Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Home Cleansing is Cathartic

After 21 years in our home we decided to clean house ...

That is not to say that we didn't keep the house clean.... but the amount of "things" you accumulate in that time is unbelievable. I look at my two dear friends Lisa and Rena who live in these beautiful small spaces in Manhattan. Their homes always seem to be in order, even their medicine cabinet and bathroom countertops are clean and inviting! Small space living... I have a lot of space and need to learn that you do not need to fill it!

My daughter lives in a beautiful home in Richmond and just has a sense of "what she wants and needs" and does not take in anything extra!!! She only buys or takes items that "fit" - her style and her space. She really knows and sets her boundaries! 

I always found the space for one more thing; one more set of sheets, blankets, dishes... if I liked it and wanted it, I found space for it. My kids joke that they grew up with a "sheet and blanket museum" aka our linen closet ...  To be fair, I have been in home textiles for over 20 years so needless to say I have collected "just a few things"! If it was soft and wonderful, I had to keep it! The good news is that when my kids moved to their own places, I had a lot to give them - not that they wanted it, LOL! 

How do you decide what to keep? I find I am asking myself "why did you save this in the first place?" 

Catharsis is the purification and purgation of emotions—particularly pity and fear—through art or any extreme change in emotion that results in renewal and restoration. as defined by Wikipedia

As I read this I think... I am not sure I agree with the pity and fear part of the definition - yet then I think, well maybe the fear of letting go.. of an item, or more so, a memory.

Small things are easier to go thru and give away - the souvenir you wanted from that flea market in Mexico on vacation; the wooden carved dolphin or duck.. what were we thinking? Yet these items have sentimental value, as I learned when I wanted to toss them and my husband didn't. Memories attached to certain items have kept us from purging too! 

When I worked for RL, I was responsible for all International Licensing - I worked with a company in Mexico and traveled there a few times.  The owner of the business sent me a beautiful wood piece of furniture, that unbenounced to me, arrived one day.  It is made of distressed wood, rich in character and I was grateful- it is small and has been with me for over 25 years - so it is sentimental in a way; a reminder of my accomplishment, time and travels.  In those years I have filled the drawers with birthday, anniversary and greeting cards I have received ... again sentimental!  Why was I saving these, when would I ever look back at them, yet when I received them I could not bear to just "throw them away"!

Every drawer is FULL!

Now as I am going through my house, looking at what I love, asking can I "lighten the load", what would I take with me if I moved to a smaller space?  I decided I have to go through these drawers... 
and examine my initial question.... asked and answered.

This one task will take time because I now want to go through many of these things, read them, think back and enjoy the memory... the reason I saved them - 

Take the time to look around you - this year, in a time when we have had to be alone with our thoughts, our homes... is the time to think about getting rid of what no longer serves you

Cleaning your house is cathartic... it is freeing in a way!
It also allows space for new - time, adventures and what new things lie ahead of us!

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Guest Room Reno continued.... wall color matters!

As you follow along on my journey, maybe looking for ideas, curious how others address change; here is just a quick update to our guest room renovation.... a forced change that worked out beautifully! I shared with you the images of the final room - here is what I did: • tore out the wall to wall carpet and cleaned the "almost new" wood floors underneath. Not sure they ever saw the light of day, they were is such good condition, we got lucky! • kept the furniture and moved it around • added new neutral bedding with pops of color in the decorative pillows • took everything off the walls, including the shelving (sold them on FB Marketplace).... However this is where my journey ran into a hurdle
I could not for the life of me find the color I painted this room! My daughter loved this color and I was determined to keep this one room with "color". It was fun, bohemian in a way with all the decorative items I added and I wanted a custom look to at least one room. 

  I guess we were destined to paint almost the entire house though... 
so after getting a sample of the color I was sure it was, matching it back to the Ben Moore fan deck- it did not match : ( Granted, I only put on one coat, over white spackle, but it was no way dark enough so I knew that I was going to have to paint the entire wall. At that point "handy husband" said, we might as well give in and paint this room neutral ( as the real estate agent who saw the house said we should for best look, when we are ready to out the house on the market). I went kicking and screaming and finally gave in... 

 Here are the final results of the renovation - the room does look bigger, brighter and I am sure that someone looking at the room will like it, or at least be able to see "their" potential for it. Sometimes you have to be open to change; even when you are holding on for sentimental reasons! (my daughter loved that color!)

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Make Old New Again! Repurposing a Wood Tray

I love to repurpose furniture and household items!
Whether is it a chair or a smaller project, you too can make something new again! Take this old serving tray, I use this all the time; to take food into another room, to serve meals outside, especially for guests. This old tray has seen better days yet it is a great size and in really good shape, with the exception of a few nicks and scratches.
I am going to show you how you can rejuvenate this tray to make it look new, and customize it to fit your style.
Supplies you need:
• Decorative paper for the inner base of the tray
• Ruler (best to have one with a cork backing)
• Exacto knife with a new blade
• Cutting board or surface
• Mod Podge - this is a sealer and a glue
• Foam applicator
• Fine or medium sandpaper or sanding block
• Polycrylic - water based sealer
• Paint brush
Michaels and many other craft stores sell scrapbooking papers in so many different patterns, styles and colors! Decide the look you want and the size you will need. Before you choose a paper, be sure to measure the object you will be updating to be sure you get enough. The largest paper I found was 12 in x 12 in. For my project I only needed two pieces (I bought four just in case I messed up, lol). You can also use craft paper, wrapping or magazine paper! Lay the paper out to see how the pattern matches up side to side and top to bottom. Some designs will be able to be cut to work, others might look funny and very mismatched.
1. Cut paper to fit the surface you are covering. Use the ruler to measure the dimension of the surface and carefully mark the paper. Place the paper on the surface to be sure it all matches up so you are happy with the layout. Put paper aside.
2. Using fine or medium sandpaper, sand the wooden tray to remove all dirt, marks and scratches; brush or dust off excess sawdust and wipe down with slightly damp paper towel.
3. Coat base of tray with Mod Podge; this acts as a glue to adhere paper to wood surface. Coat evenly.
4. Lay paper into base, as you tested in pt. 1 and smooth out with your hand to take out all bubbles and wrinkles. In some cases, depending on the look, you might want some textured wrinkles in your paper. Be sure to keep this in mind when you are cutting to size.
5. Let dry 15- 20 minutes
6. Coat top of paper once dry with a thin coat of Mod Podge and let dry 15-20 minutes.
7. Finally, coat with polycrylic, over paper and wooden tray to protect against dirt and for a smooth protected surface. This will also make it easier to clean. I like to put at least 2 coats of the polycrylic; be sure to let fully dry in between coats.
Now you have re-used, re-purposed, and rejuvenated a great decorative piece!

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Guest Room Reno... Downsizing? Start the process of staging your house!

This post is about how easy it is to change a few things and give a room a whole new look.  You have to think outside the box, if you will... move around some furniture, art, lamps.  Whether you need a new look or, like us, you are thinking... "why do we need this much space", it is always fun to update your home.  

A little background before I dive into the design stuff... ( you can skip to the bottom, but you might enjoy how we got here).

We have been "empty nesters" as most will call it for over 6 years now.  The home we purchased to raise our children was a mindful planned out venture.... best school district, close to your temple for easy car pooling to hebrew school, and their friends in both plus right here in our neighborhood.  I realize what a luxury this is!  Now this house has too many rooms... we keep their bedroom doors closed most of the time.  So basically we are living in our bedroom/bathroom and the first floor.

When each of our daughters moved out; whether it was to move into their first college dorm room, apartment on campus, locally or in NYC with friends, we always did what we could to help... and boy do we feel we have moved them enough for a lifetime!

The issue is that with every one of their moves, we gained more STUFF!  As they moved out on their own as adults, a lot was left behind... much due to the fact that one moved across country with as much of her belongings that would fit in her civic!  The other is in a NYC apartment... need I say more?!

We are both still working, so location for us is still really good for our commutes. Mine is down the stairs and to the left.  My husband; some of you know as my Handy Husband, has a reasonable drive to the Shore.  As we consider where to "move" where do we "want to be" we have started to "downsize our belongings"... and over time ridding ourselves of items we really do not need or have purpose for - such as VHS tapes of Disney movies!  LOL.  With Disney Plus, we can always access the kids old favorites for when the time comes to share them with their kids, if we are so blessed.  Old printers, an end table, hangers upon hangers... really trying to minimize what we keep.

OKAY - design posts... getting to it!

As we ponder these questions we have started looking at locations and some homes for sale.  This means we need to be ready to put our house on the market if we are to find something we love - we will need to act very quickly!

So, another bedroom renovation to show you!  It is the last room in the house that still had wall to wall carpet.  I mean... what else were we going to do on a rainy Memorial Day weekend towards the end of (we hope!) Pandemic?!!

We didn't fully re-decorate, this room was in pretty good shape.  We moved the furniture around, packed up the stuffed animals and books on the shelves and tore up the carpet!  We added this fantastic area rug we found online, changed the bedding, threw out the old ugly bedskirt and bought some new accent pillows.  

*Craziest thing is that this area rug is the same as one that we fell in love with in a house we saw when looking at options .... by chance, compared the images we took and it is exactly the same!  

How lucky was that!

Take a look....

A few new decorative pillows and it looks like a new room!  Minus the 30 year old TV!  Sorry, again I did not take true before photos - these before shots show the room a little after as we got started...


Worst part was tearing the carpet out and all the staples that had to be removed from the floor.

The best part?  An amazing hard wood oak floor underneath, that we think was never exposed!

AFTER THE RUG WAS REMOVED.... same bedding, pillows, etc...

This just was not enough for me... I wanted this room to "feel better" so when someone walked in to see it they would think

.... I want to stay here!

We moved the dressers to one wall, will eventually hang the mirror.


Moving around the dressers made a difference in how much larger the room feels!  

With the addition of new bedding (a quilt set I designed for a Wal-Mart private label program, new decorative pillows, a new cushion for the chair (actually the original red one I bought...) swapping the throws, nightstand and the lamp from another room, buying an accent rug... the room came to life!  

I am going to take down the shelving for a more open look and I did add that cute Frieda framed piece I found at Home Sense! 

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Paint and Color Cures for Old Outdoor Furniture

 We all spend money on things that later we look at and think ... I wish this looked as good as when I first bought it!

As the weather improves, and people are able to start to "get back at it" being vaccinated from Corona virus and feeling a bit more free to socialize, our desire to be outside and with friends and family grows.  I feel it is a luxury to have outdoor living space; with my pots of flowers and a deck to relax and entertain.  I do not take these things for granted!  

I have these two white resin adirondack chairs and have always loved the "look" of them, as a relaxing seating area out in the yard.  Over time they have weathered... and we have power-washed them year after year.  When you look at the cost of replacing, you think... what????

I am all about "re-purposing, re-working and re-inventing" in every aspect of my life; my good friends and certainly my family can attest to this.  I am just thrilled with how they came out!

Here is the before images of the chairs and little side table.  We used Rustoleum Ultra Cover Paint and Primer.  You cannot believe how many colors are available!  

Taking my daughter's advice I watched a few You Tube videos and learned that there is a great tool that saves your "trigger finger"... it attaches to the top of the spray can and has an actual trigger that allows you to get an even coat and no paint on your hands!

We chose a color to match back to some of the accessories and decorative pillows we purchased for the deck furniture.... we wanted a POP of color!

Choose a spot to paint; lay out a tarp.  You can used one of the lightweight plastic tablecloths you get at the dollar store, or even an old shower curtain liner.

Place your items on the tarp - take note of the wind.... 
THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!  You want to be "downwind" of the paint as you spray the items you are re-purposing!

Be sure to move with the lines of the item; long steady strokes and as even as you can get them so you do not have any drippings. Have a paper towel nearby to "dab" them if needed - you need to do this right away before they dry.

You can see from the photo here that the table was very badly stained.  We powerwashed all of the items before we started and made sure to use a towel to dry them all thoroughly.

Once you have finished painting all of the items you are re-purposing.... let the items sit out to dry.  I love to see the lines from the paint; like shadows!  This restoration was quick and easy!  You can bring anything back to life with a little paint!

Now you can see below how pretty this color is in our garden and how well it goes with the new accessories we added to our deck!

We plan to put in some more flowering bushes behind these for a nice backdrop... for now we love looking out as this pop of color! 

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Throw away those winter blues for a new shade of happy. Allow yourself to get inspired!

Winter blues can be cured with a great day of warmer weather, as we have had this week! With everyone starting to feel a little more freedom we still continue to update our homes; want something fresh and new!
  This time of year we are all so done with winter and the cold, especially here in the Northeast!    We have all been inside and mostly isolated for a year, looking at the same four walls.  People have been more inclined to update their rooms with a fresh look, so they can feel good about their space, and now that they can start to see their friends, and have company again,  they will oohh and aaahh over how nice everything looks when they visit.
We all want a fresher look, cleaner, brighter and updated.  
An easy way to rejuvenate a room is with a fresh coat of paint.  I cannot walk into a paint store without gathering and collecting paint swatches, making new palettes which awakens the need in me for change!

Contractors will tell you that this is one of their craziest times. Especially now that Covid is more under control and people are less afraid and getting vaccinated.  Contractors can hardly keep up with the requests for quotes, let alone the job.  Many people hope to make changes to the inside, before they all start working outside; spending time in the nicer weather on outdoor projects. DIY stores are putting out flowers and bulbs and this "Spring cleaning" idea allows us to get ready for that and makes us crave for something fresh! 

  The big question most ask me as a designer is "where do I get started?"
Allow yourself to be inspired... all you have to do is look at what makes you feel good, what color is it, is it flowers that have a scent that is reminiscent of a time that makes you smile?
Living near a great small downtown... Princeton, NJ gives me the opportunity to walk around town, the University campus and the great stores! Grab a coffee, wander around streets of this historic town... the architecture, the art museum - so much culture here.... allow myself to get inspired!

 Palmer Square is exactly as it sounds, a "square" block that surrounds a "green"... a patch of grass where in the summer they offer concerts and movies. I always head down to this quaint, very unique home store in town called Homestead... They recently moved to a new location just outside of town, and the beautiful items they have are so inspiring.  They have a great way of pulling things together, offering very unique items and making you want and feel the need to buy something new to add to your home! If lucky you can catch the owners there and hear about a new piece he designed and repurposed from some very cool antique! This is a great source of inspiration for me, something always catches my eye- colors or the way things are put together that might work in my house.  

As you saw from one of my previous posts, I have a favorite art gallery store located in the heart of Princeton; Cranbury Station Gallery. If that didn't help my longing for springtime and flowers, and inspire me to create, nothing would!  Thankfully they were able to stay open in spite of the lockdown. Stop in, browse the art, the owner is a wonderful painter!

 So if you too are inspired by your surroundings, and crave something fresh... go down to your local paint store, pick out a few chips in colors that ignite your soul, stop in to your favorite store and buy something that makes you smile - paint the room, move some things around - add that new item you bought (doesn't have to be anything big to make a difference, even just a candle) and brighten up your home!

Friday, May 7, 2021

Personal Space to unwind... creating a home gym

Designing in a Pandemic.... 

Who ever thought it would be over a year and we would still be here, at home, staring at the same walls. For most, we saw things in our houses that had to change; whether this was cleaning out a closet, tossing clothing that we never wear, haven't worn in years or just didn't like anymore... or the simple exercise of cleaning those little corners or the rooms you never spent more time in. 

We looked more closely at how we surround ourselves, what a room "feels like".
We asked ourselves if this was the "space" that we wanted to be in; that made us feel good. 
I started working from home a few short months before everything closed down. I had a bit of a head start setting up an "in house" office... I showed the make over in an earlier post. 

The issue with working from home is that it is allways there; no, that is not a typo, LOL! 
I quickly realized you need to set boundaries for yourself, hours you will work, eat.. and not just sit at your desk endlessly. My office faces my front yard, so I would see my neighbors walking their dogs or out for a stroll and knew I had to carve time out of my day to get some fresh air... even in the dead of winter. 

What changes did you make? To your routine, your house, yourself?!!! What questions did you ask yourself, what did you need...
I was commuting to NYC every day for work, taking Soul Cycle class four times a week, seeing friends, and clients. This routine worked for me. In Dec. 2019 I made a job change and started working from home.... I needed to find a new routine. I joined a second gym, belonging to one at home already, and continued to go into the city to once a week. One reason was to take that SoulCycle spin class with my daughter, I then would comp stores for work; it kept me connected to the city. I mean, who wouldn't be happy about not having to commute every single day?!  I added a new membership at a very new and cool gym at home, worked out at least 5 days (between @orangetheory and @Lifetime). I found a new normal, where I could work from home but still have my socialization and exercise. I met new people and loved the schedule I set, all based around the classes I was taking. I could do this! 
Then on March 12th, I came in to the city to ride with my favorite instructor, @melaniegriffith, with my friends I had made in the class over time... had lunch with my old colleagues who flew in from CA for Market Week, and somehow I knew it was my last day going to the city for some time. I visited my daughter and took the train home. I heard rumors about the growing numbers of covid cases and that the city, as we knew it, was closing down. Market week was pending and everyone who was preparing for clients to come see their new developments was stopped mid-step and told for the first time, in my career in home textiles, that market week is not going to happen

 Slowly everything closed - gyms closed... I could feel that this isolation was not going to be easy. 

So where is the design topic, where I tell you about a new project?

Right here!
 I felt I had to first "set the scene" build the story and let you understand where the need came from and why I had to create a purposeful space for myself at home a home gym.. a place to recuperate, invigorate and escape to in my house.
First you need to know that we have been empty nesters for some time now. We also have been in this house 21 years this coming May! That being said, I have a lot of great exercise equipment.. and then a spin bike I inherited from my youngest daughter who is a SoulCycle Spin instructor for the past 6 years... it has cages on the pedal, but I did not let that stop me for the first 6 months of quarantine! LOL! Here are the before shots; as you can see my mess and lots of stuff that we have accumulated over the year, including the stuff my kids left behind when they moved out.

Before shots with so much stuff!


I was determined to create a sanctuary; an at home "dark room" that I could spin in, listen to the best music, and just disappear and work out...


I cleaned out the space, rearranged the room, put up the most beautiful wall mandala decals! 
So bohemian!
Then I was lucky enough to have the best brother and sister in-law; in October I received the best present ever - the final touch to my space!  

The piece dé resistance! A Peloton! 

 Look at this space! I could not be happier! 

Now onto the other room renovations needed. 
For now, at least I have an escape, and I have to say, I spend so much time in "MY GYM" that it was worth it!

Create a space for yourself! 

We all need a place to breathe, to feel good... do this for yourself, if not, then who will? If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that we need to look around and live in the present... you never know what is around the corner. ... and if you didn't notice, there is an extra bike - come ride with me! I promise the music will be amazing!