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Refreshing Your Home: 8 Tips

I’ve talked about this a few times before, but these tips never go out of style or season because they’re timeless tricks that decorator’s everywhere turn to whenever a client asks them to help refresh their space. Okay, perhaps not all of them but you’ve stepped into my world for a moment so let me tell you how I personally refresh my home to kick start the new year. The rollercoaster ride, er holiday season, has ended (whew!) and life is s l o w l y getting back to normal (it’s like trudging slowly over wet sand, huh?) the decorations are coming down and most are left with a house that feels rather, well, un-festive like. Maybe even depressing. Perhaps a bit naked? Well that’s not a bad thing because now you can start on a clean slate. Here are some new year’s ideas for freshening up your space.

(image: haust)

1. Bring in some fresh flowers and starting forcing those bulbs. That’s a big thing here anyway, bulbs galore in every store. I have to get started on that myself, but I picked up two tone tulips in pink and white already in bloom, which look really nice as they typically remind me of spring and the guarantee that winter will eventually end! Though don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying winter very much thanks to all the cozy elements in my home that make me feel comfortable and happy. Winter isn’t half as bad when you stop thinking about warm weather and enjoy what you have, right? That’s the idea of this post, I want to help you to enjoy more of this moment as we all tend to concentrate too much on what we don’t have instead of what we do, right? If tulips aren’t your thing, try buying some succulents and make a terrarium (here’s a helpful how-to or have a look at mine here), go to your local florist and see what grabs your attention. And when you bring your little blooms home, arrange them with care so that you are also experiencing the moment of (sorry I’m about to get weird on you) touching and smelling and feeling them as you carefully snip and create a pretty little arrangement. I personally love that moment when I’m standing over the sink unwrapping my flowers, thinking of nothing more that what is happening in that space and time. It’s relaxing, and if you love classical music, put some on and hum along as you create. I find piano very relaxing so I play a lot of Yann Tiersen. Look him up, you’ll be surprised to see what lovely film he composed a soundtrack for. If that doesn’t get you in the mood to arrange flowers nothing will!

2. Warm it up! Since in my part of the world, it’s cold outside, I try to warm things up a bit with candles. I tend to use more tapers and tea lights, simply because I burn through so many and their often the cheapest to buy, but pillars and scented candles are equally nice. I have them on my windowsills, table, coffee table and in the bathroom for relaxing soaks. I group 3 tapers and 2 pillars on my coffee table and several tea lights on a shelf behind my sofa. It gets dark here around 3:30 each day, so the candles are aglow around that time to make the transition from day to night less painful. I also like to put candles in front of a small mirror like this, which is on the windowsill in my bedroom as it doubles the glow and looks really pretty. Remember, I grew up in a resort area on the beach with plenty of sunshine year round which means I’m not naturally a northern “cold weather” person. I had to learn to like winter, trust me.

(image: elena)

3. Make paper snowflakes, create a new wreath for winter, leave the white twinkle lights up (just hang them over the bookcase, over your bed, or along the fireplace mantle vs. on the tree which you’ve no doubt removed by now). Just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean you cannot still celebrate the winter season. Try wrapping your candles in pretty paper shown above. Yes you can wear white after Labor Day and yes you can leave your twinkle lights up until Spring or even later if that’s your thing. Who cares what people say, start your own traditions because we’re not put on earth to do things only one way and follow the masses. Can I get an amen?! I once had twinkle lights in a massive glass vase on top of my bookcase and left it as a light source year round. Hey, I was single and broke, it was the cheapest light I could make using things I already had, and it turned out to be a hit — my guests, and I, loved it. You can even still use your ornaments, just in fresh new ways. I wrote about this recently over at Real Simple, perhaps you’d like to check out my tips and photos there for a little inspiration?

(image: haust)

4. Drag out your cd collection and play some music you’ve not listened to in a long time, music that uplifts and makes you feel positive and energetic since energy is a big thing we’re all in need of right about now, right? I just took out my Amy Seeley cd. Lovely, lovely. I’ve missed you, Amy. I haven’t listened to her since last April before my relocation madness began. Great winter music.

5. Break a sweat. Grab a pilates, yoga, or any other fitness DVD and move your butt. Nothing makes you feel better post-holidays than exercise and if it’s too cold to go outdoors then move it! move it! indoors. I like to move it! I love to move it! Do you like to, move it? Ha ha. We also tend to like our homes more and complain less about the weather when we exercise regularly because it puts us into a more positive frame of mind. If you don’t want to exercise to a video, think of other options, like a fitness ball or weights. Or, try exercising the old-fashioned way and take a weekend to thorough clean and organize your home. Which reminds me, I need to practice what I preach and go organize my entryway, it’s mitten and boot chaos out there.

(image: hannah honey + jam)

6. Edit! Winter is a good time to photograph your space, look at the photos four hundred times over, and consider what works and what doesn’t work. And start editing from there. Edit, edit, edit! Do you really need 3 throws in your living room and that snuggie blanket from your mother-in-law? Maybe you can keep 2 and store 2 or donate them to those in need. Are 8 pillows on your bed a bit much? Is your linen closet bursting from the seams with 50 towels, some you’ve had since college? Maybe it’s time to simplify because there is a lot more time and energy involved in maintaining lots of things vs. less. Clean out your china cabinet while you’re at it, too. If you need some help editing your space and organizing your home, get a jump start on spring cleaning with Erin Doland’s book, Unclutter Your Life In One Week. She’s a peer of mine over at Real Simple and her book is both practical and very helpful.

(image:simply grove)

7. Move things around. Maybe your pendant over the dining room table would look better in the bedroom? That’s what decorator/blogger Kirsten Grove from Simply Grove thought anyway and viola! she painted her dining room fixture glossy black and hung it over her bed. Fabulous. I also love the throw on the bed, it really warms up her bedroom for winter. Try that too, you can grab those pretty throws at IKEA, here some use them on their dining room chairs and even on the sofa. Talk about cozy! And you know why moving things around is so smart? Because chances are you are home a little more than you will be when the weather warms up so it’s the perfect time to shuffle things around – who wants to decorate when the beach is calling your name? So move the sofa, move the chairs, swap out your current prints for other ones (even fabric or wallpaper can be framed and used as art), move it baby, go go go!

8. And… if all else fails, there is always hot cocoa. :)

How are your refreshing your home this month? Share your tips, link to your photos, share, share, share!!! :)

(images: credits linked below each.)


Posted in Decorating Tips on January 06, 2010

Budget Apartment By Tim Neve

Hello! Okay so I know I’m not really supposed to be blogging as I’m on vacation but I have to bust in today to share a few hot tear sheets from the latest issue of Real Living magazine (my fix post Domino). I’m so happy I bought myself the gift of a subscription to their magazine from Mag Shop, it’s fabulous and I highly suggest getting a full year of decorating goodness for yourself. It wasn’t that expensive when you consider it’s coming all the way from Australia and the subscription rate includes shipping, which we all know to send anything from Europe or North America to the land down under is crazy expensive alone. You simply must see this apartment, decorated under $1,000 Australian dollars which is just incredible. The talent who pulled this cottage together is editorial stylist and publisher Tim Neve who happens to have a great blog too. Take a look at this neutral nest (view larger images here).

Tim Neve

Tim Neve

Tim Neve

First, I love the lamp. I didn’t see a source listed for it though, does anyone know where it is from? Next, the coffee table. Where is that beauty from? I also cannot find it listed in the article but it’s the best. The breakfast table where the model is so joyfully stacking dishes is an IKEA hack — it’s an IKEA tabletop updated with new Vika Oleby legs from IKEA. Clever! I’m always inspired by the creative minds out there who mix and match things from IKEA to create their own custom piece. I also like how Tim used various tones of white and dare-I-say the word, beige, in such a way that gives the room warmth and texture, it’s cozy. The variety of textures also helped the apartment from feeling sterile – the leather sofa, the wool, linen and cotton fabrics, the woven stool and rug, all this texture makes for an inviting space. Even the lampshade has texture, did you catch that? It’s subtle but it’s there. I’m guessing Tim is a tactile kind of guy. Same goes for the bedroom, from the bedspread to the pillows and the art over the bed. Texture! Texture! Tone! Tone! Another smart move Tim made was to remove the dated mirrored door in the bathroom of the wall cabinet to expose the shelves, leaving them open for practical purposes but also for decorative arrangements of toiletries and candles – things that will be used but also admired vs. hidden away behind some oddly placed mirror.

And all under $1,000! Eek! How inspiring. I bet the whole of Australia will want to hire Tim after reading this article, I think his approach is creative and fresh but in this economy, everyone is looking for creative solutions that won’t put them in debt. It feels better to sleep on a bed that you’ve already paid off. With a space like this, anything is possible when it comes to colors too. You can add new hues with each season and pull them out and bring in others later and so on. Why, you could go nuts! Nuts I tell ya! With a canvas like this to work with, a splash of red in the winter, lilac and sage green in the Summer, or pink and yellow, maybe some Orange and turquoise, see what I mean? Endless. This neutral palette is so versatile — you’re not stuck using certain colors – great for spontaneous decorators who can’t be pinned down.

(images: real living magazine)

Posted in Books + Magazines, Decorating Tips on December 29, 2009

Ryan Korban Interior Design

Ryan Korban is a twentysomething interior designer in New York who designs both residential and commercial spaces and who has recently been featured in a number of design blogs, including The Selby. It seems he has a knack for creating warmth with a touch of glam through layers, textures and deep, moody colors. Add to that a dash of shine through a lamp or two, a carefully placed teapot, a sculptural flower resting on a stack of books and a sexy side table with a horn base and you have Ryan’s signature look — nothing is overly styled or stuffy, things are somewhat sloppy in a very good way and his vibe is without fuss and quite cozy.

Ryan Korben

I’ll admit, I’m not a big leather sofa fan, nor do I care for faux fur rugs, horn tables or shiny ornate table lamps, but Ryan has a way of putting things together that I’m not naturally drawn that makes me pause and think, “Okay, maybe“. I think that this is a sign of a good designer that we often overlook and do not discuss to often on design blogs. We’re often so fixated on finding designers who share our aesthetic — but when you notice an eyebrow being raised as you stumble across work you’d not characterize as your sensibility then that’s something to pause and think about. Hmmm.

I compare this to a good makeup artist or hair stylist. Sometimes we get stuck on a look, some may even say in a rut. Fringe with blond highlights, blunt cut with caramel highlights, curly hair, straight hair, the “Jennifer” hair cut. Or how about makeup — smokey eyes for going out, a nude and pale palette with a touch of pink lip gloss by day. Let’s say your stylist thinks that with your coloring and personality, you should experiment a little and go with auburn highlights instead and lose the fringe because it does not complement your face shape. And the makeup artist suggests peacock green eyes for night with faux lashes and by day a bit more color – a soft gray eye with a just-bitten red matte lip. You may shrug, thinking it’s, “Oh no — not me” but perhaps you try this new look out and you can’t believe your eyes — stunning! Pros who work with color, proportion, texture, etc. all day tend to have a broader vision. They also deal with many personalities and income levels so they have a lot of experience that we sometimes forget to take into consideration.

Ryan Korben

And so I ask… shouldn’t anyone you hire in a creative field give you a bit of an Aha! moment and share something that you may NOT have considered before? That is a part of interior design that makes hiring the right one worth the investment. A fresh, new custom-tailored perspective can be quite an eye opener.

(images: top, ryan korban. bottom, the selby who profiled him here.)

Posted in Decorating Tips, designers on November 25, 2009

Bloomingville by TrendKompagniet

So. I’ve been trying to locate a silver or black mirror to go above my dresser and I found a lovely one at Esplanade (a store in my neighborhood) and when I flipped it over I noticed the brand: Bloomingville. Hmmmm I thought. I googled it and found their website which has many beautiful products from Danish company TrendKompagniet. Bloomingville is part of their company specializing in home goods.

Bloomingville

If you pay attention to the details, you may notice subtle differences from how you arrange things in your part of the world. In northern Germany where I live, this one of many styles for seasonal decor, one of many because you have (like any country) lots of people with a variety of tastes and backgrounds so the decor varies by home. But, this is one style that is very popular in the part of the city where I live — I find shops with many of these products or ones identical to them. Some of these accessories include mercury glass, candles in many shades, white porcelain, and the colors gray and lilac along with many ethnic influences and details like punched tin and sweet little motifs — deer, mushrooms and snowflakes to name a few.

My friends like to use found items for decorating too – and traditional pine is another element brought into the home and displayed on a coffee table next to a platter or included in a floral arrangement for instance. Candles are used very informally, not just for fancy dinner parties or special occasions. I have candles burning most days — they warm the heart and heat the space. I love candles and burn them twice as much now that I live in this part of the world. I have two silver antique candelabras on the windowsill in my living room with gray candles that I love and light almost daily as it starts to get dark now around 4:15 each day. But I like it, the mood is serene and charming.

Bloomingville

Bloomingville

I really, really like the decal accent on the weathered bench above. Did you see that? It is great idea to give a bench a hand painted feel for those who don’t have a steady hand to diy it. Try a decal inside. Brilliant! This makes me like decals a little bit more because I never in my life thought to stick on on a rustic bench.

So, there you have it — Bloomingville products. Do you like this style?

By the way… If you’re a interiors stylist and are lucky enough to live nearby to them in Herning, Denmark well I have good news for you — they’re hiring a product stylist! More information here.

And you love what you see shown above, you can shop for these items on Madam Tut and Landstil.

Soothing and elegant, right?

(images: bloomingville)

Posted in Decorating Tips on November 13, 2009

Books:

Some of my books...

Further editions available: Decorate published by Murdoch Books for AU/NZ, Decorar BR, Alt om indretning DK, Inspirace pro váš byt CZ, Dekorácie SK, La décoration FR, Lust auf Wohnen DE, Sisusta tyylillä FI and Sztuka aranżacji wnętrz PL.

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