wall paint? No problem! This cleaning tool takes marks off walls, dirt off surfaces, and scratches off floors. Is there anything this miracle product can’t do?!
4. Putting up drapes in a new apartment is the quickest, cheapest way to give the whole unit a facelift. Painting a new apartment takes time and if you choose a strong color, most leases require you to paint it back to neutral when you leave. Instead of going bold with paint, add your color splash with affordable, patterned drapes from Overstock.com or Pier1.com. Additionally, when you hang them so they go all the way to your floor, drapes add height and grandeur to your space.
5. Make an entry station a priority in your first place. If you don’t buy a console or cabinet to set up right as you enter your apartment, your keys/mail/bags will wind up all over your small space and create chaos. Corral the clutter by having a designated space for those items right as you walk in. Target and Wayfair have very economical entry cabinet options.
6. Invest in a great knife set when you move in. You don’t want to spend all your rent money on eating out. A great set of knives will make cooking that much easier and more enjoyable. JA Henckels knives are great quality, not too expensive, and come in a small block that won’t take up too much room on your counter.
This fun young family in Tarrytown loved to entertain and wanted a home that reflected their vibrant personalities. So we played with a mix: vintage, brights, and white. Now their living and dining rooms are ready to party in style.
Why Your Apartment/House Sucks
1. You haven't made a commitment. Like you would in a partner, you see good and bad in your new space. But in order to feel settled, you need to commit. Set a budget for what you want to spend, and think about how much you want to invest in that commitment. If you can take off work for a week or so to brainstorm with your new partner, even better!
2. Burn dried sage. In every nook and cranny of your new space, walk around with burning, dried sage and set your intention for the space. It may seem a little airy fairy, but it allows you to welcome the space into your life and for the space to welcome you as well.
3. Say no to hand-me-downs. Stop taking other people's crap. While it may be enticing, it comes with a distinct stigma of being someone else's throw-away. I know that moving is hard on the checkbook, but as tempting as it may be do not take other people's crap just to save a few bucks. If grandma's trunk is not going to serve you in the right way as a coffee table, just wait for the right thing or get something affordable.
4. You have too much stuff. In other places around the country, you are allowed to have a lot of stuff. But in NYC, if you have just a few extra books or out-of-season clothes stuffed in your closet, you're a hoarder! You have to be brutal when determining what to keep, because if you don't then you'll end up overburdening your new partner that is your apartment/home. If you pick up something and it doesn't spark joy, get rid of it.
5. You're not on the same page. If you and the other people in your home are not on the same page, your home will not feel like a restful and intentional place. It's very important to tackle issues that divide you before you get into the space so that you can have a very focused, common goal. Whether it's your romantic partner or your kids, the conversation simply must happen.
Come on Over!
Clients and fans are always asking me what my home looks like. I have one word: COLORFUL! I am not bashful about going bold. Here is a mood board with all my favorite pieces from my living room in Westchester.
Betsy's 5 Steps to Perfect Lighting
1. Light every seat. When putting your space together and deciding where to place your three essential points of light in the room (not including an overhead), think about what would be the most intuitive to you if were sitting in each of its points of seating. Every seat should have an easily accessible light source.
2. Use mirrors. Mirrors can be incredibly useful in maximizing the light in a room. Place one directly across from a window or lamp and voila! You've instantly doubled your natural light.
3. No space? No problem! If you are tight for space, don't settle for the overhead. Consider plug-in art lamps mounted above the art over your sofa. Put wall lamps on either side of a mirror or in lieu of bedside table lamps. Wall-mounted lights add the same beautiful ambience without taking up floor space.
4. Dining pendant. In the living room and bedroom, don't rely on overhead lighting to cast the glow you're trying to achieve. But in the dining room, deck out your overhead pendant! This will inspire your guests to gather around the table and will draw everyone together. If you don't have an option for a ceiling fixture in your space, consider an arc lamp whose shade falls in the center of your table. Check out our favorite affordable arc lamp here.
5. Consider them sculptures. The bases of table and floor lamps can add lovely lines and pops of color to a room. When shopping for a table lamp, look for a material that you haven't used much in the room - often a glass or ceramic base can add a new texture to the space. In the market for a floor lamp? Look for a new type of line for the space. For instance, in a room with a lot of rectangles, look for a curved candlestick base. In a room with lots of circles, go for a straight one instead.
Bright Brooklyn Brownstone
This Bed-Stuy client wanted a fresh space that felt upbeat. Nothing energizes a room like the color yellow. A few well-placed pops of canary were cooled down with doses of teal. Add in some warm woods to offset the white, and boho balance was achieved!
Betsy's Top 6 Latest Design Tips
Feng Shui Tip #1: Put an object/pic you love in sight of the entry door to your space. That item will bring you joy each time you enter and infuse your home with that feeling.
Feng Shui Tip #2: Avoid glass dining and coffee tables. The sound of items (like mugs and remotes) landing on the glass surface causes tension and creates an uneasy feeling in the space.
Feng Shui Tip #3: Things that draw your eye upward in a room elevate your mood. Paint your ceiling an unexpected color, hang drapery high, or choose an overhead light fixture that you love.
Organization Tip #1: Kelsey is addicted to Ikea's Trones (set of 3 for $39). They are meant for shoes, but you can also use them in a small bathroom to store lotions, shampoos, etc.
Organization Tip #2: You'll be more likely to use storage baskets if you like the look of them. I love these navy and while woven ones from Serena and Lily ($48 for a set of 2).
Organization Tip #3: Do you have a lot of random pictures and photos that you want to display? Think about using a picture rail or ledge to display lots of different pieces in one neat place.
NJ Goes Glam
A little bling can bring a blank canvas to life. I had a blast adding dashes of glam, glitter, and color to this Jersey City condo last week.
Here is a living room we designed for a family. Even though they are a walk to town, their charming home feels like a country cabin. We added a little color, a dash of fresh French white, and now their home is even homier!
As Seen on the Today Show: Design Crimes (and Their Fixes)
We were recently featured on the "Today Show with Kathie Lee and Hoda" on NBC where I revealed design crimes that I see all too often with my clients in their living and bedrooms. While my mind was on the topic, I figured I'd share a few extra design crimes that should never be committed.
1. Empty shelves. If you have shelves (be they built-ins or free-standing ones), you need to put something on them. Empty is not an option. One of my clients in Brooklyn didn't own a lot of books so instead we filled the shelves with a mix of items: plates, a tea set, picture frames, boxes, and we hung art to help visually fill the space.
2. Forgoing a headboard. Unless you live in a dorm, a headboard is not optional. Not only does it formalize the most important piece in the room: the bed. It also gives the art you hang above it context. Plus, you are going to need something to lean on when you reading or playing Candy Crush before bedtime.
3. Absence of art. Many of my clients are intimidated by art. They worry it has to be expensive and high-end. Untrue! All art needs to be is special or significant to you. In the case of one Midtown client, we framed menus from their favorite restaurants in their dining area. Voila - affordable and interesting art!
4. Unpainted walls. Clients often worry that painting small spaces a color will make them feel even smaller. No matter how small or dark your room, painting it a color other than rental white will make it feel infinitely more interesting, well-designed, and cozy.
5. Naked windows. A window without a treatment is a non-starter. Drapes are an easy and affordable way to add color and texture to a room. Also, when you hang the drapes higher than and outside the window molding, you enlarge your window and add visual height to your room.
6. Choosing medium-sized furniture. One Brooklyn woman had an affliction that ails many of my clients: curse of the medium furniture. She got a shelf that held some of her make-up but not all of it. So then she got a cubby and then some bins. Then she got a dresser that held some of her clothes but not all of them. So she had to get another drawer set. Instead of diminutive pieces, I got her a big vintage vanity on Craigslist with storage on either side, and a tall Ikea dresser with significant storage for all the clothes - not just some.
This client had a love of all things Mid-Century. She wanted a few throwbacks but also wanted her space to look bright and fresh. By mixing a rainbow of colors with vintage-inspired pieces, we gave her a look that is as fun as it is timeless.
Betsy's Favorite Tips to Impress Your Guests
For some of us, spring may mean it's time to start planning for your farm-inspired dinner party or sunshine-loving backyard BBQ. Here are a few simple ways to add a "wow" factor to your decor and display your flair for design to inspire your friends.
1. Hang something unexpected. One thing that's going to really make your pals do a double take is having some unique art apart from the typical paint, print, or generic landscape. Incorporating some of your personality into your art is key. Whether it's a menu from your favorite restaurant, a letter from a dear friend, or a page/illustration from a cherished book, let a little bit of "you" shine through in your art.
2. Have a basket. In each of the rooms in my home, I have a medium-sized basked. At the end of most days and before company comes, I through all the miscellaneous in the room (i.e. the kids' books, dog toys, magazines, stray socks) into that basked to get it out of sight without having to take the time to put each thing in its place everyday. Click here for the basket that is my lifesaver.
3. Set your table. While this may scream "Pinterest junkie" to some, having intentional tabletop settings for your dinner guests will really add a "wow" factor to your gathering. It not only shows creativity and personality, but also a great deal of forethought and consideration for your guests.
4. Fresh flowers. Having something alive - whether it's an herb garden, flowers, or a cactus - will add a little extra "life" to your living space and make it feel welcoming. This is a great, easy, and inexpensive way to impress your friends with your design flair.
5. Designify your books. Bookcases are not only moments for storage, they are also great for display. Arrange your books by height, color, or cluster them in groups of odd numbers to showcase them and your style.
Red, White, and Beautiful
Transitional spaces don’t have to be boring. Just because they are a blend of traditional and contemporary doesn’t mean they can’t be decidedly bold with color. This lady on the Lower East Side was ready to cast off her family’s hand-me-downs and get a vibrant look that’s all her own.
Spring Cleaning Tips
The sun is out and now all that dust and clutter is a lot more visible. 'Tis the season for deep cleaning. Here are some priority places to help you get started.
1. Use tough love. Be strict with yourself while you're sorting through your closet/dresser. Ask yourself the following questions:
- If I were shopping right this second, would I buy it?
- Have I worn it in the last eight months?
- If it weren't a brand name, would I keep it?
- Does it fit? Not will it fit, but does it fit. As in today.
If you answer "no" to any of these questions, into the donation pile it goes!
2. Don't clean a few things. Don't sweat the stuff you don't really need to. Make things a little less overwhelming and do yourself a favor by crossing these items off of your list immediately:
- Clean the ceiling (simply take a broom and brush down any cobwebs)
- Dry clean the curtains (just shake them out)
- Dust the baseboards (put on a pair of socks and run your toe along them)
- Wipe inside the cabinets (who has the time?!)
3. Pick a good playlist/podcast. Chores feel like less of a chore when I'm listening to music or podcasts. They keep my mind moving, making it easier to stay on task. Click here for my favorite motivational playlist, our custom-curated AID soundtrack.
4. Don't Forget. While you're spring cleaning and whittling down that to-do list, don't forget to deep clean the:
- Tile Grout
- A/C Vents
These are the most often neglected areas. Click here for a mattress cleaning tutorial using a few simple household products.
5. Start with surfaces. Clearing off flat surfaces is a great way to kick start your spring cleaning. It's a small victory that will motivate you to accomplish larger tasks like sorting through your closet, organizing your cabinets, and deep cleaning the oven.
6. The 80/20 Rule. Across the board, whether it's clothes, electronics or something, we use 20% of the things we own 80% of the time. The goal for spring cleaning is to get rid of as much of the extra 80% of stuff as possible.
This Times Square bachelor entertains almost every weekend. He wanted plenty of seating for game nights and a large table for epic rounds of Mexican Train. Here's hoping his teammates love his space's transformation!
House Guest Struggles
Apartment living can make accommodating guests a challenge. Whether it is your in-laws or a college friend, you want them to feel comfortable. Below are a few tips to create a welcoming space even without a separate guest room.
1. Make a great first impression. Have you kids color a sign welcoming your guest and hang it on the front door. Or hang a festive wreath on your front door with a little note tucked in the center for your guest.
2. Buy a folding suitcase stand that you can keep in the entry closet and bring out when your guests arrive. You can get them for as little as $20 on Wayfair.com.
3. Many of us in small spaces don’t have a spare room. Give your guests a little privacy even if they are on the couch but setting up a folding screen behind which they can get dressed or just keep their suitcases and clothes.
4. Keep a few travel guides and maps of your area on your bookcase so that your guests can explore while you are at work.
5. If you use a sofabed for your guests, get an upholstered storage ottoman to use as a coffee table. Inside you can keep extra sheets and blankets to make up the bed when the guests arrive. They also have an out-of-sight place to put their bedding away each day. There are affordable options for around $150 at Overstock.com.
6. Save the small size lotions, shampoos, and sewing kits that you get from hotel rooms. Put them in a cosmetic bag to present to your guest when they arrive.
7. Clean out a little space in your entry or personal closet for guests to hang their clothes.
8. If guests will be staying on your sofa, buy blackout drapes for your living room. You can buy light and sound blocking panels for around $40 each at JCPenney.
9. Stock up on a few snacks. Your guest might want something to munch on at midnight. Buy some granola bars, fresh fruit, and small bags of chips in case they get peckish.
Ladies Who Book Club
As a weekly book club hostess, this client needed plenty of seating in her large living room. With space for both a sitting area and a formal room as well as dining, she wanted her main floor to be the main event. Who wants to talk about novels when you can gaze upon those pillows!?
Do Your Walls WOW?
Paint is the biggest visual element in any room. Deciding what color/finish to use is a daunting commitment. Affordable Interior Design's Betsy Helmuth ahs selected thousands of perfect paint colors over the years and has 5 steps to getting a great gallon every time.
1. Forget the fan. There are too many options and most of them are hideous. In the back of Benjamin Moore's paint deck, there is a section called Historical Colors. These colors are classic, time-tested gems. When I am looking to hit a home run the very first time, I pick an HC color with confidence. Hear more about specific colors I love on my podcast episode devoted to paint here.
2. Never paint again (at least not for 7-10 years). Quality paint is more money, but will save you in the long run because you won't need to paint as often. Though it is their most expensive line, Benjamin Moore's Aura paint which is highly scrubbable and doesn't fade as quickly, allowing for more touch-ups, will add years onto your paint job.
3. Secrets of sampling. Now that you have HC colors you love, it's time to test. Never make a final selection from the chip. Rooms get different light and different wall textures absorb pigment differently. You must actually paint the colors you like onto your walls to get the true sense of the color. Start with a white base (I slap up a large swath of white primer on the wall). Then get a sample pot of the color you love, plus try one color that is a shade darker and one that is a shade lighter than your favorite. Paint 1' x 1' square of each color on at least two walls in the room. Allow to dry, and decide!
4. Treat your trim. Doors, their frames, windowsills, and built-ins should contrast with the walls, typically this means they are painted a shade of white. They are also a higher sheen than the walls as they get more traffic and need to be more durable/easily washable. Be sure to use a semi-gloss finish on these surfaces.
5. Tool time. Applying paint with the right products is crucial for a nice look. Avoid the cheap kits that include the roller/sleeve/tray. Instead, opt for mohair or microfiber roller sleeves that give that extra smooth finish, don't shed, and are still a steal at $10 for 3 at Home Depot. Additionally, I only use the best brush in the biz - Purdy.
Park Slope Parlor Floor
In Brooklyn brownstones, the first floor is generally quite large and wide open. That means you can clearly see the living room from the sitting and dining room. All three rooms need to flow together but feel different. The key was keeping the color palette the same and switching up the patterns.
P.S. This client wanted to base her palette off of the colors found in her toddler's pajamas. That was a first!
Betsy's 2016 Trend Report
A new year means new thoughts for the design industry and where it's going this year. Styles and design elements that I used to love no longer feel fresh, while retailers are stocking their shelves with new and intriguing items. I'm here to tell you what I'm excited to incorporate into my project this year, and to what trends we can feel free to bid adieu.
1. IN: Pantone Colors Rose Quartz and Serenity. Bright, jewel tones are on their way out, and in their place are the distinctly tranquil colors of Rose Quartz and Serenity. Calming and powder soft, these shades are coating walls and home accents. They bring a pastel perspective on sophistication.
2. OUT: Wall-Hanging Planters. This perennial, cottage-like trend is making its way out this year along with several other tendencies reflective of the rustic, all-natural wave of 2015.
3. IN: Big, Bold Art. Gallery walls are stepping out, and instead we are embracing oversized statement pieces. Placing large pieces full of power in the midst of common spaces like living rooms and dining areas is a bold trend to adopt this year.
4. OUT: Distressed Wood. While it presents a certain romantic opportunity for nostalgia, distressed, rustic wood is no longer chic. Perhaps that is due to the countless splinters inflicted during this trend's lifespan?
5. IN: Woven, Guatemalan Fabrics. While bright colors aren't the base for this year's color palettes, we are seeing rich and bright fabrics with ethnic patterns used in accents such as throws and pillows.
6. OUT: Agate Rock Everything. Whether it's bookends, coasters, or anything else, agate rock is out along with many other home furnishings that reflect the raw, untreated nature of the out-of-doors (i.e. animal hides and furs).
7. IN: Pedestal Entry Tables & Wallpaper. Small round tables and pedestals with a picture frame or vase of flowers atop are occupying our entryways this year. Additionally, we are seeing a lot of wallpaper. But wait - isn't wallpaper total pain? Not anymore! Removable wallpaper is making it easy to be creative and non-committal.
8. OUT: Furniture With Piping. This industrial-inspired trend was all over 2015 with pipe desks, end tables, bookcases, and more. Now this trend has sprung a leak, and it's time to say goodbye as it is no longer in fashion.
Mid-Century Man Cave
My client wasn't afraid of color and so we turned his dark, cave-like apartment in Midtown into a bright oasis. Orange is a color that has universal appeal and adds pizazz to spaces that don't have a lot of natural light.
Get Festive in Fifteen
'Tis the season to bust out the cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and candy canes. But what about your less-than-festive home decor? Coming up I will offer a few simple decor ideas that easily add that extra burst of festivity to your home for this holiday season.
1. Create a quick and easy winter tree tablescape by cutting squares of gift wrap in different sizes. Then form cones with the paper, securing the seams with double-sided table.
2. Accessorizing your home with fruit in bowls and hurricane vases is a year-round decor trick. To make the idea more seasonal, put some evergreen boughs and greenery in between layers of green and red apples.
3. Add a splash of color to your bed with a seasonal table runner. Buy a decorative runner at Pier 1 or Michael's, and spread it over the foot of your bed for a touch of festive flair.
4. Create new covers for your coffee table books by creating your own out of colorful wrapping paper. If you are feeling extra festive, top each stack of books with a bow.
5. Wrap strands of garland around your floor or table lamp bases.
6. A home should not only look festive - it should smell that way, too. Buy fresh herbs like sage or rosemary at your local bodega. Then tie the bunches with ribbon or twine, and hang them around your space. Once they dry, chop them up and use them in your holiday cooking.
7. Bring the outdoors by hanging large ornaments or pinecones from strands of colorful ribbon in front of your windows. You can easily tie the ribbon around the window's latch with a large, loose bow. Perfect pinecones can be found in the garden district at places like Jamali.
Online Shopping Like a Pro
Shopping online is so much of a daily part of my life that I felt morally obligated to share my secrets of the trade. It can be so confusing with promo codes here and discounts there, it's really important to think carefully about how to use all of those opportunities for savings. The following are my favorite little-known tips for how to really save big (especially true for the holiday shopping season!):
1. Go for the hunt. Coupons and promo codes are out there just waiting for you to find them. With sites like Retail Me Not, Coupon Craze, and Coupons.com, find offers for anywhere from 20-70% off your purchase. Type in the name of the store and "promo code" in your browser to see what deals await.
2. Join Ebates. Seriously, stop reading this blog right now and DO IT! Get money back for every purchase you make from many online retailers. Membership is FREE and they send you checks - cashable checks - in the mail. Getting paid to shop is a no-brainer.
3. Sign up for mailing lists. Sure, you may be worried about retailers flooding your inbox, but members of retailer mailing lists are the first to receive news of great opportunities to buy, giving you the upper hand on scoring the deal.
4. Join loyalty programs. Earning loyalty credit and rewards each time you shop at your favorite retailer can seriously pay off. Betsy's favorite clubs are at Overstock, Costco.com, and Wayfair.
5. Thrifty Thursdays. If you don’t need the item right away, it can pay to wait. Research suggests that Thursdays are the day of the week on which retailers offer the best deals.
6. Procrastinate. This may not have worked when you were in school. However, when shopping, the last-minute rush is typically the best deal. If you’re willing to live on the edge, consider waiting until closer to the holiday dates to score the lowest price before retailers clear out for the season.
7. Fill up your cart - then wait. If you're not sure about an item, put it in your cart and leave it without completing the purchase. Oftentimes retailers will reach out via email and offer a special discount on that item in order to make the sale.
8. Be careful with final sale items. Only buy final-sale if you are 1000% certain you’ll like it. Clearance items are a steal. But, if they wind up being less interesting than you'd hoped, you may be taken for a seasonal sale sucker and stuck with a piece you'd rather return.
And there you have it! Go forth and save BIG.
Adding Wow in the West Village
My client had recently remodeled and we were working with blank canvas. She wanted to add some wow factor without breaking the bank. With drapes from JCPenney, a bed from Overstock, and a sofa from Macy's, I gave her a refined look at a bargain price.
Bedroom Design Crimes That Ruin Your Love Life
If you feel like you're stuck in a rut, or sense that you just can't find love no matter where you turn, there are a few simple steps you can take to inspire intimacy to breathe throughout your most intimate space - the bedroom. It's never too late to upgrade your cave to an oasis in order to really inspire love and romance to flourish there.
1. Believing that size matters. Size DOESN'T matter. Even a tiny bedroom can be a stylish oasis. Keep it simple with fewer pieces of large artwork and a monochromatic palette of strong blues. Blue, known to be the most soothing and tranquil hue of the color wheel, is also said to visually expand small spaces.
2. Creating a cave. Just because you use the room to hibernate does not mean that it should look like a cave. Brighten the space with at least 2-3 table or floor lamps. Lamps are more flattering and crate a softer mood than harsh overhead light fixtures.
3. Artless Interior. Every bedroom needs to reflect a bit about the person/people that sleep in it. Art is the perfect way to add personality on a budget. At the very least, you should have a piece above the bed and dresser. Avoid art that has images of people you don't want to make out with. Keep it sexy and soohting with landscapes, still ives, and abstracts.
4. Mini living. So many of my clients are afraid to buy big furniture for their small spaces. So as not to fill their space, they get a small dresser that holds what they have now but can't accommodate new purchases. Instead, they need a large chest that will hold all of their clothes and then some. They buy small baskets for their makeup. As their collection grows, they need more baskets, more boxes. Instead, they need a vanity table with plenty of storage.
5. Going headboard-less. Headboards (and bed frames in this instance) are not optional. No matter how small the space/budget, every bed needs a head. Find affordable and lovely headboards at places like Wayfair or Hayneedle for under $200.
Fun With Color
Many of my clients shy away from bold color - especially orange. But not this Upper West Side gal. She specifically requested that I use orange and grass green. You don't have to tell me twice! Done, and done.
Betsy's "Tell-It-Like-It-Is" Design Tips
During each episode of my weekly podcast, I answer listener questions, share Design TMI (in other words, stories about my personal design struggles), and give exclusive tips like the ones below.
1. Episode 1: Your Perfect Paint Color. In this episode, I share my do's and don'ts. Among my tips, I reveal that using green paint in a bedroom makes you look sallow and sickly. Using orange in a kitchen or dining room increases your appetite. And yellow paint in a bedroom can often be too stimulating and not ideal for sleep.
2. Episode 2: Get Art Smart. In this episode, I focus on listener questions and give you the perfect percentage for the sizes of art above various pieces of furniture. Art should be 60-75% of the length of the furniture piece it's above, i.e. a 48" long painting above an 80" sofa, a 24" round mirror above a 36" wide bar, a 36" print above a 48" console, etc.
3. Episode 3: Storage Solutions. Before you store, edit! I make four piles for my clients: give away, throw away, deal with, and keep. Make sure you really need the items you decide to hold onto. Too many bulky cabinets can leave your space feeling less like a home and more like a storage unit.
4. Episode 4: Creative Kids Rooms. Pink for girls and blue for boys is so unoriginal, and it is impractical when children of different sexes share a room. Instead of the old stand-bys, I recommend going with a grass green, light teal, or heather gray.
5. Episode 5: Liveable Layouts. Good design starts with a great layout. I always start by placing the biggest piece of furniture in the room. In the living room, the sofa is generally placed on the longest unbroken wall. In the bedroom, the bed is usually kitty-corner from the entry door. You never want your feet pointed toward the door as it is bad Feng Shui.
6. Episode 6: Creating Coziness. No matter if you're in a rental for a year or an AirBnB for 2 months, I believe you should make the space your own. You can bring in the feeling of home by tapping into your five senses. Burn a candle that reminds you of a comforting food like pumpkin or vanilla. Buy a textured throw that you can snuggle under. Put up family photos or pics of a favorite vacation spot in a frame.
Because her mommy and daddy love going on safari, I designed a soothing homage to their travels in South Africa. This calming environment features plenty of cuddly creatures to help lull baby to sleep.
Feng Shui Your Summer
Optimum summer living comes with a few adjustments as you welcome the most active season. Simply follow a few steps to get motivated and inspired to make the most of your time in the sun this year.
1. Turn your fan on to get turned on. Still air in your space, especially in your bedroom, represents a stagnant love life. Install a nice-looking ceiling fan or pick up a cute tabletop version to keep your romance hot.
2. Fix your leaks. If you have an outdoor hose or spigot that drips, get it repaired asap. Leaks cause loss of money as they are said to represent wealth washing away from you.
3. Store your winter gear. Having out-of-season items in your space represents being stuck in the past. The way to move forward in your life is to pack up your sweaters and stow your skis.
4. Get festive with orange. If you want your barbecues to be filled with friends and your porch be a lively place, pops of orange are in order. Orange is said to be the color of socialization. So set the table with accents in that color to make your shindig a success.
5. Add decor to your door. Having seasonal ornamentation on your outer door represents being in sync with Earth's cycles. Swap out the dried flowers that you hung in the spring for a wreath of fruit or a colorful kite this summer.
Making a Blue Sofa Sophisticated
My Kips Bay client had a Smurf-blue couch that made her cringe. I made it work by finding art prints and textiles featuring small doses of the same hue. Then I mixed in a little lilac and voila!
Give Your Home a Facelift
Here's a few incredibly easy ways to spruce and freshen up your home this spring.
1. De-Pouf. Toss the toss pillows that come with your sofa. It is too much of the same color. Add visual interest by picking pillows that are lighter or darker than your sofa in color.
2. Arrange like a pro. Tis the season for fresh cut blooms. Intimidated by arranging a large vase of flowers? Make smaller statements instead. Cut the flower stems short, then fill your vessel. Short stems are easier to work with and have dramatic visual impact. Cut your stems on the diagonal as that increases the surface area available to bring water to the rest of the stem.
3. Flower power. Keep your buds beautiful longer by adding a splash of any non-diet cola to the water. The sugar feeds the stems If you have a clear vase, use a clear soda like Sprite.
4. Put on some shades. Give any lamp a new lease on life by getting a new lamp shade. World Market and Pier 1 have a wide selection of different colors/textures for a steal. Just make sure to replace the lamp's shade with one of a similar size and diameter.
5. Stay on trend. Watercolor flower patterns are all the rage for Spring 2014. Swap out heavy drapes for sheer ones with a floral print.
6. Daylight savings. Add more lovely daylight to a room by hanging a mirror opposite a window. It reflects the sun and the view on the other side of the room.
7. Drop bedding bulk. It's time for your bed to shed its winter pounds too. Remove your bulky comforter and duvet cover. Streamline with crisp cotton sheets, preferably in fresh white. Then add a lightweight blanket featuring a subtle pattern or warm pastel hue.
8. Coast along. More so than most other accessories, attention gets paid to what people are putting their drinks on. Make sure you have cool coasters. I own two sets of West Elm's Crackled Dot Coasters.