To experience a bad day is to be a human.
 
No matter how well we plan, things can go off the rails. 
 
One bad thing leads to another and like dominoes, everything crashes and we wonder why we even bothered to get out of bed.
 
We all live such busy lives, especially now as we rapidly approach the holiday season and demands on our time and talents increase.
 
Fortunately, there are things we can do to restore and set us to rights again.
 
Best of all, the place to regain our balance is home sweet home.
 
Following are a list of suggestions from JANET DUNN, Houzz Australia Contributor.
 
I rely on several of these stress busters to keep my sanity on trying days and guarantee they work every time.
 
Remember to take time for yourself. Life is so much richer when you do.
 
 
Until next time…
 
Blessings from my home to yours,
 
Nancy
Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other way around
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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:
10 MOST COMMON VOC’S

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

Benzene

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

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

VOC butanal

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

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

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

Terpenes

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,
Nancy
Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other way around
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As this year quickly comes to a close, you may be planning projects for the new year. One of those plans may include changes in your home.
But before you do, take a look at these photos and suggestions. You may see your home as it currently exists with new eyes. Big changes may not be necessary.
Sometimes small changes can make all the difference in the world in how your home functions and feels.
Remember that when all is said and done, the only things of importance are that you live, love, and laugh in your home. That’s perfect design—one that you’ve mindfully designed.
FOLLOW YOUR HEART
As a designer, if a client asks me what the current trends are, I reply “You are.” The only time to use” trends” is if they fit into what you love and can happily live with. That’s what makes you a trendsetter.

CLEARLY DEFINE HOW YOU USE EACH ROOM

MOOD BOARDS
You love interior design and decorating and most likely have collected shelter magazines that end up in a stack. Take the time to go through them and cut out everything that inspires you. Place them onto a board. You’ll discover that there is a theme, a pattern that evolves  that defines your style. Then make a note on each picture what you love about it. Then as you move forward into making larger design changes, you’ll feel confident in your choices. This exercise alone helps you avoid frustration and saves making costly mistakes.
CHANGE THE COLOR OF YOUR FRONT DOOR
You might be amazed at what a huge difference this simple change can make. Not only can it improve curb appeal, but it can make you smile each time you come home, making you feel better about your home in general. Remember that small changes can make big differences, not only in how your home looks, but more importantly, how you feel about it.
REFRESH YOUR BATHROOM
It doesn’t take much. New fluffy towels, a luxurious bathmat to sink your toes in. Maybe a heated towel rack so you’re wrapped in warmth each time you leave the bath or shower. Place potions and lotions in beautiful containers that rest on an equally beautiful tray. Add a real plant or fresh flowers and don’t forget a robe that makes you feel camera-ready when you slip it on. You’re appealing to all of your senses and your brain will thank you by releasing feel-good emotions.
TAKING A PLAIN PIECE OF FURNITURE AND MAKING IT YOUR OWN
You can easily change this inexpensive piece of furniture simply by adding a glass or mirrored top. You can also change the look by using a lacquered paint in a color you love that complements the other colors used in the room or if the room is all in neutrals, use the piece of furniture to add a pop of color.
HAVE SOMETHING CUSTOM MADE
It could be a headboard, window coverings, or a piece of art. Anything that becomes one-of-a-kind and speaks to who you are; the uniqueness of you.

CELEBRATE EVERY MEAL

Not just for company. Whether you’re by yourself or serving family members, celebrate yourself by setting the table. Use real glasses, plates, silverware, and cloth napkins. Add pretty place mats, a table runner or tablecloth, natural greens or fresh flowers. It’s amazing how doing this will enrich your life. Plus you”ll take longer to eat your meal and you’ll probably eat less.
CHECK YOUR LIGHTING
Nothing can enhance the function and feel of your home than the proper lighting. It’s needed for performing tasks efficiently as well as for mood. All lights should be on dimmers and no black hole corners. Besides overhead lighting, each room should have table lamps and/or floor lamps. You want light to be evenly distributed throughout a space.
ADD THINGS SLOWLY AND OF GOOD QUALITY
Think carefully of what you might want to add to your home. Buy excellent quality even if you have to wait to acquire it. Better an empty space than one filled with lesser quality goods. You won’t be happy because they don’t hold up well and you’ll end up spending more in the long run.
Until next time…
Blessings from my home to yours,
Nancy
Dedicated to helping you live your rooms, not the other way around
Photos via HOUZZ
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Whenever I ask a client how she wants her home to feel, I almost always hear, “calm and peaceful.”
In today’s ever changing , technology-oriented, to-do lists and all-around busy world, it goes without saying that, indeed, we’re pushed and pulled here and there on a seemingly non-stop merry-go-round.
When we get home, what we crave most in our environment is to feel calm and peaceful. A place, our private place, to get off that merry-go-round and just breathe.; to gather ourselves together before we again enter the hectic world.
You know when you’re in a space that offers serenity and calm because you feel it—immediately. But you may not know why.
Here are 4 ways that will give you a feeling of calm and balance in your own home.
1.  SYMMETRY 
     All 3 of these photos are balanced. What you see on one side is the same on the other.
     Your eyes don’t become confused. Instead you feel a sense of order which calms your
     spirit.
2.  COLOR FLOW 
     In an open space, carry the same color or variation of throughout the rooms so the eye is not
     jarred; it just seamlessly flows.
     In the bedroom, not only is a restful color used, it’s essentially the same color with different
     tones that vary from light to dark. Again, the eye doesn’t have to “work” hard to
     distinguish many different hues It registers as the same color which creates a feeling of
     calm.
     Clutter of any kind is the surest way to create a feeling of discord in your home. Nothing
     confuses the eye more than when it sees clutter. You know it needs to be cleared which
     creates anxiety—the opposite of how you want to feel while at home.
4.  FOCAL POINTS
    Anytime you can, place furniture in a way that looks out onto a view. Nature plays a huge
    role in how we emotionally feel. It almost instantly calms the mind and relaxes the body.
    Research has shown that even looking at pictures of nature positively affect us.
If you follow these suggestions, I promise you’ll feel better at home. Your surroundings will offer the calm and serenity that can enrich your life in untold ways.
Until next time…
Blessings from my home to yours,
Nancy
Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other way around
Photos via Houzz
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Remember what it’s like when you have a head cold and can’t really taste your food because you can’t smell  the aromas that waft up to your nose?
It’s maddening. After all, eating delicious food is one of the joys of living. Our mouths literally water when we smell foods we love and we can’t wait to dig in with anticipation.
This is the power of our sense of smell. Without it, our quality of live diminishes.
Our sense of smell also can affect out thoughts and behaviors. Do you remember as a child having scents that smelling them as an adult, immediately spark good memories and make you feel good? Again, the power of smell.
This week I’d like to share with you an article written by SALLY AUGUSTIN, a Houzz contributor and owner of DESIGN WITH SCIENCE. What she explains is backed by scientific research. It’s important enough to incorporate into your own home.
9 SMELLS YOU ACTUALLY WANT IN YOUR HOME

Because of the way our brains are structured, odors have a significant and immediate effect on our thoughts and behaviors. Smelling pleasant scents, in general, gives us a positive boost. For example, in a study published in the 1997 issue of the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (“The Sweet Smell of … Helping: Effects of Pleasant Ambient Fragrance on Prosocial Behavior in Shopping Malls”), Robert Baron reported that people were more likely to help a stranger in the presence of pleasant smells than when those odors weren’t present.

In other words, smelling various scents can directly effect — even influence — our minds. Taking that research a step further, you can learn how to incorporate scent into your home to improve mental performance, reduce anxiety, relax and so much more.

People are fairer and even more generous when they’re in spaces that smell clean, like from cleaning products. In one study, on Dutch trains that smelled like a familiar cleaner, people littered less. So let the odor of Windex perfume your mudroom!

Photos via Houzz
Until next time…
Blessings from my home home to yours,
Nancy
Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other way around
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We spend a lot of time in our bedroom and not just for sleeping. Whether it’s shared with a partner or not, it’s the one space that just screams for order and calm.
 
Besides an excellent mattress that allows for a good night’s sleep, and having soft, soothing colors that appeal to you, there are other factors that can add to having the perfect bedroom
 
Take a look at the following photos for a few examples:
 
RUGS
 
Unless you have wall-to-wall carpeting, there’s nothing nicer than getting out of bed and placing your feet onto a soft, warm, cozy surface. In the photo, the bed sits on the carpet and serves as a border. Or you could have rugs on either side of the bed. Just make sure they’re proportionate to the bed size.
 
A PLACE TO SIT
 
A comfortable chair for sitting in to read, put your shoes on or off, or laying your clothes on before dressing.
 
Or, another option is seating at the foot of the bed. Just make sure whatever you choose stops just short of the bed’s width. If ottomans are your choice, you have the bonus of extra storage as well.
 
MIRRORS
 
Mirrors can be used in place of artwork above the bed with the added advantage of reflecting light. If you don’t like clear mirror, smoked mirrors are another choice. In either case, make sure you like what you see in the reflection. To see the toilet might not be your image of choice!
 
Contemporary Bedroom by Peg Berens Interior Design LLC
 
THROW PILLOWS
 
For looks, comfort, and ease of reading in bed, throw pillows are a must. Just don’t pile on too many. This is one area where less is more.
 

?

 
BEDSIDE TABLES
 
If at all possible, choose bedside tables with at least one drawer. Keep the top of the tables as free of “stuff” as you can. You’ll sleep better with less visible clutter. Not always easy for sure, but a drawer or two really helps.
 

?

 
BED SIDE LAMPS
 
Bedside lamps serve a functional as well as esthetic purpose. Generally, the size of lamp is dictated by the bed size. You also want the size of shade to be in proportion to the lamp size. When reading in bed, you don’t want to see the bulb. As always, have your lights on a dimmer switch so you can adjust the light intensity for task work like reading or softer for mood lighting.
 
Transitional Bedroom by Martha O'Hara Interiors
 
SENSUAL APPEAL
 
This is a beautiful example of a sensual bedroom. The soft, muted colors, the lighting, tufted headboard and bench, it’s clean lines  make this bedroom one in which I can think of more fun things to do than just sleeping!
 
(Carissa, omit “More: Bedroom Color… at bottom of last photo. Also, Don’t include Photos and #’s. I include them so you could keep track. Just list the categories, i.e., RUGS, A PLACE TO SIT etc.
 
                                                                              Photos via Houzz
 
Share your ideas for the perfect bedroom in the comments section. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
 
Until next time…
 
Blessings,
 
Nancy
Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other away around
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HOUZZ recently came up with a quiz to determine what style of home suits you best. I wouldn’t consider it to be the final determination, but it’s short and fun to take.
My result was French eclectic which was spot-on. The irony is my condo is mid-century architecture and the interiors are contemporary/asian. I moved into the love of my life’s home and this was his chosen style of architecture and decor.
Fortunately, I enjoy it as well. However, I’ve had to find ways to incorporate what I love into my current environment in order to feel truly “at home.”
You may find yourself in a similar situation and there are always ways to marry different design styles in a cohesive way. The important thing is that you always feel your best in your home; that it speaks to who you are at your core.
So take the quiz. You may discover something new about yourself regarding your own surroundings. Or you may find the style in which you live is exactly right!

Let me know in the comments section.

11. Crown molding — yes or no?
Until next time…
Blessings from my home to yours,
Nancy
Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other way around
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MINDFUL INTERIOR DESIGN

This week’s article is about our powerful sense of smell.
What makes it so potent is because it’s tied directly to the area of the brain that holds our emotions and memories.
There are certain pleasant scents that every time you smell them, you’ll be immediately taken back to a wonderful memory; remembrances that make you smile and feel happy.
It’s written by LAURA GASKILL, Houzz contributor and her thoughts say it perfectly

Thinking back to my childhood home, I remember the smells most vividly: the jasmine growing by the mailbox; the honeysuckle vines climbing the back fence; the clean, simple scent of baby bubble bath; even the subtle background scent of polished wood floors. Scent tends to be more closely tied to memories than any of the other senses, making it the perfect vehicle for tapping into your most cherished memories. Of course, it’s not all about the past. Delicious smells can make your home and garden a wonderland of sensory pleasures — so you can savor the moment today and create new memories to treasure tomorrow.

Freshly cut grass. Mowing the lawn may not always top the list of favorite things to do, but the pleasure of smelling freshly cut grass is undeniable. And for those with fond memories of a farm childhood, why not bring back the scent of the hay barn by tossing a bale or two in the backyard to use as summer seating? Covered with old quilts, hay bales make comfy bench seats.

photos via Houzz

I’d love to read about your favorite scents and the memories they evoke, Let me know in the comments section.
Until next time…
Blessings from my home to yours,
Nancy
Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other way around
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Interior design trends, like fashion trends, can come and go as quickly as a strong afternoon breeze.

However, like the “little black dress” there are design trends that stand the test of time. They don’t go out of style. They’re evergreen. They’re always beautiful and you can never go wrong if one or more are found in your interior spaces.

They’re, quite simply, good design and that’s why these pieces have been around for so long.

Take a look at these 10 pieces. You may already have one of them in your home or you may see one that you’d like to add into your design.

#1  GOURD LAMP

This lamp shade is iconic. If budget is a concern, you can even find them at estate and garage sales. Re-painting one in a high-gloss hue that complements the colors in your room, adding a band of fabric in the same color around the base of the shade and you have a “designer” piece that can add a WOW factor to any space.

#2  MIRRORED NIGHTSTANDS

Besides reflecting light, a mirrored nightstand offers a bit of old Hollywood glamour.

#3  PARSON’S TABLE

This table is a workhorse. It can serve as a dining table and can just as easily be used as a desk,library, or craft table.

#4  SUNBURST MIRROR

This is an iconic style of mirror. It’s available in many variations and this is one piece to splurge on. Buy a high quality one.

#5  BRIDGE FAUCET

This simple and elegantly styled faucet works with any design style.

#6  DRUM SHADE PENDANT

I love this shade because it can work beautifully in a traditional space as well as a very contemporary one.

#7 BAMBOO SHADES

Constructed as a Roman shade. Sometimes used alone as a window treatment, or with 2 soft fabric panels on each side of the window.

#8  STRIPED PILLOW

Every room needs a striped pillow. This classic design is always fresh and clean-looking.

#9  FARMHOUSE TABLE

Used primarily in traditionally designed rooms, this table can be the dining table or used as a kitchen island. The top can be wood, stone, or any hard surface. Legs can be left natural or painted.

#10  X-BENCH

This little bench works beautifully in pairs at the foot of the bed, under an entrance table or any narrow table. It can be used as extra seating when needed and doesn’t take up space. Prettiest when covered in a fabric that complements other fabrics in the room.

Until next time…

Blessings from my home to yours,

Nancy

Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other way around

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