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…

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…

Decorating 101 – A Lesson For Lilly

I like to think that every moment presents us with a chance to learn something – “a teachable moment” to use a catchy, trendy phrase.

So, when dear friend and client, Jennifer McNally asked B&A Interiors, LLC  to redo her daughter, Lilly’s bedroom, Sammi and I took the project on with one stipulation.  Although this was to be considered a birthday present from Jennifer and Sean, we wanted Lilly to be involved in the decision making process.  Jennifer was in!

In particular, I wanted her to understand the use of color, textures and patterns to create a pleasing atmosphere for her.  As side benefits she ended up learning about budget and patience (which she exemplified as she waited and w.a.i.t.e.d for the job to be finished).  Decorating 101 for Lilly!

Here’s what Lilly learned (at least that was the intention):

Color your world

The project started with a simple question I posed for Lilly.

What are your favorite colors?

In grown-up words, I was asking her what colors spoke to her as I think this is first and foremost the question to know the answer to in any new decorating project.  As I said in my post Color Your World, it is vital to your essence to be true to yourself in how you decorate your space.  Your choice of colors must match who you are in order for your soul to be blissful.  Even a young girl like Lilly needs to feel the color and know it matches who she is.  Learning this so young in life is a tremendous step in the right direction of becoming authentically you.  Furthermore, learning to express who you are in any capacity is a lesson in assertiveness.  Letting Lilly be a part of the decision making process taught her to speak her mind.       

Once Lilly expressed to us what her favorite colors were, Jennifer, Sammi and I hit the design showrooms in search of fabrics. Obviously, we wanted to make sure that Lilly was guided in directions where color, texture and pattern were combined to create a beautiful look for her room.  So, we put together three different sets of choices and then let Lilly make the final decision.  It was a win-win for all of us.  Lilly got to choose the color palette, we gently guided her with fabric selections and then she took ownership in the final decision making.

The colors of nature

Another lesson for Lilly to learn was my firm belief that every space should infuse the two basic colors of nature.  In my post, Two Colors Every Homespace Needs, I explain the importance of this.  The two basic colors of nature (green and blue) when used in interior spaces instantaneously connect you with nature.  And, all of us can benefit from this.

Lilly’s treasured vanity from Aunt Liz

Lilly’s treasured vanity from Aunt Liz

Incorporating these two colors into Lilly’s design was super easy.  We needed to work with a piece of furniture in Lilly’s room that was very special to her that just happened to be a beautiful shade of soft green.  This piece of furniture was a sweet vanity table from her Aunt Liz.  We wanted to make this piece a real focal point of the room in honor of her aunt so, we worked with the vanity’s color by accenting it with a skirted chair using blue for the cushion’s seat.  Lilly can now sit at the vanity primping and preening while remembering Aunt Liz.  It just doesn’t get any better that this!

(You can read more about my love of incorporating family treasures in your home in my post, Creating Beauty In Your Homespace With Family Treasures.)

Even the fabrics we chose for all the custom work had nature’s gifts of color in them along with the bold colors Lilly wanted.  Now that the project is complete, the colors of nature flourish throughout the room.

Make sure your space is peripherally pleasing to the eye

Just as I wrote in a recent post, The Peripheral View Of Your Home, I explained to both Lilly and Jennifer that it was important for the entire space to embrace you in a pleasing way.  So, in the design plan I made sure that regardless of where Lilly was standing in her room, out of the corner of her eye (using her peripheral vision) the colors carried throughout the room.  To highlight these colors, I changed the original soft pink of the walls to a neutral off-white from Benjamin Moore called “Monterey White” as this color is a wonderful backdrop when you are using bold fabrics.  This color (or lack thereof) allowed the bold color scheme to carry throughout the room seamlessly without adding extra busyness.

Lilly’s new memo board

Lilly’s new memo board

The main fabrics infused both green and blue along with the colors Lilly wanted to use in her bedroom.  Window Treatments, Bedding , Lilly’s Custom Memo Board and the Vanity Chair all incorporated these colors.  These colors were even continued into her bathroom where the wall color, a soft green (this was the original color and we left it this way)  was perfect to showcase the bold use of color in the shower curtain and the funky artwork on the walls.

Living in perfect harmony

Lilly’s birthday present of a new look for her bedroom turned out to be so much more than just a present.  I believe that by allowing Lilly to be a part of the decision making for the color choices, she was able to give voice to her essence that she is just beginning to understand and be comfortable with.  This allows Lilly to feel that her personal space reflects who she is and what she is about even at this young age.  She is already learning the joy of living in harmony with herself through how she lives in her space.  Thus, she stands to be better prepared to live in harmony with her family, friends, classmates and anyone she interacts with.  I firmly believe it.

Everything begins in the home

Loving quiet time in my new digs

Loving quiet time in my new digs

Lilly is fortunate to know the importance of home and appreciates what her home gives her – a place of safety and an atmosphere to thrive in.  Her “new do” in her most personal space, her bedroom gives her ownership in how she expresses herself.  I chuckle over how much she loves it.  Jennifer has texted me that Lilly loves showing everyone that comes over to her house, regardless of who it is, her bedroom make over.  She even explains the intricacies of the fabric patterns and how her pillows have two usable sides!

Everything really does begin in the home.  What happens in the home from what we smell, what we eat, what we hear, what we see, what we feel and what we are surrounded with carries over into adulthood and forms us in ways that are incredibly complex.  Starting life in a positive atmosphere full of beauty can make all the difference.

I am deeply grateful to have been part of creating such a wonderful space for Lilly to blossom in. Plus, I am grateful for the opportunity to have been able to teach Lilly and not just present Lilly with a finished project.  Several years ago, I decided I could better serve my clients by teaching them “how to fish” instead of “feeding them the fish”.  It might make for less clients overtime but, I think it is important to empower people to embrace their space themselves once they learn some basics.  For me, Lilly was no exception.

I know Lilly loves her new space and will always remember this first lesson in decorating – what I call “Decorating 101”.  Next on the list for this class of instruction is my dear step-granddaughter, Addison.  Watch out Addison!

Decorate your life not just with color but also with love, Lilly…

Always express your true self through your space! To see a full album of Lilly’s decorating project check it out on my Facebook Fanpage, livinginperfectharmony.  By the way, can you guess what colors that Lilly loves?

Creating Homespace Beauty With Family Treasures

Ancestral medicine chest and Papa’s clock

The ancestral medicine chest and Papa’s clock

All of us like to get our decorating ideas from magazines and catalogs.  Not only does this allow us to know what the latest trends are but also, there is a certain amount of security in decorating how companies such as Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn show us to.  If these companies like it, well certainly we should, too.

Now I know that as an Interior Decorator I am supposed to represent the latest and greatest in the industry. I certainly do think that part of my job is to educate my clients with what the latest trends are but I like to think that I do so much more.

First of all, just like I espouse in my recent post, The Power of Color, not everyone likes the latest trendy colors.  More to the point, I believe that we shouldn’t change our color scheme every single time the industry gives us a new “in” color – that makes us far too much like everyone else.  (Reminds me of when I used to strive to be a Stepford Wife but I won’t go there…)

Home furnishing styles should also fit whom you are and how you choose to live – which leads me to my second point.  If we all decorate our homes like everyone else we become B.O.R.I.N.G.  Who wants to be that?!?

Be extraordinary not ordinary

For me, B.O.R.I.N.G. is just another name for ordinary.  Having your home décor be just like the house next door or the one down the street doesn’t show one iota of imagination.  Furnishing your home like you see in the catalogs or latest monthly magazines is oh, so ordinary.  You and your homespace deserve to be extraordinary.

There are a myriad of ways to become extraordinary.  (Remember the word extraordinary as I will be using it a lot in upcoming posts to show you other ways to achieve this level of distinction as well.)

My favorite way to live in an extraordinary environment is to infuse family treasures in it.  Now, notice I didn’t say heirlooms.

Nana’s blue and white pitcher

Nana’s blue and white pitcher

That’s because treasures are much, much more fun and important to us than heirlooms since they bring out emotion in us.  Heirlooms usually have a financial component, treasures need not!

I first learned about family treasures when my mother and her sister, Betavia were dividing up their mother’s estate.   I happened to be there with my mom to help with it.  After my mom and I loaded up all her share of the estate, we took it to our family home to later be divided between the six of us siblings.  That was back in 1976 and to this day, my greatest “treasure” is the blue and white pitcher I got of Nana’s (my grandmother).  Since 1976, it has been given a place of importance in each home I have lived in.  It instantly connects me with the grandmother I loved so dearly.

A military sword, a crystal candy dish and a silver lighter

Flash forward to February, 2011 and my siblings and I began the overwhelming task of dividing up our mother’s estate since she was now living in an Assisted Living Facility (Richfield) that I discussed in my post,  Creating Comfort In An Assisted Living Facility.

We siblings had planned this task as strategically as any business would plan a huge undertaking.  My brother, Tommy even had a written agenda complete with rules and regulations for how items in the estate would be picked by the six of us.  (And yes, we even had two fifteen minute breaks and a designated lunch hour each day of this task!)  Each evening the out-laws greeted us with wonderful meals to decompress from the emotional day we had just had in order to unwind and ready ourselves for the next day.  To say it was tough would be the understatement of the century but, we made it through.  At the end of several days of working through the estate, we celebrated with inviting old friends over to say goodbye to the family home and to celebrate the baby of the family, Tommy’s 50th birthday.  Thanks to our dear friends, we ended this chapter of our lives with fond memories!

Prior to the task  of dividing the estate, each of us siblings had polled our own children as to what they would like from their grandmother’s home.  I was and still am fascinated by what the different nieces and nephews wanted.  Every single item was in some way a memory, a treasure they wanted.  My three kids were no exception.  Ben wanted his grandfather’s military sword from Yale University, Sammi wanted the  crystal candy dish that sat in the living room and Jimmy wanted the silver lighter that always sat on the coffee table in the living room.  So, these three items were my first picks in the draw.  What joy for me to know that my kids not only wanted these things but that they held such wonderful memories of them and that now they would become family treasures in their own homes.  As for all the other grandchildren, each and every one of them now has family treasures from their grandmother’s home.  What might seem like little things such as the green salad bowl that Christy wanted will now become items to help tell family stories and history lessons to their own families and friends in each of their homes!

Beauty in your home need not include conspicuous consumption

Wally’s windows from his childhood bedroom

Wally’s windows from his childhood bedroom

I recently visited three of my nieces’ homes in Richmond, VA.  Each home was as unique as them (and their spouses).  I loved spending time in their homespaces and with my roving eye, took in what they were all about.  My niece, Marli and her husband have the coolest fireplace mantle décor.  Two large window frames that were the windows from Wally’s childhood bedroom are there for all to see.  I still smile over this unique touch of décor.  I bet everyone that visits them remembers what is on their mantle because it is so unique!  Oh, and best thing about this- the windows were sitting in the corner of Wally’s mom’s garage just taking up space.  They were free!  They didn’t go to the dump!  Now, I call this recycling life, living without conspicuous consumption and creating  a clever décor  all wrapped in one!  You go Marli and Wally!

The family crock for making eggnog

The family crock for making eggnog

As for me, I love all the new treasures I now have from my mother’s home.  My great-great grandfather was a doctor and I have his medicine chest he used and guess what?  It is solid wood!  And, you can bet this Christmas season I will be making eggnog in the crock that my parents traditionally made eggnog in year after year when I was a child.  I still can hear the peals of laughter as the night got later each year they hosted their “eggnog making “ party.  I never could understand why as the night got later, the laughter got louder.   Years later I learned that the eggnog was spiked!!!  Everyone was getting smashed!!!  Who knew?!?

Decorating your homespace with family treasures doesn’t involve spending money.  Who doesn’t find that appealing?  Also, decorating with family treasures sets your space apart from anyone else’s.  It makes your space unique.  Again, who doesn’t find that appealing?  Finally, decorating with family treasures makes for carrying on tradition and family legacy while keeping history alive.  THAT’S appealing!

Look in the attic, look in the garage and look through the closets for hidden family treasures that might just take your homespace from ordinary to extraordinary.  I guarantee that your home will become unique!

Here’s to life and for me, memories in the family home of 50 years!  5242 Shelby Drive we will miss you!

Our home and Tommy are 50

Our home and Tommy are 50

To life…

“I hope this article encourages searching for family treasures and storytelling in your family.  Feel free to share snapshots of your own family treasures on my Facebook Fanpage, livinginperfectharmony.”

Let Nature Restoreth Your Soul (And Your Home)

Tree changing colors in autumn

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

My David and I were taking an early morning walk in nature this morning.  The moon was spectacular and the breeze gave a slight chill to the air.  Awwwww, the hint of autumn!

I couldn’t help but be excited.  With my senses alive to this feeling of fall I said to myself, fall is the best season of all.  Then I laughed  because I say this at the beginning of each new season.  The truth is that I love each of the four seasons.  Each one carries with it special meaning, fond memories and a renewed sense of anticipation for things to come.

The first day of fall just happens to be tomorrow.  Let us all welcome the beauty that this season brings us by allowing it to restore our souls.

We can do this in many, many ways.  At the same time, we can bring autumnal feelings into our homes.

Letting nature restore you

I believe that nature has the ability to restore each of us time and again, season after season.  In my post, These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things I quote one of my favorite Psalms from Ecclesiastes, “To everything there is a season.”

Autumn is the time to restore ourselves with feelings of warmth and comfort.  Autumn’s purpose is to ready us for the coming winter.  It gives us the chance to focus inward and prepare for the coming changes winter is sure to bring.

Beautiful tree in autumn

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

With autumn comes a myriad of opportunities to embrace the season.  For many people autumn is all about football.  Others explore the wondrous beauty of the changing leaves by hiking and biking in nature preserves and greenways.  Regardless of the activity, fall is a perfect time to be outdoors.

I have learned the medicinal properties of nature personally.  I call nature the best tonic on the market.  And, it’s free!

When David and I moved to the Chicago area a little over two years ago I found a lot of free time on my hands.  Plus, I didn’t know a soul so I had days to myself to explore.  Who would have guessed that moving to the city would produce so much nature for me to immerse myself in?  I began to walk, hike, bike and even snowshoe (now my favorite hobby for sure) by myself.  Slowly but surely I began to notice a change in my attitude.  (OK, David did first but so what!)  I began to let things go, calm down and relax.  What an amazing transformation!

I even noticed that my music choices I made on my IPod while walking and hiking changed.  For a while I listened daily to all my faves- from the 1950’s to today.  Before long I realized I was only listening to soothing selections that you would normally hear while getting a massage.  Now, more often than not I don’t take my IPod on my walks at all.  The only music I want to hear comes from what nature provides- birds chirping, frogs croaking and the ducks quacking to each other on the water creates an awesome symphony.  Walking in silence brings the music of nature to an incredible volume!

Brilliant red tree in autumn

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

To say that getting back to nature restored me just doesn’t do justice to the truth of it.  Getting back to nature has done so much more.  I am walking, talking proof of its tonic!

So, I challenge you to find ways to give yourself daily doses of the outdoors.  It could be as simple as eating lunch outside while at work, walking your dog, doing your exercising outside (instead of the treadmill) sitting on the porch or taking off to the woods.  A small dose of nature’s elixir will go a long way!

Nature has mental, physical and spiritual benefits just waiting for you!  Give yourself a chance to reap from it all!

Bring the glory of Autumn inside

I have espoused time and again in recent posts such as Two Colors Every Homespace Needs the importance of bringing nature inside.  As I have said before, we humans have distanced ourselves from nature and have created a false reality.  Our homes and offices are full of gadgets and gizmos that have nothing to do with nature.  What a travesty to ourselves!

Loving color

Photo Credit: Susan Muehl

By bringing nature inside we allow ourselves to stay connected to it.  It is that simple.  And, it is simple to do.  My “fall line-up” of posts will give you lots of ways to achieve this.  Look for Becky Balzer’s post on the best indoor plants for the home environment.  Chef Ryan will treat us to his idea of a great tailgating party.  Hector Benetiz will offer you suggestions on outdoor exercises to coincide with the season.  I will be sharing many different ways to infuse nature in your homespace through decorating.  And, that’s just the beginning.  Stay with us and enjoy the season of autumn!

Think color…

She Loves The Color Purple

I first met Lisa, aka “The Nail Lady” or “The Purple Lady” a few years back while visiting my sister in Roanoke, VA.  Lisa does my sister, Mary Ann’s nails – has for many years.  In fact, she did my mother’s nails for many years and still does on occasion when Mom takes field trips with Mary Ann from her new digs at Richfield.  (See my Blog post, Creating Comfort In An Assisted Living Facility.) Lisa boldly lays claim to understanding our family dynamics better than we do.  You see, Lisa doesn’t wear blinders when she works with clients.  She sees what she sees plain and simple.  Oh, the stories she could tell…

Anyway, my sister and my mother both had nail appointments so I tagged along.  Truth be told, I saw this as a fun time to visit with Mom and Mary Ann while enjoying the peace and relaxation of watching them get manicures and pedicures.  We even stopped along the way and picked up munchies for the three of us to enjoy while we were there.   (Lisa is so easy going that when we three women made it a social gathering she was fine!)

Loving the color purple

Photo credit: Cathy McAden

Now remember, I am an Interior Decorator.  Imagine my surprise when I walked in the front door of her home and salon (the salon is built on the back of the house).  Her salon being an extension of her home should have been my first clue as to the unique world I was entering!   The world of “The Purple Lady”.

Purple, and lots of it was everywhere.  I mean E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E.!!!

Oddly enough, I found it incredibly charming.  Then I entered the doors to her salon…

Where are Ouiser, Shelby and gang?

Stepping into Lisa’s salon was like being smack dab in the middle of Truvy’s Hair Salon in the hit movie, Steel Magnolias.   I realized that her salon, like Truvy’s was a meeting place.  It was a place to gather, confide in and receive support from other women.  What fun!  No rush, no clock ticking and no need to hurry.  Going to Lisa’s was an experience in rejuvenation.

Pampering purple pedicures

Photo credit: Cathy McAden

Since that first visit, I have gone back whenever I am in Roanoke and my sister has an appointment.  I wouldn’t miss being treated to Lisa’s world for anything.   Just like Truvy’s salon, Lisa’s shop is sheer delight and you never know who is going to stop in to chat or what is going to happen while you are there.   I love everything about it and now understand how perfectly well her colors match her.

The Psychology of Purple

In the western world, the color purple symbolizes wealth and royalty.  Varying shades of it such as violet symbolize good judgment.  The color purple is very often the favorite color of adolescent girls.  As adults, it symbolizes creativity and eccentricity.

Well Lisa, no surprise there!  You fit the bill for being creative, eccentric and still in touch with your inner child!

Purple has both mental and physical affects on us as well.  As I stated in my Blog post, The Power of Color, color affects both mood and behavior.  Purple’s affects are to calm, uplift and offer a sense of spiritual peacefulness to those exposed to it.

No wonder Lisa does so well in her chosen career.  By the way, most of her clients have been with her for over the entire span of her career, close to twenty years or so.  I have no doubt that her soothing surroundings add tremendously to her success.  Of course, there’s something to her listening ear, too!

Nail Lady's purple chair

Photo credit: Cathy McAden

Funny what color can do to folks.  Lisa told me that one time she decided to repaint her salon.  She changed it to a really shocking pink.  Lisa told me that it was fascinating to observe the changes in her clients.  While sitting and getting nails and toes done, many clients acted moody and irritated just like Ousier Boudreaux (played by Shirley MacLaine in Steel Magnolias) when in one scene she summed up her sourpuss attitude by saying, “I’m not crazy, I’ve just been in a bad mood 40 years”.  Lisa absolutely believes the bold pink affected her clients in ways they didn’t even realize so what did she do?  She repainted the salon the soothing violet!  Attitudes went back to normal instantaneously.

She’s proud as a peacock!

Exotic print chairs

Photo credit: Cathy McAden

When I first decided to write about Lisa and how she lives in a world of purple, I visualized a peacock.  Strutting her stuff just like a peacock showing all its living color, Lisa is the perfect example of someone true to her spirit.  Not only that but, a peacock usually has some teal in its body and guess what color Lisa retires to every evening in her most personal space, her bedroom?  Teal, of course!  Like a peacock, Lisa spreads her beauty for all to experience.

You go girl!   Keep spreading to others your multitude of gifts all the while immersing them in calming shades of purple!

To life…

And now for the back-story:

Larry the Peacock

“Larry” Photo credit: Mary Ann McAden

As I said, when I visualize Lisa I think of a peacock.  So, I wanted to use a shot of one for the opening picture.  Since resident photographer Susan Muehl had not yet captured the beauty of one for me in nature, I knew I was out of luck and would have to use something else for the opening picture and so I readied the post with a picture of a beautiful purple flower.  To my absolute surprise, the next day Mary Ann randomly texted me a picture of a peacock that had appeared in her yard from where we don’t know.  The peacock seems quite tame and has been named “Larry”.  I call this “Synchronicity at its finest”.  I needed a peacock and Larry showed up!

The Power of Color

The beauty of color

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

Ever wonder why certain colors become the latest trend?  For instance, the trendy colors as I write are gray and yellow.  Just look closely at the backgrounds of magazine covers, the words on magazine covers, the wall colors on top-rated TV shows, commercials, movie-set décor, clothing worn by models, actresses and actors- the list goes on… right now those in the know use the color gray accented with varying tinges of yellow.  Just pay attention to a Sprint commercial on TV next time you see one.  Everything you see is gray and yellow.

Why these colors?  Why now?

The psychology of color

The use of color is a form of non-verbal communication.  It communicates meaning.  Consider these examples of the psychological power of color:

  • The impact of color is direct.
  • The impact of color is instantaneous.
  • The impact of color is emotional.
  • The impact of color can alter moods and behavior.
  • The impact of color often determines the choices you make.
  • The impact of color is much like the impact of smell- it stirs up memories.

Back to gray and yellow

So, I cannot help but try to psychoanalyze why these two colors are the latest trend.  Consider what they symbolize:

  • Gray symbolizes security, stability and conservatism.  It is a balanced and neutral color that doesn’t evoke strong emotion.  A great example of this is the traditional gray suit for men- practical and timeless.
  • Yellow symbolizes joy, happiness and optimism.  It is the color of sunshine so it makes you feel warmth.  A great example of this is radio talk show host and Oprah B.F.F., Gayle King.  She has decorated her home in yellow and look at how we listeners of her show perceive her as upbeat and full of life!

Put the two colors of gray and yellow together and what do you get?  Perhaps you get a combined feeling of optimistic conservatism and stability?  Is this an indication of our economy and the government wanting us to feel secure, stabile, happy and conservative?  Makes you wonder…

Golden mushroom

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

Remember when the trendy colors were chocolate brown and blue?  (This went on way too long if you ask me!)  Now, I don’t know for sure but I was told from reliable sources in my industry that the chocolate brown craze was because of Starbucks coffee.  Can you imagine?  If this is true, isn’t the power of persuasion (and marketing) fascinating?  Did we all go out and buy more coffee from Starbucks?  Were chocolate brown and blue truly our favorite colors to decorate our homes with or were we caught up in thinking we liked them?   I can tell you I really, really tired of doing chocolate brown and blue in home after home.  I wanted extraordinary, not ordinary.  See what I mean?  Don’t you want to be extraordinary?  More you?  Unique?  True to your essence?

Think about it.  Really begin to understand what color speaks to you the most and then ask yourself why this particular color or colors do.   And while you do, I will give you a short lesson on other colors, the feelings they evoke and what they have come to symbolize.

The colors of the rainbow

Red ~ Passion, Energy, Excitement, Impulsiveness

Pink ~ Love, Beauty, Healing, Passion

Green ~ Health, Well-being, Prosperity, Nature

Purple ~ Royalty, Richness, Power, Ambition

Orange ~ Encouragement, Stimulation, Courage, Strength

Blue ~ Patience, Tranquility, Wisdom, Youth

Dainty yellow flower

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

I have to mention these colors as well although they are not colors of the rainbow:

White (Absence of color) ~ Purity, Truth, Peace, Spiritual strength

Black ~ Power, Sophistication, Depth, Formality

In an earlier blog post, Color Your World I talk about the importance of being true to yourself through the colors you use in your homespace. So, what color(s) do you use?  Why?  Do you honor yourself by using the color(s) that accurately match who you are?

Manipulating your energy with color

Advertisers, retailers and corporate America all take advantage of the subliminal manipulations color can achieve in us humans.  Think about the colors you usually see in hospitals, doctor’s offices and other health care providers.  The color palette used is most often soft blues, greens and grays. Colors to soothe, calm and center you.  No coincidence there!  By using these colors throughout these buildings, moods and behaviors are altered.

Power of color

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

This holds true for your personal homespace as well.  Just as important as using colors that are true to your essence is understanding that infusing other colors in subtle ways in your homespace can actually help balance you.

So why not start allowing color to influence your homespace and balance the energy?   A little bit goes a long way.  It won’t infringe on your décor scheme either.  Just be sensitive to adding color in simple ways such as with throw pillows, accessories and artwork.

Is your personality a tad on the high-strung side?  If so, add small touches of calming colors such as soft blues and greens in your homespace.   (Do the same for your wardrobe, too!)

Are you meek and mild and want to project more gumption?  Infuse bold colors such as red and orange in both your homespace and clothing choices.  It is amazing what a pair of red boots or a bold tie does to a simple black ensemble.

I read somewhere once about the impact of color on men and women.  I wish I could remember where it was but I do remember being fascinated by the psychologist’s theory that perhaps women live longer than men because women routinely wear more colors to brighten their appearance, which in turn brightens their moods.  Ever since then I have become an advocate of my David wearing really, really colorful ties with his suits each day!  I’ve gotta do everything I can to keep the man around for a long time!  And, I obsess over the news anchors on the TV each morning critiquing their ties and paying attention to their choices.  George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America sure wears some great ones!

What color choices say about you

Color of passion

Photo credit: Krisitn Vining Photography

I would love to hear from you about what colors you use in your homespace and why.  Undoubtedly, unless you are following the latest trends, there is a reason you use the colors you do.  Do these colors match your personality?  How?

Also, just for fun I will follow up this post with a few  more posts on specific colors expressed in homes of friends and family.  I love knowing people that live and breathe their true essence through their homespace décor and I want to share their stories.  Once I tell you a little about the personalities of these people and their color schemes, you will begin to understand how harmoniously they fit each other.  Take Lisa, aka “The Purple Lady”.  What a hoot.  She’s a woman totally in touch with her inner self!

Be on the lookout for these upcoming posts.  I think you’ll enjoy getting a glimpse into other people’s lives.  And, you never know, you might decide a color change is in order for you!  If so, I say go for it!  Life is short so color it in style.  Your style, of course!

Think color…

A House Becomes A Home When…

As I have discussed in recent posts, I believe that any space that is used for shelter can be considered a house.  You don’t have to own it, the size doesn’t really matter and it can serve as shelter for anyone.  Just ask my dear friend Kenny that I talk about in my recent article, Houseless Not Homeless.

Let’s assume for the moment though that the space is a house.

I have moved to many new houses, many new cities and many new states both growing up and as an adult.  What  has mattered most to me in each move was creating the homey feeling in the new house as soon as possible.

Nothing like a hobbyhorse to make you feel like you are home

Benjamin in Springfield, VA

Benjamin in Springfield, VA

Take the first move that my oldest son probably remembers.  We moved from Charlotte, NC to Northern VA.  My son, Benjamin’s most treasured thing was his hobbyhorse.  So, I made sure the movers put it last on the moving truck so that it came off first.  I can still remember him rocking on his hobbyhorse in the grass outside the front of the house while the rest of our household goods got moved in.  He rocked and rocked with not a care in the world for what was going on around him.  With the hobbyhorse there, Benjamin (and I) felt like home was right there.   All was right in the world!

Another example – David and I moved to the Chicago area two years ago.  We sold our home quickly and the new owners wanted to move in just as quickly.  So, we rented a house in order to take the time to decide where we wanted to live in the area.  We rented a brand new house from a woman that had built it as a speculative piece of property to sell.  Obviously with the housing market not doing so well she decided to rent it.  We became her tenants.  About two weeks after we moved in she came by to check on things. She said she had a wonderful vacuum and would be willing to regularly clean the house for me (for a fee of course).  I kindly declined her offer and was surprised that she was so offended by my rejection.

Her response to me when I declined her offer was, “Well, you know this is my house.  I know every inch of it and I would clean it thoroughly”.

I just smiled and said nothing.  But, what I was thinking was,

“This may be your house but it’s my home”.  You see what I mean?  A house is a house until you make it your unique homespace.  I had no desire for her (as my landlord) to regularly see how I live.  Not that I have anything to hide, it just didn’t appeal to me.

(By the way, two years later we are still renting.  The market still isn’t so good and we have actually found that this new chapter in our lives of renting is really fun.  We are footloose and fancy-free! Ask anyone that knows us!!)

What makes a house a home

When I knew I was planning to write a post about what makes a house become a home, I thought through many different directions I could take to discuss the topic.  After going on lots of different tangents, I realized the best way to express this belief was to ask others to collaborate.  So, I have asked friends and family members to give me their own version of what makes a house become a home.  I hope you enjoy reading some of their answers.  I also hope your own feelings about your homespace mirror much of what you will read.  Enjoy and feel free to share your version, too!

Susie Sale; Charlotte, NC
“Yes, everything does begin at home…that is where I regroup and find my strength. The flowers are lovely… looking at the petals on a flower make you see the beauty of God and what a wondrous person he really is.  How can anyone doubt him?”

Blair Kernodle Scheepers; Pretoria, South Africa
“All our treasure we’ve found around the globe.  From the African folk art we picked up in Cape Town to the birdhouse we bought in the North Carolina Mountains.  Each piece helps tell the story of us and makes our house a home.”

David Solganik; Westmont, IL
“A house becomes a home when the refrigerator is stocked.”

Beth Borum Ketchum; Portsmouth, VA
“When you first walk into the house you get a warm feeling.  The house just flows from one room to the other and the colors continue from one room to the other.  It is fresh and inviting.”

Lindsay Cannata Solganik; Cleveland, OH
We made our house our home by creating an environment fitting to our needs.  A place where can spend time together as a family, cook meals, create memories, and rejuvenate from the drains of daily living. Our goal was to create warm and inviting comfy spaces that are all extremely usable (including the living room and dining room!) We love to unwind together in the family and living room, cook yummy meals in the kitchen, and eat in the dining room! Our home has become our safe place - the place we retire to at the end of every day and week feeling comfortable, safe, and at peace.

The best of all

I think my daughter summed up her view of home perfectly in a recent phone call.  She called to tell me that she had completed one of her chores she had given herself on her “summer’s to do list”.  She had tackled the kitchen pantry- a chore she was dreading.   And, what a surprise she found!  Tucked way back on a shelf was a lunch box I had given her one year as an Advent gift (more on that tradition later).  It was a lunch box depicting the cast of The Wizard of Oz.  This movie was her all time favorite when she was growing up.  In fact, each morning when she woke up she would walk down the hall; thumb in her mouth, night-night trailing between her legs asking, “Watch ya-ha-ha please.”

Wizard of Oz lunchbox

Photo credit: Sammi Blake

That’s what she called the movie, as she was both scared and fascinated with the wicked witch!  Day after day she wanted to watch this movie.  Day after day she sat mesmerized.

Anyway, she had forgotten about this lunchbox as she had put it in the pantry to hold recipes in and well, like I said, it got forgotten.

When she rediscovered it during her cleaning craze, she was thrilled and decided to put it on one of the shelves in Ansley’s nursery.  Sammi told me that as she carried it up the stairs to the nursery, she turned it around and read,

“There’s no place like home.”

Things had come full circle for Sammi and me that day.  Her love of the movie (and my memories of Sammi all those years ago) was what inspired me to get the lunchbox.  Now she had her own daughter to share it with and as Sammi said to me,

“You know Mom, there really is no place like home”.

Yep, she’s right.

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things

I turn 55 in just a few days.  I share the day with my dear twin brother, Craig.  So, I don’t turn 55, We turn 55.  (Although I am 55 minutes older and wiser than Craig!) You see, I never think of it as my birthday.  I think of it as our birthday.  Any of you readers that are a twin, you know what I mean.

Anyway, I thought turning 21, 30, 40 and then 50 would be the most memorable birthdays for me.  Certainly, to this day I remember specifics of each of those milestones.  But, absolutely positively this birthday is gonna be the Mack-Daddy.  I can feel it brewing already.

Why you ask?

It is simple.

Once I flew only while no one was looking.  Now I soar all the time.

In other words, I have learned to be me… Embracing the good, the bad and yeah, the ugly.  How freeing.  How exhilarating.

So, since it’s my party I will celebrate because I want to!  (Remind you of a 1960’s song though different words?!?)

And, what better way than to share with others a few of my favorite things!  Originally, I planned to list 55 things.  You know, one thing for each year.  My David chuckled over this and said no one would last through the whole article, not even him!  So, instead I am listing  5/5 or five faves in five categories I want to share.  I hope you enjoy!

My Top Five Products

  • My Cutco Knives
  • My Kayak
  • My Dyson Vacuum
  • My Apple Ipad
  • My Trek Cruiser Classic
Trek Cruiser Classic

My wheels. Photo credit: David Solganik

My Top Five Kitchen Must Have’s

  • My Pampered Chef Garlic Press
  • My Aprons
  • My Iron Skillet
  • My Bamboo Pot Scrubber from Crate and Barrel
  • My Ceramic Spoonrest
Well seasoned iron skillet

My well seasoned iron skillet. Photo credit: David Solganik

My Top Five Gifts I Have Received

  • My Faith.
  • My family, with the newest addition being “Little Bits”.
  • The chance to be with my Dad as he neared death and to witness him seeing “The other side across the bridge” he described to me as he saw departed family beckon for him to cross over.
  • My David, who has given such unconditional love that I have had the room to spread my wings and fly – and then, soar!
  • My necklace that David gave me to commemorate Benjamin’s upcoming wedding.
David Solganik

My David. Photo credit: Jamie Balzer

My Top Five Tips For Creating Homespace Beauty

  • Less is more.
  • Color means everything.
  • Decorate and design with a sense of studied indifference.
  • Make all your senses come alive in your Home Décor.
  • Your Homespace begins at the street or door to your space.
Beautiful entryway

Beauty begins at the street. Photo credit: David Solganik

My Top Five Quotes For Inspiration

  • “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1
  • “Two roads diverged, and I - I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference” Robert Frost
  • “Live the life you love.  Love the life you live.” Bob Marley
  • “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” Jimi Hendrix
  • “With every challenging situation we experience, we can choose to be a ‘Victim’ or become a ‘Victor.’  The choice is ours to make.”  Jamie Balzer’s Mantra
Road less traveled

The road less traveled. Photo credit: Susan Muehl

In sharing these favorite things of mine, I hope you take the time to reflect on your favorites as well.  Share them with someone you love.  It reminds me of one other quote I live, “It is in the giving that we receive the most”.   Pay it forward to someone and share yours!

Today might not be your birthday but, you have cause to celebrate regardless.  Every day is worth celebrating.  Seize the opportunity!

Enjoy the moment, enjoy the day and enjoy life!

Oh, and here’s to you Craig!  I love you!

Craig Balzer

My twin, Craig Balzer. Photo credit: David Solganik