positive mindset

Change How Your Home Feels - 12 Things to do Today


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When it comes to interior design, it doesn’t have to be complicated or fancy to be a good and important thing. 

I’m on a mission to help people love where they live because I think being at peace at home is the foundation for a balanced life.

Sometimes we all get overwhelmed by our home.  There so much to deal with every day, so much to clean or declutter, and it can end up weighing us down.   Often the last thing on your mind is the big picture of design and how your home is making you feel, but it is something meaningful to think about.  If you can break it down and know that making a small improvement will absolutely make a difference, you will feel so much better in your home.

If you’re on the same page but only have a few minutes today, here’s a dozen ideas to get you started!


1. Clear a surface & leave it empty

We all have a spot that tends to accumulate the stuff of life.  Clear one off, deal with what’s there, wipe it down and let it be.  This might be hard for some of us but, trust me, it’s going to feel so good to walk into the room and just see open air where there used to be too much stuff.  Will it stay this way?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Does it need to?  Nope.  You just need a refresh today, don’t overthink it.

2. Make your bed a little extra pretty

Make your bed, smooth the blankets, add a throw and maybe some fresh sheets and pillowcases.  Make it inviting and pretty.  Gather a few things from around the house if you have to.

3. Turn on lamps and light a few candles

Soft, warm, ambient lighting is one of the most important elements for a feel-good room.  If you have some small lamps with warm bulbs, light them up.  Adding in a few candles will really turn up the volume on this effect.  Middle of the day?  Who cares.  Go for it anyway.

4. Fill a small bag with trash

Just walk and toss, you’ll fill a bag before you know it.  Actual garbage?  Goodbye.  Things you’ve been meaning to deal with but aren’t likely to?  Buh-bye to you as well.  Things you’ve been saving with good intentions but are now ruining the peaceful vibe you’re cultivating?  See ya.  Key point:  get it out of the house and off your mind as soon as possible.

5. Set up a coffee or tea station

Adding a little nice touch to your daily drink area will make you feel good every time you use it.  A little tray, a stack of special mugs, a canister of tea, a pretty bowl of sugar.  Whatever you have around that is nice and makes you feel good to look at.  Gather a few things and give that spot some meaning.

6. Put on some great music

In the category of ‘intangible ambiance’, music can set the tone for your home.  Find something you love at a volume that suits your mood and let it transform your home.

7. Wipe down your front door

Seems almost too simple to actually matter, but coming home to a door that is cared for really does something nice for us.  It’s the first drop, causing that ripple effect:  well cared for, tidy, at ease.  Even if you mostly come in through the garage or back door (which could be polished up as well if you’re in the mood), giving the front of your house a little love helps you to feel proud of your home and puts you at ease when people stop by.

8. Organize a few drawers

It’s amazing the feel-good effect of opening a drawer to face knives neatly lined up or a sweet box of pens that all actually work.  Ahhhh!  Instant energy boost and internal sun beams.

9. Hang something on an empty wall

Sometime an empty wall just needs a little something - a small piece of art, a framed photograph, a little tapestry or something sculptural.  We often put off hanging things, but why not make it happen today?  Adding life to an empty space feels good, makes us smile and fills our home with character.

10. Rethink your side table styling

Often bedside tables get neglected and filled with the less than lovely clutter of life:  Kleenex boxes, hair elastics, dusty books, water glasses, medications, lotions.  Take a few minutes today to clear them off, wipe them down and rethink how you can style them in a way that feels lovely to look at when you crawl into bed.  Add some height with a large lamp or vase filled with tall foilage.  Corral those odds and ends in a pretty bowl or rustic basket.  Add a doily or fresh candle.  Maybe today is the day for some grocery store flowers.

11. Overhaul and declutter a closet

Going through a closet and getting rid of the things you don’t need is a beautiful thing.  Give it a dust & vacuum and put everything back in just where it belongs.  Simple and tidy just feels so good!

12. Style your front entry

Step outside or stay inside, whatever you like.  Take everything out of the space, give it a good sweep, polish the windows and wipe down the door.  Now take a good look at what actually needs to be in the space and give everything a home before thinking about adding some color - maybe some new throw pillows on a bench, some potted flowers, a new vibrant umbrella stand.  Even if all you do is hang up all the jackets and put the shoes in the closet, this is space going to feel so much better when you’re done.


You can find this digital graphic I created, for free instant download, in my Resource Library.  Click on the image or button below to register or sign in!

 
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Learning to Take Risks - Lessons from Iris Apfel


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Make a powerful statement.

 

In life, and in design, it’s so easy to get complacent.  To get bored.  To settle and let things just get so bland that we kind of forget to try something new.  To put some effort in.  To live a little.

 

I know what that’s like because I do it, too.  There are those parts of our home that get ignored, put on the backburner for years.  Or rooms that we were inspired to get just right, to adjust and perfect until we fell in love with them… only to let the years slide by while things got stale again. 

 

Sometimes it just feels like a lot of work to rethink things, to choose and rearrange and make it fresh when things are ‘good enough’ but after watching a documentary on Iris Apfel again recently, I got thinking about inspiration and passion and how that translates to our homes.  A happy, rich, interesting life should translate into a home that looks and feels the same.  It is worth it to feel good in our places and spaces, isn’t it?

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Iris and I, we also agree on another aspect of style:  there are far more important things in life.  Education, charitable work, doing a good job at whatever your craft is.  Being happy.  One of my least favorite type of question from clients centers around what is ‘in style’… because, well, who cares?  What an industry deems on-trend has very little to do with good, meaningful interior design that is going to feel good and look good to *you*.

 

So, what can we learn from fashion icon, and general profound badass, Iris Apfel about interior design? 

 

 

Be bold.

 

Don’t be a sheep.

 

Choose what you love.

 

Break the rules.

 

Put things together that make you happy.

 

Don’t seek trends to follow.

 

Choose classic and traditional.

 

Mix up color and pattern and texture.

 

Use the items in your home to compose the story of who you are.

 

Have some excitement about what you are doing.

 

Develop a signature style.

 

Curate your life.

 

Have some common sense.

 

Take risks.

 

 

Iris Apfel, in her mid-nineties, is wise and bold and an absolute inspiration when it comes to the business of getting clear on your style and just going for it.  Lessons we all should soak up.


Want to learn more about Iris Apfel?  Check out the links below!

Iris
Starring Iris Apfel, Carl Apfel

Some links are affiliate links. Please visit the 'Policies' tab in the sidebar for full information about what and why this is.


 

You can find all of these digital graphics I created, for free instant download, in my Resource Library.  Click on the image or button below to register or sign in!

 
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What I Hate About Interior Design & How I Got Over It


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Yes, design is about style and fashion and sophistication.

To me, though, that is some surface level stuff.  The entire foundation of good design is technical and it’s about simple intuition.  Maybe it’s the intuitive application of technical principles.

Interior design is a learnable skill.  It’s grass roots and basic, salt-of the-earth stuff.  It’s absolutely concepts that can be applied to any space with what’s available.

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Are you curious what this interior designer hates about interior design? 

Here’s the truth: I hate the superficial snobbery. The brands. The overpriced nonsense. The frivolous stuff and the materialistic showing off. And often all of this is happening while basic design principles, like good, simple scale or balance, are being ignored.

How did I get past that? I got down to business. I refused to buy in. I never once rolled my eyes at what clients had to work with. I rolled up my sleeves, got creative and put my knowledge of the basics to work. And you can do that, too.

Don’t for one second think that you, person who just wants to have a nice, stylish home and make the best of what you have, is the only person who has felt that eye-rolling, half-smirking look cast on them by someone who deems themselves ‘tres chic’ in the design world.  Nope, sister, it’s happened to me, too.  And I’m a decent* professional interior designer.  I’m just also down to earth and put my focus on making a well-designed space however my clients want to get there.

*Maybe I’m decent, maybe I’m damn good, maybe I’m a solid 8/10, it’s really difficult to objectively rate yourself, am I right?

It's possible that by sticking to good, well-thought out design principles, by making the best use of what my clients own and love, that I'm missing out.  Maybe I’m not making as much commission on overpriced furniture as I could be.  It’s possible I’m not handing out invoices for styling purchases that make people faint.  The bottom line is that I really don’t care what anyone other than my clients think about that, I’m going to keep being me because I think it's being true to what I believe in.  And if that’s you, too, then hold your head up and keep on being yourself, too.

I know the principles of design:  scale, harmony, rhythm, balance, focus.  And I think you can know them, too.  I can transform a room with that knowledge.  Anyone can.

I sometimes say that I am an advocate for ‘design for the people’.  I’m partly being cheeky but there is truth there. 

Interior design is about loving where you live or work or wherever you ‘be’ and that has nothing to do with style or fashion or sophistication.  It’s your home and you deserve better than that superficial nonsense, don’t you think?

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Clear surfaces are good for the soul – 5 steps to make it happen today


I have this thing for clear counters.  It just makes me feel good.  At peace, grounded, organized… maybe it's all the things I wish I had more of in my life.  Clearing surfaces is my go-to when I need to refresh a space in my own home and it’s my standard advice to clients before any design transformation takes place. 

I don’t think I’m alone, either.  I often hear from clients that doing this simple first step gives them a clean slate, space to breathe and opens them to thinking about all the possible ways they want their space to feel after we are done working together.

It’s simple but then again, it’s not.  We probably all know it should be done, but we just don’t get around to it, probably because it just seems overwhelming or tedious to deal with all the loose ends of life that are piled up there.  Things we need or might need soon, things that need to be dealt with in one way or another.  I will suggest, though, that for most of us, there is a very small amount things that actually do need to be dealt with in any time-consuming way.  The rest?  Quick, fast, simple, and done.

Today I’m throwing out 5 quick steps to get you started.  I encourage you to just pick one surface and give it a try.   See how it feels afterward – I’m guessing you’ll develop a thing for clear counters, too.


1.        Let go

Don’t overthink this.  Toss garbage and let it go.  If it’s recycling or trash, off it goes into a bag or receptacle.  If it’s something that no longer serves you or makes you happy but you think would be useful to someone else, bag it up and take it out to your porch or car right away.  Take action and keep your momentum going here.   Just stand there with your garbage bag and a recycling box and look quickly at papers with expiry dates, newsletters that are outdated, and at broken bits and pieces.  Toss and keep moving.


2.       Relocate

There are definitely things that don’t belong there.  Gather them up.  I use an empty laundry basket for this and just pile things in that belong elsewhere in the house.  All that stuff you’ve been meaning to put into the storage room, the little bits and pieces that belong in the office or bathroom, the extra stuff you’ve been meaning to move elsewhere when you get time – now is the time to clear it out.  Once you’re done with this step, just set the basket aside.  Afterward, after everything else is done, take a quick tour around the house with your basket and put things away.  Don’t get stuck in each room mulling over where to put things, either, just set them down in a logical spot or out of the way and move on.  Momentum!


3.       Prune

This is the time to look at what you are using on a daily basis.  If you’re not using it every day, clear it away.  Items that you use less frequently should be stored in a place that reflects how often they get used.  Be wise with your storage and prioritize.  The toaster you use every few days should get prime real estate in the kitchen cabinets.  The punch bowl you only bring out at Christmas could go to the basement. 

Is there anything that can be stored in the drawers rather than out on display?  Common offenders that could easily be stored in cabinetry (but often aren’t):

  • ye olde grease-dusty spice rack (you know the stickiness of which I speak)

  • the ceramic crock full of spoons of questionable aesthetics (no judgement here, my favorite cookie lifter has not had a handle for several years and my go-to bamboo spoon is missing one edge)

  • the spreading pile of papers by the phone (school notices, appliance warranties, birthday invites)

  • the bedside bowl filled with personal items (nail files, lotions, hair ties, loose change and lego bits… usually some goodies emptied from a pocket at bedtime)


4.       Be ruthless with your décor

Take an objective look at the decorations you have on your surface.  Seriously consider if you love what’s there.  A clear, clean space might feel a bit empty at first, but it feels much better than one that is bogged down with items that don’t really suit you.  It’s okay to let things go, to evolve your style or to have a clear space for a bit.  Take your time, later, to find a few things that feel right for the surface and make you happy to look at.  It doesn’t take much – one lovely, wonderful, colorful little thing in a bowl or on a tray is worth a dozen tired, boring, no-personality, no-connection pieces.


5.       Scrub & polish

Finally, give a good soapy wipe down to the surface and everything that’s staying.  Give a good clean to all the little nooks and crannies in the woodwork.  Polish up frames, lighting and mirrors.  Stand back and smile.  Doesn’t that feel good?

 


I’d love to know if you also have a weird love for clear counters… or maybe I convinced you to try to feel a bit of the love?

Inspiration for a Winter Living Room: Hygge


Have you heard of Hygge yet? 

Whether the answer is yes or no, let's settle in for a nice cozy little chat about my new favorite thing.  Grab a hot drink and a thick, fluffy blanket and curl up in a chair.  Light a candle or 12 if that's more your style.  I'm so happy today to talk about Oxford Dictionary's 2016 word of the year finalist 'hygge'. 

If you're one of my winter people in the Northern Hemisphere, savoring every extra minute of daylight we get this time of year, but slowly depleting your vitamin D (and, with it, easy joy & energy) as you wait for spring, you're going to feel just plain good after you even imagine your life with touches of hygge in it.  Just please trust me on this.

 

 

Simply put, hygge is a mindset, a way of enjoying good things with good people. 

It's about creating a warm atmosphere.

British journalist Helen Russell wrote “The Year of Living Danishly”  and defines hygge as “taking pleasure in the presence of gentle, soothing things.”  Warm, fresh from the oven buns, hot homemade coffee and thick warm blankets.  

Louisa Thomsen Brits, the author of “The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Contentment, Comfort, and Connection,” talks about hygge as “a practical way of creating sanctuary in the middle of very real life” and “a cure for SAD”— seasonal affective disorder. 

Wellness guide and cookbook, "How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life" written by Signe Johansen,  says hygge also has something to do with simple, hearty food and drinks.   Well if that doesn't sound like heaven in the middle of a very long, cold, dark season, I don't know what would.

 

Here's what some Danish folks have to say about this beautiful tradition that the rest of the world is slowly falling in love with.

 

Danish people are the happiest people in the world.  

They are on to something beautiful that gets them through what can easily sink anyone's happy-ship:  grey, endless winters.  I think it's a concept that could bring nothing but good, happy, comfortable feelings to your home and your life, so I've put together a list of 15 of basic elements you can add to your living room to get a little hygge feeling going. 

 

My Top 15 Hygge Basics for Your Living Room

 

1. Soft, natural throws and blankets.

 

2. Plush, oversized pillows in fabrics that are soft to the touch.

 

3. Warm, soft lighting.  Dimmers, warm-toned bulbs.  Twinkle fairy lights.

 

4. Candles.  And a few more candles.

 

5. A roaring fire.

 

6. A tray for an eclectic mug and small plate collection for treats and snacks.

 

7. A few more blankets. Why not?

 

8. Fabrics in natural fibres and colors.

 

9. Good quality, sturdy, natural elements - baskets, boxes, furniture.

 

10. Bring a bit of nature inside - a few pine boughs, branches with red berries, a small bowl of stones.

 

11. A stack of great books to immerse yourself in.

 

12. A small collection of puzzles, board games or cards.

 

13. Music.  Find something earthy and calming that makes you feel like you're in a chalet in the mountains.

 

14. Casual family photos of happy times.

 

15. A thick, plush rug.

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I can't wait to see what kind of good vibes you can cultivate for yourself at home this winter!   The mission of hygge is simple:  relaxation, gratitude and indulgence in a beautiful intimate atmosphere.