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

Wellness Begins In The Home

For years I habitually dreamed of redecorating my home at 2831 Giverny Drive and by the way, I’m talking about even long after I moved on to another place.  Some dreams were about putting up new window treatments, others about rearranging furniture in the different rooms and still others focused on redoing the landscaping in my yard.  My dreams, teeming with brilliant colors and detail on occasion had to do with smells in my house and actual events like entertaining – all with a new décor as the backdrop of course.  These dreams came almost every single night and invariably left me fraught with anxiety upon waking each morning.  You see, night after night these dreams reminded me each morning that my house was out of kilter.  Why you wonder?  It’s because these dreams began soon after my marriage split up and believe you me they plagued me for years.  What I was “working” on in my dream state was clearly symbolic of the work I was doing on my interior self.  Feverishly each night as I slept I was trying to work through a renovation of my house in order to get back on track and feel balanced and well.  Funny thing though – a dear friend and counselor I know, Joyce Hennessy and I have had conversations about having dreams about houses.  She said that she has had many clients going through traumatic events such as divorce that have recurring dreams of cleaning their houses over and over again.  (Symbolic for cleaning up the mess or messes in life.)  But, my nightly dreams of redecorating were new to her.  Which obviously means that the “redecorating” in my dreams had other meaning- like maybe my home décor needed changing for other psychological reasons?!?

I am happy to say that for the last two or three years I have been free of these dreams.  I no longer have a single itty-bitty dream of 2831 Giverny Drive and hallelujah, what a blessing.  But, I had a conversation the other day with someone that brought all this back to me.  One of our projects for B&A Interiors was recently selected for a magazine article and so the writer interviewed me about my design philosophy.  I found myself explaining the principles of what I call “Psychology of the Home” and how important it is to create space for yourself that is not only peaceful and beautiful but is also the outward expression of who you are.  After I got off the phone it hit me like a ton of bricks.  That’s really what I was doing in my dreams.  In my dreams I was desperately trying to tell my psyche that my house didn’t match who I was and that it needed to become the true outward expression of myself.

Mind you, within a few days of becoming separated I began to change things in my house.  For example, as I mentioned in an earlier post, Our Homes Must Express Our True Essence, I had the landscapers remove a huge River Birch that was overtaking the front of my house completely obscuring the view outside.  Simply removing that tree changed the look of my house and said, “Hello world, here I am”.  Talk about liberating!  But for the most part it took a few years for me to fully express myself in my sanctuary and feel balanced through and through.  Along the way, I began to understand part of what I was doing in my clients’ homes.  I realized I was harmonizing their space with their personalities much like I did my own house.  Really, really cool!

Which takes me back to my interview with the writer of the magazine article.  I gave her some of the back-story of my clients, Katie and Seth, two young and very busy professionals who had a desire to create a beautiful space to live in that reflected who they are.  While talking to her I told her how happy they are now with their newly rehabbed uptown condo and that they can’t wait to come home to it every night after work.

Living Beautifully + Living Peacefully = Living Well

I happen to believe there are no coincidences in life.  This means that the dreams that plagued me for years were meant to teach me something about myself.  And, to take it a step further, I believe that the wisdom I gleaned from the dreams was to be shared with others in their own personal spaces.  That’s why I came up with the model I call “Homespace Coaching”.  Think of it as a formula for successful wellness.  Living beautifully (through choosing décor to fit your unique personality) plus living peacefully (through simple changes in how you live in your space) equals living well.

I live an incredibly blissful life.  I am well and whole.  I believe that my road to wellness truly began when I realized that everything begins in the home.  Sure, all the other things I do for myself like exercise, meditating and prayer enhance my life.  But the truth is, feeling alive and complete in my house created a home for me to thrive in and be well.

Through my dreams during a very painful and traumatic time in my life I was given a gift.  I was given the gift of awareness of the need to create for myself space that honors my true essence.  And now I am paying it forward by sharing this awareness with others.

Do yourself a favor – make sure you house is a home that gives you beauty and peace.  It’s the best wellness plan out there.

To wellness…

What’s In Your Attic?

Capital One Credit Card Company’s tag line, “What’s in your wallet?” leads you to think that their credit card is an important item for you to carry in your wallet.  After all, each item most of us have in our wallets is there for a reason.  We choose what we have in our wallets down to which photos we have in them, which receipts we hold onto, what identifications cards we have in them and yes, which credit cards we carry in them.  Many of us are even organized enough to know how much money we carry in our wallets and even make sure the dollar bills are neatly arranged in sequential order.

The same should go for our attic spaces.  Important items we want to save, protect and store should be what’s in our attics and yet; very often this space becomes the dumping ground for our junk.

I’ll never forget my David’s close encounter of the worst kind the last time he was in our attic.  It was almost exactly three years ago.  We had known for months that we would be moving from Charlotte, NC to “The Windy City” and so I had made a schedule of things we needed to get done before we moved.  Now understand I mean this with the utmost love and affection for my David but, “Harry Homemaker” he’s not.  Not even remotely.  So of course he put off and put off and put off his chore of cleaning the attic. (By the way, he opted to choose this chore!)  So, finally the weekend before the movers were to arrive, he decided to tackle the attic- cleaning, decluttering and organizing it.  Needless to say, with so little time to get the job done, most of the junk came to Chicago in the moving van.  But, the reason I’m telling this story is because of what happened when we moved.  You see the attic was a filthy mess (due to years of neglect) when David finally broke down and went up there to tackle it.  Dust, dirt, grime, bat droppings – you name it, it was there.  So, a few days later on the road trip to Chicago he started feeling funny.  Well, he got worse and worse and so literally upon hitting Naperville I took him to the emergency room.  Shock of all shocks, he was admitted for double pneumonia.  What a wonderful welcome to our new digs that was!  After several days in the hospital, we put two and two together and realized what probably triggered the pneumonia was the nasty air and surroundings of the attic.  So, moral of the story- clean and declutter your attic.  Clean it of dust, dirt and cobwebs.  Keep only what you really want to save and take the rest of your unneeded stuff to Habitat Restore, Consignment Shops or other charities for someone else to use and enjoy.  And remember, a clean attic creates a healthy environment for you!

Attics in our HOMES

In our being HOMES we have attics much like the ones in our physical dwellings.  And many of us ignore these attics much like we ignore our physical attics.  We fill these invisible attics of our hearts, minds and souls with boxes of junk that we don’t want to deal with and we let these boxes sit there year after year gathering more dust, dirt and grime – all the while continuing to create a horribly unhealthy environment for us.  Boxes of hurt.  Boxes of anger.  Boxes of humiliation.  Boxes of jealousy.  Boxes of fear.  Boxes of regret.  And so on and so on…

I take my job as a Decorator and a Homespace Coach very seriously.  Part of what I do is share with my clients ways that they can better live in their space in order to live harmoniously within themselves.  So, I can tell you absolutely, positively that cleaning up the attic is an important chore to tackle- and I mean this both figuratively and literally. Cleaning up spaces like the attic make both your physical space and your mental space healthier.

So, don’t put off cleaning your attic for another day.  Face the chore and do it knowing how good you will feel once you have completed the task.  We all have boxes in our attics we choose to ignore.  But, I can promise you the clean up is well worth it.  For if you put off and keep putting off, it might make you sick.  Deal with the boxes in your attic that need to be removed, even if you tackle them one at a time.  The freedom you will get from it is indescribable.  And let me tell you, when you clean up your attic it allows for more space inside for beautiful things to reside there.  I know this first hand as I’ve done the cleaning of my own invisible attic!  I have Missy (not her real name) to thank for forcing me to clean up my attic. Thank you Missy, you helped me tackle the boxes in my attic I was choosing to ignore.  My prayer for you is that one-day you will find the courage to tackle your own.  You will free yourself and honey, money can’t buy freedom like that!

To cleaning the attic…

Using Visual Cues In Home Décor

Everywhere we turn there are visual cues for us.  Driving along the interstate there are billboards after billboards – especially if you are nearing “South of the Border” in Dillon, South Carolina.  Anyone traveling to the beaches in this area knows what I mean- billboards advertising the retail establishments of “South of the Border” are one after the other, literally. I’ve heard there are about 175 billboards advertising for it.  Then there’s the visual cues on the screen at the movie theatres showing people eating yummy treats from the concession stands to wet your appetites and thirsts and compel you to purchase these things before the movie starts.  Drive-in movies were the big thing when I was growing up and somewhere I heard that within the movies there were even visual cues that were so quick they were seen only on the subliminal level, meant to get us to the concession stand for popcorn and treats without even knowing it.  My family – we brought our own. My mom would pop up a huge grocery bag of popcorn and load the cooler for all of us to enjoy while we sat in the station wagon watching two back-to-back flicks.

Anyway, back to visual cues.  Visual cues are a type of sensory cue that work on both the conscious mind as well as the sub-conscious mind to affect us in some way.  Some visual cues (such as the ones at the movies) are meant to entice on a short-term basis.  Others such as the arrows on elevators are meant to instruct.  (They still don’t properly instruct me!)  Regardless of what the visual cue is for, it’s clear that they affect us.

I’m sure most of you over the years have created visual cues in your homes.  If you have children you have at some point most likely posted “Potty Charts” or “Good Behavior Charts”. I had a doorframe in my house where we kept a penciled measuring chart of each of the kid’s growth progress as they grew.  Each line marked the new height and date.  It was wonderful to look at over the years and reminisce and then really, really hard to leave when we moved on to another space!

But, what I’m talking about is a much subtler form of visual cues and is actually part of your decor.  Meant to be part of the décor, these types of visual cues affect the subconscious level of the mind and make you feel good in ways you don’t realize.  Here are some great ways to decorate with visual cues to bring good vibes into your space:

  • Have an area such as a decorative chalkboard to write daily inspirational messages to yourself, your family and guests.  My daughter-in-law, Kathleen painted the entire wall of her mudroom in chalkboard paint.  She writes her grocery list there, her “to do,” list, Ben’s “honey-do list” and friends can write fun comments on it when they visit.  This wall is like a living history wall of the goings on in the Aliff abode and continuously creates happiness.
  • Display a collection that gives you instantaneous feel good vibes such as a wall of crosses.  Several of my nieces do this in their homes, a tradition passed down from their mother, Patty.  This “wall of crosses” has even spilled over into other family members homes such as my niece, Marli’s home.  What a lovely way to constantly observe one’s faith, reflect on it and feel the calmness wash over you!
  • Find a decorative plaque of a positive quote that speaks personally to you and hang it somewhere in your space that you regularly see.  Or hang a piece of decorative art such as a clock I saw at a lake home recently.  The clock was stuck on 5:00.  Talk about instant smiles and instant relaxation.  (And thirst maybe?!?)
  • Accessorize with decorative pillows that have special meaning to you.  Pillows with whimsical quotes are examples that bring on the smiles.

One of the most heartwarming visual cues I have seen in a long time is in the home of a family friend, Jennifer.  Jennifer lost her sister a few years ago and has memorialized her love for her with a frame that includes a quote about sisters.  It reads,

“Sisters…

           from childhood memories to grown up dreams”

Cameron Triggs Photography

Cameron Triggs Photography

This visual cue speaks volumes of love and every time I see it I smile and feel gentle chill bumps erupt all over my body – a sure sign from the heavens above if you ask me!

Marli’s wall of crosses

Marli’s wall of crosses

The sky’s the limit on ways to infuse affirming visual cues in your home décor.  After all, each and every one of us can use more positive in our lives.  Our homes are our sanctuaries, meant to vitalize and revitalize us for living in the outside world.  Take every opportunity to create feel good vibes in your space, subtle decorative visual cues being one of them. Your heart, mind, body and soul will thank you and your entire being will blossom from the wonderful surroundings.  I guarantee it!

To loving life…

Using The Color Green In Home Decor

It’s springtime so open your front door or simply gaze out the window and what color do you see?  Unless you look up, chances are you’re seeing the color Green – Nature’s very own!  Yep, springtime is the perfect season to witness Nature’s predominant color in its entire splendor.  And with all the feel good vibes that come with the green of spring, it’s no wonder that the color Green itself has positive emotional impact.

Green:

A secondary color on the color spectrum, Green is a blend of the primary colors of Yellow and Blue.  Green symbolizes Health, Well-being, Prosperity and Life.  Green is the color most favored by people in the helping and healing fields.

The psychology of Green

As I wrote in my post, The Power Of Color, the use of color is a form of non-verbal communication.  The color choices you make in your space greatly impact it and as I discussed in the post, colors not only symbolize certain feelings, they have the power to evoke certain feelings as well.

Studies have shown that Green has its own effects on us.  For example, using green creates a calming and soothing atmosphere.  Here are some other effects Green has on us:

  • Helps to alleviate Depression
  • Reduces Anxiety
  • Reduces Fear
  • Nurtures us
  • Fills us with a sense of balance and harmony

It’s no wonder that many hospitals and medical establishments use Green as the color of choice for walls and fabrics!

Several people I know infuse shades of green in their own homespaces.  Oddly enough they are all in the medical field!  My childhood friend, Julie has soft sage walls in her dining room and splashes of green throughout her entire homespace.  A dedicated nurse and a person full of compassion for others, I’m not the least bit surprised that she loves Green.  Then there’s my dear friend Jolie.  She uses the color Green in her homespace and her office is furnished with beautiful green sofas and club chairs.  Immediately upon walking into her office you feel a sense of peace and calm – important for anyone that seeks out her medical expertise.  Last but not less, one of my niece’s, Jackie uses green in her home décor as well.  And yep, she’s also in the medical field- she’s a speech pathologist and in her personal life she’s always smiling, always upbeat and one that couldn’t hurt a fly!

So knowing that these three wonderfully caring individuals are drawn to the color Green gives me pause to consider the question of the chicken and the egg – you know, which came first?  Did a childhood love of green subconsciously draw each of them into career paths of helping and healing or vice versa?  Now, stay on the path of connecting the color Green with how we act and react and that flat brings out the wanna be psychologist in me and makes me say…

Go green in your space

Infuse the color Green in your homespace.  After all, if green can have positive effects on us, for heavens sake, we all should consciously incorporate it into our decor.  There are a myriad of ways you can do this without going over the top or ignoring the color palette that truly speaks to you such as incorporating it into throw pillows and accessories, but the easiest and for me the absolute best way to add the color Green to your space is with living plants.  Bringing green into your homespace in such a natural way by far changes the energy of your space – not to mention the health of your space (as discussed in a post, Top Twelve Best Indoor Plants For Purifying The Air).

Live green in your space

In recent years it has become the politically correct thing to go green by physically caring more for our environment in ways such as reducing water usage, reducing electrical usage, reducing gas consumption and of course, by recycling all that we can.  Our planet and humanity just cannot keep handling all our excesses, uses and abuses.  Every day the news gives us more ideas of how to physically care more for our environment.  But as a decorator and a homespace coach, what I call a “psychologist of the home”, I cannot stress enough the importance of psychologically caring more for our environment, what I call “living green”.  By going green in our home décor, we live green by reducing anxiety, feeling calmer, more peaceful and relaxed.  By going green we live green and can more easily live in perfect harmony within ourselves as well as with greater mankind.

Living green connects us to Nature

Richard Louv, author of the book, Last Child in the Woods and his most recent book, The Nature Principle, has some very compelling thoughts on the importance of nature in our lives.  He calls Nature the best tonic we can find and says,

“The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.”

I emphatically agree with Mr. Louv and have learned this for myself.  There’s no better medicine for me than to get outdoors and connect with Nature.  That’s why I also know firsthand the importance of bringing nature indoors as much as possible and so I highly recommend that everyone do this.  By infusing shades of green in our décor theme, we subconsciously connect to Nature.  It’s just that simple.

Early this morning I walked five miles at the park.  I was overwhelmed with the panoramic view of green around me.  With many of the trees in varying degrees of sprouting new leaves, the shades of green seemed endless.  I felt like Julie Andrew’s character, Maria in The Sound of Music as I realized my arms began stretching out to encompass the beauty surrounding me.  No, I can’t sing, but I sure come alive surrounded in green!

To living green…

Finding HOME On The Yellow Brick Road

There’s a quote I am reminded of whenever I think of my daughter, Sammi.  I can’t remember where I heard it but it goes like this, “God doesn’t make mistakes”.  For sure he made no mistake in honoring me with only one daughter – no way could I have handled more than one of her!  Girls in general are way too much work if you ask me and yet, after all these years I know I simply got the best of the best.

This daughter of mine turns 30 today.  In honor of such an auspicious occasion, I want to tell you a little about her.  As I wrote in my post, A House Becomes A Home When…, Sammi began a life-long love for the movie, The Wizard of Oz at the wee age of two.  Every single morning the first thing she would ask to do was to go to the basement and watch “Ya Ha Ha” as that’s what she called the movie.  Thumb in her mouth and snuggled with her silk night-night blanket around her that my mother made her; she would sit mesmerized through the entire movie.  Honestly, I felt guilty allowing her to watch this every single morning sure it was a sign of being a bad mother or something, but it was as much a part of her as anything I’ve ever seen in someone.  Looking back on those precious times I marvel at the synchronicity of this movie coming into her life at such a young age.  It’s as if Sammi intuitively knew as a wee little one that there were life lessons to learn from this movie that would carry her along her own yellow brick road.  And, indeed it’s true.

I won’t bore you with too many details, but suffice it to say that Sammi has faced many challenges in her thirty years.  From an early age she had health issues.  I should’ve know from the start she would be this way- right after arriving into the world she stubbornly refused to breathe on her own and so she was swept away to an incubator that did the work for her even before I could hold her.  Each time the nurses would try to take her out of the incubator she would make it clear she just flat wasn’t ready!  Her growing up years were full of constant trips to doctors with unexplained aches and pains, fevers and other symptoms that quite frankly worried me that the doctors saw signs of Munchausen by Proxy.  Yearly visits to specialists at Chapel Hill in NC put her through painful testing and as she got older much of it was truly embarrassing for a young girl.  I cannot emphasize enough the heartache I felt for my daughter to endure this endless testing, poking and prodding year after year only to be followed with other issues that further complicated her life.  Then, on top of it all Sammi was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome at the ripe old age of nineteen.   Though a blessing to finally connect the dots of some of her ailments she had experienced through the years, the diagnosis brought with it tremendous life changes for her.

Dorothy, The Scarecrow, The Tin Man and The Cowardly Lion

Sammi, loving her red shoes

Sammi, loving her red shoes

Part of Sammi’s diagnosis with Fibromyalgia included an eight-week hospital program for learning to live with chronic pain.  And part of that program included counseling for the families to learn more about this condition I could hardly pronounce.  I’m so glad I attended these sessions as I learned firsthand from the experts all about the complexities a condition like this presents for not just the patient but for the family as well.  For example, I learned that because Fibromyalgia involves tremendous pain on a daily basis, depression is a real problem.  Knowing there is no cure for it or why it occurs adds to the depressiveness of it all, too.  Even worse, there are no visible signs of the condition so people tend to discount it unfairly.  Her team of doctors told me that Sammi was by far the worst case they had ever had in the program.  Wonder of wonders, at the end of the eight-week program, she was rated the highest in improvement.  Absolutely, positively I know why she did so well – The Wizard of Oz.  Faced with all these medical challenges, Sammi brought forth from her stored long-term memory the lessons she learned from Dorothy, The Scarecrow, The Lion and The Tin Man.   Like Dorothy, Sammi traveled The Yellow Brick Road to find her way home.  Like The Scarecrow, Sammi realized she had the ability to use her brain to think through and make personal choices of what she would do with the rest of her life in spite of her medical issues.  Like The Tin Man, she realized she had a beautiful heart to love herself enough to handle not just these medical issues, but also the other challenges of life that would come further down the road.  And finally, like The Cowardly Lion, Sammi realized that she had the courage and unwavering faith in herself to persevere through it all.

There’s no place like HOME

Sammi

Photo Credit: Kristin Vining Photography

The Wizard of Oz is a story of finding home and is a story we can all learn from.  I am deeply grateful that my darling daughter was enamored with this movie as a child to the extent that she was able to pull from it all that she needed when she took her own walk down The Yellow Brick Road during her troubling time.  Through the movie’s life lessons so well portrayed by the characters, she learned a valuable truth – HOME is within us so we need not look any further.  All we have to do is realize it and open our hearts, minds and souls to the wonder.

Sammi, like all of us continues to have challenges.  She has had numerous surgeries and twice has been in life-threatening health situations.  Even when giving birth to “God’s Littlest Angel” she became gravely ill.  Months later Sammi told me that through that first night she consciously willed herself to stay alive for her precious baby.  I have no doubt that the lessons she learned from The Wizard of Oz echoed through her sub-conscious that night and gave her the skills she needed to make it.  Yep, with each new challenge she pulls from within and in doing so she broadcasts to the world that there’s no place like HOME.  Happy birthday dear daughter and please know, God sure was right to send you to me.  I marvel at your wisdom, your heart and your courage.

To knowing all roads lead HOME…

Spring: A Season For New Beginnings

There’s a feeling that comes over me when I see the first hints of spring – the daffodils popping up out of the ground, buds on the trees and birds chirping their joyful noise all start something deep within me that feels good.  In fact, I start to feel the giddiness deep within me that I can only say is “a feeling of spring”.  This feeling always reminds me of Friend Owl and Thumper’s conversation in the Walt Disney movie, Bambi as Friend Owl tries to explain the changes that come over everyone in the springtime.  Friend Owl explains to Thumper why everyone is acting differently.  He says, “Nearly everybody gets twitterpated in the springtime.”   I love the word “twitterpated”.  It’s one of those words that really expresses the feeling well – you can feel the good vibes just saying the word.  Yep, I agree with Friend Owl and I know absolutely, positively that I become twitterpated myself – twitterpated with life.  That’s what spring does for me!

Spring-cleaning my house

At the same time I’m feeling twitterpated I turn to my nest and do some spring-cleaning to say goodbye to ole man winter and hello to a new beginning.  Psychologists say that spring-cleaning is good for the psyche.   When we declutter our houses of anything we needed around us to feel warm and cozy through the winter, we give our space a fresh new look that carries with it a fresh new energy.  (To learn more about how clutter affects you read my post, Clutter In Your Space Clutters Your Mind)  I remember well the rituals of spring-cleaning when I was growing up.  Things like changing the bedspreads on the beds to lighter weight coverlets and removing the heavy winter blankets from the beds were springtime chores.  These items would be cleaned and stored in cedar closets until the next winter.  We kids also had to clean out our bedroom closets because back then in the days of covered wagons (or so my own kids say) part of every season was changing our clothes out for the new season.  Away would go all the winter sweaters and coats and out would come the short sleeve shirts and cooler clothing items.  It was fun to make these changes because it gave me a feeling of newness and freshness.  To this day I actively participate in some of these same rituals.

As a decorator that focuses totally on details, I cannot tell you how often I go into homes and realize that they’re what I call “surface cleaned”.  By that I mean that on the surface things look OK, but on a closer inspection it’s another story altogether.  Now, the reason this is a problem is that these unclean spaces and places impact your health in ways you might not be aware of.   You see, accumulated dust and dirt affects the air we breathe as every breath we take contains particles of dust and pollutants around us.  I read recently that researchers believe that indoor air can be as much as ten times more polluted than outdoor air.  Much of this is due to how well sealed our homes and buildings are today as it’s only been in the last one hundred years or so that we have had air-conditioning, central heat, thermal pane windows, weather-stripping and other forms of insulation that keep everything air-tight.  Routine cleaning of these hidden spaces and places becomes necessary for good health.  So, this year while doing your spring-cleaning make sure you add some of these areas to your list to clean as they are culprits for overlooked accumulations of dust and dirt:

  • The top of the fridge
  • Behind the fridge
  • Behind furniture
  • The tops of frames on your walls
  • The tops of doorframes
  • On light bulbs
  • On electrical cords behind furniture
  • Under sofa and chair cushions
  • On closet shelves
  • On air return vents

Spring-cleaning my HOME

Springtime is also a time I do some cleaning of my interior space, my HOME.  For me it’s a time to look inward and reflect on ways to change and grow emotionally and spiritually.  All of us have dust and dirt accumulating in ourselves.  Just as we have dust accumulating in hidden spaces and places of our structural home and on boxes sitting in our attics and basements that we haven’t peeked into for years, we have the same accumulating in our hearts, minds and souls.  So, feeling twitterpated in spring gives me the added push and courage for new beginnings within.  Through the years, particularly since I began rehabbing my HOME after a chance encounter on a plane (read my post, Construction Zone: Rehabbing My HOME for more on this experience) I have found some real specific ways to declutter my HOME that have absolutely, positively worked.  Here are some of them:

  • Spending time in Nature
  • Bringing elements of Nature into my structural home
  • Meditating
  • Exercising regularly
  • Practicing my Faith
  • Surrounding myself with things that lift me up such as aromatic essential oils and candles
  • Listening to soothing/inspirational music
  • Bringing fresh air into my structural home and my personal HOME
  • Choosing to live in peace and harmony
  • Actively paying it forward each day

Review~Refresh~Renew

For me Spring-cleaning can best be summed up as a process of what I call “The Three R’s” – review, refresh and renew.  What a wonderful time of year to review the state of your space, refresh the areas that need refreshing and in doing so allow yourself to be renewed.  That truly makes for a new beginning!

As I’m writing this I have my office windows open and I feel a gentle breeze coming in.  I hear the birds chirping and have even spied two hawks harmoniously soaring in the sky nearby.  Yep, I’m twitterpated for sure and in the next few minutes the wondrous outdoors will entice me to come out and feel the splendor it has to offer me.

To new beginnings…

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…

Honoring The Month Of Love In Your Home Décor

When I was growing up and even when my children were young, the only big holiday anyone decorated for was Christmas. Today, most of us decorate for holidays such as Halloween and Easter often weeks ahead of the actual day the holiday falls on. Honoring Valentine’s Day has become one more holiday with which there are ways to decorate your homespace. Retailers have an abundance of accessories you can add to your home decor. Everything from red dishtowels and red coffee mugs to whimsical throw pillows with love quotes on them can be found in the big box stores such as Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel and Restoration Hardware. For the month of February, love is in the air everywhere you turn in the home decorating industry.

I happen to be a decorator so certainly I like to decorate for any and all of the holidays my David and I observe. However, I also believe in being practical and cost-conscious so here are some ways I suggest decorating and celebrating the month of Love:

  • Find inexpensive things to purchase to help create the theme of love in your homespace for the month of February. Just like any other holiday you decorate for, keep all your “Valentine Theme Décor” in a container for that holiday in an easily accessible place. (HINT: If this is a new décor idea for you, like with all holiday décor, often the best time to purchase Valentine’s Day items is after February 14th then you can be ready for next year!)
  • Make a family picture on Valentine’s Day to commemorate one more year of love in your family. Add to the collection each year and for the month of February display all the past family pictures in a grouping in your homespace. Having everyone wear red for the “Kodak moment” makes it even more festive and fun!
  • Make your own “Love Tree” simply by making heart shaped cards on construction paper then writing different love quotes on each one. Hang them by string on a sturdy plant in your homespace such as a Weeping Fig or a Norfolk Island Palm. This is a fun activity you can get the entire family involved in or you can even invite friends to make a Valentine for your tree. (Remember, plants are a vital part of making a healthy home as discussed in a recent Blog post, Top Twelve Best Indoor Plants For Purifying The Air)
  • Make everyone happy with Homemade Pancakes this month – only use a heart shaped cookie cutter to make heart shaped pancakes. I guarantee you; smiles will be abundant in your household! (For my fave recipe for Pancakes check out my post, Homemade Pancakes – What Could Be Better?)
  • Switch out your decorative candles to red (or even pink) ones, particularly in the more personal spaces such as bathrooms and the master bedroom.
  • Nothing beats fresh flowers for any occasion. For the month of February fill your homespace with the colors of love – red carnations, red roses, etc. with splashes of pinks and whites.
  • Go to your local bakery and pick up a few professionally decorated Valentine’s cookies and display them in a glass cake saver for pure delight. Better still use festive looking doilies for them to sit on to add more interest! (Remember, you can freeze these cookies and display them from year-to-year.)
  • Fill your homespace with the aromatic scents we connect with feelings of love in your nebulizer or with scented candles. For a relaxed, peaceful feeling of love look for oils such as Rose Oil or Rose scented candles. (Oil from the Pink-Red Damascus Rose is one of the best.) For feisty (feelings of love that is) look for spicy scented oils such as Ginger and Cinnamon. Regardless of which scents suit your taste, diffusing essential oils into your homespace definitely enhances the mood of your space. (See my post, Aromatherapy In Your Home.)

HELPFUL HINT:

The most important thing to remember in decorating is my motto “Less is more”.  There is absolutely, positively no quicker or better way to destroy a classy look than to take a theme into overdrive.  So with the color Red being the warmest color on the color wheel (as I discussed in my post, Seeing Red) subtle uses of the color will speak volumes.

Picnic of love

Photo Credit: Kristin Vining Photography

Enjoy loving…

Seeing Red

Using color in your homespace is the number one way to express yourself.  Even purposefully choosing not to use color such as using tones of white in a monochromatic scheme is a choice intended to create a subtle, peaceful energy in your home.  What colors you choose in your décor scheme should be carefully thought out.  After all, your homespace is the most personal outward expression to others of how you live your life.  Using color (or the lack thereof) should bring joy to you.  Even this month’s edition of Veranda magazine’s main story is titled, The Joy Of Color and the words are in hot pink!

As I wrote a few months back in a blog post titled, The Power Of Color, it is important to let the colors you use in your homespace accurately express who and what you are.  No two homes should remotely look the same.  Homes should be as unique as those that dwell within them.  My own daughter-in-law, Kathleen Brami Aliff is the epitome of understanding this.  Her home doesn’t keep up with the trends.  Her home reflects her personality through and through.  Kathleen loves Red.  Kathleen sees Red as a means of expressing who she is.  And so, Kathleen’s love of red flows throughout her entire home whether it is shown in full bloom as a backdrop (as in wall color) or in splashes of it in fabrics and accessories artfully placed in every room.

RED:  The warmest of colors, Red symbolizes passion, energy and excitement.  It is often the color chosen by extreme extroverts for self-expression.

From little girl to grown woman

Loving Pink

Loving Pink

I have been planning to write about Kathleen’s love of Red ever since my early blog posts on color.  In fact, after The Power Of Color, I wrote a post on the color Purple and “The Purple Lady” (aka Lisa Hensley) titled, She Loves The Color Purple.  Like Lisa, Kathleen knows what makes her feel good.  And, like Lisa, I interviewed Kathleen for this article to get a glimpse into her psyche about her love of red.

What I found out was really interesting.  Here I thought I pretty much knew what made my daughter-in-law tick.  Yeah sure, the color Red matches her but, I never knew how or why she “morphed” into this color when in actuality most of her life her color of choice was Pink.

“All the way through high school I was in love with Pink.  I even used to wear Pink.  I wore Pink all the time.  After I met Ben he asked me to quit wearing it so much and so for me, Red seemed a classy, grown-up version of Pink.  Now Red is my statement color.  It is my signature color.  I love shoes and shoes in my view look better in red.”

That’s what Kathleen told me.  Wow, I thought, who knew?  Red was Kathleen’s metamorphosis of Pink – the grown-up version of her.  Very interesting.

So, let me give you the psychological slant on all this.  The color Red speaks to creativity.  It is sexy, powerful and full of energy.  Make no bones about it – Red catches your eye.  Period.

Yep, the color Red matches my daughter-in-law to a tee ~ confident, outgoing, and full of attitude.  Feisty she is and so her love of red absolutely, positively outwardly fits her personality.

Express yourself

Quite naturally then when Kathleen and Ben got married her love of Red influenced their homespace.

The boldness of Red

The boldness of Red

It’s all about details

It’s all about details

“Every room has something red in it.  Whether it is the wall color, a pot or a plant.  Even for Christmas this year one of my gifts to Ben was something red for his “man cave”.  So now even that room will have touches of my love of red in it.”

Red jazzes it up

Red jazzes it up

For someone visiting their home, no doubt Red speaks to you in each room even if in subtle ways.  What I love as a decorator is how well she has pulled it off.  Her homespace is comfy cozy and yet, very unique.

That’s what we all should strive for in our own homes.  Self-expression makes or breaks the true beauty of your space.  If your space does not match who and what you are, the energy of the space will be off.  It’s just that simple.

Everyone should have a decorating mantra that goes like this:

Express yourself.  Just do it.  Express yourself.

Kathleen has and loves to show it!

Red boots

Photo Credit: Kristin Vining Photography

To loving color…