Simple Ways To “Ground” Yourself In Your Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Nature…

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

Conscious Living

Somewhere along the road of life I realized the deep, deep connection our homes we live in have to our being HOMES.  LIPH began as a way for me to write and speak to others about this connection of Home to our HOMES.  As a decorator I know first hand the beauty that we can create in our homes and furthermore, I clearly get the importance of making our space reflect our individual uniqueness.

B&A Interiors website

Our new website!

Recently my company launched a new look for our website.  By the way, a great big shout out to my fab team of designers that made it happen, Sean Kalooky and John Baxter of Big Sushi.  You guys truly created a look on the site that reflects our personal “branding” of our company.  (Check us out at www.bainteriors.com.)

Anyway, my point to this is that now that our new website has launched I feel I’m further on the road to fulfilling my dream of using stories of people, places and things that I’ve connected with to communicate to others the beauty of life- both in our spatial homes and our being HOMES.  I blog on the B&A website about our spatial homes specific to design and decor work.  LIPH incorporates HOME in all its interpretations – our spatial home, our being HOME and our Earth home.  I feel blessed to be able to share with others ways to live in peace and harmony through what I write, what I speak and what I design and decorate.  Honestly, I’ve had some really unusual experiences and chance encounters (some would make great story line for Lifetime TV) that have taught me valuable lessons of life.  In fact, if my son-in-law has told me once, he’s told me a gazillion times that I am a magnet for encounters out of the norm!  I believe that in sharing these encounters as stories in a way that blends Home and HOME, you can learn from these experiences as well.  I hope so anyway!

Part of my message in both my writing and my design work is what I refer to as “Conscious Living”.  I absolutely positively believe that in both spaces (Home and HOME) it is vital to your essence that you live consciously.  Living consciously allows you to live in perfect harmony – with yourself, with others, with mankind and yep, with our Earth home.

What do I mean to live consciously? I love vocabulary so let me start with a definition.

Conscious: Fully aware of or sensitive to something

Clearly, it’s important to have consciousness – of whatever the experience or situation.  Being conscious means you are feeling, understanding and honoring the situation- yep, you’re fully alive!  And, I believe that in order to live in perfect harmony we must live consciously in both homes.  But, it’s a clear choice to do so.  How to do it?

Conscious Living in your Home

Here’s a way to live consciously in your Home

Here’s a way to live consciously in your Home

Living consciously within your spatial home is fairly simple.  It just takes desire, determination and dedication.  Examples of ways to achieve this range from caring about the Earth and how you incorporate this into how you live in your home, how you act in your home and how you decorate your home.  Here’s my top ten ways to achieve conscious living in your home:

  1. Make your home a “No Shoe Zone” to shoes worn outside.
  2. “Go Green” every way that you can.
  3. Bring Fresh Air into your home regularly.
  4. Reduce Noise Pollution.
  5. Reduce Waste.
  6. Buy locally grown and locally raised foods.
  7. Plant a garden each year and better yet, make it organic.
  8. Reduce Conspicuous Consumption.
  9. Reduce Clutter.
  10. Decorate your home as a unique expression of yourself.

Conscious Living in your HOME

Living consciously within yourself, your being HOME is vital to your essence in ways that greatly affect everything in your life.

Jimmy consciously living his life

Jimmy consciously living his life

The best way to consciously live in your being HOME is to honor who you are and live your life accordingly.  One way to do this is to choose a career that expresses who you are.  My son Jimmy, a lover of the outdoors and in particular, fly-fishing has done just that.  His work mirrors his passion for the outdoors!  Another way to live consciously is to respect who and what you are and freely express it.  Be yourself!  As I’ve mentioned in many of my posts, I learned this for myself after a chance encounter on a plane in 2006.  Believe me, that encounter was a defining moment in my life.  It brought me the clarity I needed to live consciously- yep, absolutely positively fully alive embracing who I am on every level.  I will forever be grateful for the experience!

Living consciously in one home affects the other homes in your life.   It’s kind of like that domino thing you know. Your spatial home, your being HOME, your earth home – they are all intricately connected to each other and so the transition from one to the next must be smooth for proper balance to be obtained in your life and quite frankly, the lives of all you come in contact with.

Take the opportunity today to evaluate your life and ask yourself how consciously you are living.  Whatever you determine, I do know that there is more bliss for yourself and those around you if you are living it fully alive!  So, just do it ~ in your home and your HOME!

To conscious living…

IF You … Then You Know You Made A Decorating Blunder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And finally,

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

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

To loving life…

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

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…

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…

Simple And Natural Holiday Décor

Ever since I can remember the Christmas season was a wonderful time for decorating.  As a child, I can remember watching my mother decorate and then as I got older I enjoyed helping.  Our yard was the source for most of our holiday decorating.  We had a huge Magnolia tree in our backyard that my mother and I used to clip beautiful branches from.  We also had numerous pine trees (we had six planted in the front yard alone – one for each of us siblings) and Holly bushes laden with red berries.  With all of these items collected, we would spend hours decorating the fireplace mantle, the front doors and the dining room table.  I loved all these found things from our yard and I also enjoyed the collecting and decorating we did with them.  But, I viewed this part of  holiday decorating as a quick, simple and inexpensive plan – after all we only needed to step outside to collect natural elements for free!  Once I had my own home I realized that the most beautiful holiday decorating comes from natural and found things.  You sure can’t smell artificial greenery!

Carrying on the tradition

So, throughout the years my home has traditionally been decorated with much of the same things that I grew up with.   Greenery comes either from the yard, leftover trimmings from the tree or from the woods.

When my children were young we used to love to sit in the evenings together watching Christmas specials and movies like “Miracle on 34th Street” while we strung popcorn to use as garland on the tree.  Talk about memory making – a slow, relaxed evening stringing popcorn as a family can’t be beat!  And, who cares how much popcorn you eat along the way!

Year after year my three children traditionally hunted (yes, Sammi did, too) during Turkey and Deer Season.   No holiday season was complete without them returning home with mistletoe they had shot down from the trees for me to hang.  It was a wonderful holiday tradition they enjoyed.  What memories we all have of them bringing the mistletoe home to me and then hanging it in the foyer as a symbol of love in our home.

As you can see, using elements of nature in my holiday décor is important to me.  This makes my home beautiful in a non-commercial way!  And, I love the smells, the freshness and the feelings natural decorating gives to my homespace.  Why not incorporate some natural decorating in your own home this year?

Ways to go natural

Here are some simple suggestions that you can use either decorating alone or making it a family affair for building memories and traditions:

  • Use fresh greenery from outdoors to grace your front door, staircase, mantle, dining table or coffee table.
  • Gather found things in nature like dried pods, dried wildflowers, dried hydrangeas, pinecones and twigs to artfully arrange in baskets or as part of your garlands and centerpieces.
  • String popcorn and cranberries and use as garland to hang on the Christmas tree or as part of your fireplace garland.
  • Decorate lanterns with nuts or cranberries nestled around a large candle.
  • Surround a grouping of candles with fresh greenery with red berries or other found treasures of nature artfully arranged throughout the greenery.  A grouping of candles looks beautiful on a console table, mantle, coffee table or any other space you can safely allow candles to be placed.
  • Make a centerpiece for an occasional table with a small log.  Cut the log in two.  (Plan to use the cut side on the table with the uncut side facing up.) Using a circular saw cut three holes in the uncut side of the log and place small candles or votives in the holes.  Nestle the log on a bed of fresh greenery.
  • Artfully stud oranges with cloves and place in a wooden bowl as a centerpiece for your kitchen table, coffee table or hearth.
  • Hang Mistletoe in doorways or from your foyer chandelier.

Whatever style home you live in, whatever décor you enjoy- you can incorporate nature in your holiday decorating.  Go outside today and pick from nature’s bounty wonderful things to grace your home with.  And while you are there, breathe in the glorious fresh air!

Happy decorating…

Be sure to check out Living in Perfect Harmony’s Facebook Fanpage each day of December from Dec. 1- 24 for daily decorating tips and helpful hints for the holiday.  Enjoy the season!

Fabulous Outdoor Décor For Fall

I am astounded each year at how much money is spent on Halloween decorations for the outside. Surveys show that Halloween is by far and away the second largest holiday we decorate for. I know I am an old-timer but growing up, the most anyone did was put out a pumpkin that became a jack-o-lantern for Halloween.

Now, it seems that all front doors have at the very least a pumpkin per child in the family.  Don’t get me wrong; I am not opposed to this.  But, what for years and years was a one-night festivity has turned into a full-blown holiday season.  Manufacturers and retailers now provide us with every imaginable way to decorate for Halloween.  Lights, moving figures, spooky music – you name it, you can find it in a store to buy for decorating.

I love Halloween.  I will never forget the Halloween when I looked like I was carrying my own pumpkin because I was a couple of weeks overdue with my first child, Benjamin.  Or the time I was in charge of his sixth grade Halloween party.  I can still see him cringing in embarrassment as I turned the jam box volume up on “The Monster Mash”.  I think I was a tad too enthusiastic for him.  Those were the days…

And I am the first to admit that I do enjoy the varying degrees to which people decorate for the candy holiday.  Just the other weekend while driving to Wisconsin to go apple picking, my David and I laughed hysterically at the massive black spiders we saw on the roller coaster at Six Flags.  I mean they were HUGE even from the interstate!  Traditionally every Christmas season my family and I have driven around at night to see all the different holiday lights and decorations.  Now I find myself doing it during “The Halloween Season”.  See?  I even refer to it as a season without realizing it.

Go natural the day after Halloween

Obviously, the colors of Halloween are also symbolic of autumn.  Why not convert your outdoor décor to simple fall décor the day after Halloween?  Get rid of the spooky.  Get rid of the creepy.  Get rid of anything that has to do specifically with Halloween and think fall.  Let the front entrance of your home honor the season as we approach Thanksgiving.  Let the colors of fall emblazon your home and send a welcoming message to those that enter or merely drive by.

Seasonal Mums

Seasonal Mums

Nothing beats what nature provides for us.  Go natural with your outdoor fall décor.  Fill your planters and urns with seasonal plants such as mums, ornamental cabbages and pansies.  Keep the pumpkins, too- at least the ones you didn’t carve.  Ignore the fact that you are giving the squirrels a feast to nibble on everyday.  Do what I do and enjoy their show!  Add gourds, Indian corn and cornstalks.  Think Pilgrims!

One of my decorating mottos is less is more.  A simple natural fall wreath on your front door speaks volumes.  But, add whatever makes you happy.  Just make it unique and inviting.  Remember, the outside of your home is the first impression you give of how you live in your space.  Make sure it reflects whom you are.  As with all things you do in your homespace, honor yourself in this way.

A simple fall decor

A simple fall decor

As I said, I love Halloween.  I remember many years as a kid walking in the dark with my sister, Mary Ann carrying our pillowcases door-to-door for treats.  We walked until we couldn’t hold the heavy pillowcases much longer.  When my kids were young, Halloween signaled “Bat Stew” for dinner and then the night that the dads in the neighborhood took over.  Kids in tow, they walked the neighborhood while we mothers handed out candy and enjoyed the moments of alone time.  And, since 1987, I celebrate every Halloween lovingly remembering my own dad as we buried him Halloween afternoon and then took all the grandkids trick-or-treating that night on October 31, 1987.  My dad loved candy more than anyone I ever knew.  How fitting that he was buried on the candy holiday!

Happy Halloween to all of you and may tonight’s fun fill you with laughter and love.  And, cheers to you Daddy.  I think I’ll eat some Mary Jane’s for you!

Fall on the farm

Fall on the farm

To celebrating fall…