Fabulous Find – Affordable and Awesome Looking Console Table!

Cost Plus World Market has impressed me again.  For a long time now, they have been one of my go to sources for colorful and inexpensive art, indoor / outdoor area rugs and kitchen goods. 

And now, I have a new discovery.  I absolutely adore this Campaign Style Console table and it retails for only $199.99.

Image: Cost Plus World Market

Use it as a sofa back table to draw a visual dividing line between to two spaces or as a catch-all table in an entry space.  The clean lines, X stretcher, washed toned wood and of course the price, make this table one of my new favorites.

My Love Hate Relationship with Wallpaper


Ever fall in love with wallpaper but are hesitant to use it?  Me too!  After years of working as a designer and ripping down layers and layers of wallpaper in client’s homes, I am the first to admit that some days I never want to see wall paper again.

And then, the most beautiful pattern of yummy wallpaper comes my way and I can’t help myself.

Here is the best solution for those of you with a similar love hate relationship to wallpaper.  Use it in a closet for an unexpected touch of pattern and texture.  This little trick will give you your pattern fix without turning your house into a mess of flowers and stripes and plaids – oh my!   

Image: www.projectnursery.com

Wallpaper can be used in almost any closet – feel free to go a bit crazy – in a Master Closet; Child’s Room (as shown in the photo) or consider your Guest Bedroom.   What a wonderful little surprise for a guest when they go to hang their clothes in your home!

A Delightful New Source

Just when I thought I had seen about every source out there for home décor, a new discovery delighted me.  Today, a super cool home furnishings / accessory catalog arrived in my mailbox.  What a wonderful little surprise to brighten my day. 

At West End features products that are rustic and charming, and happily not too expensive.

This mermaid vase is a hoot and would add a great touch of whimsy and color to a neutral room.




Interior Designer Tips for Selecting a New Paint Color

1. Find a starting place. Pull your color inspiration from something already in the room such as an area rug or painting. If you are planning to replace the furnishings in a room as well as fresh paint, start by finding the new items for the room. Finding a paint color to match a rug you love is infinitely easier than trying to find a rug you like to work with the color of your walls.
2. Think about what you like, and what colors you like to wear. If you don’t look good in yellow, do not paint your Master Bathroom yellow or you will be unhappy with yourself every time you look in the mirror. You might be seeing a lot of blues and browns in home furnishings lately, but if you don’t love blue do not paint your room blue just to keep up with the trends.
3. Get inspired! Mother Nature is the world’s best colorist and she pulls together the most incredible palettes. Look around outside for color combinations you might have never considered.
4. Start small and take baby steps. If you want to try a bold color for the first time, start in a small and manageable space such as a Powder Room. The small space will allow you to live with you new bold color in a small amount, plus you will need very few accessories to pull the look together.
5. Ignore all “rules” you may have heard such as dark colors making a room look small. Do not be guided by what you have been told is right or wrong when selecting colors. Yes, some of these rules do have some amount of truth but the world is not black and white, and nor should your home be.

Low Cost Kitchen Makeovers

The Kitchen is the room in a home most frequently used by family members, and therefore should be an inviting space.  Kitchens are also the most expensive room to remodel and update.  Do not be discouraged by the high cost of a Kitchen renovation as there are many inexpensive updates that you can do to freshen your Kitchen on a budget.

Paint the Cabinets: If your cabinets look dated and old, yet new cabinets are not in your budget, paint them for new look.  You can use a color to match your trim color in your home, such as white, or venture out with a color such as a red or yellow.

Take Off Cabinet Doors: If your cabinet doors are so bad that even a new paint color will not help, you might want to take them off entirely.  This will create an open and airy look in the Kitchen.  If you consider this idea, keep in mind that you will need to constantly keep your dishes neatly organized in order to have this open look be a good one.

New Cabinet Hardware: Changing the knobs on your cabinets updates the overall look of a Kitchen.  New hardware typically costs a few dollars each at a home improvement store and entire sets of hardware can often be found at flea markets, garage sales, or even posted on eBay.

New Faucet: Plumbing fixtures in a Kitchen are like jewelry on an outfit.  Most women understand that one well chosen piece of jewelry can make an outfit.  The same is true for a faucet; a sparkling clean, new and modernized faucet can instantly improve a Kitchen.  Those of us skilled at home improvement projects will find installing a Kitchen faucet a relatively simple task and can save the cost of hiring a plumber.

Flip Appliances Panels: Did you know that a large number of dishwashers and other appliances installed in a Kitchen have removable panels on their face?  Most of these panels are one color on the face, such as white, and another on the back, such as black.  Check out your appliances to see if any have panels that can be flipped to change the color without spending a dime.

Install Vinyl Floor: If your Kitchen floor is in need of some help, you can install adhesive vinyl tiles yourself.  The project can be completed in a weekend with the cost of the individual tiles as low as a dollar each.  For a little work, and very little cost, you can have a new Kitchen floor.

Paint the Walls: This most basic of all budget decorating fixes can not be overlooked in the Kitchen.  A new wall color will instantly change the look of the Kitchen.  Consider using a paint color inspired by food such as a chili pepper red or eggplant purple.

Remember, there are lots of ways to improve your Kitchen without breaking the bank.  Often, small decorating changes can result in a transformed a room.  Your much used Kitchen can become your much loved Kitchen with some budget friendly improvements.

A Behind the Scenes Look at the Reality of a Reality TV Home Show

HGTV’s hit show Designers’ Challenge was planning to film in my hometown. This is the show were three sets of designers present their design concepts to homeowners and a designer is selected to complete the project. Fortunately, my design partner and I were asked to appear on the show.

Pages of paperwork and a very detailed scheduled later, we were given the project specifics and budget to transform a family room. We were allowed to meet with the homeowner once and only once prior to making our presentation. From that point, we had two weeks to design the space and create all on camera presentation material.

The first day of taping was nerve wracking and no, the show’s host Chris Harrison was not present and no, I did not meet him. We were told Chris does all his taping in a Los Angeles studio. The crew that arrived that included the segment director, two camera men, a lighting technician, a sound technician and two production assistants.

The first segment taped was the introduction so viewers get an opportunity to know the designers. Since there were two of us, we were sitting together. We were placed together on a sofa practically in each other’s lap, but we were told that on the camera this looks normal. Cheek to cheek we sat and answered a string of pre-arrange questions about interior design and the local area. We were told how to answer the questions so the answers sounded like talking rather than answering questions. This proved to be harder than it sounds.

The next day was the project presentation; the set up for the presentation took hours, literally. I had always heard about the “hot lights” on a set, and now understand exactly what that means. Numerous sound checks were also conducted; everyone had to be absolutely silent during this process. A neighborhood dog was barking and a bird kept chirping, so a production assistant was sent to deal with both issues. I don’t know what he did but 10 minutes later the neighborhood was silent.

During this set up / waiting period, the director asked to view the presentation boards. He called our boards “eye candy” for the camera and I knew we were in good shape. Finally, we presented our ideas multiple times, pausing for an occasional airplane flying overhead and of course, the occasional innocent blooper. Nothing was shot in just one take. Immediately after finishing, we were hurried out of the house by a production assistant as the next designer had arrived and competing designers were never to meet.

Now, the homeowners needed to make their designer selection. The waiting began and lasted two weeks, although on the show the homeowners say that they made the decision in one week. Finally, the call came and the homeowners selected us to complete project. I remember jumping up and down with my then two year old saying, “Mommy is going to be on TV like Elmo from Sesame Street”. He is now 4 and has yet to show any interest in the segment.

The “real” work began and I got down to the familiar business of an interior design project. There are many details involved never shown on camera such as changes from the homeowner, supervision of subcontractors, product availability issues (since the project had to be completed on a production schedule and not a real world design schedule this was a major obstacle). Regular calls were received from the production company making sure that we were on schedule as the segment was already sold to the network even though filming was not complete.

When the design work was complete, and the production crew came back to town. We shot scenes that showed the outcome of the room as well as wrap up interviews on the overall process. In the midst of my final interview, a bumble bee flew under the strap of my sandal and stung my toes. I fell into my associate which was inevitable since we were standing so close together. In true reality television style, the cameras continued to tape the entire blooper. I signed a form at the beginning of the process stating that all footage the crew obtains can be used in whatever manner they choose, and was teased for the remainder of the day that this out-take would be used in the upcoming blooper program they were creating. I think this was a joke but sometime still wonder.

Over nine months later, the showed aired primetime on HGTV. Emails clogged my inbox 3 hours before the showed aired in my state. The questions were numerous but the overwhelming design question was a request for the brand and name of the paint color we used. Even now, years later, I always know when the show has been rerun because again the emails appear in my inbox, again with the same question. Just in case you are wondering, the color is Roasted Sesame Seed from Benjamin Moore or if a blooper show is ever created, the name is “Roasted Sesame Street”. My profession is interior design but my “real” job is being a mom.

Balance in Budget Decorating

Budget decorating is more than simply just finding good deals.  Basic principals of interior design apply to any decorating project and using these principals of design does not cost a penny.  Balance is one of these design concepts that needs to be considered with all decorating projects.

Good balance can make an interior look just right, especially when decorating on a budget.   Conversely, incorrect balance can destroy an otherwise good design, even a room with high end furnishings.  But what exactly is balance and how can a novice decorator achieve good balance in a room?

The simplest definition of the word balance in decorating is equilibrium.   Often, designers use the word “visual weight” when they are referring to balance.  A balanced interior features furniture, accessories, and colors that are distributed throughout a room in a way that bring a sense of stability.

There are a few basic characteristics of decorating that affect the visual weight in a room.  Here are three basic concepts, ideas to consider when looking at visual balance.

  • Large items appear heavier in a room.
  • Colors that are warm, bright and dark appear to have heavier visual weight than colors that are cool, soft and light.
  • Materials that are opaque appear heavier that materials that are translucent.

It is helpful to keep these concepts in mind when decorating.  So now that you understand the term balance, here is how to put together a room to help achieve a balanced look.

  1. When arranging furniture, start with the largest pieces first.  Furniture such as an armoire, sofa or bed will act as the anchor in a room to which all other furniture will work around.
  2. After your large items are placed, bring in the rest of your smaller furniture and place these items around the room.  Distribute your furniture by varying the height of items throughout the room.   For example, place a low chair next to a tall bookcase.
  3. Bring in your accessories.  Consider placing a translucent item on top of a heavier piece of furniture to continue mixing up the visual weight in the room.  If you have a group of small accessories, consider grouping smaller items together to give them more weight in the space.
  4. Use color to finish the look.  If an area in the room is looking unbalanced in relation to heavier visual areas in a room, use a bolder and bright color in these places as an accent.  This will add visual weight and a pop of color.
  5. Conversely, you can lighten the visual weight of something like a dark sofa by adding lighter colored pillows.
  6. Continue moving things about the room until a visual balance is achieved.  You will know when you have the visual weight correct because suddenly the room will just “feel” right.

Keep in mind these tips plus the basic concepts of balance when working on decorating projects.  Budget decorators that use the basic principals of good design are often the most successful in pulling off a great looking interior at a rock bottom price.

The Basics of Shabby Chic Style

Image: She Know's Home and Garden

A shabby chic look is a style that naturally lends itself to decorating on a budget.  This is because the Shabby Chic look is based on using furnishings that are comfortable, time-worn, and in keeping with simple and practical living.

If you are on a limited decorating budget and want to create a look that is unpretentious yet elegant, Shabby Chic may be the style for you.  Here are a few of the basic elements that make up a Shabby Chic look that you may want to try in your own home.

Slip Covers:  Slip covered furniture is the cornerstone of a Shabby Chic interior.  Not only does slip covering furniture give an old item a new look, the cost is quite inexpensive and slip covering allows you to easily purchase used furniture.  The Shabby Chic style often uses lots of simple white slip covers that look clean and fresh and are extremely budget friendly.

Unmatched Printed Fabrics: To liven up the white slip covers, printed and patterned fabrics are added as comfortable throw pillows, chair cushions, bedding, etc.  These fabrics are often floral but can also be striped, paisley or any other type of subdued print.  These various patterns and colors creates a relaxed feel in a Shabby Chic home, and allows a budget decorator to purchase remnants to mix and match.

Painted Furniture: Painted furniture is another key element in a Shabby Chic interior.  Furniture can be purchased at flea markets and garages sales, and then painted for that old but loved look.  Adding paint to an item of furniture gives a clean appearance, and painting several items all one color (typically white in Shabby Chic) gives unmatched furniture a look of an imperfectly matched set.

Flowers: Fresh flowers add lightness and color, and an instant Chic in the home.  To achieve a Shabby Chic look with flowers, use cut flowers from the garden or make you own bouquets from flowers you purchase.  The floral arrangements are typically informal and organic, with a look of just being thrown together.  Flowers are used in all rooms of the home including the bedrooms and bathrooms.

Unique Lighting: Shabby Chic features light fixtures and lamps that typically appear to be flea market finds.  Often the light fixtures have glass or crystal beads which in juxtaposition to the casual furniture creates an unexpected look.  Lamps are often painted, and feature fabric shades made from printed fabrics.

Now that you know some of the key fundamentals that go into making a Shabby Chic look, you can try to incorporate some of these elements into your own home.  A major appeal and the beauty of a Shabby Chic look is the imperfection, so do not be afraid of making a mistake when giving this style a try.

Ten Tips for Decorating a Child’s Room


  1. Start with a theme and think outside of the box. Avoid room themes that are based on your child’s favorite character or television show because it will be difficult to design the room without having to purchase a lot of overpriced and unattractive room decor created to market specifically for kids. Instead, select a theme that is more general based on a broader interest of your child, such as a flower garden or the solar system.
  2. Allow your child to become a part of the process. Talk to you child about their specific tastes in colors and other room details. Ask them about what they would like the room to look like; perhaps they will have an idea that is lots more creative than anything you might see in a magazine or catalog.
  3. Use a great paint color but think sophisticated rather than Crayola crayon. Select a paint color that is subtle, subdued and classic. Allow the brighter colors to come from accessories and your child’s toys, these items will inevitably be brightly colored.
  4. Make it personal by incorporating your child’s name somewhere in the room. Perhaps you can stencil their name on the wall above the bed. Also, rather than spending money on store bought art work, use inexpensive plastic frames to display your child’s artwork and other creations.
  5. Remember not to strive for perfection when creating a child’s room. Nobody is perfect, including your child, and you want to keep the environment friendly and forgiving for the ongoing mess and clutter that often associated with a child’s bedroom.
  6. Make toy and clothing storage accessible to your child’s height and reach level. Be sure that your child can be successful in selecting their clothing, and be able to reach toys for play and easily put them away at pick up time.
  7. Don’t forget about the ceiling. This is another great space to add a bit of visual interest. Depending on the theme of the room, you might consider hanging fabric butterflies, beautiful planets, or other items that relate to your concept.
  8. Look for wall paper cutouts that are easily applied to the wall, and easily removed. These are a great alternative to traditional wallpaper, wallpaper borders, or murals as they go up (and down) in a matter of minutes.
  9. Think long term. When purchasing more expensive items like furniture, look for pieces that are classically designed and will grow with your child.
  10.  Keep it simple and fun. Remember those times when you child was very young and more interested in the wrapping paper rather than the actual gift. Same applies with their bedroom design. There is no need to go overboard and spend lots of money. A little effort and creativity on your part will go a long way in creating a room that you will like and your child will enjoy for many years.

Three Ways to Freshen Up a Room for Less Than $15

There are many great budget decorating products and tips out there, but when it comes to freshening up a room for under $15.00 nothing tops the following three items.  The beauty of each of these selections is that they are multi purpose purchase that can be used in a multitude of ways.

A Quart of Paint:  Paint is the unsurpassed winner in budget makeover projects and a quart of paint typically cost between $9.00 and $13.00.  The cost is low and the uses are infinite.  A quart of paint can easily cover Powder Room walls giving a room an entirely new look.  Additionally, you can paint existing furniture items such as tables, chairs and dressers.  Painting furniture can make an old item feel new.  Kitchen and Bathroom cabinets when painted receive a welcomed facelift.  Other items to think about painting include lamps, baskets, planters, and other accessories.

A Flat Bed Sheet:  Shop discount stores and clearance centers for flat bed sheets and you can find steals on these paying less than $15.00 a sheet.  This can be the most lovely pattern fabric for the lowest cost around.  Use this fabric to make throw pillows for a sofa or bed.  Flat bed sheets can also be used as drapery panels for a no sew project.  Other applications in which you can use the sheet it to make custom shower curtains, chair covers, table clothes, placemats, and nearly anything that involves using fabric. 

Blank Artist Canvas:  For under $15.00 you can purchase a stretched artist’s canvas in a large array of sizes.   Typically made of cotton duct and stapled on a wooden frame, these canvases can be easily turned into custom works of abstract art, and you do not need to be an artist.  Please note, abstract is the key word.  Go to your local library and find pictures of abstract art with broad expanses of color and simple lines.  You can then replicate the masterpiece on your canvas.  Or if you would rather come up with your own version of a masterpiece, you can use foam brushes to make wide stripes of colors allowing drips and paint build up to add to your piece.

Try investing $15.00 or less in any of the above items.  Each one (paint, bed sheet, and an artist canvas) offer unlimited opportunity to decorate your home for a small amount of money.