Entryway Design Ideas - Finding Solutions for all that Clutter

I’ve been struggling with pulling together my entry for a while now. Well, maybe struggling is not the right word -  I actually bought hooks but didn’t put them up, and I designed a bench but just haven’t gotten around to building it yet - a classic case of the cobbler’s kids having no shoes. And speaking of shoes, if you take off shoes at the door (yes I’m talking about you all of Brooklyn) the messiness just escalates. Here are some entryway design ideas that might work for you.

If you do a search for 'shoe storage', or 'shoe bench', the results are pretty limited and not particularly attractive. To find something a bit more interesting, you have to expand your search to other items. For closed cabinets that do the best job of hiding things, looking for ‘media consoles’, 'sideboards', or 'buffets' can do the trick nicely and actually add a design element instead of a compromise.

After years of using an Eames Hang It All hooks I noticed that things tended to pile on top of each other. So, in my own entryway I opted for the hooks below:

Wood and steel wall hook rack by Rejuvenation
Wood and steel wall hook rack by Rejuvenation

The hooks slide to accommodate different sized pieces and have a ‘double hook’ (top and bottom) which helps a lot.

Ceramic cleats by Delong ceramics
Ceramic cleats by Delong ceramics

These ceramic cleats come in beautiful colors and look fantastic - saving this one for my future beach house.

Wall rack by Scout Regalia
Wall rack by Scout Regalia

I love the small key shelf above this well-designed rack by Scout Regalia.

Umbra coat hooks
Umbra coat hooks

These look like a wall sculpture when they are not being used!


And this one has an industrial look that seems like it should cost a lot more.

For larger storage and shoes, here are a just a few ideas:

One client has a narrow but formal looking entry, and instead of a shoe bench which would look a bit out of place, I'm considering this piece, which is actually a media console.

Buffet by Mitchell Gold
Buffet by Mitchell Gold

A wallet-friendly solution that does a great job of keeping shoes out of sight.

Shoe storage cabinet at Wayfair
Shoe storage cabinet at Wayfair

While this is a bit high for a bench, it has some good open and closed storage.

West Elm storage bench
West Elm storage bench

And finally, there’s the ‘landing pad’ which we all need, but don’t always have much space for. Here are a few skinny consoles and other entryway design ideas that can make a home for keys, mail and those other small items that need a home right away.

Tried and true:

Room and Board slim console
Room and Board slim console

Petite, pretty and comes in three finishes

Mitchell Gold foyer storage piece
Mitchell Gold foyer storage piece

Long, lean and classy!

Long storage piece at One King's Lane
Long storage piece at One King's Lane

If you’ve found a unique solution for your entryway, please share it with me on my CAVdesign Facebook page. And please share your ideas for the #LoveYourHome365 project! Can’t wait to see how we all show our home some extra love. You can see the posts on Instagram, and share your own ideas on my Facebook page.

Renovating? 5 tips to a hassle-free renovation

OK, so I exaggerated. There's actually no such thing as a hassle FREE renovation because let's be honest, your home is getting shredded and rebuilt, you've likely moved out,  there's dust and debris, and quite frankly, there are always surprises (and I don't mean surprises like finding a $20 bill in your pants pocket). But there ARE some things you can do to reduce the chance of problems, and I learned all of these on the job. How? Let's just say I've been doing this long enough to make every mistake possible, and even when I think I've got it down pat I discover that there is yet another thing that I didn't think of.

#1.Communicate.  Ninety-Nine percent of problems are caused by breakdowns in communication. Don't overwhelm your contractor with bits of paper and random suggestions. Instead, organize your thoughts, schedule a time, and go over any questions point by point. Then send a line-item list of what was decided upon so there is a clear paper trail. 

#2 Be prepared with your design and be flexible with your design. You probably have an idea of what you want already.  The more planning you have done, the better, but be open to the idea that sometimes modifications need to be made, especially after walls are opened. 

#3 Measure before you make final choices. For example, measure your doors before you order your appliances.  Check for any tight turns, measure every opening, and leave room to spare before you get your heart set on that 36" range. Some retailers will do a site survey to double check - not a bad idea if you are not sure.

#4 Order, in order.  There are certain things you need to have on-site at the very start of a renovation, and others will just clutter the worksite making it difficult to move around. Speak to your contractor, but for kitchen and bath renovations, flooring and shower body valves (this is the part that goes inside the wall) come first, appliances would come later in the process. Also, be aware that lead times vary a lot. Some cabinets take 6-8 weeks for fabrication after you have signed off on the design. Plan your renovation calendar accordingly and don't leave all the details to last! Check order times for tile, fixtures, hardware, t/p holders and any other items that need to be installed by the contractor. 

#5 Changes take money AND time. Be aware that adding new elements to the design will add time and change orders/upcharges to the job. Trust me, your contractor wants to get in and out of the job so he/she can move on. Be understanding that they may not always be able to adjust their schedule to accommodate a large change to the scope of the project. 

Keep the end in mind - it's hard to keep your vision when your place is, well, a mess! But keep a picture of the final result in mind and know that it will be worth it. Could you use some guidance throughout this whole process? How can you know when it’s in your best interest to hire someone and when you should go for your redesign on your own? Take a look at my  Design Coach Tips Video  and I'll share the real-life pros and cons of working with a designer on a project.

Inspired by Emily Henderson - 5 tips to great style

I'm a big, and I mean BIG fan of Emily Henderson. In case you don't know who she is, she was the winner of HGTV's Design Star, hosted her own show, and is now a partner with Target and others on her fantastic blog, stylebyemily.com. Now to be honest, I didn't always love Emily as much as I do now. In fact I have a confession to make… I thought she won Design Star because she was blond and pretty. So shallow of me (um, a little envy do you think?).  Truth is, Emily is a pro stylist, her background is in prepping photo shoots so they look lived in, natural, and of course super stylish.  She's expanded to other aspects of interior design, but her roots are in making spaces look great with the placement and choice of accessories and furniture.

The reason I'm a fan is because Emily SHARES and she shares big. Her blog is full of great tips and sources. A book was a natural step and STYLED: Secrets for Arranging Rooms, from Tabletops to Bookshelves by Emily Henderson came out last month. I snapped it up and did some studying so I could apply some of her great tips to my next project photo shoot.

Screenshot 2015-11-06 09.43.43
Screenshot 2015-11-06 09.43.43

This project was a townhouse, and the living room before I touched it looked like this:


There were some obvious things, like the painting, and some less obvious things to bring it around to where it would be a good starting point for decorating.

Redesigning a space comes a lot easier to me than the styling so first I tackled the following architectural elements:

  • The fireplace (yikes!) was replaced with a vintage marble fireplace from Demolition Depot
  • The wall on the left (in the “before” top photo, you can see that it goes in and out) was filled in so it was all one level. I frequently do this in brownstones which often walls that jog in and out (usually due to unused fireplaces), making it hard to place furniture.
  • The radiator was awkwardly located so I designed a built -in to house a smaller radiator as well as a media cabinet. The key was to create a solution that integrated their needs with the reality of the radiator (which they also needed). I surrounded the TV with floating shelves so the TV was not the focal point on that wall.

Then we dealt with paint and furniture: Lighter colors, a furniture plan including a cozy sectional for the living room, and a generous dining area satisfied the clients needs and created a multi-use space.

After the redesign and renovation here's where we landed:


Not bad, and definitely a big improvement on the bones of the space, but...my original idea had included a coffee table and a rug like the one below, which was nixed because the homeowners have 3 kids under the age of 5 and it just didn't seem practical.

Diamond Wool Rug

Now, it was time to style the room for the photo shoot. Fortunately, the homeowners had purchased a similar rug for another room and I moved it into the living room for the photo shoot (which they liked so much they kept it there). Here's what it looked like after:

livingroom numbered
livingroom numbered

See how the small details make such a big difference? Here were some of Emily Henderson’s tips I implemented from her book, “Styled”, I include page number for easy reference.

  1. Oddball sculptures (p 103):  I love this idea of working in little sculptures and 3D art to break it up a bit. For the bookshelves, I used these budget-friendly cubes from CB2. From now on I will keep an eye out at flea markets for unusual small sculptural pieces as they really do a great job of adding interest.
  2. Layering items (p 72): The space needed a coffee table, and this this West Elm Clover table had it's own layered, dynamic shape. Pillows with varying textures were added to the mix as well. An existing side table was relocated to the other side of the chair so it breaks up the view of the side of the chair. The shelves got a mix of books and objects, and books were arranged in a more random way on the shelves.
  3. Add depth with bright colors (p 219): The throw and the multicolored corner pillow pulled together a brighter color palette to complement the textured neutrals.
  4. Use plants (p 192 and throughout the book): While this seems kind of obvious, adding a couple of plants to the space brings life in, and that feels cozy and inviting.  For low light situations, a bowl of succulents looks fabulous - which is what I used in the living room on the coffee table (which by the way the owners also kept after the shoot).
  5. Contrast (this is something that comes up throughout the book): The original rug was close in tone to the sofa. When we put the brighter rug down, the sofa looked so much better as well as the other furniture. It just brought additional light into the room that helps the furniture separate more.

I learned a lot from this process - and here are my suggestions for applying it to your space:

  • take a photo of the space you are styling and print it on regular paper, then draw your notes in on it, including sketching in plants, tables, and additional furniture items
  • make a list of what you need including size notes (for example, 30" round table, 18-24" high potted plant, 60-70" floor lamp)
  • get out of the house and do some shopping/propping in person with your photo (and a tapemeasure)  in hand to help with visualizing
  • get more than you need (especially with pillows) and be ready to return what you don't use

Happy Designing!

Want my fabulous pillow resource cheat sheet so you can save loads of time? click below!

Great stores for furniture shopping in Chelsea, NYC

This week I was so excited to find that two of my favorite online resources have opened actual stores in New York City. World Market is a go-to resource for fantastically priced furniture, accessories and pillows with a bit of a global feel. France & Son is a budget minded alternative to some of the high end designs we see around —and for those of us who cannot afford 15,000 for a designer chandelier, it’s nice to know that there are great-looking options available (until we can buy the genuine article!)

Like most of us,I love the convenience of shopping online- its a great way to look at a whole lot of things, and hopefully find the perfect match. but I also know there are times when you really want to see, feel,touch, or sit on the piece you might be buying. There's just something about seeing things in person that really helps you get a much better sense of how it might look and feel in your space. But the most fun part of looking in person is the sense of discovery when you stumble across something that surprises or delights you.

When I went to world market yesterday (I cannot tell you how excited I was about this!) I noticed this super painting - only 99 bucks!

Back at home I circled back to find it online so I could show it to a client, and it didn’t look as amazing…I probably wouldn’t have noticed it if it had just been an online search. And we all know the reverse is often true - things look great online and sometime are kind of disappointing in person.

Here’s my not-great iPhone picture:


and here’s the online picture:

Screenshot 2015-09-24 15.15.33
Screenshot 2015-09-24 15.15.33

Not that the iphone pic is so great, but I can see why the online pic wouldn't have grabbed me.

I also found this gilded piece which I fell in love with and am thinking of sneaking into my house…(will he notice??).


What the heck, I’ll just buy both. At $99 and $129 respectively If they don’t work I’ll bring them back to the store…no trip to the post office,no repacking things for shipping. --Another reason I like good old brick and mortar stores.

At France & Sons I got to see these great pieces in person:

Screenshot 2015-09-24 15.52.40
Screenshot 2015-09-24 15.52.40


Screenshot 2015-09-24 15.55.13
Screenshot 2015-09-24 15.55.13

The Manhattan Chelsea neighborhood is becoming a great area for furniture shopping, in fact I’m doing most of my ‘offline’ shopping there. And walking down 18th street yesterday was amazing…From World Market, to West Elm, to Room and Board, to France & Sons, to Organic Modernism…not to even mention ABC Home, BoConcept and others.

So if you find yourself in the area, here’s my ‘walking tour’ of Chelsea stores to visit, in loose order of location from East to West:

ABC Home

888 Broadway, bet. 18th and 19th st.

Restoration Hardware

935 Broadway at 22nd Street

World Market (and Bed Bath Beyond in the same building)

620 Sixth Avenue, bet. 18th and 19th st.

West Elm

112 West 18th Street, bet. 6th and 7th

France and Son

122 W 18th

Organic Modernism

124 W. 18th Street

Room and Board

236 West 18th Street, bet. 7th and 8th

And of course you can always click on the links  above for a sneak peek or if you're not close by...

Happy Shopping!

Getting the most from Pinterest in your next room makeover

Are you a Pinterest fan? What a great interior design tool - If you’re looking for inspiration when it’s time to redecorate or remodel your home it’s the first place many people turn to for ideas (Click here to follow me and check out some of my favorite Pinterest Boards.)

I’d say at least 80% of my clients, who are coming to me for design help, already have a Pinterest board (or several) with design ideas that they know they like - which really helps when we're working out the look and style of  their space.

But while it's a big help to know what you like, you also need to know how to translate that into your own space --  and that can be tricky.

In this short video, I'll share my tips on how to hear what your pins are REALLY telling you about your style,  and more importantly how to translate the look you love from your board, into a look that you love in your room. (And don't forget to check the bottom of the post to see how to enter my September Giveaway)


Here are my top 3 tips:

1. Distinguish what you are reacting to in the photo and whether it's MOVEABLE. for example, if it's the architecture or the sunlight, then enjoy the photo but move on, as those things can't be moved into your space.

2. Use the pins to learn new terminology and descriptive words for searching online and on other sites.

3. Look for the colors, patterns and textures that repeat throughout your pins - these can be translated into color palettes and style directions for your room.

If you’re using Pinterest for interior design that tells me there’s probably an area in your home that could use a makeover. How would you like FREE access to my newest Design Coach Series online course – The Room Makeover Solution – PLUS a 30-minute one-on-one video coaching session with me to get you on the right track? Until September 30th, you can enter my Design Coach Series GIVEAWAY. Click here to enter this September Giveaway and you could win everything you need to make your room makeover spectacular!

Fun and Practical Ideas for Kids Rooms

  A number of years ago I wrote a book called, Kids Rooms, Ideas and Projects for Children’s Spaces. At the time this came out it was one of just a few books on the topic. Today I notice almost every parent wanting to do something special for their kid’s room. Although the book is now out of print,  I still love this creative playroom entry by designer Laura Bohn that we featured on the cover (above).

Wondering where to go next with your kids' space? Here are a few of the key features I like to include when working on a kids room.

1. Create display space to showcase artwork and memorabilia

magnetic board
magnetic board

2. Be consistent with storage. It doesn't need to involve expensive bins (see the potato chip storage below) but an effort should be made to use one system, whether it's bins, buckets, or baskets. That will create a clean, uncluttered look in the room.


3. Have some fun - infuse a little fantasy. I love how the playroom entry at the top of the post transforms a simple entrance into a wonderland.  Here's where you can play off a theme and inject a bit of whimsy.

secret garden before after
secret garden before after

Here's a source for a similar light.

So have fun when you’re redecorating your kid’s room. Let your creativity loose and get your child involved in the process with you. If you’re not sure where to start,  download a copy of my free ebook– 10 Steps to Your Perfect Room Makeover. These steps will work for your kid’s room or any room in your house that could use a redo.

Photo Credits:

Joanna Goddard  (galvinized metal wall)

Paul Whichelow  (storage)

Julie Cadieux  (pegboard)

Mark Lund  (nightstand)

Via House Beautiful (feather lamp)

White House Black Shutters   (clipboard wall)

All other photos by Jennifer Levy/ CAVdesign

3 Tools for Fearless Room Makeovers


Do you ever say, “I hate how my living room looks”?

Most of us have space in our home we don’t love – maybe a bathroom, bedroom or entry. But instead doing something about it many of us just live with it because we’re afraid of making an expensive room makeovers mistakes. Or we worry that we’ll spend a lot of money and energy on it and it won’t come together.

Redesigning your room doesn’t need to be intimidating. The key is to have a plan. Too many of us buy on impulse. Maybe we fall in love with something or run into a really great sale we just can’t pass up. Then we’re stuck with something that just doesn’t work.

You need a plan that includes three design tools that can make you fearless and confident as you approach your room redo project. Watch this 3-minute video to learn what they are:


So if you’ve ever felt afraid of spending big bucks on a piece of furniture or a room redesign and then not loving it, welcome to the club. We ALL feel that way, including me at times. What I’ve learned is how to deal with these problems through step-by-step processes, so I can minimize mistakes, take the fear out of getting started, and put the fun back in!

My Design Coach Series programs teach you step-by-step systems and techniques that you can apply to YOUR design project. Click here to learn more and make sure to grab a copy of my free ebook – 10 Steps to Your Perfect Room Makeover.

4 Finishing Touches that Turn Functional into Fabulous!

Do you have an area of your home that you’ve put some effort into, but it still doesn’t quite have that polished look you were hoping for? It’s common to run out of steam at the end of a design project or makeover and be left with a nice room, but not a great room. Maybe what’s missing is a little flair or your own personal stamp? Here are four fabulous finishing touches that give your space extra pizzazz without driving you crazy in the process. And get my free Pillow Cheat-Sheet right here!


1. Use color to unify.

Does your room look like it’s not very cohesive? Take a look at what you have in the space, and pick a secondary color or two to play with for your finishing touches. For example, a small patch of yellow on a rug or a touch of yellow on a painting can be picked up by a pillow. You can even introduce an accent color that doesn’t show up anywhere else! If you use these colors consistently in your pillows, art and accessories, you can’t go wrong.

2. Start with a clean slate, then add and edit.

If you already have some items on the space you’re working on, such as a shelf, table or mantle, clear them off and place things in one at a time, creating small groups to start. You do not have to use everything! Translation – you should not use everything. Most of the time, a smaller, carefully curated collection of things makes a stronger design statement than having a whole lot of stuff – even if you feel it has a similar theme or color story.

3. With pillows, vary sizes, and work those accent colors!

If you’re picking pillows for a sofa or loveseat, start with your largest pillow in the corner and go smaller from there. Don’t forget to repeat your accent colors, and look for a variety of weaves or textures to keep it interesting. And finally, it’s OK to buy a couple of extras – you’ll have a bit more to play with and you can return the ones that don’t quite work.

Emily Henderson Gallery Wall
Emily Henderson Gallery Wall

4 Hang artwork with a friend.

This is important and it’s not just for the company or for a second opinion. If you are hanging anything on the wall, you need to step back and see it in context. Your friend can hold it up and keep a pencil handy to make note of the best position. If you are  choosing what to put where, don’t be stuck on the ‘where’. Sometimes an unexpected location makes a great statement for your art, so walk around and try some different options. Finally, start at eye level for hanging. This means that the center of the piece should land around 60” above the floor. Of course feel free to break the rules if things look better at a different height but use this as a starting point. Sometimes it’s the small details in the room that really set it a part and make it a space you love to live and work in. So if your room feels just okay pick one or more of these fabulous finishing touches to give it a boost. Are you looking for a complete room makeover? Could you use some support? Click here to learn about my upcoming Design Coach Series, where I coach you through your entire room redo from start to the final finishing touch.

5 steps to Getting Started on your Room Redo

5 Steps to Get Your Room Redo Off on the Right Foot

When I begin a new endeavor, whether it’s setting up my website or running a 10k, I get a little overwhelmed in the beginning, especially if it’s out of my comfort zone. Somehow during those first steps, where I’m trying to figure out which direction I should go, I get stuck. And that can cause me to procrastinate, even though I know it should be a priority.

For a lot of people redesigning a space in their home is not exactly in their comfort zone. Have you ever felt like you had a great idea for your room but you weren't really sure where or how to begin? Has this led you to procrastinate?

Isn’t it true that once you get started it gets so much easier? Let me share five first steps you can take to get your room redo off on the right foot:

1. Discover what you like. If you haven’t already, start browsing to see what design styles you like. Here are a few of my favorites for looking:






and of course, pinterest and houzz!

2. Define what you like (with keywords). Take a very close look at what you like about the space that's inspiring you. Get analytical about it and make sure that what attract you are not unattainable architectural features like high ceilings or giant steel windows. Here are the kinds of things to put on your list: the teal/orange color palette; the neutral color palette with a mix of natural materials like fur, wood, leather, glass; the midcentury modern furniture; the deco style/mirrored furniture; the eclectic bohemian mix.  See if you can come up with keywords and phrases that capture your look. Why? It’s these keywords will help you search online for more examples of what you like as well as furniture and accessories that fit into your room redo project.

3. Create a manageable budget. If you spend any time on Pinterest or Houzz, many times what you are looking at – and loving – is very expensive! Create a budget for yourself and see if you can find alternatives to pieces that may be beyond reach. Some websites like copycatchic.com do a great job of showing ‘high/low’ versions of furniture that looks almost the same. Again, having keywords to describe what you are looking for will also help source bargain versions.


4. Put it on the calendar. You’ll increase your chances of enjoying a successfully completed room redo if you don’t plan to do it piecemeal. After all, it’s discouraging living in a half-done space when you started out with a ‘vision’. Make a plan on your calendar that takes into account delivery times for larger pieces, and have a finish date. You may want to plan a little ‘completion celebration’ that shares the new look with friends!

sample clear and prep_Page_1
sample clear and prep_Page_1

5. Don’t forget to measure - It’s a great feeling when you find a piece of furniture that is the perfect fit for your look. But it’s not a great feeling when it turns out it literally doesn’t fit well in your space! Make sure you measure the space it will be going into, as well as any doorways or hallways it will need to clear to get there.

These five first steps will help you get your room redo off to a great start. And once you have some momentum your design project will start to come together. I find that as soon you start seeing results it helps you stay the course and get it done! Would you like some tangible support in tackling your room redo? Click here to learn about my upcoming Design Coach Series, where I coach you through your entire room redo from start to finish. It’ll be fun – all you have to do is get started!

3 Ways to Get People to Take Off their Shoes at the Door

In the Summer months you and your family are probably in and out throughout the day. Has your entryway become a tripping hazard because of all the sneakers, flip-flops and other assorted shoes piled up by the front door? And what about your guests? Do you ask them to “please take off your shoes at the front door”? More and more of us do because we want to keep our homes clean and safe from pollutants being tracked in from the outside. I got into this habit myself when I moved to Brooklyn but my sister had done it for years in her Boston home, to the chagrin of our parents whose holiday outfit plans included the shoes and who felt lost (and cold) without them.

There are a lot of good reasons to remove shoes in a home — even one without kids. The key is to make it work for your family and any visitors, so here are a few steps to make it work for everyone.

#1 Let them know -- gently.

A please take off your shoes sign is a polite way to let your guests know you have a no-shoes policy in your home. It’s also a great constant reminder for your kids so you hopefully don’t have to tell them for the umpteenth time.

Something simple like, “Welcome friends, please bare your soles,” will get attention. I’m always in favor of using fun graphics and humor to break the tension, and here are some great examples:

take off your shoes

For something understated but eye-catching, how about framing a picture like this one?!

or this:

Please Remove Your Shoes Wall Decal - Family Wall Decal - Remove Your Shoes Sign - Remove Shoes - Shoes Decal - Vinyl Wall Decal -

This wall decal from Etsy will definitely get the point across.


If you're crafty, then this chalkboard version will give a nice casual feel to your request.

Please Remove Shoes Sign

This free PDF download will get you on track to a 'no-shoe' policy right away.

#2 Have a well-thought-out shoe and boot storage space.

When guest arrives, mention that they can leave their shoes in the designated area. Have a shoe rack or some sort of shoe and boot storage in the entryway. To save some embarrassment, make space in it before guests arrive so that you don’t experience an overflow.

This industrial shelving would make a great looking entry piece with space for shoes and a landing pad on top for keys and mail.

nook console
nook console

Don't feel like you have to limit yourself to ready-made shoe storage, you can repurpose consoles and other 'dressier' pieces for shoes.  If you have a narrow entry space however, nothing beats a space-saving shoe-storage cabinet like the stall from IKEA.


#3 Make it comfortable for guests to take off their shoes at the front door.

There are lots of great benches out there, so try to find a good fit for your space. If you're really tight on spare inches, then what about using a nice fold down shower bench?

Screenshot 2015-06-05 17.21.16
Screenshot 2015-06-05 17.21.16

or a colorful pouf instead of a traditional bench...

square recycled rag pouf

If you really want to go the extra mile you can provide a basket of clean socks or slippers by the front door to keep their tootsies warm. Available by the dozen here.

basket of slippers
basket of slippers

Here's a trick for damp shoes or boots (or boots that are taking a break for summer): put newspaper in them to absorb moisture and help them keep their shape. You can leave rolls of newspaper in a basket for guests to use on rainy days.


For a little 'design irony' you can craft a basket for the newspapers out of actual newspaper! I really liked this DIY for making a newspaper basket.

With a little practice, you can make the transition from shoes to no shoes easy for you and your guests.

Would you like more home design tips to transform your space? Grab my free ebook: 10 Steps to Your Perfect Room Makeover.

How to Accessorize with Pillows without Blowing your Budget or Your Mind

Do you find yourself with dozens of unused pillows because after a few weeks on your coach or bed you decided they didn’t look quite right? Or maybe you’re too afraid to buy any pillows so your sofa looks barren.I don’t know what it is about pillows but they seem to create a design phobia for many. In fact, even though I should know better I found myself in a bit of a quandary when picking out pillows for my own sofa! Watch this five-minute video where I share the mistakes I made and how you can avoid them with a few simple design strategies…


I was definitely making my pillow selection harder than I needed to!  Once I approached it the same way I do for my clients I was able to get the perfect combination.

Here’s a recap of how to pick the perfect combination of pillows without losing your mind:

  • Choose all of the pillows at once – this coordinated approach is more effective than a piecemeal effort.
  • Bring a sample of your sofa fabric and other pillow covers with you to the store – this will help you select the right color and texture combination.
  • Don’t be seduced by sales items – if you wouldn’t buy it full price then it’s not the pillow for you!
  • Don’t get too “matchy-matchy” – vary with textures, colors and sizes.
  • Do look for a repeating color or pattern that will create a cohesive look.
  • Relax! They’re just pillows. It’s okay to buy a bit more than you need so you can play around with combinations at home. Pillows are easy to return, so don’t hold back.

Want my cheat sheet on the best places to buy throw pillows? Just click below...

Why I love my Job - taking inspiration into the real world

We all have our good days and our bad days, right?  With interior design -- especially if there is building or renovations involved -- it can rattle your nerves and test your patience. Let's face it, the reality of going from an idea seen on a blog, or a pin on pinterest to an actual space is not always easy. Every day I learn something new, and I've been doing this a while. So that's why I like to remind myself what I LOVE about this process. The fact that you really CAN go from an idea or a sketch to something real is truly amazing, and completely rewarding.

Take this typical living room problem:  A radiator that didn't look good and took the 'starring role' on the wall we needed for a media center. Here's where we started:


The solution? An integrated radiator/storage cabinet that has a pattern of holes for ventilation, along with an inside compartment for equipment. The legs were given their own cutout shape to add character and make it feel more like furniture.

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Screenshot 2015-03-16 20.00.39

And the final result - a neat pairing of form and function. I also added floating shelves above to create additional storage and display space and give the eye a place to land other than the TV. The cabinet maker was great and followed the radiator pattern with precision (it was three different sized holes!).



So, from a drawing to reality -- this one worked out really nicely. I love my job!

Before and After: A playroom transformed in a day

If you've ever watched HDTV you know that room makeovers are presented miraculously as though they took place overnight.  If you have ever worked with a designer however you know of course that's just not possible...the big 'reveal' is a rarity, and more often there is a much longer process involved to get to the final result. One reason is that you normally go through at least a couple of rounds of furniture ideas  work out all the kinks. Most people aren't ready to make a large purchase they'll be living with for a long time as a quick decision -- it takes time. In this case however I was hired to stage the playroom for purposes of selling the house. Using furniture the clients already had I supplemented with a few key pieces and rearranged the room to create a more inviting atmosphere. With a budget of $1200 the room was transformed.

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Here's what I identified as the key problems / solution

  • The furniture is haphazard and sits awkwardly in the space / rearranged the furniture plan to create designated zones, with a clear seating area
  • The corner of the room is cut off due to the sofa placement / moved the sofa to the other side and relocated a cabinet to anchor the corner
  • There is no focal point / placed artwork on the walls
  • Not enough color or warmth / added pillows and a knit pout, and defined the seating area with a graphic rug

The best part? All items were purchased from IKEA and Homegoods and installed in one day.  Finally, I got to enjoy my big 'design reveal' moment!

Coming Soon - An online course to help you get your dream space

If you're someone who's had a conversation with me in the past couple of years you know that I've been planning to create an online design program for a very, very long time! Well, that course is finally coming to life and it's really exciting. I love teaching and definitely hate to see people make costly mistakes or end up with spaces that don't work for them. I also know that it's easy to find a picture or a room you love, but a lot harder to actually re-create that look and feel in your own space. This course will walk you through the design process step-by-step with videos, worksheets, templates, and most of all, insider tips. If you want a taste of what the course will help with, download my e-book, "10 Steps to Your Perfect Room Makeover".  Signing up for the book will also put you on the list to stay in the loop about when the course is going live (and don't worry, I'm way too busy to cram your inbox with frequent mailings, just one every few weeks or so).  Oh, and did I mention that the book is free?

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Screenshot 2014-11-25 13.36.35

Here I am on the first day of video shooting - fun but I definitely feel more comfortable on the OTHER side of the camera!


I'll keep you posted....and let me know what YOUR biggest design challenge is so I can make sure to include it in the course.

Home Resolutions for a New Year

After the holidays, a lot of people talk about needing to “recover”. Whether it’s from fielding tricky moments with in-laws, overindulging in treats, or stressing about NOT being at work, it seems we need to regroup.

On the home front, regrouping can take the form of making improvements. Cleaner, less cluttered, and better-organized spaces create more enjoyable places to live. For me, I find that making improvements also allows me to reconnect with my home.

So, in the spirit of the post-holiday season, here are 4 easy tips to help you and your home “recover” from the holidays. These suggestions also work as New Year’s resolutions, and last well into the year ahead.

1. Reduce your “stuff footprint”.

If you’ve resolved to be neater this year, try doing so with less stuff. I’ve resolved to reduce my ‘”stuff footprint” by 30 percent in 3 spaces: my closet, my kitchen, and my basement. Also, if you’ve received home décor items as gifts, now’s the time to shed unwanted objects so that your home can easily absorb new pieces.  

table setting_remodelista

2.Do something kind for your home every day. 

Our homes, like our bodies, look and feel better when we tend to them daily. Like many of us, I’ve resolved to do something for my physical well being each day. (Exercise, of course, is on the list  – but treats like manicures count too!).


For your home, a kind act could be as simple as organizing a messy drawer, tackling a spot that needs a deep cleaning, or placing fresh flowers on your dining room table as if you were having guests. Go ahead – give your home some love!

kids cleaning_learnvest

3. Get the family involved.  

Find creative ways to get your family on board with helping around the house. Pump up the music while you fold laundry.  Hold a sock-matching race.  Have the kids fluff up the cushions, and allow them to keep the loose change they find (as long as they complete the chore). 

Turn tidying into a sorting game, creating piles by room, by category, or by task. As an incentive, create chore coupons with redeemable rewards.

4. Divide and conquer.

One reason people have a hard time completing projects is the long lists of tasks seem overwhelming. I’ve found many undertakings become less daunting when I break them down into manageable steps:

First, start by prioritizing your projects by importance and scope: i.e. “make the kitchen work better”.

Second, break down the larger project into sub projects: i.e. “fix the leaky faucet”.

Third, take a sub project and break that down into individual tasks: i.e. “reach out to 4 friends to find a reliable plumber”.

Focus on completing a single task rather than the final result. Once the task is finished, you’ll experience a sense of accomplishment – which is a great way to start the New Year.