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  • Do some of the frames look outdated or badly worn? Unless you are intentionally using antique or “repurposed” frames for your pieces, be aware that outdated and damaged frames will absolutely, positively take away from your artful arrangement of family photos.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…

A Healthy Heart HOME

My mission with LIPH has always been and will always be to help others create peace and harmony in their homes.  My tag line, Everything begins in the home is a simple message that clearly expresses my view that everything in life absolutely, positively begins in the home.

Because this month is American Heart Month and also the month we celebrate love, this post is about your heart, your most personal HOME.  A healthy heart is crucial to a healthy body much as your homespace needs a strong foundation in order to support the structure you dwell in.  And, a heart needs to be healthy in two important ways:

  • Physically
  • Emotionally

A physically healthy heart

I’m not a doctor so I won’t even begin to try and preach specifics about physical heart health.  Just know I have had up close and personal experience with family and friends that have experienced heart problems or worse – heart attacks.

Here are some simple facts of heart disease to ponder:

  • Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is the leading cause of all deaths in the U.S. each year.
  • One-third of those that suffer a heart attack do not survive it.
  • In the U.S., someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds.
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death in American women.
CeCe Hampton loving life

CeCe Hampton loving life

Speaking of women, my dear friend CeCe Hampton is a survivor of a heart attack herself.  I admire her greatly as she has chosen to be a spokesperson for the fight against Coronary Heart Disease.  CeCe’s heart attack came at the ripe old age of 31.  I spoke with her the other day about this and asked her what her message would be for other women on heart disease. This is was she said,

“Women need to listen to their bodies and look for any warning signs that something is askew.  We women will take our husbands or our children to the doctor right away but for some reason most of us ignore our own health and put it off for another day.”

CeCe told me that when she felt unusual pain in her chest, she practiced what she now preaches.  She listened to her body, went to the doctor and now is alive to tell her story.  By the way, if you want to hear more of her story go to:

http://www.goredforwomen.org/inspiring_stories.aspx

Thanks CeCe for allowing me to share with others an up close and personal experience of yours!  You go girl and while you’re at it – continue to follow your bliss!

An emotionally healthy heart

This is the part of heart health that truly fascinates me.  As I said earlier, I’m not a doctor, but it just makes sense to me that our hearts are affected by our emotions.  I believe that our bodies work from the inside out.  By that I mean that first we feel the emotion, then we physically respond to it.  For several years in my own life, stress wrecked havoc on my body.  All the chronic stress my body was under made war on my body like pollutants to destroy me physically.  I had to pay the Piper for all the trauma-drama in a myriad of ways that I still deal with today.  I believe that there is such a strong connection between the heart, mind and body that it is imprudent to separate them from a cause and effect scenario.  Each affects the other in my view.  And, there is plenty of compelling data to support this.  For example in the book, The Heart Speaks cardiologist, Dr. Mimi Guarneri “speaks” to this very subject.  She says that loneliness, grief, sadness, bitterness, hurt and anger can greatly impact a healthy heart.   Dr. Guarneri says people truly can have so much emotional damage to their heart that they die of “a broken heart”.  I believe it.

So, imagine if starting today each of us took a better look inside our hearts and posed the question, “How emotionally healthy are you dear heart of mine?”  Today, I would be able to honestly answer, “Pretty darn healthy dear friend.”  When I asked myself this same question a few short years ago the answer was just the opposite.  I knew I needed to reduce the stress in my life in order to be more emotionally heart healthy so I began to make some hefty changes in my life. By making these changes, I have made my heart emotionally strong.  Here are some of the ways I have done it:

  • By choosing to meditate.
  • By choosing to spend time in Nature as often as possible.
  • By choosing to focus on positive memories.
  • By choosing to add humor to my daily life.
  • By choosing to smile more.
  • By choosing to be positive.
  • By choosing to live in the moment.
  • By choosing silence.
  • By choosing to use the word “love” as a verb.

The operative word here is “choosing”.  After all, everything we do is a choice.  Nothing is going to change unless you choose to make changes.  It’s that simple.

Here’s the challenge ~ begin today to actively work on making your heart healthier both physically and emotionally.  Start with baby steps if you need to.  Baby steps progress into bigger steps for sure.  Remember, the choice is yours.

Choose to have a heart full of all the best in life you can have.  And by the way, just when you think your heart is full of all the best, something new will come along and add to your heart happiness.  Mine did just recently as a matter of fact.  My youngest son, Jimmy (my baby) officially chose the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with.  She is a wonderful fit for Jimmy.  She loves the outdoors and even loved getting engaged in a tree stand deep in the woods in the cold of December 2011. Welcome to my heart HOME, Lailuma!  My heart swells with joy knowing my son is so deeply happy with you in his life!

Lailuma Miller in the great outdoors

Lailuma Miller in the great outdoors

To loving life and having a happy, healthy heart…

How To Best Display Children’s Artwork In Your Home

Almost everyone that has children also has the dilemma of what to do with all their artwork that they either bring home from school or that they do on their own time at home.   Children are proud of their work and nothing can bring a smile to their faces quicker than a parent proudly displaying their creativity.  To this day I have files in my cabinets of the artwork my children did over the years!  When my kids were young, I felt the need to display their art on the refrigerator so that they knew how proud I was of each new artistic endeavor completed and ready to be displayed for all to see.  Looking back, I remember feeling like my kitchen always looked messy and that at any given time during the day I was straightening, arranging and rearranging the pictures boldly overtaking the front of the fridge.  This might not seem like an issue to some of you, but I was and still am a tad bit on the obsessive side of being a neat freak.  Having the front of my refrigerator crammed with artwork all the time got on my nerves to put it bluntly.  But, I just didn’t see a better way to display their works of art from the heart.

With age comes wisdom or so they say and so clever me, once my children were grown and I wanted to find ways to display their childhood artwork, I finally got smart!  You could say that I also had one of those “if I had known then what I know now” moments for sure.   Instead of on the front and side(s) of the refrigerator, I came up with the idea to display their childhood artwork in other spaces that not only made for Walks down Memory Lane by highlighting years gone by, but also added immensely to my décor.  In fact, I will go a step further and say that this newfound way to display my children’s artwork became an art form in and of itself and piqued the interest of anyone visiting my home – a conversation piece just waiting to happen!  After I met my David and we joined households, our home became forever more a “Brady Bunch” of artwork.  It makes us both happy-sappy to see our children’s early years so beautifully portrayed in our homespace.

Children’s art speaks volumes from what is in their hearts.  I say honor this and display their art in your homespace in ways that make them smile and at the same time that is pleasing to the eye.  Simply choose very specific ways and places to do so.  Here are three of the best ways I have found to achieve this in my own homespace:

  • In the Laundry Room/Mudroom
  • On Bookshelves
  • In the garage

In the Laundry Room/Mudroom

Addison and Austin’s special art

Addison and Austin’s special art

Being a utilitarian space, most of us forget to decorate our laundry rooms and mudrooms. Yet, much of our time is spent in both spaces.  Years back I decided to frame selected pieces of my children’s early art in floating acrylic frames.  This was easy to do myself and very affordable.  You can do this for yourself by going to retailers such as Michael’s or Hobby Lobby.  Simply choose appropriate size frames for your artwork.  (By the way, using this type of frame gives you the flexibility of changing out the artwork over the years as your children age.)  Another way to display children’s art is on a corkboard that you can continue to change and update.  I have a handmade, hand-painted corkboard that traveled with us from Charlotte to Chicago.  In fact, I had the movers literally pack the corkboard exactly as it was so that once I unpacked it I had an instant connection to Charlotte.  You see we have our step-grandchildren’s works of art on it that they have made especially for David and me.  Addison and Austin’s art from the heart is the first thing we see when we enter our home from the garage.  By the way, I cannot wait to add our precious granddaughter, Ansley’s first piece of artwork on it once she draws something for us!  Talk about a love connection…

Gavin and Logan O’Connell’s Artwork on an old door

Gavin and Logan O’Connell’s Artwork on an old door

Here’s another example – one of my fave niece’s, (OK, so all my nieces and nephews- all 20 or so of them – are my faves) Jackie O’Connell has a brilliant way she displays Gavin and Logan’s artwork in the mudroom.  She has an old door hanging on one wall that she puts all their artwork on.  Jackie and Scott’s mudroom is the entry into their home from the garage where the kids put their book bags and shoes each day.  What a wonderful way to start and end the day viewing such personal art from the heart!  Plus, displaying their work this way makes things neat and tidy all around!

On Bookshelves

I am a lover of books so no matter where I live I make sure I have plenty of bookshelves for my books whether they are built-in or freestanding.  For example, when David and I moved to Chicago our home had a wonderfully large bonus room that I turned into a home office.  On one long wall I have placed bookcases from IKEA – inexpensive but classy looking – and mixed in the books I have arranged bits and pieces of our children’s artwork.  What fun to see these pieces of art from the heart each and every day I work at home.  Nothing could be better if you ask me!

Jimmy Aliff’s self-portrait

Jimmy Aliff’s self-portrait

In the Garage

The Blake Family Laundry Room

The Blake Family Art

I love to decorate all spaces in my home and I recommend to my clients that they do the same thing.  The garage is a great place to display works of art as well as sports pictures of your children through the years.  In the garage I tend to keep to the outdoor theme regardless of what pieces of my children’s art or childhood history I hang.  Whatever you do in this space, make it family-friendly and also make it a wonderful greeting to you as you enter your home and sanctuary away from the daily grind.

Regardless of where you display your children’s precious artwork  ~ true art from the heart ~ give it what it deserves.  Give it a place of recognition.  Furthermore, let it become part of your décor in a way that beckons others to look at it, marvel over it and make them want to head home to make space in their place for their own children’s works of art.

To children and their endless ability to love…

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…

Love In Your HOME

February is the month of love.  February is also American Heart Month; a designation approved by Congress in 1963.  From all the research I have done on both topics, one has nothing to do with the other.  Yet, both have to do with the heart and are recognized in the same month.  It is the “love” part of February I want to speak to today.

Recently I found myself in a situation whereby Webster’s Dictionary was pulled out, referred to and actually used to define some very simple and common every day words.  I’m talking about words such as “shall” and “all”.  Everyone thinks they know what these words mean, but evidently their meanings are still open for debate and interpretation in some arenas. The word “love” is used all the time and yet, many of us don’t really think about what it means either.

In a recent post I made a statement that I firmly believe to be true about the word “love”. In my post, Cleaning The Mirror, I said, “Love is the most important verb in the English language.”  Now most of us think of the word “love” as a noun.  Here’s the definition found in Webster’s Dictionary for the word “love” used as a verb:

To hold dear; to like or desire actively; to take pleasure in

There’s a reason why in my post, Cleaning The Mirror I referred to the word “love “as a verb.  I personally don’t think most of us participate in it enough.  I know I don’t.  Clearly, verbs are action words.  To use this word as an action word, it requires you to do something.  So, what I want to impress upon you is to use the word “love” this month as a verb.  Actively participate in giving love this month- each and everyday to everyone in your HOME – be it your personal homespace, your workspace or your earthspace – after all, these are all parts that make up your HOME.  Get creative in the ways you go about this.  You will amaze yourself with what you come up with.  Simple acts of love such as bringing your loved one a cup of steaming hot coffee in the morning, reading an extra book to your child even though you are exhausted and ready for quiet time yourself, wrapping your child in a warm towel after a bath, calling a shut-in and saying hello, keeping your thoughts to yourself when someone annoys you, offering to take out the trash, closing the lid on the toilet, turning off the TV to talk to your partner, saying hello to people on the street, bringing cookies to work for your co-workers, complimenting someone you see, calling an old friend you haven’t touched base with in years, resisting the urge to get the last word in, smiling often, giving the waiter or waitress an extra tip, treating someone to an ice cream cone, texting someone that you love them, saying positive things to others, picking up litter, asking someone to go for a walk, etc., etc., etc.  The sky’s the limit on creative ways to actively participate in giving love to others!

Last year I embarked on a yearlong exercise in personal growth.  In early January of 2011 I assigned myself a focus word for each month.  My intention was to carefully study and use that particular word each day of that month in some form.  For the month of February I assigned myself the word  “Affection”.  Obviously I thought it was the perfect word to coincide with both Heart Month and Valentine’s Day.  It was wonderful to actively participate in using this word somehow each day.  But, the most rewarding way for me was when I assigned a person’s name to each day of the month.  I actually wrote each person’s name on my desk calendar and highlighted it with a marker so that I visually saw their name all day long.  Then I wrote a personal letter of affection to each person on that day.  (Hand written and mailed.)  It was like giving out Valentine’s cards and letters each day of the month. Sure, it required a lot of time and effort.  But, it was incredibly powerful for me to do it. I have no idea how or if my letter(s) touched many of the people I wrote to because I asked them not to feel the need to ever respond.  The gift of affection was from me with nothing expected in return.  (By the way I am doing this again this year with a new set of names and a new set of letters and cards to send each day!)  Try this yourself and see what happens.  It might just start a domino chain reaction – kind of like a “Love Train” if you will!

“People all over the world join hands
Start a love train, love train…
Don’t you know that it’s time to get on board…
Please don’t miss the train at the station
‘Cause if you miss it, I feel sorry, sorry for you”

Lyrics by The O’Jays
“Love Train”

To actively loving…

Please check out Living in Perfect Harmony’s Facebook Fanpage each day this month for more on Love.

Red rose

Photo Credit: Kristin Vining Photography