MINDFUL INTERIOR DESIGN:
 
This week I’m sharing a guest post by Sharon Parks, a party planner at Love Lucia’s Parties located in England.
 
It’s close to Christmas with the days hurrying by. Sharon shares some wonderful tips and food for thought that will be of help to you in planning your own holiday festivities.
 
Take a look:

Top Tips To Creating A Fabulous Christmas Party

With the end of 2016 fast approaching, our attention has turned to Christmas. In fact, we saw back in October many homes already hanging out their Christmas lights – oh the despair!  As we are now in the full throw of organising Christmas events for our clients, we wanted to share some of our top tips to creating a fabulous Christmas party with you.

Party Design

christmas venue roomYou want to create a real ‘wow’ factor when your guests walk in, so have a look in mind and be consistent throughout the party. Naturally, to deliver impact, the venue plays a huge part on setting your scene. It’ll be a challenge to get the same effect from a Village Hall in comparison to a building with beautiful architecture that boasts high ceilings for instance. That’s not to say you couldn’t do it however, for the cost of props, lighting etc. you may find it more cost effective to book the more appropriate venue from the start.

Dramatic theming will transform a venue in an instance, consider not just aesthetics but also senses i.e. touch, smell, sound. We love a combination of scented candles, variety of fabrics, and soft lighting which creates a sense of welcoming and warmth at your party.

christmas crackerColours are extremely important to your design – Christmas is synonymous with rich jewel colours so your palate should have no more than three influencing colours, gold, deep red and teal work perfectly to create Christmas opulence.

Ensure you use your colour scheme consistently throughout the event, linens, invites, dinner settings, glassware etc. and don’t forget to introduce personal touches for your guests i.e. personalised luxury Christmas crackers, we love Celebration Crackers or perhaps a Christmas stocking hung on the back of each seat with your guests names embroidered we found lots to choose from on Etsy.

Fabulous Food

christmas dessertChristmas is certainly a time for indulgence and we love going all out. From the moment your guests arrive to when they leave you should think about how to really treat your guests. If you’re a Martha Stewart you’ll be confident with all the preparation and execution on the day however, we also want you to consider outsourcing this part of the party. On far too many occasions, we witness at first hand hosts stressed out trying to cope with every element of the catering and then not having enough time to get themselves ready for the party.

There are lots of different options, whether you have food prepped in advance by a retailer, book an outside caterer (do this well in advance as they are extremely popular around the holiday periods) or even have friends and family lend a helping hand.

Try something a bit different if you are hosting a dinner party – why not consider a beautiful tasting menu or have a wonderful mini dessert table at midnight.

Ultimate Cocktails

As much as it’s a tradition, Mulled Wine is a definite no, no. We love the excitement of cocktails and even better if you can create a beautifully lit bar area in your room. You can be really inventive with Christmas cocktails and winter warmers. Here are a few suggestions:

christmas-blog-cherry-cocktailRose Crumble: Four Roses bourbon, apple and cinnamon syrup with lemon and egg white.

The Nutcracker: 25ml Walnut infused Bushmills, 40ml Baileys Original Irish Cream, 60ml Hazelnut & Almond milk, 2 dashes of chocolate bitters and 12.5ml date syrup.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Martell VS, Cabernet Franc, lemon juice, Clementine Sherbert and underbug bitters.

Frozen Tart Cherrytini: Servings 4 – 12 frozen pitted tart cherries, 2 Meyer lemons (or regular lemons if you can’t find them), 3 tablespoons sugar, 2 1/2 cups tart cherry juice, chilled 1 1/2 cups vodka and 2 cups of ice cubes

Beautiful glassware is absolutely essential at your party, there is nothing more enticing than a tray of intricately cut crystal glasses or perhaps ostentatious gold rimmed champagne saucers.

Perfect Playlist

christmas-blog-disco-ballIt’s important to create the right atmosphere and music evokes every emotion to get everyone in the right mood. If you have chosen to host a traditional theme then nothing beats a choir of carol singers outside, holding lanterns.

If you are planning a large Christmas party then it’s essential to book a reputable DJ. Don’t give them carte blanche on the play list, work out what will work best for the various times of your party i.e. softer background music whilst dining then turning it up for dancing. Consider a mix of classical music along with some guaranteed dance floor fillers. These days it’s fairly standard to run everything from your android phone and even better if you can do it through Spotify.

Good lighting is super effective, check with your DJ what lighting they will be bringing as standard and make a feature of the dance floor. This can easily be created by carefully positioned lighting and furniture layout. We love large chandeliers and white lighting and if you can have a disco ball – all the better!!

Enjoy

For all the time, energy and expense you have invested in your Christmas party it is paramount that you enjoy yourself. Raise a glass to yourself and have a fun party!

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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Have you ever wrapped a large present and it ended up looking like a wrinkled,  patchy cut-and-paste job?
 
I have more times than I like to admit and feeling very frustrated because of the end result.
 
Like you, I take pride in presentation and want the wrapping as special as the gift it’s covering.
 
Here is a video from OWN (Oprah Winfrey’s Network) that gives easy step-by-step instructions on how to do just that.Take a look.
 

1. Unroll the wrapping paper onto a smooth surface and lower the top half of the box onto the paper.

OWN

2. Cut the paper to wrap around the top half of the box and secure with double-sided tape.

OWN

3. On the top part of the box with the open end, fold the flaps inward and crease; secure with double-sided tape.

OWN

 4. Repeat steps 1-3 for the other side of the box.

OWN

5. Use baker’s twine to measure the width of the box, then cut another sheet of wrapping paper that’s the length of that twine.

OWN

6. Wrap the extra sheet of paper around the middle of the box, folding the hard edges over and securing with double-sided tape.

OWN

7. Using your twine, cut a length of wide ribbon. Wrap it around the box to hide where the hard edge of the paper is visible.

OWN

8. Repeat step 7 on the other side of the box, using longer ribbon that you can then tie into a bow.

OWN

 Voilà. Nicely wrapped box with no visible lines or sloppy patches.

 
Happy wrapping this holiday season with much less stress! (watch the video here)
 
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:
 
Christmas is approaching faster than snowflakes in a blizzard, so this week I want to share some holiday decorating tips from one of my design mentors, Kelly Hoppen, London-based interior designer (kellyhoppen.com). 
 
She’s known for her sophisticated, soothing, and Zen-like design. Kelly also offers an online shopping store so check out her offerings; they’re beautiful and top quality.
 

Christmas Decorating Tips by Celebrity Interior Designer Kelly Hoppen – From decorating the Christmas tree to how to lay the table for your festive feast, interior designer Kelly Hoppen shares her top festive decorating tips.

Christmas Decorating Tips by Celebrity Interior Designer Kelly Hoppen Christmas Decorating Tips Christmas Decorating Tips by Celebrity Interior Designer Kelly Hoppen Christmas Decorating Tips by Celebrity Interior Designer Kelly Hoppen 1

“Do not be afraid to have fun and mix textures and colours around your home. I personally like to display decorations with colours matching my tree (my personal favourites being silver and white).

Christmas Decorating Tips by Celebrity Interior Designer Kelly Hoppen Christmas Decorating Tips Christmas Decorating Tips by Celebrity Interior Designer Kelly Hoppen Christmas Decorating Tips by Celebrity Interior Designer Kelly Hoppen 2

Fairy lights are a great way to add a beautiful magical ambience and are not just for the tree! Decorate pieces of furniture or use within your table to add a glittering look.

Christmas Decorating Tips by Celebrity Interior Designer Kelly Hoppen Christmas Decorating Tips Christmas Decorating Tips by Celebrity Interior Designer Kelly Hoppen Christmas Decorating Tips by Celebrity Interior Designer Kelly Hoppen 3

See also: Obama Family: Inside White House Private Living Areas

With the nights drawing in and numerous guests to entertain, I like to keep an inviting home. Burning a fire is a sure way to enhance the atmosphere, and draw guests in with warmth.

Christmas Decorating Tips by Celebrity Interior Designer Kelly Hoppen Christmas Decorating Tips Christmas Decorating Tips by Celebrity Interior Designer Kelly Hoppen Christmas Decorating Tips by Celebrity Interior Designer Kelly Hoppen 4

I love making use of my fireplace, not only for function but because they can be decorated gorgeously to become a focal point in the living room. Try placing christmassy trinkets, garlands or ‘home jewellery’ on the mantelpiece to really adorn the space.

Christmas Decorating Tips by Celebrity Interior Designer Kelly Hoppen Christmas Decorating Tips Christmas Decorating Tips by Celebrity Interior Designer Kelly Hoppen Christmas Decorating Tips by Celebrity Interior Designer Kelly Hoppen 5

I tend to mix up cushions and throws in various materials such as wool and velvet. Using a combination of soft, sumptuous textures such as these really adds a touch of luxury and provides that extra comfort for a cosy, festive feel. Some other fabrics I like to use are cashmere and faux fur.”

 
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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Have you ever received a gift that was so beautifully and personally wrapped you didn’t want to open it?
 
It was like being given two presents in one.
 
It’s truly giving from the heart; a joyous feeling for both the giver and the receiver.
 
Here are four ways that illustrate how you can wrap your gifts this holiday season to show how much you really care. Best of all, they’re simple, creative, and inexpensive.
 
NOTE: You’ll notice that in these photos, either inexpensive Butcher paper or white wrapping paper has been used. They serve as the perfect background. What makes them personal is how you wrap them.
 
INITIALS
Your computer can print letters in any size, color, or font. In these photos, matching colored ribbon or metallic gold thread was used for the wrapping. Further embellishment comes from small Christmas ornaments like the red ball or bells.
 
THE EXTRA GIFT
Add something that the person can use after the unwrapping.
 
The first photo is for someone who loves to bake. The cookie cutters will be used by the recipient long after they’ve opened the actual gift.
 
Eclectic by RedAgape Blog
 
This is the perfect bonus gift for someone who loves to write and send letters via snail mail (no emails)! The monogrammed wax seal and wax sticks become part of the present wrapping.
 
PHOTOS
Eclectic by RedAgape Blog
No need to have a gift tag when you do this. The photo quickly tells who the gift is for.
 
Eclectic by RedAgape Blog
 
The photo can also be a place that is meaningful to the recipient and evokes happy memories.
 
Eclectic by RedAgape Blog
 
In this photo, the giver used part of a road map placed on a Christmas tree-shaped tag that depicts a place that the giver and receiver visited together. More wonderful memories.
 

PERSONAL INTERESTS AND HOBBIES

Eclectic by RedAgape Blog
For a musician or music lover, wrapping a present with vintage sheet music will surely evoke a warm smile. You get the idea. It can be anything that is of special interest to the recipient. It shows how much you care  and that you took the time to think of them and who they are as a person. Any gift given is so much sweeter and meaningful.
 
TELL ME: Do you make an effort to personalize your gift wrapping? Please share your ideas in the Comments section below.
 
Until next time…
 
Blessings from my home to yours,
 
Nancy
Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other way around
 
Via HOUZZ
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As each day becomes shorter, we find ourselves wanting to be inside our cozy home.
Much better to be looking out at falling leaves, chilly, windy, and rainy weather than to be outside in the midst of it.
Just snuggling into a comfy chair with a good book and a cup of hot cocoa holds great appeal.
Along with inclement weather, however, there are certain colors that remind us of fall’s beauty.
Think of hot mulled-wine or cinnamon cookies for color hints that you may want to invite into your home decor.
It could just be an unforgettable fall season.
Until next time…
Blessings from my home to yours,
Nancy
Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other way around
Infographic from HUFFPOST
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Memorial Day is but a memory and we are full-on into summer.
Those glorious days of heat, blue skies and fluffy white clouds.
Balmy evenings and star-filled skies.
Gardens bursting with so much color, we wonder how nature could gift us with such abundance.
Trees with their canopy of leaf-filled branches that help us stay cool.
Notice I purposely have not mentioned hail and thunderstorms, mosquitos and flies.
I know they’re a reality of summer, but prefer to think about the positive aspects of this glorious time of year.
While more time may be spent outdoors, we want our indoors to reflect the lightness and airiness of this season as well.
Here are 15 ideas for summer from my favorite blogger, Laura Gaskill, www.lauragaskill.com.
You’re sure to glean a few ideas that will help you get your home in the spirit of summer.
I wish you a safe and happy one.
The days are lengthening; the nights are warmer — it’s time to start thinking summer. From white curtains billowing in the breeze, sleeping porches, shell collections and wildflowers to fresh juice in the morning and nautical stripes, certain things just beg to be a part of your summer routine. Here are 15 fun, crafty and creative ways to get your home in the spirit of summer.
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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If you’re someone who loves floral arranging, this post is for you.

Firstly, there’s the joy of working with the scents, colors, and textures that nature gives us.
Secondly, it’s taking bits and pieces and creating a visual, living work of art. The satisfaction you receive is heady indeed. You look at your hands and then your floral masterpiece and say, “I did this and it’s beautiful!
Even better, this design is a step-by-step process. Almost like painting by number. You’re guaranteed success even if the final result doesn’t look exactly like the photo. It will still be great.
This floral design was created by Guillermo Del Pero of G Fiori Floral Design. The photographer is Carolyn Reyes, Houzz contributor. www.carolyn-reyes.com.
The tools and materials are listed and easily found. You don’t have to choose the purple calla lilies; they can be any color you love. Just match the colored ribbon to the lily shade.
You end up with a floral display that’s elegant, different, and original. And most importantly, you re-created it yourself.
This particular floral piece works especially well with contemporary, contemporary/Asian interior design styles. Here’s how to create it:
Until nest time…
Blessings from my home to yours,
Nancy
Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other way around
Courtesy HOUZZ
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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
     pedicure.
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,
Nancy
Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other way around
Photos via HOUZZ
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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 (http://www.lauragaskill.com). 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,
Nancy
Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other way around
Photos via HOUZZ
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You’ve done everything to prepare for your party; a terrific menu; clean home; fresh flowers; etc.
But have you ever wondered how your present furniture arrangement will work for a gathering?
Does it allow for a good flow or does it seem crammed when envisioning a room full of people?
What works on a daily basis might not be right when you’re entertaining and want guests to mingle; and not necessarily in your kitchen either.
There’s hardly a living room/great room anywhere that can’t be re-arranged in different ways depending on what your needs are.
Here are a few examples of furniture arrangements that are perfect for entertaining. If you change your layout, you just may find you like it enough to keep it that way, even when the guests are no longer there.
Usually, furniture is flanked around the fireplace, but by opening up your sight line you create more open seating into different areas. This plan makes it easier for guests to move around.

This arrangement works very well for a larger room because you’re able to provide groups of furniture that allow guests to have places for intimate conversation. They don’t have to raise their voices to be heard.

Rustic Living Room by Alix Bragg Interior Design

Multiple seating with a console separating the two seating areas. Because the furniture is mostly mismatched, the room feels like pieces gathered over time and not a furniture showroom.

Beach Style Living Room by Catalyst Architects, LLC

This room has been arranged for entertainment by placing the two sofas back-to-back. When not entertaining, you still have the one sofa facing the fireplace for T.V. watching.

Contemporary Living Room by Dick Clark + Associates
This back-to-back sofa arrangement uses a very narrow console table between them which works in a smaller space.
Eclectic Living Room by Mandi Smith T Interiors

This is an excellent example of how a room should flow. None of the furniture placement impedes the circulation allowing guests to easily move around this room without jostling into one another.

Again, there is usually more than one way to arrange your furniture. We get so used to seeing our spaces one way, that it seems it’s the only way but that isn’t the case. Give it a try and I bet you’ll surprise yourself.
Happy entertaining!
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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