Lighting ~ An Important Element In Home Decor

Just recently my daughter, Sammi and I began a large project with new clients.  The space is a beautiful high-rise condo overlooking Uptown Charlotte.  Each room has an expanse of windows that are the length of the room.  The view from these windows is spectacular to say the least.  In fact, if you’re a football fan, you can see the Carolina Panthers’ Stadium as well as the gorgeous cityscape.

Because I’m all about natural light filtering into interior spaces, I love these windows for more than just the incredible view.  With all the light that can come in on a daily basis, I know the psychological benefits my clients will derive from this.  But aside from the natural light that comes into the condo, Sammi and I have a blank canvas to work with for other lighting choices.  In fact, the entire space is a blank canvas for us, as we’ll be completely furnishing the new digs for our clients.  Talk about fun!

A few days ago we sat down with the couple and discussed lighting options.  I found myself explaining to them my philosophy about lighting and why lighting was a crucial element in home décor.  While talking to them I told them a story about a client we had several years ago – a pro football player.  We furnished his new home from top to bottom and of course we also paid much attention to the lighting detail in his home.  After our work was complete, he had a house-warming party.  Much to my amusement, when he hosted this first big party in his home he called me early the morning of and asked me to come over an hour before the party (we were attending the party) to turn on all the lights for the party.  Clearly, he was still learning about all the lighting options we had created for him but at the same time, he understood the important WOW! Factor the lighting would make for his guests and so he wanted to make sure the mood was set when his guests began to arrive.  I watched our two clients listen to this story and chuckle over it and yet; it was clear they, too were beginning to understand the importance of proper lighting in their own new home.

After leaving this meeting with our new clients I realized a simple lesson on lighting would be a great Blog post.  So I hope you garner new insight on the impact lighting has in your own personal space.  You see lighting plays a key role in creating beauty in your space.  As an “armchair psychologist of the home” I believe that Living Beautifully = Living Well.  Lighting, like every other choice you make in your home décor ultimately has psychological affects on you and anyone that spends time in your home.  So, for the best feel good vibes you can get from your lighting, illuminate in layers.

Three “must have” layers of Lighting in your home

There are three layers of lighting you should use in your home lighting décor.   When combined together they create a mood for your space.  They are:

  • Task Lighting
  • Ambient Lighting
  • Interest Lighting

Task Lighting – This type of lighting is what I call “general lighting” as it is the lighting that is used to identify spaces and allow for the rooms to be lit for safety, etc.  This type of lighting is usually the overhead lighting in each room be it a chandelier in the center of the room, can lights spaced evenly on the ceiling of the room or a ceiling fan with an attached light.

Ambient Lighting – This type of lighting is what I call the “personalized lighting” as it is the lighting that is specifically chosen by the homeowners to be a part of the décor.  This lighting can make or break the feel good vibes of your space and should be carefully planned out.  Table lamps, floor lamps and wall sconces are all forms of ambient lighting.

Interest Lighting – This type of lighting is what I call “surprise lighting” as it’s the lighting that goes the extra mile to create atmosphere thereby adding to the warm fuzzies you get from being in the space.  Picture lights, accent floor lights and yes, undermount cabinet lighting are all forms of interest lighting.  (You may think undermount cabinet lighting is task lighting but it is so much more than that. It allows for added impact.)

All three of these forms of lighting should be part of your design plan for your home décor.  Each of these layers creates a focal point of some kind in your space, regardless of its location in the room.  Remember this and be cognizant of the impact each of these layers of lighting has on your space, particularly with how they combine for an overall affect.  Also, be aware of what I call “the brightness factor” of lighting and understand that increasing OR decreasing the brightness of each form of lighting changes the space.  For that reason in every home I work in, I make sure every single light can have flexible brightness.  I drive my electricians crazy at times when doing ceiling and wall lighting because I require dimmer switches on E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.  I even put dimmers on undermount cabinet lighting in kitchens and bar areas.  (Believe you me, when entertaining in your home or wanting to have simple low lighting on in the evening, undermount cabinet lighting in the kitchen sets the mood for relaxation!)

Minute Details of Lighting – Do’s and Don’ts

Pay attention to the minute details of your lighting.   Here are some simple do’s and don’ts:

  • Do use three way bulbs for your table lamps and dimmers for all other lighting.
  • Do dust regularly ALL your lampshades and ceiling fans. (Obvious dust on ceiling fans is the worst of the worst.)
  • Do hide all the electrical cords of your lighting as best and as safely as you can.  (Visible cords take away from the beauty of your lighting.)
  • Don’t use lampshades that are the wrong size or style for your lamps.
  • Don’t leave the plastic protective wrappers on your lampshades.

I’m looking forward to all the ways the lighting for this new project will “brighten” the space and create real beauty within.  I also look forward to the  “ah-ha” moment our clients will have when they see the impact that these three layers of lighting creates!  Most importantly, I look forward to how the lighting will make them feel, as I know their lighting is an important part of the décor that Sammi and I are intentionally adding to their space for living beautifully in order to live well.  And for you, my hope is that the lighting in your space brings beauty and wellness to you and yours as well!

To lighting up life…

Simple Ways To “Ground” Yourself In Your Home

As an “armchair psychologist of the home” I believe that everything begins in the home – so much so that my design philosophy grew from this belief and so I approach each and every decorating job with this key premise.  No matter what we do or where we go in life, I believe how we act, react and interact in the outside world takes root from how we live in our homes.  To put it simply, how we live in our homes should “ground” us, giving us the foundation to make us emotionally and mentally stable to go out into the world.  This means your homespace is vital to your essence.

I have always been a lover of Nature.  Hiking, biking, camping, kayaking, horseback riding, spending time at the beach, boating, white water rafting or gardening – no matter what the venue, my most favorite times have been spent outdoors.  For me being outdoors was a pleasurable experience.  Only after some trauma-drama infiltrated my life several years ago did I understand the healing powers of Nature.  Nature is flat-out the best tonic out there.  Period.  With this revelation I consciously decided to bring nature into my home in every way that I could knowing that if it worked for me outdoors by golly, it would work indoors, too.

This newfound revelation also became an integral component to my design philosophy and ever since, I have incorporated elements of Nature into all my jobs albeit often in really subtle ways that are only picked up on subconscious levels.  This allows for “grounding” to occur.  I also share with my clients’ ways to infuse Nature in their homes themselves (after I leave their nests) and on a larger scale to audiences such as the readers of my blog as in my post, Two Colors Every Homespace Needs.

Think of bringing Nature into your homespace as being part of getting back to the basics of what the earth has given us, literally.  Call it “grass roots” decorating.  Or call it simplifying your décor.  Heck, you can even look at it as a version of what is called “earthing”, a fascinating concept of connecting with the earth in order to become more balanced.  Ironically, just the other day Susan Weems Muehl, LIPH’s Nature Photographer emailed me a bevy of new nature images (thank you dear friend) and also mentioned that she was practicing the concepts of earthing.  No doubt about it, Susan and I are birds of a feather flocking together!  Both of us absolutely positively get the importance of nature and the earth’s connection to our bodies.  (With all due respect, “earthing” is more about physically being grounded; I am merely relating it to your home and how to bring Nature into your space.  To learn more about “earthing,” read the book, Earthing-The most important health discovery ever? Or go to www.earthing.com as well. )  Whatever you choose to call bringing Nature indoors, just do it.  Here are some simple, sure fire ways:

  • Decorate your home with found things in nature
  • Open up the windows and let fresh air into your home
  • Decorate with live plants, wildflowers and aromatic herbs
  • Pay attention to the seasons and honor them in your décor
  • When building, purchasing or moving into a new home, choose a home that offers you plenty of natural light (sunshine is healing)

Like many of us, I have times I’m in a real funk. I was in one recently for more days than I’d care to admit to.  Focusing too much attention on issues I had no control over and magnifying issues tenfold in my mind had gotten the better of me and quite frankly, I didn’t even find myself good company.  It’s a darn good thing my David had been traveling during this funk or he would have been rolling his eyes at me constantly, ignoring me or worst yet, pulling out his gorgeous silver hair over my attitude.  While in my funk my niece, Marli called me to chat and just my tone of voice when I answered her call made her aware that something was amiss.  I ended up telling her about my seemingly endless days of funk and she listened attentively.  Then she disrupted my pity party by saying, “Aunt Jamie, do what you always say to do.  Go to the woods.  Go to Nature.  Let it restore you.”  Whoa, was she preaching to me what I always preach?  Yep, she sure was.  And guess what?  I took her up on it.  I got off the phone and headed to the woods.  I simply needed an extra large dose of Nature’s medicine – more than my usual daily amount!  I walked and I walked, breathing in all the wonderful smells of Nature as I viewed the changing fall scenery.  So long funk. So long pity pot.  Nature restoreth my soul and I returned home more in tune with the earth.  I filled my lungs with the scent of fresh lavender on the counter.  I enjoyed watering all my plants.  I paid attention to the breeze coming through my opened windows and reveled in the sounds of nature I could hear coming into my home.  Later, as I readied for bed, I felt free of much of my recent anxiety and internally thanked Marli for her advice.

I believe that we all must singly as well as collectively connect or reconnect with Nature in order to truly be balanced and healthy. Infusing elements of the natural world in your home helps to accomplish this and is the single best way to ground yourself.  Remember to bring Nature indoors.  It might seem simple but simple’s good right?  And it might be a small step compared to the “barefoot steps” of earthing but by doing this you will give yourself gifts of healing that only Nature can provide.

To Nature…

Fifteen Ways To Practice Sustainable Living In Your Home

Because I believe that everything begins in the home, our respect for the environment begins in the home as well.  We have the power in our own hands and bodies to help even in small, simple ways to protect the Earth.

Recently I was on a mini-vacation trip in Florida.  My David had some work to do there and on the last leg of our trip we stayed in an awesome resort in Orlando called The Gaylord Palms Resort.  We stayed there at the same time last August for the same convention.  While I was there last year I walked the grounds one morning for exercise.  I spotted a few signs sporadically placed on the grounds that made it clear that the water used for the sprinkler system was recycled water and of course, not fit for drinking.  I was thrilled to see that the resort was using recycled water for the massive grounds, took a picture of one of the signs and posted it on my Facebook page (I put it on the LIPH Fanpage, too) giving the resort a great big shout-out with the phrase, “Understanding how to care for the environment” with the image.  Oddly enough exactly one year later literally almost to the day, a Facebook friend from high school made a comment on the picture.  Clearly this guy was looking through all the images on my page for the first time, or so I figured.  Anyway, it was interesting to me that he commented on the picture one year after I took it and just when I was there at the resort again.  Now I have to admit that I thought it was a weird comment.  In fact, much to my chagrin it sat a tad funny in my stomach while I tried to digest the meaning of his words.  I finally responded back to him asking him what he meant with the words he chose – and that my friends started a few more comments.  Here’s a replay of our exchange of comments as well as a copy of the picture he was commenting on:

Sign at Gaylord Palms Resort, August 23, 2011

Sign at Gaylord Palms Resort, August 23, 2011

The caption for the picture:

“Understanding how to care for the environment.”

My high school friend:

“Having a small family is the single most important anything, anyone can do to help the environment”.

My response:

“Are you referring to the Balzer clan?!?”

A childhood friend, Lisa Atkinson-Cox chimes in (coming to my rescue maybe?):

“LOL! I love 8 Balzers including the one in heaven.”

My high school friend:

“I’m referring to the Homo sapiens clan.”

Later my high school friend added:

“ ‘Understanding how to care for the environment’ means we must understand our ecological impact on this planet.  Adding 1 million humans a year is not consistent with caring for the environment.  Since HS, the human population has ballooned from 3.4 billion to over 7 billion.  This exponential growth is not sustainable.  Doing things like using reclaimed water and recycling at the curb, while nice and I do it too, it is a mere drop in the bucket when each second another human is added to the earth.”

While I enjoyed his pun about the drop in the bucket, I decided not to respond to his last comment.  I’m not a mathematician that’s for sure but I certainly get that my very own family has grown exponentially.  Like the Eveready Bunny that keeps going and going, we Balzers keep growing and growing, so I was a bit offended to be honest!  Besides which, the intent of the picture I posted was to simply applaud a resort for its efforts to conserve water.

All this Facebook exchange came after I had been working on a new blog post on Sustainable Living – and my suggestions on simple ways each of us can “go green” in our own homes.  So, after this happened I knew for sure I had to finish the post- not because I was miffed that my picture turned into a discussion on family size, but because I’m all about the home and everything that happens in it.  (Well, I guess many babies begin in the home but I’m not going there!)

Here’s a list of fifteen very simple and easy ways to do your part in protecting our natural resources:

  1. Turn off your electronics nightly.
  2. Shower more; bathe less as it takes more water to fill a bathtub than it does to shower.
  3. Shorten your shower by a minute or two and you can save hundreds of gallons a month.
  4. Turn off the water while you brush your teeth and save approximately four gallons of water each time.
  5. Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.
  6. Turn off the water while you shave (you, too David) and save several hundred gallons a month.
  7. Make and use a yard compost to reduce usage of your garbage disposal thereby reducing water usage as well as electricity.
  8. Change your light bulbs to CFL’s as they consume 75% less electricity than the standard bulbs and last up to 10 times longer.
  9. Clean the lint filter on your dryer before every load.
  10. Choose cloth napkins and dish towels over paper napkins and paper towels.
  11. Donate old clothing and household items rather than throwing them away.
  12. Change the filters on your forced air heating and air conditioning regularly.
  13. Support local farmers.
  14. Use reusable bottles for water instead of plastic water bottles.
  15. Recycle, Recycle, Recycle everything possible.

Remember the words that Neil Armstrong spoke after he stepped on the moon about one small step for man being a giant leap for mankind?  I believe that each of us can in our own small step(s) collectively impact our Earth.  Sure, some of us can and will go to more extreme forms of caring for our environment like limiting family size.  But personally, I think we can get more people on the bandwagon of conservation and sustainable living by making it easy.  What do you think?

To caring for our Earth…

UPDATE:

This article was written and sent for publishing before the passing of Neil Armstrong on Saturday, August 25th.  I considered removing the reference to him and decided instead to look at it as a way to honor the man even in this sad time.  I remember vividly my family and I glued to the TV watching him take his first step on the Moon.  What a gift this man was to all humanity!

Ten Things To Remember About Your Home

For more than a year now I’ve been blogging about the importance of home.  And, throughout my articles I have written about home in terms of décor, color and design as well as how to truly live well in your home.  I’m grateful for all the readers that have supported me by taking the time to read my posts but my guess is that not everyone reads each and every post.  (Ya think?!?)  With that in mind, as another year begins in my world of blogging and because today is my birthday and I can do what I want to, I thought I would give you a quick list of my top ten beliefs about home that I think each and every person that dwells in some form of shelter should know.

I’ll make it simple and concise and leave it up to you dear readers to digest each of my top ten things to remember about home and interpret them for yourselves how best they fit your way of life.

My Top Ten

  1. When you decorate your home you decorate your life.
  2. Your home is an outward expression of yourself.
  3. A beautiful home impacts your mood and behavior.
  4. Elements of Nature radiate calming energy when used in your home.
  5. Much like the Russian Nesting Dolls (Matryoshka), your home should be beautiful layer after layer beginning with the streetscape.
  6. The décor of your home should be designed with a sense of “studied indifference” with things arranged in a way as if by mere happenstance.
  7. A beautiful home is not the result of material consumerism.
  8. Creating peace and harmony in your home will create harmony within.
  9. Living Beautifully + Living Peacefully = Living Well.
  10. Everything begins in the home.

My birthday wish today is that each of you have or aspire to have a home filled with peace and harmony!

And one more thing…

Here’s a very special shout-out to my dear twin brother, Craig Balzer.  What tremendous joy I have in my life to have been so blessed to share life with you.  It’s been a wonderful ride with you ~ from childhood having two cakes on the dining table for our birthday (year after year yours was all chocolate and mine was white with chocolate frosting) to spending Beach Week together with our friends when we graduated from high school to sharing the breakfast table each morning during our college years in our townhouse at VA. Tech (and on occasion watching you literally fall asleep with a spoon of cereal in mid-air from being up all night in the Architectural building) to watching our children grow up together and to now at the awesome age of 56 realize how truly alike we are (as I wrote in my post, Design From An Architect’s View).   Without a shadow of a doubt we have a wonderful bond between us.  Happy birthday, I love you!

The twins with Mom

The twins with Mom

Design From An Architect’s View

I spent some time the other day with an Architect that I greatly admire.  We quickly got into a philosophical discussion on Design.  Interested to pick his brain to gain some knowledge of how he views Home Design (his design work is stellar by the way), I asked him an opening question and prepared myself to sit back and listen.

My question was this:  “How do you approach designing a home for someone?”  Over an hour later after he finished talking I realized this man had given me more than a wealth of knowledge – he had given me a chance to deeply connect with him in a way that I wasn’t expecting.  But, hold that thought while I tell you what he said in answer to my question…

I’ve known this man for many, many years and have followed his work as often as I’ve been able to.  I know he excels in several areas of Architecture – Church Design and Residential Home Design being two examples.  He’s even designed a Women’s Prison, which I find utterly fascinating having a degree in Criminal Justice myself.  I thought I knew this man’s philosophy and I knew his mantra, “Design with Dignity”.  But, as I sat there and listened to him it got harder and harder for me to sit and only listen.  Everything he said absolutely positively mirrored my own design philosophy.  Caught up in an avalanche of emotions with goose bumps erupting up and down my arms and bubbles of laughter wanting to burst forth from my mouth, I found myself impatiently waiting for my turn to talk.  Word for word, everything this man said echoed my own design philosophy and I wanted to shout out, “Yes, this is exactly how I approach decorating a home.”

So similar are our styles in our professions and who knew until now?  For example, he told me that he never takes notes in the initial meetings with new clients.  Ditto.  We both keep everything in our heads.  And, I understood completely what he meant when he said,

“I listen intently to the client and quickly begin to understand better than the client what he/she is asking for.  I leave the meeting with all my notes stored carefully in my head and then go to my drawing board to put onto paper what I see in my head.  I give them what they don’t even know to ask for.”

Ditto again.

Then he continued, “My design tells a story.  The story is about the person or persons the space is being designed for.  In telling the story, the design becomes sensual so that every sense comes alive in the space.”

Now  – as a storyteller myself, I got it.  And ditto again.  When I design and decorate the interior spaces for a client, I, too tell a story about how and what makes this person tick.  That’s why I never want any two spaces to look alike.  As humans we are much like snowflakes – no two are the same so no two spaces should be the same.  Uniqueness – that’s where the beauty is and yep, that’s where the story is!

This man’s next words were more personal as he started telling me about the home he is designing for himself and his wife.  He readily admitted to me the agony of doing this, as working for someone else is so much easier.  It dawned on him that he needed to approach the project seeing the two of them as “the clients” and so late one night (while his wife was away) he wrote the story of their life together to begin conceptualizing the design.  He of course, is an Architect.  She is a Master Gardener.  Hence, he titled the story, “An Architect and a Gardner”.  I asked him if later he would email me the notes he wrote to tell their story.  He sent them to me a few days later with a quick note telling me that more than a story, his notes were a poem with phrases weaving together the parts of both of them that would be blended into the design plan.  He also sent me a sketch – the original sketch he drew to visually show what his words described.

If I wasn’t already blown away from my conversation with this man, I certainly was after I read his words and reviewed his sketch he emailed me.  What a beautiful story I saw in his words – the absolute spot on understanding he had of how to marry their two chosen careers into the design of their home honoring both of them in such an awesome way.  Poetic phrases to describe who they are, I hope you enjoy reading a portion of his poem yourself…

An Architect and a Gardener

A Life Together

A Transition In Life Together – A New Home

Sharing The Desire To Live Inside-Live Outside

   A House To Live Inside/A Garden To Live Outside

 

The Site… Offering Wonderful Vistas & Views

                   Springs, Creeks, Rivers, Lakes

 

The Residence

                A Continuation of Pathways/Entry

               A Sense Of “Arrival”

              A “Parkway” Setting

             A Transition From “Manmade” To “Handmade”

             A Transition From The “Required” To The “Desired”

            An Active Place Offering A “Canvas” For Continued

            Architectural Stories And Gardening – Always

          “Works-in-Progress”

 

An Architect and his twin

I have to tell you something about the conversation I had with this man. You see I shared my mother’s womb with him.  Yep, he’s my fraternal twin brother.  I’ve known him since the beginning of time – literally.  And yet, this unexpected philosophical discussion changed my entire relationship with him.  What started out as a question of how he worked turned into a defining moment in both our lives.  There we sat, the two of us middle aged and soon turning fifty-six and for the first time we both understood how deeply alike and connected we are.  How awesome life is!

If you’re looking for a moral to my story (since there usually is), there’s actually two for you.  First, let your home tell your story and let it creatively express your uniqueness in both the structural design as well as the interior design.  Second, take the time to really listen and take the time to really talk to the people around you that you care about.  Deeper connections are always ready for the taking.  I know.

To you Craig…

Please take the time to visit our new website for B&A Interiors by going to www.bainteriors.com. We just launched a new look and I hope you’ll like it!  And now that it has launched, I’m back on track writing again for LIPH.  I thank each and every one of you that takes the time to read the words that pour from my heart on LIPH.  Please keep reading and sharing your comments.  

IF You … Then You Know You Made A Decorating Blunder

In my recent post, Five Common Blunders In Home Decor, I listed my all-time top five that I have encountered through the years.  I do admit that I have an eye for unusual details. Couple that with a good memory and I tell you, I can remember decorating blunders from years past even as a child.

For any of you that haven’t read my post on blunders, let me educate you as to what a blunder is.

Blunder: To make a mistake through stupidity, ignorance or carelessness.

So clearly, to make a blunder is an innocent mistake which means if it’s pointed out to you well then heck, you can fix it and voila, the blunder is gone.  At least that’s what should happen!

Now, I’m not much for comedy.  I’m pretty simple so most of it goes over my head.  Give me a good episode of Persons of Interest or Alcatraz and I’m a happy camper.  There is one comedian however that I totally get – Jeff Foxworthy.  Maybe it’s because I’m a southerner and so I understand his redneck jokes.  Or maybe his unique style of posing each joke as a hypothesis makes it clearer for it.  Or maybe its because I am a redneck!  Whatever the case may be, his style of one-liners has spilled over into my own personal life and for years I have obsessively used this same “If…Then” one-liner game to describe personality types and characteristics I encounter myself.  For example, I once wanted to list the qualities of a Narcissist so I played the Jeff Foxworthy game in my head saying things like, “If your husband thinks he’s the only good guy in the universe, then you know he’s a Narcissist”.  Or here’s another one.  “If your boss thinks God has given him a unique gift no one else understands, then you know he’s a Narcissist”.  See what I mean?  Or in trying to define a Drama Queen I’d say, “If she constantly overreacts to the itsy-bitsiest little thing, then you know she’s a Drama Queen”.  I’m telling you, this “If…Then” game can become a habit.  I play it in my head All.The.Time.  It’s quite entertaining.

So back to decorating and blunders.  As I wrote in Five Common Blunders In Home Décor, I’ve seen it all.  Most of the blunders I’ve encountered are easy ones to correct but some are real doozies.  Doozies put you on the road to Tackyville and if you make too many of these blunders, your home registers on my “Tacky Interiors Registry”.  OK, I’m kidding here.  I don’t have a Registry – yet.   But, just like my head game of “If…Then”, I also over and over again in my head design and decorate what I call “Tacky Interiors”.  I even have on my Bucket List of things to do before I expire teaching a Decorating 101 Course.  The first project I will assign the class will be to design a “Tacky Interiors Home” – fabrics, furniture, accessories, storyboard and all.  Talk about fun!  Oh and just so you know – Tacky for me means decorating blunders that create such an unpleasant distraction that the overall look becomes a real eyesore.  (Remember the Griswolds?  Yep, their house would be on my Registry!)

In no particular order, here’s my list of “If…Then” one-liners that define doozie-decorating blunders.  I hope you enjoy them and let me just say, nobody reading this post needs to worry about ever being on my “Tacky Interiors Registry” so don’t start guessing to whom I’m referring…

  • If you look at the calendar and notice it’s March and the Christmas Decorations are still up, then you know you made a decorating blunder.
  • If your foyer chandelier still has the plastic wrap on the individual shades after a year, then you know you made a decorating blunder.
  • If you have plastic runners overtop of your carpeting, then you know you made a decorating blunder.
  • If it’s the middle of winter and you have last summer’s dead plants still on your front porch, then you know you made a decorating blunder.
  • If you have the garden tags still hanging on your potted plants inside your home or out, then you know you made a decorating blunder.
  • If you have street facing garage windows with no window coverings or blinds on them and you can see the stuff in your garage, then you know you made a decorating blunder.
  • If electrical cords for your lamps or other electronics go from one room to the next for an outlet to plug into, then you know you made a decorating blunder.
  • If the blinds on your windows still have the manufacturer’s tags dangling from each one and you plan to keep the blinds, then you know you made a decorating blunder.
  • If you decorate your gutter downspouts with greenery and lights for Christmas and you aren’t the Griswolds, then you know you made a decorating blunder.
  • If your microwave or toaster oven sits on top of a pile of other household items, then you know you made a decorating blunder.
  • If you have Cannabis Plants decorating your home, then you know you made a decorating blunder.  (And it might get you in trouble!)
  • If your solid wood dining room table is always covered in a table pad, then you know you made a decorating blunder.
  • If the bedskirt on your bed is inches off the floor, then you know you made a decorating blunder.
  • If you have TMI of personal hygiene in public areas of your home, then you know you made a decorating blunder.
  • If you have plastic flowers and ferns planted in your flowerbeds, then you know you made a decorating blunder.

And finally,

  • If you have a pit in your stomach while reading this post, then you made a decorating blunder… somewhere, somehow… and you’re worried!

Enjoy checking out your homespace.  Let me know what you find!

To loving life…

Construction Zone: Rehabbing My HOME

Imagine building a new house.  The foundation, the frame and exterior structure give stability to the interior rooms of the house.  They support what’s on the inside of the house.  But, step inside the house and see the real beauty.  The interior of the house is what the home is really about.  The same goes for us.  The exterior of our bodies is what we physically present to the world.  The real substance though is on the inside.  Each of us has a custom interior.  Who you are on the inside, down to every single detail of your character and personality becomes the HOME you present to others on a daily basis.  Your HOME, much like the physical home you live in should be beautiful through and through.

Many of us get used to living in our HOMES much like we get used to living in our houses, often ignoring things that are in disrepair.  I learned this for myself after a chance encounter on an airplane in 2006.  Well, actually my David experienced the chance encounter.  But, it had to do with my past and of course, he shared the details of the encounter with me.  This chance encounter that could only be described as “God’s Synchronistic Work” forced me to look at myself and see the pieces inside me that needed repairing.  Pieces of me like fear, hurt and anger that had real potential to ruin any beauty in my HOME.

That’s when I started work on rehabbing my HOME with a new custom interior devoid of these pieces that quite frankly, had become junk cluttering me up.  And as you know if you have ever undertaken a construction project, the work takes time, energy and funds.

Time takes time if you know what I mean.  My construction zone has been an ongoing process since 2006.  Though it has indeed taken a lot of time, like any beautiful new space, I absolutely, positively love the emerging custom new me!

Energy expended in doing the work in my construction zone has been incredible.  There have been moments when I thought the work was way too hard.   I have felt exhaustion on every level- physically, emotionally and spiritually.  But somehow, someway I have found the necessary energy for each new stage of construction.

Funds are essential to every custom home project.  I have to tell you – I have had an abundance of funds!  Mind you, I’m not talking cash here.  I’m talking “Love Funds”.  The love to fund my project has been over and above what I could ever have imagined and by now you may have guessed it – the funds came from David.

David, loving life

David, loving life

Speaking of David, today marks ten years since I first met him.  I remember it well and even remember telling him I had no desire to start a relationship with anyone including him.  I also remember well leaving the restaurant after that first meeting and when we walked outside, oddly enough we realized we had parked side-by-side.  Here we are ten years later still side-by-side loving the journey of the rest of our lives together.

Happy Anniversary David and thank you for the unconditional abundance of love you have so freely given me to rehab my HOME.  I will forever be giddy over you!  And I have to say, although you don’t complete me, you darn sure compliment my HOME well!

To love and life…

Five Common Blunders In Home Décor

Over the years in my career I’ve seen it all in home decor – the good, the bad and the tacky.  (Were you thinking I’d say ugly?)  You name it and I’ve seen it.  Truth be told, I’ve never really seen anything just plain ole ugly.  Instead I’ve seen blunders, which in my book can lead to tacky decor.

As I mentioned in my post, Love In Your HOME, I recently experienced several occasions whereby Webster’s Dictionary was pulled out for the “audience” and meanings of simple words were read aloud.  That experience got me on the bandwagon of providing definitions for words I use just so there’s no misunderstanding of what I mean by the words I choose.  So for that reason here’s Webster’s Dictionary’s meaning of the word “blunder”:

Blunder: “To make a mistake through stupidity, ignorance or carelessness.”

I’m guessing now that I have piqued your curiosity.  Just what you wonder do I consider a decorating blunder?  Or worse yet a blunder sooooo bad that it can lead you to the “Road of Tacky”?  (Look for my upcoming post, If You … Then You Know You’ve Made A Decorating Blunder for some comic relief on the worst of the worst I’ve seen, or the best of the best as beauty after all is in the eyes of the beholder you know!)

Yep, I’ve seen it all.  But without a doubt, most of the homes I have entered are as lovely as those that dwell in them and so the blunders that I find are subtle.  By that I mean that the blunders I see create distraction on a sub-conscious level rather than a conscious level and quite frankly, this is the level that’s most important.  You see it’s on the sub-conscious level that we walk away from something not feeling the love so to speak and yet, we just can’t put our finger on why we don’t.

Over the years I have come up with a top five list of the blunders I see over and over again in homes that I have either worked in or visited on a social basis.  So, without further adieu, here are the top five blunders I find people make in their homes:

  1. Overkill of Collectibles
  2. Improper Lighting
  3. Improperly hung Artwork
  4. Dirty Walls and Doors
  5. Taking a Décor Theme into overdrive

Overkill of Collectibles

Most of us love collecting knick-knacks.  I know I do.  I love Herend Porcelain Figurines, Vintage Dinnerware and Antique Hand-carved Ducks.  What becomes a blunder is when you go too far with your collections.  When displaying collections remember my decorating motto, “Less is more”.  Don’t have your collection of crystal paperweights or your collection of antique dolls in every cabinet, on every dresser and on every table in every room.  Instead, choose specific places to accentuate your home with these collectibles.  I suggest displaying collectibles in odd numbers such as 3 or 5. Displaying your collectibles as onesies all over your home or in large groups everywhere you turn takes away from the charm, character and uniqueness of your collectibles.

Improper Lighting

Improper lighting can truly ruin the ambience of your homespace.  No-nos include lampshades that don’t fit the lamps, using bulbs with the incorrect wattage, dusty shades, dusty bulbs, dead insects sitting in overhead lighting and most importantly, forgetting to have lighting at different levels of your homespace.  For example, don’t rely only on overhead lighting for each room.  Be sure to have low-level lighting on tables, task lighting for areas such as in your kitchen and use dimmers wherever you can.  The key is to give yourself flexibility in your lighting.  Oh – and don’t forget to take the plastic off your new lampshades!

Improperly hung Artwork

Nothing can ruin a look more than improperly hung pictures and artwork.  Just as an educational tip to remember – pictures and artwork should be hung at eye level.  This doesn’t necessarily mean at your eye level.  For instance, I’m 5’2”.  My main go-to professional picture hanger is about 6’7”.  But, we hang all my clients’ pictures and artwork at the eye level that the art industry recommends:

When looking at the center of your piece, hang it approximately 60”-65” from the floor.

Obviously there is more to consider about your picture if it is being placed in a grouping or is being placed over a piece of furniture such as a sofa.  I recommend the Internet to further educate yourself on the art of picture hanging –it’s full of sites you can visit that give great step-by-step instructions for every picture-hanging project you can imagine.

Dirty Walls and Doors

This might sound like a cleanliness issue but oh it’s so much more than that.  It doesn’t matter how beautifully decorated your space is, if walls have dirt and grime on them – ugh!  If there are handprints, footprints, peeling paint, grit and grime on your doors- ugh again!  You can bet others sub-consciously notice it.  This goes for light switches, too as they are often the culprits for dirt and grime.  Get out the Clorox wipes routinely and walk throughout your homespace with a keen eye for spotting places you need to wipe away mess.  This takes very little time if you stay on top of it and will absolutely, positively make a difference in your homspace feel.  I guarantee it.

Taking a Décor Theme into overdrive

Here goes my decorating motto again – “Less is more”.  Just look around your homespace.  Love one specific color?  Let it flow throughout your space, but in bits and pieces.  Love animal print?  Again, use it sparingly.  A little goes a long way to send a message of beauty in your homespace.

So there you have it, my top five blunders people make in their home décor.  Why not take the time today to peruse your homespace room by room and see if and where you could fix some mistakes?  You might find some surprises.

To a fabulous homespace…

Artfully Celebrating Family Life In Your Home Décor

As a decorator I have my own design and décor philosophy that includes some critical components to creating a beautiful sanctuary for my clients to live in.   Making what I call “positive impact statements” is part of this philosophy.  As I wrote in a recent post, Positive Impact Statements In Your HOME, one way to make a positive impact statement in your home is to artfully display family photographs.  Without a doubt displaying family photos is one of the things on my list that can take a home from ordinary to extraordinary.  Why you ask?  First of all, displaying your family life in this way is unique in that no one else will have the same pictures.  Everyone can have accessories from Restoration Hardware or Pottery Barn, but your family photos personalize your space.  Second, displaying family photos gives your space comfy, cozy warmth regardless of your décor style, as these personal glimpses of family life are art from the heart.  Finally, displaying family photographs is what I call “decorating with intention”.  In other words, the family pictures are displayed with the specific intention of artfully enhancing your homespace décor.

Like any other form of decorating you do in your homespace, decorating with family photography needs to be well planned and well thought out.  Look through your homespace.  Pay attention to where you are displaying family photographs and ask yourself these important questions:

  • Do some of the frames look outdated or badly worn? Unless you are intentionally using antique or “repurposed” frames for your pieces, be aware that outdated and damaged frames will absolutely, positively take away from your artful arrangement of family photos.
  • Do the frames fit the photographs they hold properly?  Though this question might sound silly, you would be amazed at how often I go into homes and immediately notice that family pictures have been put in frames willy-nilly without really taking the time to carefully select the appropriate frame.  Remember that decorating (even with family photos) is in the details.
  • Are you displaying family photos in too many places and spaces?  If you truly want your family photos to become a part of your décor, choose very specific places and spaces to display them.  Two areas I specifically like are: a focal place such as a hallway wall and a focal space such as a piano, sofa table or bookcase.  Remember however my decorating mantra, “less is more” and steer clear of becoming over zealous with places and spaces you display your family photos.

A Wall of Family Life

A glimpse of the Balzer-Solganik family life

A glimpse of the Balzer-Solganik family life

My personal favorite way to display family photos is to create what I call a “wall of family life”.  Over the years I have enjoyed creating many of these in the homes of friends and clients. Here are some points to ponder if you embark on your own creation:

  • Consider a theme for your display. My favorite theme is to use all black and white photos with black frames. By keeping to a theme you achieve more than just a way to display family photos.  You also create unique art to accent the beauty of your homespace.
  • Consider arranging the pieces to create a family timeline or story.  By doing this, your display becomes a conversation piece to return to over and over again.  Best of all you can mix and match frames and photo content since the idea is to simply tell the story of your family.  My mother did this in our home growing up and believe me, the frames and the photos were a total hodge-podge.  But it worked!  And with six kids and dozens of grandkids my mother created a look that told a story on the wall of each family as the Balzer Clan grew and grew.  Talk about creating a space for walks down Memory Lane!   Talk about creating a space for interesting conversations!
  • Consider the overall look of your arrangement and what you want to express. Carefully consider what you are trying to achieve with the display.  Be as conscious of the pictures and the frames you choose as you would be when choosing what knick-knacks get placed where in your homespace.  Also, remember your audience that will be seeing your photos and thoughtfully choose which ones you share.  (For example, more intimate family photos such as “pregnant belly shots” make beautiful art in more private areas of your home.)
  • Consider hiring a pro.  If you are planning to display a large collection of family photos I highly recommend that you have your display hung professionally.  The average John or Jane doesn’t have the knowledge to properly hang a large grouping of frames of varying sizes.
  • Consider making a trial run of your display.  I highly recommend this.  Arrange your framed photos on an open space such as the floor so you can visualize what the grouping will look like on the wall.
  • Consider leaving what I call “room to grow” in your collage of photos.  This is particularly important if you have a growing family.

Have fun with this wonderful way to make a positive impact statement in your home.  You, your family and all those that get treated to your display will enjoy celebrating your family life, true art from the heart for years to come!

To celebrating family…

Carroll Family Life with room to grow

Carroll Family Life with room to grow

Positive Impact Statements In Your HOME

No doubt about it, your home makes a statement.  The colors you choose, the accessories and furnishings you choose and the way you arrange your things all say a lot about you to those that enter your home.  If you’re like me, you want people to love being in your home and at the same time love how it looks and how it feels.  And like I tell my clients, you want your home to be memorable.  For example, say you are hosting a party in your home.  When your guests leave and get in their cars you hope that instead of thinking about the conversations they heard or the food they were served or what everyone was wearing they remember all the wondrous things they were treated to in your home décor.  In other words, they leave your home with feel good vibes your homespace puts off.

There are some very simple touches to your home décor that can send out real powerful feel good vibes and at the same time honor your individuality.  I believe these vibes come from what I call “positive impact statements”.

Here’s a list of some ways to make positive impact statements in your homespace:

  • By displaying special collections
  • By using interesting artwork
  • By artfully displaying family photographs
  • By creating focal points in each room
  • By adding bits of the unexpected

Displaying special collections

Most of us collect things.  I love to collect vintage dinnerware.  I also collect Herend Porcelain Figurines.  Both are displayed in my homespace and yet, not overdone.  Instead, I strategically display my collections in specific areas of my space for the greatest impact.  The key to displaying collections is to remember my decorating mantra “less is more”.  Overkill ruins the beauty of collectibles for sure.

Using interesting artwork

Geometric Art in a nursery / Cameron Triggs Photography

Geometric Art in a nursery / Cameron Triggs Photography

The choices of artwork that you use in your homespace are a huge impact statement.  Interesting artwork makes for positive vibes.  So, think through carefully what you choose to put on your walls.  Have fun mixing things up, too!  If you tend to be somewhat traditional, kick it up a notch with some contemporary artwork.  Or if you like modern furnishings, accent your decor with black and white artwork or even landscape pieces of art.  Whatever you choose, mix and match so that you keep it interesting.  I promise you – the look will be great!

Artfully displaying family photographs

The Carroll Family artfully displayed on a hallway wall

Artfully displayed family photos

This type of positive statement is my all-time favorite to use in home décor because I am all about family.  If you ask me, all else in life pales in comparison to the feel good vibes you can get from the family connection.  Find a great space in your home to create a “wall of family life”.  For more on this impact statement look for my upcoming post titled, “Artfully Celebrating Family Life In Home Décor”.

Creating focal points in each room

Nothing makes a positive impact statement more than creating an interesting focal point in the room.  Ways to do this include using an interesting piece of furniture as a statement, using bold pops of color in the room with pillows or other accessories or even using an interesting area rug as the focal point of the room.

Adding bits of the unexpected

Wall art becomes an extra place for creativity/ Cameron Triggs Photography

Wall art becomes an extra place for creativity / Cameron Triggs Photography

Every space can benefit from some fun and whimsy.  I have been known to “hide” bits of whimsy in client’s homes in ways that on first glance get overlooked.  But, boy-oh-boy is it fun to see the surprise on someone’s face when they happen upon the unexpected!  Other times the unexpected can be more obvious such as in this picture of a playroom.  In the room one wall was painted with characters from the book, Alice In Wonderland.  The characters double as a chalkboard, a corkboard and a metallic board as well.  What a great space for budding young artists to be able to create in!

“You”, your HOME’s most powerful impact statement

Finally, I want to say that your homespace is impacted the most by you.  Your attitudes, your feelings and your behaviors can flat out make or break the energy of your space.  Be cognizant of this and strive to thrive in your space by being positive and full of life.  Your space will begin to “feel” your positive energy and others will feel it, too.  When you get right down to it “you” are your “HOME” because it mirrors you.  So, if you want your home to be inviting to others make sure you are giving off positive vibes yourself.

Love your space and love your life…