You’ve decided this is the year to remodel your bathroom.
You have a million and one questions and concerns: what should you budget, should you do it yourself, who should you hire, what are the best materials?
The list goes on and on.
This week’s article addresses all of these questions and many more in a realistic step-by-step workbook that MITCHELL PARKER, Houzz Editorial Staff has written.
It really is a complete “bible” on having a successful bathroom remodel. Even if you decide to hire a designer and/or contractor, you’ll have a heads up before even starting the work.
Many of the decisions will be yours to make, so the more you know ahead of time, the greater your success will be.
Imagine—your bathroom remodel is completed. It came in on budget and the result is even better than you dreamed it would be.
All because you planned ahead so thoroughly.
Until next time…
Blessings from my home to yours,
Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other way around
What is it about wood in its natural state that is so appealing?
I’m not talking about a finished piece of wood furniture that has been crafted by a fine furniture maker. Without question, the beauty of such a piece is obvious and much appreciated.
No, I’m talking about wood furniture in a much more raw state as nature made it.
Here are some reasons why such pieces work so well in design:
  • Inherent organic warmth
  • Eco-friendly
  • Creates a warm and welcoming feel
  • Has a soothing tactile feel
  • Wood develops a patina over time
  • Adds to a comfortable living environment
  • Complements any design style
  • Adds that bit of unexpected surprise
  • Adds a confidence, a solidity to a room
Take a look at the photos. They show a piece or two in a space that is all you need.
It might be just the perfect addition to your interior. That one piece that puts an explanation point in your room.
Tip: If you’re using a piece of raw wood that you’ve found, make sure it’s free of termites and bugs before bringing it inside of your home. Just saying!!
Until  next time…
Blessings from my home to yours,
Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other way around
Photos via HOUZZ
I’ll never forget the day that I saw the color green appear around my beloved Westie, “Watney’s” mouth.
We brought him to work with us each day and it was located in an old building. Consequently, there were a couple of rat poison kits stationed in what I thought were hidden corners. Not hidden enough apparently for my curious dog who loved to eat anything!
Realizing he had found the deadly poison, I rushed him to the vet feeling very scared and  certainly like a bad Mom.
After receiving an emetic, we were sent home to let the medicine take its course which it did over several hours. My poor Watney was exhausted, spent, and totally done in with a low-hanging head. However, the treatment worked, luckily for us all, and he went on to live a good life.
It taught me a good lesson and made me aware that rat poison not withstanding,there are other more benign-seeming poisons that we have in our homes and yards that are equally as deadly and risk the lives of the treasured furry members of our families. recently shared an article and photos written by MARIA CARTER from WOMANS DAY that show 12 common plants that can harm and/or kill our 4-legged “best friends.”
We love our pets so much in this country that we spend billions each year making sure they’re healthy and happy.
There’s comfort here in knowing that forewarned is forearmed.
While Dieffenbachia is rarely deadly, it can cause airways of pets and humans to swell up and prevent breathing. Avoid the plant’s sap: It causes irritation to skin and, if it comes into contact with eyes, damage to the cornea.
Rosary Pea
Also called prayer bean, Buddhist rosary and Indian licorice, this invasive outdoor plant houses abrin, one of the most powerful toxins on the planet. Just one “pea” can cause death. Watch out for rustic jewelry made with the seeds: A recall was issued for bracelets made with the peas in 2012.
The genus Delphinium (larkspur) covers approximately 300 species of perennial wildflowers.Alkaloids found in these plants can cause muscle tremors, respiratory paralysis, cardiac failure, and death in both cats and dogs.
Although an extract from foxglove is used in pharmaceuticals for heart failure patients, the plant in its raw for is extremely toxic for people, cats, and dogs. Just a half gram of a dried leaf, or 2 grams of a fresh leaf, can kill a human.
Autumn Crocus
Also called “naked ladies” and “meadow saffron,”crocus contains a toxin that causes symptoms that resemble arsenic poisoning and can lead to death—bloody vomiting, bone marrow suppression, damage to multiple organs, and more.
Sago Palm
A common ornamental tree in tropical climates, sago palm has a mortality rate of 50% to 75% when ingested, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Symptoms include black “tarry” feces, bruising, and liver failure.
Black Locust
The entire black locust tree is harmful, but the bark and shoots are the most toxic. It is estimated that 10% of black locust exposures result in death. Symptoms include nausea, depression, weakness, and kidney failure.
Never play fetch with a yew branch—a dog could get a deadly dose of the tree’s leaves or bark just by holding a twig in its mouth. Worse, symptoms often go undetected until its too late.
Oleander leaves can kill a human, and even take down a 1,500-pound cow, so yeah, needless to say it’s extremely toxic to pets. Symptoms include diarrhea, muscle tremors, difficulty breathing, and cardiac failure.
Until next time…
Blessings from my home to yours,
Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other way around
“I love these pieces. Are they available in the same metal color?”
I recently overheard a customer at ZGallerie ask this question to the salesperson.
I don’t recall his answer but it got me to thinking that this may be something you’ve wondered about.
The answer is that you can mix different colored metals in the same space and it’s much more interesting when you do.
If the human eye sees everything as the same, in some ways it ends up seeing nothing because the eye becomes used to it. There are no surprises.
When we mix it up a bit, the eye sees the difference and it becomes more interesting; it’s unexpected.
This is primarily why a good interior designer doesn’t go into a showroom and order everything in matching pieces for a client.
There has to be some surprise. This is one reason you don’t quickly tire of a room.
The ideas is not to match, but compliment.
Take a look at these photos from Freshome and the reasons why they work.
Soon you’ll be mixing metals like a pro.


Metals like copper and steel have been on trend for some time now and are considered classics, but the new addition of rose gold to the metal mix has lightened up the look. A perfect example is Apple’s addition of rose gold to its iPhone 6 offerings.


Rose gold couldn’t be a more perfect addition to tie in the mixed-metal look that’s coming in so strong for 2016. It’s made from a mixture of copper and gold alloy that’s warm yet modern. And it works perfectly with the colors of the year, including Pantone’s soft pastels and the leading paint companies’ off-whites.

When brass and gold started showing up in design magazines, the vibe was altogether retro. Adding a combination of metallic tones to the brass and gold look updates a room by elevating it from “Mad Men” vintage to 21st-century chic.

The fearless combination of metals adds a little sparkle and elegance to your home’s decor. And the combination is essential — gold and brass warm up the chilly effect of silver and platinum.

The best way to add the mixed-metal trend to your home is in small doses. A lamp or lighting fixture is the best way to add impact to a space. And whether it comes in the form of gilt, leafing, patina or mirrors, it’s not about in-your-face shine and sparkle, but more about luster and glow.

Here are some of the most striking ways to mix this trend into your home.


If you love the metal trend so much you intend to use it boldly, keep the finishes subtle. Choose one high-gloss mirrored surface (such as the side table shown above) while selecting larger metal pieces that have a matte or hand-hewn look to them.


The gold-leaf wall panel offsets the high-gloss silver elements beautifully in the bedroom above. Think about the metals as yin and yang: combine shiny and matte, dark and light, warm and cool tones to create harmony and balance.

kitchen bar

There’s no need to spend a fortune on adding the metal look to your home in a permanent way. The kitchen above is successful because of the copper bar stools, metallic pendant and rose gold votive holder on the dining table. And adding smaller metallic elements in the form of accessories is a lot less expensive than an entire copper appliance suite.

living area

This living room has several metal elements: the sectional has chrome legs, a pendant lamp is brushed black pewter, and then there’s that striking gold table lamp in the corner. The combination of the three may not have sounded like a good idea on paper, but they work beautifully as an eclectic expression, illustrating that matching is sometimes boring.

mixed dining

The white backdrop of this open kitchen/dining space is a perfect color for the oversized rose gold pendants to shine. The chrome touches on the bar stools and dining chairs soften the wood tones of the dining table. Notice the balanced metal mix — the combination of brushed stainless steel (in the form of appliances) with polished chrome and the reflective pendants looks up to date.

Until next time…

Blessings from my home to yours,
Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other way around
You may have been following the current news story in Flint, Michigan regarding the high levels of lead found in their drinking water.
That such a thing could happen in this country is appalling.
That it could occur at all and then continue for so many weeks without being taken care of is beyond belief.
Everyone involved from the Governor of Michigan on down has much to answer for, and I suspect, many legal battles will follow.
We can only hope that the health damages caused from this will be minimal; particularly for children who are most affected from ingesting lead.
Our home is supposed to be our safe place; that one corner of our world where we feel most in control.
Most of us do not have to worry about unsafe water, but there are many common VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) found in household and cosmetic products that we don’t think much about, yet can be potentially harmful.

Image: Feldman Architecture

FRESHOME.COM just published an article listing the 10 most common VOC’s and how to replace or remove them.
Here they are:

VOC acetone

Found in: nail polish remover, furniture polish and wallpaper

Alternatives: Acetone-free nail polish remover is actually healthier for your nails as well as the air you breathe. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your health for freshly painted nails, so by using a product that has a different solvent (such as alcohol) you’re heading in a VOC-free direction. The same goes for furniture polish; several water-based substitutes get the job done.

VOC benzene 2


Found in: paint, glue, carpeting and emissions from gasoline combustion

Alternatives: Benzene-free paint and glue are widely available.

VOC butanal


Found in: emissions from barbecues, burning candles, stoves and cigarettes

Alternatives: Don’t smoke — and try to avoid smokers or inhaling secondhand smoke. Also, most stoves containing butanal include camping or outdoor stoves, which are always better used outside. Beeswax, soy-based and cotton-wicked candles are safest to burn and still provide a nice ambiance.

VOC carbon disulfide

Found in: chlorinated tap water

Alternatives: If your family drinks tap water, the best way to avoid this VOC is to have a charcoal or carbon-filtration system such as a Brita.

VOC dichlorobenzene

DichlorobenzeneFound in: mothballs and deodorizers

Alternative: Skip the mothballs when storing your out-of-season clothing, and use cedar chips, air-tight containers or garment bags instead. The scent of lavender also helps keep moths away.

VOC ethanol


Found in: glass cleaners, dishwasher detergents and laundry detergents

Alternative: When using a cleaning product indoors that contains ethanol, be sure to open windows or create an effective air-filtration system that will absorb the chemicals.

VOC formaldehyde


Found in: floor lacquers and certain molded plastics

Alternative: A number of water-based polyurethane finishes are strong and low-toxic, as are natural plant-chemistry-based floor finishes. To be truly safe, it’s best to exclude as much plastic as possible from your daily life, but using BPA-free plastics is the safest bet.

VOC terpene


Found in: fragrant products such as soap or laundry detergents

Alternative: Many natural or citrus-based products are available that can be substituted for scented soap or detergent that emits terpenes.

VOC toluene

Found in: paint

Alternative: Before you add a fresh coat of paint in your home, check to see whether it contains toluene. If it does, open a window to allow air to circulate through the room. Paint any furniture or DIY projects outside or in the garage (with the door open) to prevent emitting harmful VOCs.

VOC benzene

Found in: traffic emissions and idling cars

Alternative: Xylene is unavoidable when you’re out on the road, so keep your windows rolled up when you’re driving in heavy traffic, and never leave your car running in the garage. If you come into contact with a product that contains xylene, it’s best to wear protective mouth and eye gear or gloves.

I don’t think we should live in fear, but I do believe that being aware and taking care of what could potentially be harmful is a good idea.
Then you can rest easy knowing that the home you’ve so mindfully and beautifully created really is your “sweetest spot” in all of the world.
Until next time…
Blessings from my home to yours,
Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other way around
Do you have a non-working fireplace or one that you don’t use very often?
You love the look of a fireplace mantel and surround so you don’t want to cover it up.
However, you don’t like the look of the black hole that’s the fireplace box either.
Using your fireplace as a “frame” is a wonderful design element even without the fire.
Here are 22 ways to decorate the firebox minus the fire.
TIP:  If you choose filling the fire box with wood, make sure all of the wood pieces are clean. The last thing you want are any bugs crawling out!
Until next time…
Blessings from my home to yours,
Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other way around
Photos via HOUZZ
For me, growing up didn’t include computers, smart phones, tablets. or any of the technology that we have today.
So, instead of taking it for granted like today’s young people, I’m constantly amazed, and yes, often perplexed by all of the technological advances.
If you are of a certain age, don’t you agree?
Today’s article shows 10 new kitchen products that really can make our lives easier and even healthier.
There are a few I’m definitely going to look into. Especially the one that allows you to eat fried foods with all the crunch, without all of the fat!
Take a look. I’ll bet you find some that will pique your interest as well.

Here are 10 new kitchen products that will give you a smart start in 2016.

coffee machine fridge door

A Fridge That Makes Coffee

GE’s Café Series refrigerators incorporate a Keurig K-Cup Brewing System in the door dispenser, allowing single-serve coffee at the touch of a button. The magic fridges come in French door or side-by-side models.

cinnibird spice coffee pen

Latte Art Pen

The CinniBird spice pen allows you to add personalized art to your home-brewed latte. Want a great gift for Valentine’s Day? Penning romantic sayings in your significant other’s cup of coffee (or dessert plate) could certainly spice up your love life.

smarter coffee pot wifi

Wi-Fi Coffee Maker

Programmable coffee pots are nothing new. But how many times have you gone to bed at night forgetting to set the timer and fill the coffee pot, ensuring you have a hot cup first thing in the morning without having to do anything?

The Smarter Coffee machine seems to have solved this dilemma. This Wi-Fi-enabled coffeemaker runs via your smartphone or tablet while you’re still in bed; it even grinds the coffee beans. Alas, it’s available only in Europe. For those of us in the U.S., the Mr. Coffee Smart Wi-Fi Enabled Coffeemaker will do the trick via the free WeMo app.

prep pad food scale

Food Prep Pad

A new year often brings resolutions; for many, those include eating more healthfully. Whether you are looking to lose weight or simply improve your overall health, keeping track of what you eat plays an important role.

The Orange Chef Prep Pad works with your iPad or iPhone to serve as not only a digital scale, but also a nutritional guide. It has a “food library” of more than 300,000 items, and gives you the breakdown of calories, fat, protein and carbs.

slow cooker

High-Tech Slow Cooker

Another high-tech take on a traditional appliance, the Crock-Pot Smart Slow Cooker with Belkin’s WeMo technology allows you to use your smartphone to turn it on from anywhere (as long as you remember to plug it in before you leave the house).

You can also adjust the cooking temperature remotely, which is especially beneficial when you need it to be on high for a certain amount of time and then turned down. You can also change the cooking time from your smartphone.

smart app for egg storage

Smart Egg Tray

Even the person who has everything probably doesn’t have the Quirky Egg Minder. Fill the tray with eggs (it holds up to 14), pop it in your refrigerator and connect it to your smartphone, and the Wink app will let you know when you’re low on eggs and whether they’re going bad. Sure, you could just look in the fridge — but where’s the fun in that?

wine storage

Wine Preserver

While some of us finish a bottle of wine in one sitting, others prefer to sip more slowly. The EuroCave Wine Art stores one or two open bottles of wine at the ideal serving temperature for up to 10 days, keeping it as fresh and fragrant as the day you opened it.

air fryer cooking tool

Air-‘Fried’ Cooker

Now you can enjoy “fried” food without breaking your New Year’s resolution. The Philips Airfryer gives you that crispy, crunchy texture you love without all the fat — only a spritz of oil is required. You don’t have to sacrifice the texture of your favorite fried foods, and they won’t ruin your diet: win-win!

kitchen charging station

Charging Station

If you plan to change up your kitchen in 2016, consider adding a charging station. For many, the perfect spot is integrated into the kitchen island, allowing you to charge your electronics all in one location without the hassle of cords.

iPort’s LaunchPort serves as a docking and charging station for your iPad. The base station fits on your kitchen counter; a wall-mount version also is available. Both give you easy access to your tablet while you cook, especially handy for those who who use their tablets as recipe cards.

kitchen tablet

Kitchen Tablet

Speaking of tablets in the kitchen, you no longer have to worry about getting food or liquids on yours. The Sony Xperia Tablet Z Kitchen Edition is designed to hold up to spills and greasy hands. In fact, Sony says it can be submerged for up to 30 minutes without being damaged.

The tablet is preloaded with food and cooking apps as well as recipes from Saveur magazine. It also comes with a wireless Bluetooth meat thermometer, so your iGrill app will let you know when your roast is ready.

We hope these new kitchen products will give you a smart start in 2016. Please let us know if you try any of them!

Until next time…
Blessings from my home to yours,
Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other way around

There’s no getting around it. This time of year is fraught with pressure and a lot of it we create ourselves because we want everything perfect.

Instead of our home being the haven it should be, it often ends up becoming chaos central. This is even more true if we’re having guests in our home.
We get so caught up finishing our to-do lists, that the real meaning of the holiday becomes lost and the “joy” becomes a bit tarnished.
Here are 8 ways that can help you slow down, take some deep breaths, and feel better, maybe even great.
1) Look at your list and eliminate tasks that don’t really matter. I guarantee they’re there and
    aren’t that important in the grand scheme of things. Ask yourself if what you leave off of will
    even be missed or remembered a month from now.
2)  Hire someone for last minute house cleaning. It’s worth it, especially if you’re having guests.
3)  Take some time for yourself. Get a massage or go for broke and add a manicure and
4)  Don’t forget exercise which is a great stress-buster, even if it’s just a short walk.
5)  Do some yoga stretches or meditate. Even 5 minutes will really help you slow everything
     down to a healthier pace.
6)  Try to eat and sleep well. For instance, instead of eating the whole cookie, try just a couple
     bites and get rid of the rest. Your taste buds won’t know you didn’t eat the whole thing. You
     don’t want the added stress of having to lose weight  in January because you over indulged
     in December.
7)  Stay mindful of alcohol intake. It’s so easy to drink more during this season and while it may
     be fun at the time, we generally pay for it in the form of not sleeping well, added poundage,
     dehydrated skin, and even feeling depressed.
8)  Give yourself permission. As women, so much falls on our shoulders, and much of it we do
     ourselves. Take some time on each of these busy days for yourself. You will feel and act
     calmer which in turn helps calm all of those around you.
Who knows, maybe we can extend this permission business into a year-round way of living. And wouldn’t that be terrific?
Until next time…
Blessings from my home to yours,
Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other way around
Photos via HOUZZ
Every year about this time, many design experts will come out with their “best trends” list for the coming year.
As a designer, if I’m working with you, I don’t care much about trends per se, because I believe you are your own trendsetter. Only you know what “looks” are going to work in your home.
When you design your home, you do it “mindfully” so the overall effect is something you love and will not necessarily be this year’s “trend.”
However, I do think trends are fun to look at and decide if there might be one or two that could be a perfect addition to your decor.
Here are a few for the coming year:
metalic kitchen
It used to be that we would only use one metal. Now we mix them. However, the trick is to use one predominant metal and any others as an accent. Sort of like mixing patterns where there is one larger and the rest are smaller.
natural fireplace
Being aware of a healthy environment is hardly new. For many years, aware architects and designers have realized that it only makes good sense to incorporate sustainable design.
Not only using products that are safe for human beings, but our entire planet. Re-usual products, wood and stone are examples of sustainable products.
outdoor print dining chairs
Self explanatory. Whether it be animal prints, flowers, trees—anything found in nature.
Use carefully as too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. What is new is using these prints in colors that are not found in the natural world.
geometric sheets
Geometrics are not really new. Remember the late 60’s and 70’s?
They are always current because of the visual interest they provide a space.
Use carefully so they don’t overpower a room.
geometric rug
Whether it’s navy, royal blue, or cobalt, these blues will be seen in many different ways.
In this photo, the blue in the carpet also incorporates a geometric design. It works because everything else in the room is soft and subdued.
There you have it. These are but a few of the “top trends.”
Do you see anything that you’d love to add to your interior decor in 2016?
Until next time…
Dedicated to living your rooms—not the other way around
Photos via FreshOme
No matter how hard we try, no matter how each year after the holidays we say, “next year it will be different I will keep it simple. I won’t run around like a chicken with its head cut and each moment thinking of what’s next on “the list.”
Sound familiar? And guess what, when next year’s holiday season comes around, we do it all over again. It has to stop for our own sanity. We have to be able to take a deep breath in order to truly enjoy this beautiful time of year and enjoy all of the gifts it offers and I don’t mean those that we find under the tree, although those are great, too!
This week’s post comes from my favorite blogger, LAURA GASKILL ( Her suggestions are sure to strike a chord and give you ideas that really can give you not only a more joyous holiday season, but stay with you throughout the year.
My personal favorite is #1.
Ready or not, the holidays are here! If you find yourself wrapped up in the holiday bustle without a moment to pause, you are not alone. Between the gift shopping and wrapping, cookie baking, party throwing and tree trimming, it’s all too easy to let these precious weeks fly by without savoring the experiences we love. Commit to making this year different by setting intentions, rethinking traditions and letting go of things that you do not enjoy. Here are eight ways to get started.
Until next time…
Blessings from my home to yours,
Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other way around
Photos via HOUZZ
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