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  • Do some of the frames look outdated or badly worn? Unless you are intentionally using antique or “repurposed” frames for your pieces, be aware that outdated and damaged frames will absolutely, positively take away from your artful arrangement of family photos.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

Honoring The Month Of Love In Your Home Décor

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

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

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

HELPFUL HINT:

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

Picnic of love

Photo Credit: Kristin Vining Photography

Enjoy loving…

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.”