Vacant Home Staging in Long Beach NY


cobalt blue bottles, pale blue kitchen towels and green tray for beachy decoration in kitchen

I was so happy to hear from Dan Adams of Real Living Innovations Realty in Wantagh, NY. Dan hired me several times when I was a fairly new home stylist, so I give him credit for helping to jumpstart my business. The first vacant property I staged for him sold in 1 day for list price! This was back when my inventory consisted of a cream love seat, a sofa, 2 faux TVs, some pillows, several end tables, two nightstands, a coffee table, a few console tables and occasional chairs – and some art and accessories. Hardly a small corner of a warehouse – to say the least! But, I put what resources I had to good use and with the money I made from that home staging – I bought more.

Dan acquired a condo listing that had been languishing on the market for years. The previous realtors only listed it as a rental. The owner, who works for the TV show Million Dollar Listing in California, just wanted it sold…like tomorrow. When I went to see the condo, it looked cold and uninviting and, because there were no furnishings, your eye went to every dirt mark on the walls, every spot on the carpeting, every crack…any little thing that was wrong with the home. There really wasn’t anything wrong with the home at all – it was in great shape. But with vacant homes, this is what happens…you see very minor flaw.

Here are some before and after photos of the kitchen, living and dining room areas…


vacant living room in Long Beach NY

 A little color and personality go a long way to make this condo more inviting!



after staging the dining area in a Long Beach NY condo

blue bottles and beachglass tablescape

Vacant Master Bedroom suite in Long Beach NY

Master Bath after home staging

staging a Master Bedroom in Long Beach NYThe condo boasts a separate Master Suite upstairs (which, I believe will be the key selling feature of this house), so I wanted to make this space really welcoming and special. There was a nook in the suite, so I made that into an office space.

I wanted to create a home that would appeal to the most likely buyer in this area. With some Census research, I figured an average age range of 35-44. While $50-75K was the majority income range, Long Beach has very healthy statistics for higher family incomes of up to $200K plus. It could be a family moving in – either a married couple or married with children under 18. But a telling statistic was a very large number for females – with no husband present – with a family and an even larger number was a householder living alone.

after staging the tablescape in Long Beach NY

Taking that info…plus injecting the Long Beach style, I created my staging plan. Beachy casual – but with a year round look that will work for those who don’t have another home and with relaxed and comfortable rooms for kids and guests.

after home staging bedroom in Long Beach NY

If you would like to view this condo, contact Dan Adams at 516 729-8288. There’s already an offer on this home (yeah!!), but if you are interested, please call Dan.

Click here for website and more info.

 And, call me at 631 793-1315 if you have a vacant or occupied home that needs some love and an updated look. I do long distance home staging (e-staging) as well…a budget-friendly way to get your home into buyer-ready shape!


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1 Comment | Posted in Home Staging, interior design, Makeovers

Birds, Reindeer Moss, Sea Turtle Art, Coral…Sea Fans: A Summery Coastal Mantel

Creating a coastal inspired fireplace mantel

I have a habit of changing the decorations on my great room mantel pretty often…but sometimes I am guilty of being lazy and not changing it soon enough. Up until a few days ago my mantel was stacked with bunnies and nests – so it was surely time for an overhaul!

a mantel with no decorations

Pretty boring, huh?  l love a blank canvas and sometimes I can go overboard (an apt expression for this post!) but I have to admit I had a little trouble with this mantel. I had to keep rearranging things – editing, adding, editing again, switching things around. I told myself that I wasn’t going to overload the mantel this year – but when I held myself back…it just didn’t look right.

one piece of art as a focal point on the mantel

I always start with a focal point, like the artwork, and build out from there. Scale-wise, this lovely sea turtle art could have been a bit bigger, which probably was one of my problems to start with!  But, it reflected the feel and theme of what I was going for – a relaxed coastal vibe – so I went for it! My husband loves anything connected to the beach and the sea – so this turtle was going to have to pull his weight!

decorating a summer mantel

I like to have the eye travel kind of up and down, from left to right, so I place varying sizes of objects on either side. My husband loves these shorebird decoys that I found while buying a rattan sofa set on Craigslist a few years ago, so they fit the summer mantel bill (OK, I’ll stop the beachy puns soon enough!)  And I just fell in love with these rope candles I found at HomeGoods and I thought they would add some nice texture to the mantel. But right now – everything looks a bit boring!!! Height and interest are needed!

adding more items to the summer mantel

No…not there yet! But the sea fans and coral look good. The rope candles are too heavy – need to remove a few and re-arrange

adding a lantern and books to a summer mantel decoration

I usually need to add height, so I do that with books that act as lifts to create different height levels. A mantel decoration can look so stagnant if everything is the same height! I tried adding the lantern to add some height and interest – but it just looked out of place. So finally…things came together!

adding a floral arrangement to the summer mantel

So, as I was snapping these proof pics with my iphone (the previous shots in the post) and showing them to my husband, he suggested something floral could be added on the left. What? That’s usually what I would say…not him. I was trying to avoid adding anything floral and I only had what was growing in the yard – but I gave it a try. It worked! I added some more coral, sand dollars and some reindeer moss that I had forever in a glass jar full of sea shells and seaglass – all things we found on our honeymoon. It brought me right back to that beautiful week we spent in Amagansett, Long Island.

summery coastal mantel decoration

Incorporating some personal items, things you know your family loves – and creating a theme for your mantel always helps to give your room a new life…and new spirit, while it helps lift the mood of anyone who enters. After the long (way too long!) winter we had here on Long Island – I really needed to have my mood lightened as well. I am so ready for summer! Below you’ll see a few pics of what my mantel looked like last summer.

 summer mantel ideas


summer mantel ideas

A little darker…a little different. Click here to read the story behind last year’s mantel.

Which one do you like better?  Comment below and let me know how you are decorating your home for summer!


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6 Comments | Posted in interior design, Makeovers, Tutorials

Painting Upholstery: A Tutorial on How to Use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint on Fabric

How to Paint on Fabric to Transform Upholstery

I had to give this a try…been reading about it so much on different blogs. I watched Annie Sloan’s YouTube video on the subject, read some other tutorials as well (11 Magnolia Lane  ) and I just decided that I would just jump in and see what happens to a loveseat that I had purchased a few years ago that had seen better days.

 old damask loveseat after Annie Sloan Chalk Painting

Of course, I started with something “big” instead of a small seat cover – that’s my nature…just go for broke. The worst thing that could happen would be that it looked terrible and I’d have to scrap it or bite the bullet and get it reupholstered.

 a cheap fabric loveseat before Chalk Paint transformation

Here’s what it looked like when I bought it. I got from a lovely husband and wife who were moving the next day to Chicago and so I was in a position to get it at a pretty good price. I’m not the best bargainer but I got this loveseat, 2 wing chairs and a coffee table – for $150. Not too bad.

I originally bought this furniture for home staging purposes and I did use the loveseat the following month in a house that I staged, so it came in handy. But I hated the look of the dark wood and the shiny (cheap) damask patterned fabric. I knew that this loveseat could look great if you lightened up the dark wood and added beautiful linen upholstery.  That would cost $$ – maybe $800 or more with fabric…and that was just not in my budget at the time. So, the piece sat in my storage unit after the house was sold.

Annie Sloan Old White Chalk Paint on dark wood frame on loveseat

Painting the dark wood frame with Annie Sloan Old White Chalk Pain

A few months later, I thought I would just start working on this poor little loveseat, so I brought it back home. I started with just painting the dark wood with Annie Sloan Old White Chalk Paint and distressing it a bit first to see if that could improve it – and it did.

distressing with Annie Sloane Chalk Paint

Wet sanding back to expose some of the dark wood

I kept it in my house for a year or so like that and it came in handy when we had holiday dinners etc as extra seating in the dining room. Two of my kids would sit on it at the end of the table – and my husband and I had two seats at the other end…and then I could fit 10 side chairs around the table – easy seating for 14.

loveseat during moldings all done from phone

However, the thing I hated the most about the piece was the upholstery. It was cheap, shiny and had some soiled spots on it as well (ones that were stubborn and wouldn’t come out with any cleaner). So, two weeks ago I started experimenting with painting the upholstery. Here’s what I did…

  • First, I vacuumed the piece and I tried once again to get any soiled bits clean.
  • Next I mixed up some Annie Sloan Old White with some Cream Chalk Paint, just to give it a bit more of a warm linen tone. I don’t remember my exact measurements, but about 80% Old White and 20% Cream
the steaps in painting fabric

The steps in painting fabric

  • I took a spray bottle and wet the surface area of what I was painting first. I did try (on the underside of one of the cushions) a full strength mix at first but I felt that that left too much of a thick chalky finish so I switched to adding about 40% water to my Chalk Paint mix.
  • You want to scrub the Chalk Paint into the fabric – let it get absorbed. Multiple light coats are better than heavier coats.
bare babric vs one coat of chalk paint o a loveseat

Comparison of one coat of chalk paint vs. bare fabric

  • After it was dry, I took a medium sanding block and sanded the fabric a bit. It helped to get it smoother. Before putting the second coat on, I sprayed the surface with water again. It goes on smoother this way. You may need to spray while painting as well – I did. It helped to spread the mix on the fabric better and helped even out the coat. I sometimes had to sand again, if there was any pilling of the fabric. You may or may not come across this but I was working with a slightly textured inexpensive fabric that tended to pill even without the Chalk Paint on it.
Using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint on tufted fabric furniture

In the tufted sections, I used a smaller brush to get into the folds in the fabric

  • I had to go over some areas that had a blue coloration on them – they didn’t seem to want to go away so easily! But – all in all they were not that noticeable.
  • I let the painted fabric cure overnight and then I waxed it with Annie Sloan Clear Wax. I buffed it a bit after about a half hour after application. I noticed that the fabric became so much softer – not stiff at all (which it was before waxing). The wax helps to bring it back. Some people who have done this method say their fabric looks like soft leather. Mine didn’t really take that soft leather look. It just looks so much better…cleaner and newer than it did before.

before and after painted a fabric sofa with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

Don’t be afraid of trying this. It’s time consuming (at least on a sofa or love seat!) but on a small chair or seat cover – it won’t take you very long at all to do. So, if you have something that’s been sitting in your garage or your house and you hate the upholstery – try it. With a small chair you could even do it with one of the sample sizes that cost so little.

My advice – try it! You have nothing to lose…except a little time, a little money and some elbow grease.

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5 Comments | Posted in Annie Sloan's chalk paint, Home Staging, interior design, Makeovers, Paint, Tutorials

The Beauty of Real Craftmanship in Handmade Furniture

The Unmatched Beauty of Bespoke and Handmade Furniture: A Guest Blogpost 

Here is another guest article from my friend, Jo Lee of Swedish Interior Design, in our “View From Europe” series. Handmade furniture from craftsmen who are applying timeless, painstaking techniques to make beautiful, lovingly crafted pieces, are being edged out it seems in this economy of fast, soulless, cheaper MDF-type case goods. Here Joe looks at the benefits to be gained by ordering a custom made piece of furniture.

The world of interior design is increasingly cluttered by poorly made reproduction furniture in a wide range of styles coming from China and the Far East. This is all to satisfy our unshakeable desire for something new, different or exciting in this world of transient tastes and ever changing fashions. We forget, as we spend to maintain our ‘habit’, about the attendant environmental costs of mass manufacture, carbon intensive shipping and cheap Third World labour. These become ever more important as resources become scarce and the quality of human life lessens – just remember the recent factory collapses and death tolls in India as a direct result of our need for new things.

It’s also sad too because as we hunt online for bargain after bargain, we forget about our local craftsmen. Those with time honoured skills who find it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. As all of you know, there’s something very wonderful about a piece of furniture lovingly crafted from a beautiful piece of well dried timber – honed, carved and polished to perfection. Its filled with life and spirit in a way that mass produced pieces never can. Like this…


Swedish Handmade Armoire

A Handmade Bespoke Armoire

 It takes years to perfect the kind of talent that creates graceful curves and sweeping arches by hand – something a machine can replicate but never quite match. Only a human hand can create that extra mojo that you find in something made with love and attention to detail that works with the vagaries of wood to create beauty – that’s why antique pieces continue to command a strong following – from people who appreciate artistry and the feel of real wood.

Swedish handmade bespoke king bed

Handmade Bespoke Bed

Of course, economics requires the presence of the reproduction market serving customers in different price ranges. But I am continually surprised that even at the extortionate prices at the high end of the market, companies still make gaudy copies of antique furniture from veneered MDF and plywood with the lame excuse that “Chippendale would have used MDF if it had existed in his day.” Hmpf!

 I don’t think so. Yes, inert wood gives stability in our age of central heating but it’s the natural movement and vibe of real wood that we love and this creates something special that we want to hand down over generations. Here’s some real wood that we made for a client!

Swedish Bespoke Dressing Table

Handmade Swedish Dressing Table

Reproduction furniture is fine…from a distance, although at the cheaper end of the market it just doesn’t look or feel right. Look closely at the finish, the way drawers are jointed – is there hand dovetailing? Do the shelves use handcarved dog tooth racking? How are the carvings made and applied? How does it hold together as a piece overall – does it have the essential ‘unity of being’ that all great furniture has?

A great piece of furniture is so much more than the sum of its parts – it’s the way it is put together and the feeling and love that is put into it – something that cannot be hurried – and there are no short cuts for handshaping and burnishing.

 Again this jars with today’s “I want it now” mentality where no one is prepared to wait for anything and they expect to just pluck it off a shelf. That’s fine – but what you gain in instant choice, you lose in the quality of the final product.

Looking at the interior design market as a whole, there is so much ‘instant redesign’ based on looks popularised on TV. It’s become like the fashion market – disposable styles changing so fast to drive the great god of consumerism and satisfying the empty soul of mammon that today’s consumer seems to exhibit. Nothing built to last or built with care.

Didn’t the Supremes sing “You can’t hurry love”?  It’s the same with real furniture and unless we support the younger craftsmen, restorers, French polishers and the like who are all too few, we will end up in a world where ‘business’ not ‘craft’ is all important. That would be so sad.

Joe Lee is the Director of Swedish Interior Design

 Swedish Interior Design designs and hand makes one off bespoke furniture, beds and dining tables for clients all over the world to their specifications and dimensions.

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3 Comments | Posted in interior design, View from Europe

The E-Guide to Choosing Colors for Your Home…It’s Almost Finished

I Just Need to Know Your Color Struggles and Problems…so I Can Answer Them!

ornage, blue and green color scheme for a room

How to create a split complementary color scheme

I am in the midst of writing an e-guide on How to Choose the Right Colors for Your Rooms” that I will be giving away to my readers. In general, it will cover some secrets on how I use color (and some common mistakes that you should avoid) but the main point of the guide will be to give you some tools that will make choosing color easier…and less fear-inducing!

creating an analogous color scheme with cool colors

How to create an analogous color scheme

But, I need some help from you, my wonderful readers and followers. I need to know what you are struggling with when it comes to making color choices in your home. In the comments below, just jot down some things that made you crazy, made you cry…maybe even made you laugh when you saw how a color came out on your wall. I think I know most of the problems that people have – but I want to hear from you. Tell me your issues and struggles and I will put solutions to them in the e-guide.

The guide will cover topics such as…

  • How to use the color wheel successfully in developing beautiful color schemes
  • Why and how light changes paint colors: Becoming aware of this can make color decisions easier
  • Creating the mood and emotion you want to feel in a room
  • How to eliminate a lot of colors from the vast number of choices on the market today: Why the fixed elements in your room are the keys to your color choices
  • Best colors for north, south, east and west facing rooms
  • How paint colors can help a tall room look cozier…a short room look taller…a long room look shorter

If any of those topics resonate with you, please sign up and subscribe to this blog, so you will be the first to know when it will be available. It should be ready within a week or two. Until then…please write down some problems and concerns that you are having. That will help me so much in putting this guide together.

Thanks…hope to hear from you soon!

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Leave a comment | Posted in Color Roundup, interior design, Paint

Painting and Decorating Architectural Fragments

Chalk painted and antiqued ornamental board

Creating something from nothing

I was coming back from a decorative painting job out in the Hamptons and I came across this wonderful old antique shop named Lloyds in Eastport, New York. I had passed this store many times before and finally – I had a little bit of time to go in and take a look. The store is a lot larger than it appears from the outside – and there are two large floors full of antiques. Just what I needed – a ton of stuff to choose from! Anyway, I fell in love with a couple of things that I just had to pick them up (I only had about 20 minutes to peruse because I had another appointment to go to).

I picked up these two boards that were very ornamental, They may have been parts of other pieces of furniture…but they were so beautiful I just had to pick them up. $90 in total for the two – not too bad.

two decorative wood boards before painting

I had a plan for each one…so maybe I am finally getting a little smarter with my purchases! I knew my husband was going to groan about bringing more stuff into the house, but he thought they were really lovely pieces. The next day – which is amazing for me because I usually let things linger in my studio for months…even years before I tackle them! – I got some paint supplies out and started painting,

 antique ornamental board before

First. I gave the base of the board a bit of lightening with French linen from Annie Sloan Chalk Paints. Then I dry brushed and highlighted a lot of the raised ornamentation in Annie Sloan Old White.

Old White chalk paint drybrush on a decorative board

Paris Gray and Duck Egg Blue Chalk Paint on a Decorative Piece

Adding some Paris Gray and Duck Egg Blue

Then I took a little bit of Paris Gray and some Duck Egg Blue Chalk Paint and highlighted some of the raised areas that were more floral (the leaves and the fleur de lis parts). It needed a little extra “oomph” so I used some Verdi Gris colors from Faux Effects – their mid tone and lightest blue green colors. This added a little more life to the piece.

adding verdi gris coloring to a decorative wooden piece

Adding some Verdi Gris



adding verdi gris coloring to a decorative piece

To finish it off, I took some dark brown faux crème color (from Faux Effects – or you could use a dark brown acrylic paint) and added some age and darkness in the recessed parts of the piece – and a bit on some of the leaves as well.

decorative chalk painted fragment in a home setting

I am not sure where it will go exactly – perhaps in my Master Bedroom or bath…but here it is temporarily in my kitchen.

closeup of decorative board with Annie Sloan chalk paints

I love doing these ornamental fragments – they can be placed in narrow areas of your home…above doorways, which is what I will be doing with that other board (so stay tuned!). These lovely architectural elements seem to be plentiful in antique shops because they have been parted from their original sources. They add some history and heritage to your home.

What have you painted lately?  Have you picked up any architectural fragments like these?  Let me know!

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10 Comments | Posted in Annie Sloan's chalk paint, Decorative Finishes, interior design, Makeovers, Paint, Tutorials

Help! I’m Having a Problem Picking Paint Colors


What’s Involved in a Paint Color Consultation?


I have received a few questions about how I go about doing a color consultation for my clients. Instead of answering separately, I thought it best to do a blogpost about it…so here goes!


paint brushes with paint


Q: I am having trouble picking some colors for the first floor of my home. Can you tell me how I should prepare for a color consult with you and what should I expect – what’s your process?

Hi – this is a great question. I do things a little differently than some color consultants, so I am glad to tell you a little about my process.

First we’ll start with how you can prepare for it. I will have a phone conversation with you before I come over. I want to know which rooms you are having the most trouble with and I ask you why you think you are finding them difficult. I then ask questions like these…


  • What are the functions of the rooms…who uses them (ages, gender) and at what time of day?
  • What mood would you like to create in these spaces? Peacefulness…romance…happiness?
  • What colors are you most drawn to and what colors are in your wardrobe? Are you more partial to light colors? Do dark colors frighten you?
  • How much (or little) light is there in these rooms? Natural light…incandescent etc?
  • What’s the style of the room – are you happy with that or would you rather an updated look?
  • What are your feelings about the spaces you need help with – does the room feel cramped…too boring…too huge…too long…too short?
  • What flooring (and other items in the room) are staying?


relaxed sage wall in great room

Start pulling images of rooms you love

I then ask you to start pulling some images of rooms that you are really drawn to.  You can pin them to a Pinterest board (best if you share it with me online!) or else you can gather images from magazines and we can go over these rooms when I come for the appointment.

Places you've travelled to and loved can also give you inspiration

Places you’ve travelled to and loved can also give you inspiration

If possible, prior to our meeting, I ask you to send me pictures of the actual rooms you would like my help with.

a before picture of a kitchen before a color consultation

Send me a picture of the room(s) you are having trouble picking a color for

 All of this gives me a great background so I can help you fully.  I need to know as much as I can about your likes and dislikes…what flooring, fabrics are staying and exactly how these rooms are being used, by who and when.

When I arrive for our meeting, I take a walk through the rooms you want me to help you with. I usually will start with the most problematic room (most times it’s the kitchen because it has several finishes and costly items that can’t be changed and need to be considered). I look at the adjacent spaces and jot down ideas about creating flow from one room to the other. I take note of all the flooring and fabrics of items that are staying – and then we sit down to talk.

beautiful wood flooring in a home

Expensive items, like flooring that won’t be changed, needs to be a big consideration in choice of color


If you’ve shared your Pinterest boards with me, I have a really good idea of what you love and what you are going for before I arrive. If not, I look over your inspiration photos and we talk about your dreams for the spaces you want to change in your home. I bring actual samples of painted boards to the meeting and together we examine them to see if they work in your room(s) and if they resonate with you.


I find that a color consultation is best when the outcome is a blend of what the client loves and what works best in the space. I always educate the client in terms of cool colors vs. warm colors…the importance of understanding undertones and the importance of knowing what elements in the room support or negate a particular color choice etc. So I feel that when the client is fully engaged – and understands why some colors work and others don’t – then there’s no problem bringing the color consultation results to fruition in the home. Sometimes (well…a lot of times) a client may love a particular color (let’s say, blue) but the flooring and fabrics and finishes in the room fight with that color. But once the client sees and understands the reasons behind some color choices – they are in full agreement and they are so excited for things to happen!


beuatiful neutral colors in an elegant bedroom

Neutral paint colors in a lovely Master Bedroom


A More Creative Color Consultation Process


Many times I find and specify a Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams color that is perfect for the client. Sometimes, I need to create a custom color – so I take a paint color and add several tints to it to get to the “right color” for the space. A yellow paint that you picked and loved in the paint store (but it’s too primary and bright in your room) may need some tweaking with a violet tint to tone it down a bit. I use my artist’s knowledge to customize a color that is perfect for you and your space.

And then, there are times when I need to create a custom faux finish for a client in order to bring together several disparate items in the room (that’s a topic for another blogpost – which I will do in detail very soon!). When there are several elements in a room that have varying or jarring undertones (many kitchens have this issue), a static paint color will not do. So I create a glaze or a plaster that blends two or three hues together to solve the problem. Decorative finishes (while beautiful in and of themselves) are problem solvers – especially when you have competing undertones (a warm cabinet color and a cool marble or granite) in a space.


custom pearl metallic plaster

A custom pearl plaster was used in this bath because all the static paint colors looked wrong or too boring

custom wall finish in a beautiful guest bath

The antique mirror in this guest bath was the inspiration for the custom wall finish created by The Colorful Bee

But all clients of mine will get a few large samples of the proposed colors – the actual painted versions. You can only make a qualified decision with the real thing – not a small, postage stamp sized photocopy of the color (as in the fan deck).  I advise the client to put these samples in the corners and next to their windows…beside their chairs, sofas, artwork …next to their moldings and flooring etc. I want the client to “love” the color – morning, noon and night. I want my clients to notice how paint colors change from break of day until they go to bed at night. Most clients will be able to tell if these samples are or not “working” in their spaces.

painted samples of paint colors

I always do a follow up with the client to make sure that everything blends and goes with all the elements in their spaces. I recommend qualified and insured painters that I have worked with for many years to do the work. Most clients go with “my guys,” but some have their own painters that they trust to do the painting.

metallic plaster on walls and ceiling

The painters I recommend are neat and they do a perfect job every time. Here we are doing a beautiful metallic plaster in an entryway ceiling and walls

I hope that this helps you. Let me know if this has answered your questions. If you have any other thoughts or questions, please let me know.

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2 Comments | Posted in Benjamin Moore, Business, Color Roundup, Decorative Finishes, interior design, Paint

A Winter Mantel and an Online Class in Photography


adding books to a winter mantel

I was so late in taking down my Christmas decorations…and I finally decided that today I was going to de-Christmas my mantel as well. I’m still loving the wintery look, so I used some greenery, pinecones, candles and mercury votive holders but I added some books to the mix this time. Winter is a time when I read a lot more than I do the rest of the year, so the decoration fits my personality in the great room.

mantel decorated with antique books

 Putting my favorite $12 sunburst mirror in the center, I filled out the rest of the mantel with a collection of antique books and some “new” antique books, candles and evergreen sprigs from my backyard.

winter mantel with sunburst mirror candles and books

 winter mantel with books and candlesI am taking an online class in Photography now and specifically for the camera that I have – the Nikon D3100. As I was going through the class, the instructor was teaching how to change the White Balance, ISO and many other settings on the camera. He made some suggestions on settings to change also. So, now I am not so happy with most of my shots. I had been pretty happy – although I knew that I needed to learn a lot more about photography (which is why I decided to take the class!). Shooting in Manual Mode has its challenges…but I hope to one day conquer it!

fireplace mantel with candles, books and mirror

These are nighttime images, so the glow of the candles warmed up the shots a lot, which I do kind of like because it’s closer to what it actually looks like in the room. I had to also change the ISO setting (I had it 100, so I upped to 400). – the higher the ISO, the more sensitive the camera will be to low light situations. You don’t want to use a high ISO number because the picture will get too grainy then.

candle covered with faux tin ceiling paper and twine

 But I had so much trouble with the White Balance – I kept getting cooler “green” shots and that was so wrong. I realized I had to fiddle with (notice my grand photography lingo here!)…or rather “adjust” the colors on the White Balance setting. I had had it on auto – but that wasn’t working. I finally changed it to shooting in “incandescent” because I did have some lights on…and then there were the candles! I warmed up the shots by adjusting the temperature setting that comes up.  

mantel with pinecones, books and candles

I have a long way to go but hopefully you will learn some things along with me. Let me know if some of my photography issues (and how I figure out what to do!) is useful to you. I know there are bloggers out there still using Iphones and point and shoot cameras…who do want to venture into the DSLR world. Let me hear from you – I will post what I learn!

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6 Comments | Posted in Holiday Decorating, interior design, Makeovers, Tutorials

Putting Christmas Away

Packing Up My Favorite Christmas Decorations


Christmas decorations on a console in the living room

Even the lamps got into the Christmas spirit!

I know I’m a bit late in doing this, but I am only getting to put away my Christmas decorations. I put them up so late – Christmas Eve (trees and everything…and even some decorating Christmas morning before my family came over for dinner that afternoon) – so I just had to leave them up a little longer. It’s a sad time for me because I love these silly little trinkets (oh grow up, Linda)…but it’s true.

fauc poinsettia and tassel on a lamp

So, as I am getting ready to pack everything away, I thought I’d take some shots of my favorite things before I say goodbye to them until next year. This will also be a reminder for my husband who stows the boxes in our attic and swears that he has taken down every one each Christmas – yet I know which ornaments are still missing!

monkey play bongos Christmas ornament

But with everything put away, I’ll have a clean slate to begin some new projects in our house. I have a lot of ideas running around in my head – but with all the Christmas stuff still up it’s hard to plan! So goodbye Hula Christmas monkey…

horse Christmas ornament in tree

See you next year old horse…you’re off til next year…

Racoon ornament in Christmas tree

Well Rocky Raccoon is going back in his room…maybe he’ll find Gideon’s Bible!

florals and faux poinsettias in Christmas tree

Packing up the florals, ribbons and faux poinsettias…

 scrolled acanthus ornaments with Christmas tree and lights in background

Goodbye Christmas…til next year!

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4 Comments | Posted in Holiday Decorating, interior design, My Life

Color Roundup: Using Radiant Orchid in Interior Design

My Take on Radiant Orchid

 Radiant Orchid

I have always been a fan of this color – whether a more or less intense or more red or violet versions. Color experts say it’s an artistic color (I would agree!) and that it symbolizes innovation, creativity and originality. Yup – in total agreement. This girl loved it so much that she dyed her communion dress orchid! A few days after the ceremony, I had my mother buy some Rit Dye to make a beautiful princess dress in that color. I was in color heaven!

What I don’t agree on is some of the statements I see in many articles on how to use it. I read today a comment from an expert who said to just use it in small doses – like adding toss pillows in the color. That’s fine if you have a mostly neutral room with a white or off white sofa or perhaps taupe walls with a chocolate sofa…but there are many instances that this toss pillow idea just won’t work! The colors in your room have to blend, at least, with this very brilliant hue.

Here are some great ways to use this color in interior design…

 using Radiant Orchid in interior design

It works in small doses – with grays and other neutrals. Above, Holly Kidwell used it to punch up the color in this lovely bedroom.

Jamie Drake's us of Radiant Orchid

Designer Jamie Drake used varying shades and tints of the color in this vibrant living room. Notice how he used the color to have your eye flow from one spot to another in the room.

Radiant Orchid as an accent color by Jamie Drake

It works as an accent color. Here’s Jamie Drake again using it in a closet – a very elegant closet.

Radiant orchid in a living room

Designer Wendi Young used a slightly more violet version of the color in this lovely living room. I love the walls – a dusty pink faux finish. The mix of golds and creams and the punch of deep purple in the accessories works beautifully.

one spot of radiant orchid in a room

Anna Antunes shows us how just a few touches of radiant orchid can take a neutral room from nice to beautiful.

Radiant Orchid artwork in a neutral room

You’d like to be more bold with the color but you don’t want the commitment on your walls? Look for a beautiful piece of art that contains the color of the year!

Radiant orchid in a home office

If you want to be more daring, think about using it as a wall color. Here designer and color expert, Lisa Teague, uses it in her home office. A creative person can really benefit from a big dose of this inspiring color. On your bedroom walls – maybe not. You might have trouble sleeping. But in a space you use to dream up ideas and designs – for sure! I love the hue with those bright touches of orange – so vibrant.

Lisa Teague in a more violet version of radiant orchid

Designer, Lisa Teague

You see, no shy violet here.  Lisa practices what she preaches – in a sweater that’s a more violet version of Radiant Orchid!

I still wear the color (mostly since I became a blonde – it seems to go with my hair color and complexion). Since I have a fair complexion and my hair is blonde – so hardly any contrast going on – a soft version of the color suits me the best.

radiant orchid sweater and learning screenprinting

Me, learning silk screening  from Lucretia Moroni of Fatto a Mano in NYC

a radiant orchid sweater

Wearing the same sweater, here I am teaching a class on Color and Design

Here I am wearing a light tint of the color. I wore this sweater a lot – until my husband put it in the dryer and shrunk it! It has been nearly impossible to find this color anywhere in the stores. Now – I guess it will become easier. What I love about it is that it is a warmer color – not cool as in a totally lilac hue. Once I wore the sweater to a cocktail reception in Floral Park NY for Melanie Royals of Royal Design Studio. She came up to me and told me it was the perfect color for my complexion. Thanks Melanie…I agree!


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Leave a comment | Posted in Color Roundup, interior design, Paint