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

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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

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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

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What do you do when life gets you down?
 
We all know that during times of stress exercise, nutritious food and enough sleep are the order of the day to help us over the rough patches which we all experience from time to time.
 
But did you know that some of nature’s bounties can provide relief as well?
 
Think of them as natural antidepressants.
 
Take a look at the following 11 greenery and blooms that are stress reducing and promise to make you smile. Descriptions written by BRIE DYAS.
 

 
What do you think?
 
When I read this list, everyone of them made me feel happy just by looking at the photos and now I know why!
 
Until next time…
 
Blessings from my home to yours,
 
Nancy
Dedicated to helping you create spaces that foster happiness and well-being
 
Photos via  House Beautiful
 
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Do you suffer from allergies?
 
If so, and millions of us do, you don’t need the calendar to tell you spring has arrived.
 
Runny eyes and nose, headaches, hive-like itchy rashes, even asthma are the painful and annoying symptoms that occur during this most beautiful time of year.
 
Fortunately, we have medications that offer relief. It also helps to know what things you allergically react to so they can be avoided.
 
But sometimes we’re simply surprised. This week’s article highlights 9 plants that can set off an allergic reaction you might not have been aware of.
 
The good news is you don’t have to give up your garden and being surrounded by the beauty and balm to the spirit that flowers give us—surely one of nature’s gifts.
 
Just avoid those plants that are known to be common irritants.
 
Here they are:
 
1)  LOVE LIES BLEEDING
    A beautiful plant that is often seen in flower arrangements. However, their pollen can be a major irritant for hay fever.
 
2)  CASTOR BEAN
Contemporary Patio by Design for Conscious Living®
     Popular in tropical-like gardens, all parts of this plant are toxic.
 
    
3)  CHAMOMILE
Contemporary Landscape by Randy Thueme Design Inc. - Landscape Architecture
     Because chamomile is related to ragweed, the pollen is an allergen and the leaves and flowers can also be irritants.
 
4)  DAISIES
Tropical Landscape by Maria Hickey & Associates Landscapes
     Who knew the simple and beloved daisy could create allergy symptoms? Unfortunately, it, too, is related to ragweed. You could react to the pollen, leaves, flowers, and extracts derived from it.
 
 
5)  JASMINE
Traditional Landscape by Laara Copley-Smith Garden & Landscape Design
     The scent is divine, but beware of a sneezing fit due to its pollen
 
6)  JUNIPER
Contemporary Landscape by Jay Sifford Garden Design
     Often used as ground cover, the pollen can be an irritant, but the plant itself can cause hay fever and skin issues.
 
7)  RAGWEED
by Soils Alive
     Most of us think this is the main cause of allergies and we’d be right. It’s also so hearty that it grows almost everywhere in the U.S. Wouldn’t you know it?
 
8)  SUNFLOWER
Traditional Landscape by Missouri Botanical Garden
     Although this is more of a summer plant, this always cheery and happy-looking flower’s pollen and seeds can cause problems. It’s a cousin of chamomile. Look for pollenless or hypoallergenic sunflowers.
 
9)  WISTERIA
Mediterranean Porch by Arcadia Studio
     Who doesn’t love this beauty that drapes itself over patios or climbing up a trellis? Unfortunately, the pollen can trigger hay fever and even touching it can cause skin reactions.
 
There are so many beautiful and sweet-smelling plants that can serve as substitutes for the offenders just mentioned. Some examples would be: clematis, daylillies, goldenrod, rosemary, sweet peas, phlox, English lavender, woolly thyme, hibiscus, and chenille plant to name but a few.
 
Here’s to a happy spring full of flowers without dreaded allergies!
 
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
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Spring is but a few days away—on the calendar at least.
 
However, for most of us, we need only look outside to know that it doesn’t feel or look like this anticipated season.
 
No matter, the SCENTS of spring are something we can capture right now. Hopefully, they can help shed the winter doldrums until the real ones come into bloom.
 
Here are 19 different candles, diffusers and other delicious ways (including a “Happiness” scent) to make you feel the time has finally come to put away the wool clothing and unfold the linen—well almost!
 
So choose your favorite and let the sweet aroma work its magic.
home scentshome scents
 
Until next time…
 
Blessings from my home to yours,
 
Nancy
Dedicated to helping you live your rooms—not the other way around
 
photos via Elle Decor
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Last week I shared 8 ideas for welcoming spring into your home and I find I’m still stuck on a spring theme. Maybe its because it continues to be cold and rainy and if I write about it enough, maybe it will arrive sooner? LOL!
 
This week I’m going to write about color and what could be more spring-like than a hue called “Easter Lily.”
 
This beautiful, sweet-scented flower is actually a summer-blooming one, but its been cultivated to bloom early. Now we enjoy it at Easter—hence, we refer to it as the Easter lily.
 
The lovely milk-white flower with its blush of yellow-green center epitomizes spring and the qualities associated with this season—rebirth, love, joy and beauty.
 
Could we even ask for anything more?
 
Take a look at these photos and see what you think. You may decide that “Easter Lily” is the perfect color to bring into your home.
 
Traditional Landscape by The New York Botanical Garden
by Jennifer Ott Design
Besides “Easter Lily,” here are a few other colors that are equally soft and soothing.
 
Farmhouse Bathroom by Phinney Design Group
This pale wall color with its warm undertones perfectly complements the yellow undertones in the furniture and wood flooring.
 
Contemporary Bedroom by Student Cribs
This attic room has a skylight but no windows. Painting the ceiling white and the walls a soft and mellow yellow allows this space to still feel light and airy.
 
Farmhouse Bedroom by Gale Goff Architect
Painting the ceiling white and the walls a pale yellow , allow the wood beams to stand out even though they’re both light hues. Bringing in the blues echoes the sea beyond. Who wouldn’t want to wake up in this light-filled bedroom?
 
Traditional Kitchen by Cushman Design Group

The warm soft yellow on the walls and the yellow undertoned wood floor soften the cool stainless steel appliances.

Farmhouse Porch by Shannon Malone

These porch walls could have been painted white, but they would not have the warm glow that this very subtle creamy hue offers.

 
There are so many colors that partner well with “Easter Lily” or any other milky-white and creamy hues. Think of sage, soft leafy greens, or greenish-grays.
 
Happy Spring! Happy Easter!
 
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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Perhaps it’s because we’ve had a long, seemingly endless winter with record low temperatures and rain, rain, and more rain. Along with some snow to keep it interesting!
 
All I know for sure, is that I feel more anxious for spring to arrive this year than ever before. Maybe you do, too?
 
Aah, spring. Just saying the word puts a bounce in my step and a lilt to my voice.
 
In spring, everything is glistening, green and new. There is a feeling of renewal and reawakening. The world comes alive again and along with it, new hope and possibilities.
 
But nature likes routine and has her own natural cycle, so I know we’re not quite done with winter yet. There will still be some last, gasping days left before it finally passes for another year.
 
We can’t rush the days on the calendar, but we can do some things that boost our mood now in anticipation for sunshine and greenery that’s just around the corner.
 
Here are a few ideas:
 
Shabby-chic Style Powder Room by Torie Jayne
CHANGE OUT YOUR BATHROOM TOWELS
 
Most of us choose neutral-colored bathroom towels, but consider exchanging them for more colorful versions that can brighten your feelings until nature does it for you.
 
Shabby-chic Style Dining Room by Dreamy Whites
BUY YOURSELF FRESH FLOWERS
 
The quickest way to give yourself and your rooms a lift. Daffodils, tulips, and sweet-smelling hyacinth are readily available now and you’ll think and truly feel spring. I sometimes think God gave us these beautiful blooms as a gift to hold us until spring really arrives.
 
Contemporary Living Room Richmond, 1930's refurbishment
CHANGE OUT YOUR THROW PILLOWS
 
Now is the time to lighten and brighten your atmosphere with spring-colored pillows. I buy pillow covers so I can in an instant exchange the velvet and faux fur ones to the linen and silk ones that herald spring.
 
Contemporary Living Room by Casey & Fox

TREAT YOURSELF DURING COFFEE/TEA BREAKS

 
Instead of the go-to mugs we become so used to drinking from, why not use beautiful matching cups, saucers, and pots? It turns those routine breaks into something special which in turn become special moments for you as well.
 
Traditional Kitchen by Higham Furniture
REFRESH YOUR PAINT
 
Perhaps it’s time to repaint as its been a few years, or maybe you’ve been thinking of trying a different color or painting an accent wall. No matter, as you’ll feel instant gratification when you look at freshly painted walls.
 
Transitional Bedroom by Sasha Meredith Designs
DECORATE YOUR BED
 
Time to change your bedding to something more spring-like. Different colors than you’re used to and don’t be afraid to mix patterns like you see in this photo. When you make your bed in the morning, try spraying your pillows with a fresh-scented linen water. When you slip into bed that night, you’ll sleep like a baby.
 
Scandinavian Bedroom by Element Studios

A PEACEFUL WRITING SPOT

Research has shown over and over again that keeping a gratitude journal lifts our spirits. It’s impossible to feel depressed when we are thinking positive thoughts. And don’t use electronic tablets either. Use a real pen and pretty paper to note your thoughts.
 
Modern Bedroom by Natural Bed Company
REMOVE HEAVY WINDOW COVERINGS
 
Replace with lighter- weight ones that let the light in. No keeping blinds or curtains half- closed either. Our brains need all the daylight we can give them for mood enhancement. Of course, that requires clean windows for sure!
 
These are just a few ideas that can help hasten spring into your home and life.
 
I bet you have some other great suggestions and I’d love for you to share in the comments.
 
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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Are you as winter weary as I am?
 
Maybe it’s the record rainfall we’ve experienced in our neck of the woods or the continued cold nights and gray days.
 
Whatever, I’m more than ready for spring this year.
 
While I can’t move the days magically forward on the calendar at warp speed, I can bring the eagerly anticipated coming season into my home. How? Hanging a wreath that signals sunshine, warm days and Easter parades—much more satisfying than chocolate bunnies!
 
Take a look at a few that I found, including the price and where you can find them.
 
You may see one that’s just the ticket to grace your home and delight you every time you see it.
 
TAKE A LOOK AT ALL OF THE WREATHS and find out where to buy at ELLE DECOReaster wreatheaster wreatheaster wreath
 
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 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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