Here in the Pacific Northwest, we have gone from the gorgeous, halcyon days of early fall into our rainy, windy, gray and cool days almost overnight. It is a harbinger of what lies ahead as we edge ever closer to winter.

This is the time we want to be best prepared to enter the “cozy” season and love being indoors and enjoying our lives in a way we don’t the other 3 seasons of the year.

In this week’s article, Laura Gaskill, Houzz contributor shares 12 ideas to make this winter the best yet for living happily inside your home. You already know many of these, but a reminder doesn’t hurt. Enjoy!

There is a certain squirrel-like pleasure in stocking up for cold weather — and potential power outages — from the regular essentials, like flashlights and warm socks, to the fun essentials, like bottles of wine and new board games. Knowing you have all you could possibly want tucked tidily away is a wonderful way to kick off a season of coziness.

Until next time…

Blessings from my home to yours,

Nancy
Dedicated to helping you create spaces that foster happiness and well-being

Photos via HOUZZ

We live in uncertain times and this year has certainly tested that.

From politics to record-setting natural disasters, it’s easy to become unnerved and feel a bit shaky wondering what could possibly be next.

We feel sorrow for our fellow citizens who have been so badly affected and lost all they owned. Because we feel empathy, it’s not difficult to put ourselves in their shoes and grieve right along with them.

At the same time, we feel grateful to have the many blessings we have. Our home, as always, is our touchstone reminding us all is well in our world.

Just has nature can destroy, it also gifts us with extraordinary beauty and what better time to rejoice in it than during glorious autumn. As we move more and more indoors, we want our home to feel cozy and secure this time of year. We want our home to fee like it’s embracing us with a warm hug each time we enter.

Laura Gaskill, Houzz contributor has shared 10 ways to do just that. You’ll see that simple pleasures are often times the best of all.

The first crisp day, the first red leaf, the sky a richer shade of blue, the yellow school bus making its stops again — as signs of fall begin to pop up all around, take this opportunity to slow down and savor the little things that make the season meaningful to you. From simple, natural decorating ideas to library corners and cozy quilts, here are 10 ideas for filling the season with heartfelt delights.

Until next time…

Blessings from my home to yours,

Nancy
Dedicated to helping you create spaces that foster happiness and well-being

 

photos via HOUZZ

I love a quiz; especially one that’s about design.
 
They’re fun and you always wonder if you’ll discover something new about yourself.
 
The results certainly aren’t written in stone and a quiz alone is not going to make your decisions for you. However, they can give you a sense of your design style. You may discover aspects of design you hadn’t thought of before or confirm that the design style you’ve chosen fits you to a T.
 
So whether your style is neutral, traditional, contemporary, or eclectic, grab a cup of coffee or tea, take a short break and discover the design style that perfectly fits you. Chances are your style will carry over to your other spaces as well. This quiz involves your bathroom.
 
FYI: My personal design style is neutral which is spot-on. What is yours? I’d love to hear in the comments.
 

TAKE THE QUIZ HERE

 
Until next time…
 
Blessings from my home to yours,
 
Nancy
Dedicated to helping you create spaces that foster happiness and well-being
As a designer, I’m always thrilled and ever motivated at how many options there are to help someone design a beautiful home.
 
That’s why when I read how Annie Gabillet, Contributing Editor for popsugar.com turned an Ikea couch into a custom design that uniquely defined her sense of style and design, I had to share it with you.
 
Here’s her story:
 
What do you think? Does Annie’s story inspire you with your own decor? Have you done something like this in your home? I’d love to hear in the comments.
 
Until next time…
 
Blessings from my home to yours,
 
Nancy
Dedicated to helping you design spaces that foster happiness and well-being
 
Images courtesy POP sugar

Of all the most desired items requested in kitchen design, a kitchen island ranks among the top.

However, it can be challenging to fit an island into a small kitchen. Rule of thumb is 42 inches of width is needed for a single cook’s work isle and 48 inches for more than one cook. You also need at least 3 feet for a walkway. With an average island measuring 25 to 40 inches deep, you can easily see the problem.

However, all is not lost and you can have an island that accommodates a smaller kitchen. Take a look at these photos:

 

This home owner wanted an eat-in kitchen table with chairs which narrowed the width of the kitchen. However, there was still space for a narrow kitchen island giving more work space in this kitchen which it needed.

In spite of this kitchen’s narrow width, installing a narrow island whose compact work surface makes it useful for performing various tasks.

Consider how you’ll be using your narrow kitchen island. In this photo, work space is on top with open storage provided on the bottom shelf. You may decide to have closed storage. Either way, it’s what works best for you and your needs.

This kitchen island was designed to provide the owner a place to sit and enjoy a beverage, plan the day, or give a place for a friend to sit and visit. Make sure if you want this kind of configuration, that the person seated doesn’t get in the way of the cook.

A narrow island will not allow enough space for a sink or cooktop, but it still allows surface area for food prep and an easy place to set hot dishes when removing them from the oven.

A narrow kitchen island on wheels could be the perfect solution if you’d like moving it as needed. Just make sure the wheels can lock.

You want your kitchen island to fit the shape of the kitchen itself. If it’s long and narrow, the island should configure to that shape. The same applies if the geometry is square-shaped as in this photo. Your entire kitchen will function much more effectively.

I hope this article gives you ideas you could implement if you’d like to have a kitchen island in your smaller kitchen and maybe thought you couldn’t. As always, the best design is Mindful Interior Design to allow your home to work for you in every way.

Until next time…

Blessings from my home to yours,

Nancy
Dedicated to helping you create spaces that foster happiness and well-being

 

Photos via HOUZZ

Every design, decorating, or remodeling choice we make will have an emotional impact on us.

Hopefully, we end up loving our decisions and our lives are richer because of it. But sometimes mistakes are made and the outcomes are not as happy as we would wish.

HOUZZ asked readers to share their thoughts on the subject and they generously responded with lessons learned, most likely the hard way—through experience.

Sometimes, forewarned is forearmed and we can avoid making the same mistakes.

Here are a few and a couple of my own:

DESIGN WORDS OF WISDOM

Unless you’re a house flipper or are planning on selling soon, don’t design with that idea. In other words, choosing neutral everything when that doesn’t represent who you are. You’ll never feel inspired or happy at home.

Always do what feels right for you. Certainly gather information and needed advice, but listen to your gut instincts…it’s YOUR home and it must tell YOUR story.

Until next time…

Blessings from my home to yours,

Nancy
Dedicated to helping you create spaces that foster happiness and well-being

Here we are in the waning days of summer, but it won’t be long before we feel the cooler days and nights of autumn.

Now, while the weather is still good, is the ideal time for the home maintenance required to make sure your home is the cozy, warm, and inviting nest it should be this fall and winter.

Freshome.com put together a pre-fall maintenance list to ensure you and your home are ready before those first storms of the season arrive.

1. Paint

fall maintenance checklist and paint colors - freshome.com

A warm, fall orange, paired with earth tones like browns, tan and mocha add fall flavor to a living room. Image: Window Works

Summer is the perfect time to freshen up your walls. The weather is warm and you can leave your windows and doors open to air out paint odors. Why not paint with the latest eco-friendly paint formulations that are odor-free and contain low or no harmful VOCs compounds?

2. Check for (and repair) air leaks

home maintenance tips for fall - freshome.com

Air leaks in windows create energy waste and cold drafts. Image: DiGiacomo Homes

You can solve the drafty room issue and create a more energy-efficient space by taking a few minutes to find any places where cold air could potentially enter.

From the outside, walk around your home looking for cracks or holes around your windows, walls, doors or places where wiring might enter your home. Fill them with some exterior caulk in a matching color. Caulk costs around $5. And sealing the leaks in the summer is the best time, since caulk flows and dries best in warmer weather.

From the inside, look for cracked or dried out, shrunken putty around windows. Or see if there is light coming from a section of a door jamb. You can also hold a lit incense stick near a window or door on a windy day to see if the incense smoke blows from a certain section of the closed window or door.

3. Prep your fireplace

fall home prep checklist - freshome.comInspect and clean your fireplace annually. Image: Strachan Group Architects

Take a good look at your fireplace or call in a qualified and well-recommended professional to give it a good cleaning and inspection before you start using it again. It’s also a good time to order your firewood to have it ready to go.

Don’t have a fireplace and wish you did? Check out these cool electric fireplaces.

4. Clean out the gutters

cleaning out gutters home maintenance - freshome.com

Keeping rain gutters clear of leaves and debris protects your home’s exterior from water damage. Image: Mark English Architects

If you have a home with rain gutters, take a look at what’s built up in your gutters and clear it out before the rains come. Clogged gutters overflow in the wrong places and can damage stucco, roofing and other exterior elements.

5. Air out your winter jackets and bedding

Pick a sunny, breezy day to lay out your winter duvets, blankets, pillows, area rugs and outerwear that have been in storage all spring and summer. The ultraviolet light in sunshine is a great disinfectant. Exposing your fall and winter items to fresh air and sunshine will also kill odors and mild mildew.

6. Cozy up your space with heavier-weight fall textiles

fall decorating ideas - freshome.com

Layers of soft, luxurious textiles prep your home for fall and winter. Image: Adams Cougall

Swap out your white linens and light summer textiles with heavier fall textiles. Good fabric options for fall include, velour, velvet, corduroy, faux suede, microfiber and faux fur. Items to swap out to get your home cozy enough for fall include:

  • Curtains
  • Throw pillows
  • Blankets and throws
  • Sofa and chair slip covers
  • Area rugs

The key to creating a successful design is to layer. In fall and winter home design, more is more, so don’t be afraid to go over the top with a fur throw blanket, lots of pillows and a combination of colors, prints and soft fabrics. The more texture, the warmer and more inviting the feel.

7. Create a mudroom section in your entryway

mudroom ideas - freshome.com

Designate a small area near your entry for jackets, boots and other gear. Image: LDa Architecture

Regardless of how space challenged you may be, find a wall, nook or spot where you can catch all your fall and winter gear like boots, jackets and hats. The best elements to consider adding are:

  • A small, easy-to-clean rug to set your dirty or wet boots on.
  • A chair or small ottoman to sit on to remove your boots. An ottoman or bench that opens up for storage or a cubby-style bench or low bookcase would be a great seating option that also offers extra storage.
  • Wall hooks or a wall-mounted organizer to hold jackets, hats, scarves and other gear.
 

Until next time…

Blessings from my home to yours,

Nancy
Dedicated to helping you create spaces that foster happiness and well-being

It doesn’t feel right to share ideas about design and decorating this week when so many people are living through the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey in south Texas.

Rather, I’d like to share the thoughts of Houzz writer, MITCHELL PARKER. He was born and raised in Houston. These are his thoughts on his beloved hometown and the meaning of home in our lives.

All of us can do something, however small, that can make a difference to the lives of the thousands of people affected by this storm.

We pray for their safety and the patience needed for the long recovery and the new normal these brave citizens face.

Seeing the heartbreaking storm images coming out of Houston, my hometown, reminds me how fragile the idea of home is. Most of us forget how incredibly fortunate we are to have a place to call home. It’s a level beyond just shelter and other basic needs. A home harbors a piece of ourselves, our expressions, our identities. The things we choose to put into our homes bring us comfort, remind us of who we are and convey our sense of self to others.

These are the spaces where we watch our children take their first steps, where we laugh and cry and hug our loved ones, where we bond and build the most important relationships in our lives, and where we reflect, rejuvenate and restore ourselves. Home, or the concept of home, is our most sacred possession. Take that away and we can feel lost.

This week’s article shares a BEFORE and AFTER of a bedroom that was transformed from underwhelming to a serene and uncluttered space. Brenda Itzen of ITZEN ARCHITECTURE provided the magic by designing built-ins that are both functional and esthetically appealing.

Take a look:

BEFORE PHOTO

This is not a large bedroom with only 275 square feet to work with. The first thing you notice is the clutter—every surface of the free-standing furniture, including the floor, has become a storage area. At this point, it’s hard to see how this space can be transformed without increasing its footprint.

AFTER PHOTO

Contemporary Bedroom by Izen Architecture Inc.

Voila! The only thing recognizable are the fabulous windows. The built-in furniture and cabinetry (including under the bed) allows this smaller space to function much more effectively. The soft, soothing, lighter colors and texture give this re-modeled bedroom the feeling of more space, lightness, and airiness. I guarantee the owners feel happier and sleep better in their new space. NOTE: If you live in earthquake country, make sure anything on walls is firmly attached. For instance, I would add rails to keep the books from toppling onto the bed.

 

Modern Bedroom by Izen Architecture Inc.

On the window wall, adjacent to the bed, a comfy window seat provides extra seating and the built-in drawers and cabinets add further storage without taking up too much space.

This is an excellent example of great planning and design can accomplish.

Custom-built furniture and cabinetry is expensive, although the end result in both form and function is worth it. Another option is Ikea. It’s not difficult to create built-ins that can look custom using their existing furniture.

I’m always amazed at how Mindful Interior Design can change your home and your life.

Until next time…

Blessings from my home to yours,

Nancy
Dedicated to helping you create spaces that foster happiness and well-being

Design your rooms once and then forget it?

No, this doesn’t work because your life evolves and how you live in your home changes correspondingly.

What was perfect in your college dorm room, for instance, certainly wouldn’t work with how you live your life today.

Fashion in interior design changes almost as quickly as clothing fashion. We call those trends.

Just as most of us can’t change our entire wardrobe every season, we can’t change out our homes as often either.

Not only would that be frightfully expensive, but very fatiguing as well.

So, can you design a space that has staying power?

Yes, you can and here are 8 examples that show you how.

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