Project On A Penny: Home Improvement Ideas on a Budget Part II

Our refreshed project on a penny home improvement ideas on a budget series continues with more money and time saving remodeling suggestions.

Home Improvement Ideas on a Budget

6.  Make the decorative call to replace outdated window treatments or elect not to use window treatments at all.


There’s no substitute for the beauty of natural light, but privacy concerns may trump this option.  If going with window treatments consider blinds, shutters, shades, panels or valances.  These are all great and affordable choices.

102084034.jpg.rendition.largestBetter Homes and Gardens

Dressing up a window frame with pediments, decorative corbels and/or architectural balusters is another decorative option that will help to achieve a custom look.

102133025_wMidwest Living

7.  Shed New Light On The Situation


New lighting fixtures instantly turn on the wow factor.  Pendant lights will be hanging around and on-trend for awhile. A well placed lamp on the countertop quickly becomes a focal point of function.  Battery-operated under cabinet lights are my first choice of affordable accent lighting.  These types of lights cast a lovely light at night- an all grown up night light.


Recessed lighting or can lights or downlight accent beautifully as well. Wall sconce lighting is a versatile choice for ambient lighting in foyers, kitchens and bathrooms.

wall-sconce-lightingCushman Design Group via Houzz

It’s all about the lighting!



Bonus Suggestion**


Fireplace built-ins come in as one of the top remodeling projects I love to tackle. It is amazing what you can do with a gallon of paint, new cabinet hardware and a double roll(s) of gorgeous wallpaper. If time and the budget allows, travertine or marble wall tile enters the picture. Painting the built-ins and the bricks is a step in the right direction, but conducting a tile cover up over the bricks produces a powerful result. Budget friendly?  Perhaps not, but in terms of adding resale value to the property it can be a justified expense. Picture lights (very affordable) mounted at the center point at the top of each unit creates a stunning library effect, and wallpapering the back wall of the unit or painting in a fabulous designer color brings forth the decorative oomph in updated fashion.



8.  Places In The Home #1 rule of kitchen redesign & remodels: Furr-down be gone!

Furr-Down: A box-out at the ceiling typically 12″ high and 14″ deep. Often used for AC ductwork. Kitchen cabinets are installed up to it creating a step effect. Also called a soffit or bulkhead.

Furr-down. Soffit. Bulkhead. Whatever you call it I call it ugly.  I am no fan of the furr-down in kitchen design, especially if it is strictly for decorative purposes. Removing an ornamental furr-down takes years off the life of an outdated kitchen. May I suggest adding decorative crown molding to the tops of  kitchen cabinets to up the decorative ante and give a finished look.

crown molding

9.  Update (modernize) switches, plugs and the plates that cover them


Small changes make safe and stylish improvements.


10.  In with the new countertops … or not

In real estate it’s all about location, location, location.  In decorating it’s all about enhance, enhance, enhance.  If the existing countertops are free of stains, marks, scratches and the like, are workable with your color palette and are not overly antiquated, you may be in business.  Countertops are the utilitarian workhorse of the indoor and outdoor kitchen, and as such should be crafted from quality materials coupled with a quality look.


If a quality, style and affordability tops the list, consider laminate countertops. Certain products experience an ebb and flow of popularity. Laminate countertops are back on the radar of kitchen design. Today’s laminate countertops offer a stylish and affordable solution. Manufacturers pay very close attention to the design and decor needs and wants of the buying and remodeling public, and the kitchen design industry has made huge strides in bringing to the retail marketplace affordable alternatives to expensive kitchen countertop materials.


Working with, enhancing and home improving upon what you have with home improvement ideas on a budget, affordable materials, design ingenuity and DIY vision does a remodeling budget good.

Project On A Penny: Home Improvement Ideas For Updating The Outdated Part I

This post is refreshed and ready for a reread. Asking Dave the Builder not to bring his work home with him is like asking the man not to breathe. The man eats, drinks and lives the all things house that make a home life. Our how did your day go question and answer sessions somehow loop back around to remodeling, updating and home improvement ideas on a budget.  Who am I kidding? Many of the conversations around Places In The Home center around remodeling, updating and home improvement ideas on a budget.  We speak fluent house & home and we do like change! Keeps things fresh and current. We also like when remodeling, updating and remodeling projects leave a little change in our pocket.  Design on a dime is good, but project on a penny is even better!

home improvement ideas on a budget

Purchasing a new house doesn’t always mean purchasing a new house. Older properties appeal to a large portion of the buying market such as first time home buyers, downsizers, and the fixer upper-more bang for the buck inclined. Both our flipping and personal home owning portfolio has consisted of pre-owned homes in established neighborhoods flush with properties primed for remodeling.  It’s a fact of real estate and home owner life that not everyone can afford a total remodel of their new older home after purchase. A business associate shared with me her philosophy as to why so many occupied properties on the real estate channel are sparsely furnished. “Too much month at the end of the money.”  Hey, it happens to the best of home buyers.


When there’s too much remodel at the end of the dollar, and the budget is shy of taking things down to the bare walls, work with what you have. Good bones and budgets pair well together.  Stand back, take a design and decorative inventory, and make a priority list. Decide what one space or one part of the space is first in line for remodeling take off.  Let me share with you Dave the Builder’s short and to the point philosophy. Remodeling projects are like eating an apple- take it one bite at a time. The info I want to share and suggest is making for a long post, so I will divide this into two posts. Let’s look at 10 affordable, obvious, not so obvious and decorative ideas to enhance the spaces and places in the home on a budget.

outdated kitchen


1.  Function isn’t always stylish so dress it up!

Fluorescent lights offer reliable affordable lighting for main and task lighting in a kitchen. That’s the good.  The bad?  Basic fluorescent lighting fixtures.  I’ve got a couple of solutions for this dilemma that are relatively simple and inexpensive. Frame a plain fluorescent light with decorative crown molding. Painting the crown molding in a favorite designer color is another way to introduce a custom look to the project.  Another option is to take down the fluorescent light and replace its ceiling footprint with a decorative panel.



2.  Home on the Range


A new and improved range hood is both an investment and instant update that has the decorative power to draw the eye.  A contrasting finish can make a commanding focal point. Decorative embellishments such as corbels, onlays and appliques will give the range hood a custom look.

3.  Kitchen, Bathroom and Built-In Cabinets and the Techniques That Improve Them


Paint. Electing to paint kitchen cabinets, walls, ceilings, molding and even countertops will bring change with instant visual gratification. Select your colors, grab a brush, bucket, roller, pan, painters tape, a couple of drop clothes and proceed to color your world!

101899218.jpg.rendition.largestBetter Homes and Gardens

How about adding a glass-front insert to an existing cabinet door? DIY instructions here.  Once the cut out is complete, I prefer to take the doors to a local glass company. The pros measure, cut and install the glass, and the costs involved is surprisingly affordable.  Farmhouse is in, vintage is hot and chicken wire fronts will achieve that unique decor look. Instructions here.


4.  Hardware Schmardware


Replace cabinet drawer and door hardware for an instant update. Consider replacing the hinges for a totally refreshed look.  Clearance bins, Overstock, Amazon and ebay are excellent places to pick up super affordable cabinet hardware.


5.  Floors & More


Older properties sometimes surprise you with their quality design and decorative features, such as original hardwood or tile flooring. Unfortunately, older properties can also mean older color palettes where orange, yellow and avocado green reign 1970s supreme!


Here’s a few suggestions:

Replace the existing outdated flooring

Well, duh! Who wouldn’t want to replace outdated flooring? What we want, and what we can afford, don’t necessarily line up. Don’t you hate that? If new flooring is the area of priority,  first search clearance bins, salvage stores, discount building supply warehouses, liquidators, online retailers and ebay for discounted deals.   If buying local, shop prices! Inquire about flooring goods left over from large jobs. Retailers will often sell these at great discounts. Dave the Builder wants me to share with you all a trade secret. Shop flooring installation prices as well. Negotiate the best price with the flooring retailer on the flooring and get a quote for the install. Contact other independent and reputable installers in your area to see if you can negotiate a better price.

When Replacing Is A No-Go, Kick It Into Clean & Save Gear


One bucket, one bottle of Dawn dishwashing liquid, cold water, a mop and good old fashioned elbow grease does an existing floor good. In our flipping days there was many a time the budget left no room for new flooring.  I hired a professional floor refinisher to come in and clean the existing flooring.  He swore by the dynamic cleaning duo of Dawn dishwashing liquid and cold (yes, cold) water.

Cover It Up!


More times than not older properties come fully equipped with a case of the design and decorating uglies.  Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like a stylish home filled with stylish accessories.


A well placed  area rug covers a multitude of outdated sins.  Jute, sisal, seagrass and wool blends in natural palette choices colors inside the neutral lines. A reliable non slip rug pad will aid in the fight against bust your butt syndrome.


A patch of sheet rock, framed piece of art or decorative architectural wall piece can cover yet more design sins of days past.  Unless your interior decorating style is retro chic, not that there’s anything wrong with that, conduct a cover up that only you and your work crew are privy to.

Project On A Penny: Home Improvement Ideas For Updating The Outdated Part II is on deck for tomorrow.

Pinterest Home Trends: Too Much of A Good Thing?

Bandwagons can get awfully crowded.  I proceed with caution before jumping on most bandwagons, carefully picking and choosing the ones to get on board with. There are some who would definitely categorize Pinterest as bandwagon central. Well if Pinterest is a bandwagon, then I say giddy-up!  Pinterest is the ultimate virtual photo album, an all-in-one place where you can find everything from free fonts to fondue recipes to fabulous home trends.  I use it as a visual catalog, look book and client presentation tool as well as a vehicle for gleaning ideas from other decoristas.  Beauty is in the Pin of the beholder.


Kenton Overland Circus Band Wagon

Fascinated by the power of the trend and the role that pinning it plays in the spread of its popularity, Pinterest reminds me of the and they told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on Fabergé Organic shampoo commercial. Recently I came across the article “8 Home Trends That Pinterest Ruined for All of Us” from House Beautiful.  A headline with home trends and Pinterest in it is my kind of headline.  I could only guess at what the list of 8 would entail. Scrolling through the list of the too much of a good thing offenders, I shook my head in agreement with several of author Lauren Smith’s selections.  Let me show you what I mean.

Steven-Tyler-quotePurple Clover

1. Chevron Anything

 Pinterest Home Trends

It is hard deny the fact that this is one pattern that has fallen victim to the done to death effect.


2.  Mason Jars

Let the record show I love these jars, but fully understand the too much of a good thing point.  The unpretentious utility and multi-purpose what’s in a jar appeal of the iconic mason jar reaches all the way back to its inception in 1858.  I mean, come on. It’s mason and ball jars!  The popularity of these inexpensive jars is well preserved.  See what I mean?  These babies were in high demand at the estate sale we attended this past weekend.  Numbers three through seven on the list rank as mild offenders, mere this trend shall pass mentions.  It was not until I got to number eight did I realize Ms. Smith may just have a point.


8. Painted Everything

I believe the time has come for this keyboard confessional.  Painted everything is the please put down the paint brush and step away from the ______________ trend I love to hate.  There, I typed it.  I emphasize the word everything. I will be the first to admit that a well applied coat of paint on an inexpensive piece of junk mass produced furniture that isn’t all that to begin with in the first place can’t hurt the look.  An even better applied coat of paint in a designer color(s) on a home furnishing with good bone structure can render a piece thoroughly modern magnificent.  Feast your eyes upon this stunning French Provincial dresser finished in a “frenchy” blue color by Cindy at Edith & Evelyn.  Magnifique!


Paint dipped beverage glasses, dipped furniture legs, plastic toy animals, dollar store china, lampshades, countertops, flooring- everything is fair game. You name it and someone will have the DIY idea to paint it.  Pinterest is peppered with painted everything projects, some gorgeous and some not so gorgeous.  As far as calling out the not so gorgeous, I believe it is best to apply the Thumperian principle to mouth and keyboard.  If you can’t say, type, post or link something nice, don’t say, type post or link nothing at all. Do I think the painted everything is on the way out?  The popularity of painted everything pins and boards on Pinterest suggest the answer is no.  I do wonder about the staying power of the painted everything home trend.  Is painted everything a Pinterest home trend that is here to stay, or one with an expiration date marked sooner than later?

Love your style!

Team, Table and Tap: Super Bowl 50

Super Bowl 50 marks a milestone deserving of an epic Super Bowl celebration. There is a lot riding on Super Bowl 50.  Record breaking attendance, Monday morning quarterbacking the plays, the buzz surrounding the commercials and critiquing the halftime show performances of Beyoncé and Coldplay.  The Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers will meet for Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium with A game aspirations for a Super Bowl 50 championship victory. Never underestimated the pomp and circumstance leading up to the Super Bowl.  It’s a football force to be reckoned with.

super bowl 50

The Louisiana loyal are Manning up to show support for our man Peyton. There’s a Southern football family tree with roots that run New Orleans Saints, University of Tennessee and Ole Miss deep!  Papa Archie was a New Orleans Saint, Peyton a Tennessee Vol  and Eli an Ole Miss Rebel.

ManningsLouisiana Heart and Home

We would love to see the Broncos win so Peyton Manning, if what the general football nation says is true and he is going to retire, could finish his NFL career on a career high note.  I think it is safe to assume Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers will not be sentimental to Peyton or a shrinking violet opposing team to play.  Any way you cut it, what a difference an impressive winning season makes. The pomp and circumstance leading up to the game is already at a fever pitch.  My job as Super Bowl party coordinator comes complete with a set of game day party rules, and those game day party rules are as follows:

The Man Cave Comforts of Home

Dave the Builder’s man cave is a come in and stay awhile game room for any and all.  Sir Kitty Cat loves to hang out in the cave, and it is the favored space to hang out in when the son, nephews and nieces come to town. In fact, my youngest nephew recently informed me he was willing to take both sofas off my hands in the very near future.  He does not sit on the sofa, he melts into it.  The sofas are very comfortable as sofas should be, and for that exact reason will be staying right where they are for several more years.


Club chairs capture the art deco style in Great Gatsby fashion.  I like the Peyton club chair for obvious reasons. Of course I selected a club chair named Peyton!

Let The Music Play


These record coaster always put a fun and nostalgic spin on the fifty, thirty and twentysomething conversations.  Remember when?

Disposable is doable

There’s a time and a place for china, silver plate, quality linens and glassware.  A Super Bowl party is not the time nor the place. Repeat after me:  Casual. Comfortable. Easy.  You can find plenty of party items that fit the casual, comfortable and easy bill and stay in Super Bowl theme at your local dollar and discount stores.  Inexpensive.  That’s another point on the Super Bowl party scoreboard.

Put Your Money Where Your Serveware Wow Factor Is

Entertaining can get expensive.  Quality serveware pieces pay for themselves over time.  Interior designer Miles Redd says it best. “Buy the best, and you only cry once.”


The Games Big Boys Play

Attention spans have been known to dwindle on the other side of halftime and first run commercials. Great eats-n-drinks and a seasoned trash talk session can only take a party so far.


I keep a games big boys play themed basket of playing cards, related reading material and wooden travel peg games in Dave the Builder’s man cave for just this reason.


Simple is Simply Delicious

This food for thought quote from Nigella Lawson speaks volumes toward the position food plays at a Super Bowl game day party.


I learned years ago the game day menu is almost as important as the point spread. Speaking of spreads-my dad was an avid sportsman with a love and appreciation of the game of football first on the roster.


My dad got to attend two Super Bowl games, and he regaled us with his “there’s nothing like being there live and in person” stories of the game.  For the other 48 times, he watched the game from his favorite armchair. His game day snacks starting lineup always included celery sticks and Fritos served with a bowl full of pimento cheese made from my paternal grandmother’s recipe.  Willie’s pimento cheese recipe ingredient list consists of only three ingredients, and is guilty as Southern sin of omitting the house staple of the South, Duke’s mayonnaise.  I don’t believe Willie or my dad would object if a ½ cup of Duke’s mayo found its way into the ingredient list.  Simple and simply delicious.

Willie’s Pimento Cheese


1 pkg (32 oz ) Velveeta®
4  4 ounce jars pimento; drained
pepper to taste


Allow Velveeta to soften at room temperature. Place the Velveeta and pimentos into large bowl. Using a potato masher, mash Velveeta® and pimentos until smooth  Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

What Beer Goes with What Chip

Wondering what beer pairs with potato chips, a Super Bowl menu must have?

gourmet-burgersOmaha Steaks

Wonder no more.  Kettle Brand has got it covered.

Beer Pairing Guide April 2014 Website 4Click on the image to enlarge

What’s on team, table and tap for your Super Bowl 50 party?

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As Seen In Home Accents Today

Winter hats off to those of you who heeded the warnings and weathered #blizzard2016 at home snug as a bug in wool rug. Winter storm Jonas it was not, but this past weekend’s weather here in Louisiana came fully equipped with frigid temps, blustery winds and sunless skies.  I assessed the state of inclement weather affairs and quickly came to the conclusion I had no alternative but to shelter in place with a cup of hot tea and a slew of shelter magazines. How’s that for weekend loafing justification?  Leading the sheltering with shelters charge was the January 2016 issue of Home Accents Today.

Home Accents

The cover had me a gold foo dogs. Note to self:  include these gold beauties on the gotta have it list.  In keeping with the design and decorating show and tell concept that is Places In The Home, I think an as seen in Home Accents Today feature gallery of the home decor accents making a stylish splash at market and coming soon or already in a retail store near to you is in order.


With a tempered (glass) balance of finish and finery, the Cheval cocktail table from Global Views reflects back to a 16th century design aesthetic as it crafts a modern day look complete with Equestrian details.

AKN01Jaipur Rugs

The Astor series of 100% wool rugs by Kate Spade New York is stunning.  With Valentine’s Day on the hearts and minds of many, I took the liberty of selecting the Rose Garden pattern in classic Anthracite to showcase.

Aidan-Gray-Leslie-Salon-ChairAidan Gray

I love the his and hers appeal of the Leslie salon chair from Aidan Gray.  Let me explain. Some home furnishings and home accents do lean toward a gender-specific style in design details.  Too one way or the other can be a decorating deal breaker, but a barnwood gray distressed finish and nail head detail never fails to unite Mars and Venus minds.

natural-stone-cheese-plateRablabs Kiva Indigo Rose Gold Cheese Plate

Home Accents Today’s retail editor Susan Dickenson  asked Dottie Mattison, CEO of Gracious Home what’s “hot” in home accents?

“Gold, gold, gold and the continued trend in organic accents like natural stone cheese plates, interesting woods, etc.”

32.5H-Riviera-Table-Lamp-CTTL3391Riviera by Couture

Blue-and-white home decor accents in one of the most timeless classic color combinations and pattern designs channel charm, elegance and sophistication. Believe it or not, the spring and Easter tablescape season will be here before you know it. 

blue-white-porcelain-table-settingCharlotte Moss Fabrics

Shape, texture, pattern and color are the pivotal points of visual interest in the world of tabletop place setting detail, and the Ming placemat from designer Kim Seybert is a classic in the style of luxury table linen marked for treasured heirloom status sure to impress on all levels.

NM-6HD8_mzKim Seybert Ming Table Linens

Dog-earing pages for this as seen in Home Accents Today blog post ended up being a bright spot in an otherwise dreary weekend.  The comforts of home and home decor magazines pair well together.

Love your style!

New Year, New Home Decor Trends 2016

A new year inspires fresh beginnings and clean slates. The Places In The Home New Year, New Home Decor Trends 2016 is complete and ready to inspire.  You will spot several carry over trends from last year’s list, perhaps question the prediction of renewed interest in decor trends of decades past, and hopefully agree with and look forward to implementing one or more of the new introductions making a big style splash into your decor.

home decor trends 2016

Decade Design

Interior design and decorating loves a good comeback story.  In the world of trends, a revival of styles in an everything old is new again manner is inevitable.   Early home decor forecasts show decade design on trend for 2016. Dynamic colors, textures and patterns of the glam 1970s and the large floral prints reminiscent of the 1980s are inspiring home decor accents and home furnishings lines.  Gold drenched metals, geometric patterns, bold floral pattern- all present and accounted for.

and now for the granddaddy of decade design …

Mid-Century Modern

Didn’t you just cover Decade Design?  Yes, but Mid-Century Modern design is a design marvel unto itself.  When it comes to mid-century modern home furnishings, Eames and Nelson set the standard and Herman Miller brings it all home and office.  Vintage period pieces and pieces in the style of  from the decade of clean lines, nontraditional materials and modern utility complement most of today’s decorating styles.  It’s a Mad Men mixed material modern world we design and decorate in.


Tile Pattern at Play

Play with your pattern.  You’ll be amazed at the statement it can make.

trend-alert-penny-round-tiles-1602368-1450449001.640x0cMy Domaine


Discovering or rediscovering a classic home decor accent that brilliantly reflects decorating fabulousness is always on trend.  A mirror is the ultimate home decor accent master of illusion.  Spaces devoid of size, light or depth become prime candidates for the presence of a mirror or mirrors.  Mirrors cast the illusion of depth which contributes to opening up the space.  Placement is key when using a mirror to bring more light into the space.  Place, hang or prop a mirror perpendicular to windows in order for the light to saturate the space.


Mirror, Mirror on the Kitchen Wall or Backsplash

No smoke but definitely decorating with mirrors in the kitchen is gaining trend traction.  In the pursuit of openness and light, a strategically placed mirror in a kitchen solves the issue.  Now for the part I love about using a mirror(s) in the kitchen- decorative oomph.  


All traditional, transitional, modern, contemporary, urban, farmhouse, eclectic, coastal, antiques or vintage runs the risk of the decor style of the Jack or Jill decorista being categorized as unimaginative, dated and boring. Throw the eye a curve ball and the space a pop of personality by mixing styles.

greekmodern_3Apartment Therapy

The success of a trend is often measured by the acceptance of the designing and decorating public, ease of functionality and implementation into established decors and the decorative ability to show staying power.  A passing fad, epic fail, emerging classic or blast from the past must try- what’s your opinion of the New Year, New Home Decor Trends 2016?

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Show and Tell Worthy Home Decor Items of Note

Searching, sourcing and scouring home decor and interior decorating sites over the holidays brought forth several show and tell worthy home decor items of note.   I put the copy and paste command through its paces and filed the need to know info under home decor items of note.   This stuff comes in handy at one time or another in the daily all things house that make a home process.


Design and decorating cheat sheets are wonderful, and this one is check it out worthy.  9 sofa styles you should know is just one example why Domino is a Places In The Home favorite.


Informative (as we like it) tidbit of how to stop the slide of an uncooperative area kitchen rug with Velcro information from CNET.

LenoxSeaglassWoolWovenRug_RDA302_product_listLenox Seaglass Wool Woven Rug

This next item of note 2016 is not a spring cleaning hint or tip, but rather a year round dust busting must do. Cleaning light fixtures, light bulbs and lampshades isn’t the most glamorous household cleaning jobs, but one that shines a little light on a dust free situation. Did you know cleaning your light bulbs can make your room up to 20% brighter?  Cleaning your light bulbs also helps to avoid the disgusting burning smell often associated with a dust-coated bulb.  I hate that smell!


Make sure to only clean a light bulb or lighting fixture that is turned off with all bulbs cool to the touch.  Do not spin-turn-rotate the light fixture to clean or wipe bulbs as this can cause the fixture to fall or wiring in the housing to fray.  I learned this lesson one Saturday afternoon at the antiques shop.  I was cleaning a gorgeous antique Williamsburg chandelier like the one in the above image.  We had a good crowd in at the shop, I was in my height of great deals glory and the style conversation was lively.  Being too tuned into the latter and less into practicing safe light bulb and light fixture cleaning techniques, I Valley Forged on.  I spun the fixture and the sparks flew, literally.  Lesson learned!  One final bulb and fixture cleaning note: never spray cleaning solution around lighting fixture or light bulbs.  The good people at offer great info on How to Clean Your Light Bulbs, Lampshades and Fixtures.

insta_roundup_sfawnd_2The Elementalist: @sfawnd

From the fabulous decoristas at One Kings Lane comes 21 Must-Follow Insta Feeds for 2016.  One Kings Lane comes through with a nice balance of styles with the accent mark on something for everyone.  If you are so inclined to make it 22 Must-Follow Insta Feeds for 2016, I would love to have you follow Places In The Home on Instagram.


It’s the good home decor info and tips that keeps us in the all things home decor know.

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Our Home For The Holidays

Happy Holidays friends!  We are T-3 to Christmas 2015, and the joy of the season is electric by way of white Christmas lights and treasured traditions.   Welcome to our Home for the Holidays where the theme of comfort and simplicity is well represented.


Our tour is of the dining room and the part of the foyer decked for the holidays. The dining room, a forever work in progress, has seen several design and decor changes in 2015, and will continue to see more in 2016.  The walls are devoid of artwork (the piece you see in this photo is part of the kitchen gallery wall) and the style jury is unable to reach a unanimous decision on accent rug vs. hardwood floors.  The dining room isn’t the only space getting a makeover.  My Mother’s Day gift from our son was paying for the new wallpaper I fell in love with at first sight but took several months to decide if I really had to have it. Turns out I did. Dave the Builder began the project, but real life obligations and unexpected circumstances stepped in and halted the foyer beautification project.  Patience is not only a virtue it is a necessary tool of the trade in design and decorating.


On the Monday before Christmas, my true love gave to me.  A single Santa leopard-ing


and a Christmas goose in the foyer displayed in front of the new zebra wallpaper sitting pretty (pronounce it prit-tee and it rhymes with tree.  Get it?  Partridge. Pear Tree).


A  holiday table centerpiece of magnolia leaves and holly is indeed so Southern, so holiday, so easy and so beautiful.



Bob’s Sweet Stripes as swizzle sticks and crystal finial ornaments as wine charms? You bet!


I purchased these vintage mini framed Madonna prints for my kitchen gallery wall.


Inspiration is everywhere.


The subject matter is holiday appropriate, and the petite size of the framed prints sealed the DIY deal.  Napkin rings it is!



I have collected Victorian inspired Santa Claus figurines for years.  Due to the epic move aka the gift that keeps on giving, combining two households into one and the renovation of my childhood home into our new to us home, most of my Santa collection now resides in climate controlled storage.  These inexpensive stand-in Santas have no great provenance or famous artist signature assigned to them, but I do love the colors and facial features of these old world replicas.


A picture is worth a thousand words, and this perfectly imperfect image serves as a visual reminder of my personal design and decorating philosophy.  Perfection, style and beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  The life lived within a home comes alive through personal style and taste, and there is nothing more gorgeous than a home that beautifully illustrates personal style lives here.  Design and decorate it with a sense of you!


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

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There’s No Place Like Home For The Holidays: Thanksgiving Problem Solving Ideas and Tips To Guarantee Holiday Crisis Avoided

The holiday countdown to Thanksgiving is in full swing.  I’ve got three words for Thanksgiving.  Bring. It. On!


From roasting the bird to company’s coming to impressive easy recipes to cooking crisis avoided tips to holiday home decor suggestions to beat the holiday band, my There’s No Place Like Home For the Holidays 2016 series is updated, refreshed and ready with helpful Thanksgiving ideas, tips and problem solvers.


Hopefully these handy holiday ideas will keep the traditional or new traditional all things house that make a holiday home Thanksgiving express moving right along.


Angst and alarm over the holiday dinner is not on the menu.  This is the most wonderful time of the year, not the most dreaded.  I try to be as well planned and prepped for our holiday gatherings as I can.  I put the culinary drama on the back burner and let the cooking, baking, holiday decorating, online Black Friday shopping and there’s no place like home for the holidays good times roll.


Size does matter when it comes to all things Thanksgiving.  How much food is needed per person is the question on the mind of every holiday host and hostess. The good people at Pop Sugar  have got it down to a serving size science with their Thanksgiving cheat sheet.


Dressing? Stuffing?  What you call this quintessential Thanksgiving side dish seems to depend on both regional and cooking (in the bird or separately) location and tradition. Our Southern family is team dressing, and our Chicago and Canada family is team stuffing. The one thing we all agree on is that the base ingredient must be buttermilk cornbread.  A bread based dish can and will easily dry out when baked, and dry dressing or stuffing is a holiday side dish deal breaker.  Stock or broth, and the amount added to the crumble cornbread, is the key to moist dressing. You want the dressing consistency to be soupy but not soggy. The rule of you can add to but not take away from applies here.  Add  ½  cup of stock or broth at a time until the desired consistency is reached.

617UiWZPpwL._SL1500_Let the Stuffing Begin Serving Spoon

A frazzled host/hostess does not make a pretty holiday picture.  Don’t try to be a holiday hero, spread the holiday love and the holiday duties around.  Taking guests up on their gracious what can I do-what can I bring offers makes it a shared event and helps to eliminate holiday hosting burnout.  Believe me, you’ll be glad you did! 

HCH2NEY_azSpode Five-Piece Delamere Dinnerware Place Setting

Turkey and gravy are the peanut butter and jelly of holiday cuisine.  It’s a traditional pairing of flavor deliciousness that takes culinary center stage on the holiday dinner table.  Cooking the perfect gravy can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be.  Adding a pinch of salt to the flour before adding any liquid will help to eliminate lumpy gravy.  Gravy too thin?  Mix together two (2) teaspoons cornstarch and two (2) teaspoons chicken broth or water.  Stir or whisk into the warm gravy and simmer until the gravy thickens.  If the gravy separates, add a pinch or two of baking soda to emulsify the fat. Oh no, the gravy has a burnt flavor!  Remember the peanut butter reference? Simply add a teaspoon of peanut butter to cover up the burnt flavor.

antique-silver-sentiment-gravy-boat-oPottery Barn

A good carving set is essential to proper and easy turkey carving.  If the dreaded happens on the big day and your carving knife is duller than first period math, I’ve got a helpful solution for you.  To sharpen your knife, use the unglazed porcelain on the bottom of a coffee mug.  Hold the knife at a 30 degree angle and run it across the area a few times on each side.

carving-setSimply Calphalon 2-piece Carving Set

Our Thanksgiving day cocktail hour leans more towards the slow sip rule of thumb.  Tipsy Turkey Times is almost a guaranteed oh, s*!%.  Look at drunkity drunk drunk add family member or friend’s name here.  My formula for a safe cocktail hour is simple-  one (1) cocktail per person for the pre-dinner cocktail hour.  The sippers don’t mind, the tea teetotalers really don’t mind, and the booze hounds will get over it.  A time and a place as they say.  I like to consult the Serious Eats Booze-o-Matic Party Time Drink Calculator as a reference for our holiday set ’em up, Joe cocktail parties. 

upside- down- paris- apartmentThe Paris Apartment

We consult our dear friend, our trusted expert wine aficionado go-to, for wine pairing guidance when serving turkey.   For white wine drinkers, he suggests dry Chardonnay, white Zinfandel or Riesling.  A good Pinot Noir will please the palette of the red wine drinker.

cube-ice-bucketCube Ice Bucket

I  always get a big chuckle out of the “Party, party” episode of Frasier.  Martin’s ice logic holds true.

Martin: Hey, great party huh? Just as long as we’ve got enough ice. You got four bags, right?

Daphne: No, I got two.

Martin: Two?!  I told you to get four bags!

Daphne: Oh, here we go.

Martin: You never under-budget on the ice.  You never know, you might get a lot more rocks drinkers than you expected.  Or ice chewers.

Ice can be a hot commodity at a holiday celebration.  Ice cubes measure about ten (10) cubes per pound and the rule of thumb is one (1) pound of ice cubes per person. Cheers!

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Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark Interiors

Dark interiors make a dramatic, commanding and intimate statement. Dark interiors are coming out of the shadows and into the trend spotlight.

Halloween-DraculaTurner Classic Movies

Although black is not the only dark color choice associated with dark interiors, it does seem to be the basis for dramatic back in black magic. Black is the new black- a perennial color classic and decorating color essential. What oomph the perfect little black dress lends to a fashionista’s wardrobe, a space dressed from floor-to-ceiling in the color black speaks to a decorista’s personal interior design and decorating style.

dark interiorsAtlanta Homes & Lifestyles 

Visual allure produces a theatrical statement.


donna-mondi-interior-design-portfolio-interiors-stylesDonna Mondi Interior Design

Dark interiors keep beautiful company with deep accent colors rich in palette intensity, and therein lies the secret to the perfect design and decorating marriage.


My initial thought when sourcing the Vertigo pendant by designer Constance Guisset for Petite Friture?  Haute witches hat.

vertigo-chandelierPetite Friture

Dark interiors introduce a sophisticated warmth to the space.

d95b066e3c1683ef09a375d783092110Elle Decor


Dark interiors.  What say you?

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