3 key questions to help you declutter

Okay look, the hard truth is that most of us don’t need better organizing systems. Most of us just need to get rid of STUFF. Now, you probably know that, and yet it can feel nearly impossible to actually declutter. Not only is it hard to make the time to do it, but then once you start you feel overwhelmed. Next thing you know you are reaching for the cookies and the TV remote, and you’ve barely made a dent.

Aside from lighting a match and sending it all up in smoke (not recommended) how can you more effectively and efficiently declutter? The next time you find twenty minutes to sort through some stuff, ask yourself the following three questions to help you make fast and effective decisions:

1. Could someone else use this better than me?

The impulse to hold on to something just because you *might* use it may feel thrifty, but it’s rooted in fear. Fear that you may need it and won’t have it. Fear that you can’t access that again if you need it. And meanwhile, while you are sitting there afraid, hoarding all those things you *might* need, someone else might be thinking how nice it would be to have very item you’re not even using. So turn down the dial on your fear, turn up the dial on your generosity, and set that item free. Trust that the Universe will provide when it’s your turn to need something.

2. if I didn’t already own this, would I buy it again?

We are all suckers for (more…)


SPRING CLEANING: going deeper

Adulthood. Ugh, right? Bills, creaky bones, stubborn fat cells, job losses… not to mention death and taxes. If adulthood has got you feeling a little beaten down and battered, why not let your soul take a long, hot shower? I mean, if you’d just run a marathon you’d hop in the tub for a soak, right? Well, if life has been a bit of a battle it’s time for more than a “spring clean.” It’s time to shake things up and really move on. A while that could mean getting a new job, or a new hair cut, I suggest starting a little closer to home. Literally.

How to move on, without moving out  


Pick a room in your house, and (more…)


Design yourself a better night’s sleep

I don’t have to tell you how important sleep is to your health. You probably already know. But in this crazy, hectic world in which we live, it can be hard to get enough sleep, much less good sleep. The great news is that you have a LOT of control over this, and it goes far beyond your ability to pop a pill. So what can you do?

1) Create an environment that reduces your stress (instead of adding stress to it)!

2) Design an space that gives you the best shot at actually sleeping through the night.

3) Make some lifestyle changes that support, instead of sabotage, your efforts at getting some good zzz’s.

1) reduce stress

Stress doesn’t just keep you up at night because your mind is racing. It actually triggers a hormonal and chemical effect that is designed to keep you awake. Remember, your body doesn’t distinguish between the stress of being chased by a predator and the stress of chasing a deadline. (more…)


The perfect color for a fresh start: pantone’s color of the year

While I’m not usually one to follow trends, I actually like the philosophical stance behind Pantone’s annual color pick. It’s not necessarily meant to be the color everyone should run out and paint their bathroom (though maybe you should – check out the *adorable* bathtub below!) but rather a symbolic “color snapshot of what we see taking place in our global culture… an expression of a mood and an attitude.”


This year’s color pick is “Greenery,” a joyful, zesty new-growth green that signals the end of winter and the start of spring. Why pick that color for 2017? Well, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s a little crazy in the world right now. Families are at odds with each other politically, countries are picking sides and drawing lines in the sand, and everything feels just a little bit scarier and fragile, especially if you spend any time watching the news (not recommended).

Greenery symbolizes new beginnings. It’s about taking a big, deep breath and trusting that we are going to be okay, that we can start again. And of course at Rebecca West Interiors we are all about new beginnings, so I give this color pick two thumbs up. I mean, it’s really about choosing a positive attitude and challenging all that stress and fear, right? (more…)


A table for one in love-crazy February

The month of February can feel overwhelming and lonely for the single gal or guy with all its focus on couples and love and dinner-for-two. Instead of going crazy looking at all the mating-messages, why not use this month as an opportunity to surround yourself with the things you love and create a home, and a life, that feels incredibly “you”?

 

Step one: clear your space of any stuff in your home that belonged to, or came from, anyone you no longer care to have in your life. Artwork you chose with an ex, mementos of trips you took together, gifts or books, clothing (especially lingerie), even the bedding itself. Take an inventory of your space and single out what might be trapping your thoughts and keeping in you to past relationships.

Remember, there are no “rules” about what you “should” let go of! If a present from an ex still brings you joy, there is no need to ditch it. But if the things around you, from furniture to photos, bring you down, get that stuff out of your space! It’s silly to surround yourself with things that make you feel miserable.

(more…)


To clean or not to clean: do you really need to declutter?

Is it that time again? That time when you feel like you “should” declutter, “should” clean up, “should” get rid of all that stuff in your house? Well, before you dive in, let’s see if you really need to let go, or if you actually just need to show off your beloved stuff a little better!

Recently I enjoyed a fun and fantastic {QA Session} with a super-cool gal named Cindy. She wanted me to figure out some ways to pull together what she already owned in a more serene and visually appealing way so that she’d feel “calmer, more organized, and more peaceful” in her already-beautiful space. She was already living in her dream home in her dream location, but didn’t feel like she was doing the place justice.

When I arrived at her home the first thing she did (like soooo many of my clients) was apologize for the clutter in the space. Pretty typical, since everyone assumes that, as an interior designer, I’m judging them. (For the record, I’m not.)

The thing is… I didn’t feel overwhelmed by clutter in her space. Was it Pinterest-perfect? No. Were there some changes she could make to achieve her goals of being a bit more organized and at peace? Of course (even *my* home is ever-evolving and organic!). But where I’d felt near-despair from other clients at the clutter in their space, I didn’t feel that from this lovely gal. So I asked her a question: did she *actually* feel there was too much clutter in the space, or did she feel like she *should* feel there was too much clutter in the space? (more…)


How to be happy: stay out of the rabbit hole of too many options!

If you’ve read Greg McKeown’s fantastic book Essentialism then, like me, you probably suffer from shiny-object syndrome. You are regularly tempted by all the fun “opportunities” that come your way, eager to say yes! yes! yes! I mean, why else would you have read book that helps you say no?

It also likely means that you overanalyze, over-research, and, as a result are over-stretched. How do you stop all that insanity? According to McKeown it’s pretty simple. It simply means “cutting out some really good opportunities.” It means saying “no,” “not right now,” and “nope, I’m satisfied with what I’ve got.” It can be tough to do it, but of course he’s right.

This basic truth applies every time we face a decision, and let me tell you, you’re gonna face a LOT of decisions when it’s time to remodel or redesign your home! Which color did you want? Which cabinet style do you prefer? Which couch is cutest? Did you want feather down or polyester? Piping or a topstitch? Double pane windows or triple? Did you decide on door pulls???  It goes on… and on… and on!

Unless you thrive on all things design, and unless you can (more…)


Freedom to choose: Cutting down on all the noise in modern life

 

Have you noticed all the choices you get to make every day? Not just one or two choices. Lots of choices! Choice at every newsstand (or news site), on every grocery store shelf, and every flick of a finger on a dating app. Rich or poor, at all budget levels, we can choose from dozens of brands of ketchup, hundreds of models of cars, and thousands of colors in everything from neckties to handbags.

We can choose what we wear, who we marry, and where we live. And from this plethora of choice comes a very modern problem. The very thing that looks like freedom — the freedom to choose — creates, instead, paralysis.

Study after study shows that we make poorer decisions in the face of too many options. And that’s if we make a decision at all. Often we just get overwhelmed and we either choose something by default (*not* saying “no” to taking your boss’s call on a Sunday somehow leads to “yes”) or we don’t make a choice at all. Have you ever shopped at a big clothing store, tried on dozens of pairs of jeans, and left with nothing? Somehow, none of them were right “enough.”

Is choice bad? Of course not. Who isn’t happier living in a time when women (or heck, men) can choose whether they wear jeans, or a skirt, or a kaftan, in the first place. Yea freedom! But all that choice creates a lot of static, and makes it nearly impossible to discern the important choices from the unimportant ones. As Greg McKeown shares in his brilliant book Essentialism: “We have lost our ability to filter what is important and what isn’t. Psychologists call this ‘decision fatigue’: the more choices we are forces to make, the more the quality of our decisions deteriorates.”

The key in this modern age is to manage all the noise. Adapt filters to sort through all the chaos so that you aren’t constantly bombarded by useless information. Limit your choices. Choose between three flavors of jelly instead of fifty, and the options feel (more…)


10 priceless gifts that cost almost nothing

The gift giving season can be tough. It can be hard to know what to get for the people we love. Either we don’t know what they need, or they already have everything they want. So what do we do? If you’re like many, you turn to a gift card, but it always feels flat, impersonal and, no matter how much you spend, lacking in value. What to do?

Why not rethink gift-giving this year? Why not give the people around you what we all need? Why not give the gift of Time? What could be more precious? But it’s not just the gift that matters, it’s also in how it’s packaged. Half the time it’s not that a gift certificate is unappreciated, but sticking a card in an envelope means that the joy of unwrapping a gift is missing. And that anticipation is half the fun!

So, here are ten awesome gift ideas that will not only make modern life easier, but will also be a joy to open! You could offer to do each of the following yourself for a nearly no-cost gift or, if budget allows, buy a professional gift certificate and tuck it in with the gift listed below:

inexpensive gift car detailing

1: CAR DETAILING

Who wouldn’t love to have someone thoroughly clean their car? Why not offer your services (or those of a pro like Mr. Detail or The Detailors) to detail their ride and make it sparkle? Another option would be a subscription to unlimited washes at a place like Brown Bear Car Wash. No matter how you plan to actually clean the car, make this gift fun to open by buying a toy car (any matchbox car will work, but we found the blue Camry above on Amazon) and tuck it in a box along with a gift certificate like the one below.

car-detail-gift-certificate

By packaging it as something to open you elevate a simple gift certificate into something fun and memorable for Christmas morning.

Here are nine other of my favorite ideas:

2: PERSONAL ASSISTANT – the gift of time

Wrap up an hourglass or a fun and sassy to do list along with a gift certificate to be someone’s personal assistant for the day, or buy them a professional service like those offered by Sondra Firestein at Pursuit of Seattle. With a gift like this, you really are giving the gift of time!

personal-assistant-gift-certificate

3: BUBBLE BATHS

Many busy moms would kill for two hours of quiet alone time in a warm bathtub full of bubbles. This is an especially nice gift if the bathroom has been remodeled in the past few years but that pretty new tub hasn’t seen its share of use! Tuck a cute rubber ducky into a box with the gift certificate below (and make sure you have some bubble bath on hand to deliver on your promise)!

bubble-bath-gift-certificate

4: MEAL PLANNING

For anyone who has everything except time, and who loves to cook but needs it to be fast and wants it to be flavorful, why not give the gift of weekly meal planning? Pack up a super cute new cooking utensil like this adorable spatula, and then either offer your services to prep and shop for four week’s of meal planning, or give a subscription to a planning service like CookSmarts (I use this and have loved every meal we’ve made!) or a delivery service like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh.

meal-planning-gift-certificate

5: CARPET CLEANING

This is one of those things that we always mean to get to, but somehow it keeps getting pushed to the back of the list. Help someone freshen up their home by either offering to rent a carpet cleaner and clean them yourself, or make the call to have it done by the pros at Alpine Cleaning. Make sure that you offer to move the furniture for the recipient too – you want this gift to be as hassle free and appreciated as possible!

To make this one fun to open on Christmas morning, we went online and found this adorable Persian rug mousepad. Tuck that in a box with the gift certificate underneath. At first they’ll probably be confused as to why you gifted them a rug mousepad, but once they see the gift certificate they’ll get a good giggle and have a great service to look forward to in January!

carpet-cleaning-gift-certificate

6: WINDOW CLEANING

This is one I’ve asked for (and gotten) in the past. Sparkling clean windows always feel like a luxury to me, but I’m rarely able to make the time to do it myself. Offer to  DIY or hire a pro like Paneless Window Cleaning (I love their name!) or Husser Window Cleaning. To make this one a fun gift you could either find an old window at a place like Ballard Reuse for an impressively large package under the tree, or find a mirror or picture frame with shutters that looks like a window. If it’s a picture frame, you could put the gift certificate right inside the frame!

gift-certifcate-for-window-cleaning

7: MOTHER’S HELPER FOR A DAY

My favorite way to package this one is to tuck a babysitting or Mother’s helper gift certificate into a bodice-ripping romance novel with a note that this will give them something to do while someone else watches the kids. There are plenty of books to be found at your local goodwill if you don’t want to pay full price, especially if the mom in your life is likely to do something else with her precious time off. This one is an easy one to DIY, or you can find help on a site like Care.com.

mothers-helper-gift-certificate

8: honey do

If your loved one has a list of things around that house that need to get done, why not offer up your own handy hands, or buy them some time with Kelley at She Fixed It, or the folks at We Honey Do or Housecalls Handyman? Make this one extra fun by tucking the gift certificate inside this fantastic book: Porn for Women (don’t worry, yes! it’s safe and family friendly to click through on that link).  Good for a giggle and your friend can finally get things done!

handyman-gift-certifcate

9: pick a color

Know someone with a mosaic of color swatches on their walls? If they are facing a color crisis, save them from that stress and worry with a professional color consultation. You could buy a gift certificate for a Quick Action Session with me or a consultation with someone like my colleague Nancy Hellstrom at Interior Shift. If they have a passion for design and wish to do it better, why not tuck that gift certificate inside a book that will help them design with more confidence, like my own Happy Starts At Home or Ellen DeGeneres’ fab book Home.

color-consult-gift-certificate

10: House keeping

Last but not least, let’s not forget that nearly everyone would love the luxury of having someone else scrub the toilets! If you feel ready to offer up your own elbow grease, why not tuck a spray can of Pledge into a wine bottle bag? They’ll be confused and surprised when they pull out a cleaning product instead of a bottle of wine, and then delighted when they realize it’s not for them to use! Don’t want to DIY and ready to spend a little more? Offer a few months with a service like Molly Maids or a local company like the The Cleaning Valkyries.

house-keeping-gift-certificate

Nearly every one of these gifts could cost you next to nothing if you offer to do it yourself, or could make a professional gift certificate feel like a fun and personal gift. Either way, you avoid cluttering up the houses of your loved ones with stuff they really didn’t need, doing both the friendship, and the planet, a world of good.

May your holidays be happy!

Rebecca


design for couples: body language

As the newest design assistant at RWI, I’m consistently amazed at how much confidence Rebecca’s clients have in her. Part of it is because she understands how to read between the lines. The other day, we were helping a client pick out a paint color. Within a few minutes of meeting this person Rebecca pulled out a wonderful green with cool, blue undertones that the client absolutely fell in love with!

blue-green

Later, as we drove away, I asked her how she instantly picked the best color for the client. Rebecca explained that she was both listening to the client and watching their body language. As she fanned past the blue-green paint swatches, the client leaned in said a quiet “Ooo!” That told her everything she needed to know.

Rebecca uses this talent for reading people a lot, and it’s especially handy when trying to get a couple on the same page. It’s common knowledge that (more…)


Avoiding Scary Design Lingo

As the newest assistant at RWI I’m having fun learning the difference between real-world design for clients and fake-world design for school projects. One of the differences that I’ve noticed is that clear communication is essential to a good design experience, and that rarely includes fancy-pants designer-talk.

With a year left of college studying for my interior design degree I am amazied at how often I see myself and my fellow students choose a design solution but be unable to articulate why it works. To cover our inexperience we start using designer-y buzzwords like “wayfinding,” “C.O.M.” and “bespoke”.

what does "com" mean in interior design

Now, to be fair, these are not bad words – design lingo has its place. But one of the things I love about working at RWI is that Rebecca tries hard to avoid design lingo when talking to our clients – she knows it often impedes good communication. Instead she shares ideas and styles through plain language and visuals and always returns to the client’s original vision for their space.

So here’s my confession: despite being on the RWI team for a little while, the other day I went off on a tangent talking to a friend about a mid-century modern table I loved, not realizing I had left them in the dust because “mid-century modern” wasn’t a term they had encountered before.

mid century coffee table

This moment with my friend was a perfect illustration of why Rebecca’s communication style is so important. It opens a dialogue about the design, rather than shutting someone down by throwing random lingo at them and making them feel dumb; exactly what I realized I had done to my friend (sorry pal!).

So here’s my point: If you find yourself working with a designer who seems to be trying to impress you with their fancy-pants vocabulary it might just be that (like me) they’ve forgotten that not everyone is fluent in design-speak. Don’t be afraid to speak up and say “Excuse me, what do you mean by “roman shade?”

Remember that it’s your home and your money and working with a designer should leave you feeling *more* empowered and able to make confident decisions about your home. Now that I’ve seen Rebecca at work I know this is a totally achievable goal.  I say we aim for uncluttered communication in every interaction, not just those involving home design!

May your home always be happy and your communication clear!

Sarah
Team Member at RWI


Breaking Rules: Dark Colors, Small Spaces

My first day on the job at RWI I realized that Rebecca encourages people to break the “rules” of interior design – at least once we understand the rules in the first place. That first day of work I was with Rebecca on one of her Quick Action Sessions and she suggested a dark paint color for the client’s tiny powder room.

The color fit perfectly with the client’s fun and eclectic vibe. I wondered, though. Wouldn’t the darker color in the small space make the room feel cramped? But then I listened as Rebecca explained to the client that the other finishes in the room (white vanity, white medicine cabinet, and white toilet) would not only provide the brightness needed to keep the room from feeling like a cave, but that the contrast between the white items and dark paint would actually make the bright elements look even brighter.

Better yet, the dark color would behave somewhat like a shadow, receding from view and actually making the space look BIGGER! Then she called on the power of Google to share some examples with the client to illustrate the design idea. Turns out, this is a secret a number of people have discovered…

Marina Home
Powder Room by JL Interior Design

The key to good design, Rebecca reminded us, is (more…)


Empty Nesting and Multi-function Rooms: Is a murphy bed right for you?

Fall means the kids go back to school and, for those of you with college-bound children, an opportunity to do something new with those now-empty rooms. If you’re not ready to tell Junior he no longer has a place to sleep in your home, but you really are ready to have an office of your own, why not create a convertible office/guest room?

CONSIDER a Murphy Bed

Although they can have a high price tag, Murphy (or wall beds) can be worth it for the right space. If you know that the room will be used as an office 75% or more of the year, then it can be a great choice for your new office. As compared to a permanent, regular bed, a wall bed gives you much more use of your room for things like a foldable sewing table (in addition to your permanent desk), or open floor space for yoga, mediation, and stretching.

Boutique Queen Wall Bed at Costco

When the kids come home for the holidays you can (more…)


Renovate for Resale

Sometimes having a happy home means moving out of the home you’re currently living in. And that usually brings up a to-do list of minor (or major) fixes before selling to get the maximum profit from your home. Do it right and you’ll not only get to your new home quickly, but have extra cash on had for creating your new happy home!

Home For Sale Real Estate Sign in Front of New House.

Found on Bigstock Images

Don’t spend more than you need to! Remember the goal here is to create a clean, ready-to-use home for new buyers! Ask your realtor about standards in surrounding homes and mimic those standards in your own home.

Interior 

— Fill cracks/holes in the walls and ceilings, then paint with light-neutral color to refresh the walls. Our favorites from Benjamin Moore are: (more…)


Travel smarter, better, and cheaper!

I love to travel, and it’s easier than ever to reach the far corners of the globe! Of course, while globalization has made the world more accessible, it has also made it more vanilla. From the ubiquitous McDonalds and Starbucks, to the sameness of EveryHotelEverywhere, you could spend two weeks in another country and still feel like you never left home. How unfortunate!

Well, I don’t know about you, but that isn’t okay with me. I WANT MY TRAVEL ADVENTURE TO START AS SOON AS I OPEN MY EYES! I want the place where I wake up to be as much a part of the flavor of my trip as the museums I visit and the food I eat.

Happily, we live in the day of AirBNB and VRBO, so there is no excuse not immerse yourself in a global adventure right in your bedroom.

Even better, traveling this way can *save you money* and *keep you healthy*! Seriously! How is this possible, you ask?

Torre

The 13th Century watchtower we stayed in while in Tuscany. Seriously.

SAVE MONEY

  • The cost of having your own apartment is usually equivalent, or less than, the cost of a 3-star hotel room, and usually has more character. But they aren’t the same, because (more…)

Trend Alert: Mismatched Dining Room Chairs

Have you noticed the trend of mismatched dining room chairs? it may sound odd if you’re used to matching dining sets, but once you see some of the fantastic examples on Pinterest you’ll fall in love just like I did! It really is a fun eclectic look that, done right, looks fantastic! Want to see how?

Same chair, different color Using these chairs I found on Chairish you can easily spray paint each chair a different color and place them around a neutral table, as seen in this awesome example on Pinterest!

EXAMP 1 Pinterest x

Found on Pinterest

different chairs, same color Completely opposite of example #1, find different chairs like this one, this one, or this one and (more…)


Pet (and kid) friendly carpets and floors

Are you, like me, blessed with a dog that is, while lovable, getting older and liable to mess in the house? With our little guy (Spike, to the right) hitting 14 years old, he’s not as able to get outside before he poops, so we do a lot of picking up of poo around here!

Now, when I first chose the wood floors and carpets for our house, it really wasn’t with an aging pet in mind, but with Spike in his advanced years, I am SO glad I made the choices I did. Would you like to know what pet-friendly choices I made? (more…)


THE ROAD TO A HAPPY HOME

What do you mean “happy starts at home”?

Have you noticed the plethora of get-happy-fast and get-organized-now books on the bookshelves? We all seem to be chasing the dream of joy, simplicity, and contentment, and if the popularity of Pinterest and HGTV tell us anything, it’s that we crave that at-home feeling and want in on the secret of the happy life and happy home.

Over the next several months we are going to explore the idea of home and how it can help improve our lives not just within the four walls of our house, but also in our relationships, our health and well-being, our financial and professional success, and more.

home and happiness concept - smiling young woman lying on sofa a

Today we begin with a look at the whole picture. Let’s think about what is really in our house in the first place, and consider why it matters.

What we have

Where did the things in your home come from? How did they physically get into your personal space? Did you buy them? Were they hand-me-downs? Antiques from within the family? Gifts from in-laws? Left-overs from previous relationships?

Things tend to show up in our homes, sometimes on purpose, sometimes without our consent. The one constant, however, is (more…)




Book Journey: Making time to write

The #1 reason most books never get written? Because it can be so darn hard to make the time to write! Even if you are a driven, ambitious, determined person (I am) you probably work best with a deadline (I do), and the problem with deciding you are going to write a book is that there is rarely anyone else setting a proper deadline for you. Without a deadline, even the best of us discover the habit of procrastination.

[If you’d like to take a moment to procrastinate learn more about procrastination, check out Tim Urban’s Ted Talk. It’s fab!]

But let’s assume that you actually want to beat the instant gratification monkey (you did watch the Ted Talk, right?) and write your book. How can you make the time to get it done?

To put it simply, you have to find the strategy that works for you. I’m going to tell you what I did, but that doesn’t mean it is the right strategy for you. Sorry, you’ll have to do your own homework 😉

So, how did I make the time to write a book?

I ran away.tree house writers escape

While I know that some people have the discipline to write for thirty minutes every morning, or spend Thursday afternoons typing out a chapter, I do not. I can barely get myself to exercise regularly. I suffer from both snooze-button-syndrome and shiny-object-syndrome. Getting out of bed is a struggle, and once I do get up, if I were to try to write either at home or in my office I’d be gripped by a sudden need to clean my office/look at Facebook/call my long-lost-Aunt. For me, to focus, I must get away.

The problem is that I can’t just escape to a hotel. Cheap hotels are scary. Nice hotels are expensive. And all hotels are beige.

I can’t write in beige.  (more…)


Inspire your home by getting away (virtually)

Eager for an adventure? Even if you aren’t able to hop a plane this moment and get away, taking a virtual vacation can be a great way to explore new ideas for your own home.

If you are ready to “bon voyage” then I can’t wait to share these places with you and encourage you to leave boring hotel-beige long behind! I believe the place you sleep should add as much to your travel adventure as the location itself!

Favorite #1: This Amsterdam rental proves that bold lighting can make a room! Forget boring light fixtures. Why not make your lighting double as art in your room? It might mean spending up on your chandelier, but you’ll need very little else in the room to make a bold statement!

bold orange light in eclectic apartment

AirBNB in Amsterdam

Favorite #2: This Paris rental shows that pink is perfectly awesome and proves that a splash of color can be a game-changer! An all-neutral space can easily go too plain and look like any other impersonal space.  This bold splash of raspberry (more…)


Eclectic Style – how to shop for yourself and your home

Many of you know that about three years ago I banished black from my wardrobe (believe it or not, I was just featured in an article in Success Magazine for this very fact!). Since I made this change I’ve made sure that my home, my clothes, and even my car reflect my love of color. Having that cohesiveness makes it easier to really be me. 

I was chatting about that with my colleague Tannya Bernadette (a fashion consultant and personal shopper) and we started talking about how our home style can be influenced by our personal style, and vice versa. Out of that conversation came this post from the lovely Tannya:

You’ve probably heard “eclectic” used to describe a design style, but what does it really mean? Does it mean you can wear anything you want? We’ll kind of, but there is a line between thrown-together and thoughtfully-mixed.

An eclectic style, whether in your home or in your wardrobe, requires décor and accessories that inspire and really speak to you. Pieces must tell stories, prints must catch the eye, and designs must be unordinary. Nothing is likely to match but, when well-done, things will relate, just like in a wonderfully led orchestra. An eclectic home might include abstract paintings, Chinoiserie wallpaper, un-matching (yet cohesive) furniture, and a mix of prints. An eclectic wardrobe might hold special pieces of jewelry from various designers, printed blouses in vintage or new styles, colorful shoes to match an equally colorful personality, and a variety of jacket styles because having many options makes the eclectic wardrobe seem larger than it is. How can you embrace your inner eclectic?

Romantic Eclectic Style for your home or wardrobe

Romantic Eclecticism

  1. Anthropologie // Lucite Bar Cart $698
  2. J Crew // Crystal Flower Necklace $88
  3. DVF // Ibiza Lucite Heel $348
  4. Kate Spade // Emerson Place Lawren Bag $398

Shopping tip #1: When aiming for eclectic design, Trust your feelings

If something sparks your attention from afar and ignites happiness or a feel-good sensation, it’s likely (more…)


What to do if your home gets flooded by a burst pipe

A home is only happy as long as it is healthy and trouble free. Unfortunately, bad stuff can happen. The more prepared you are with solutions to the icky stuff, the easier it is to recover and move forward. So what should you do if you end up with a flooded home?

Flooded vintage interior. 3d concept

Steps to take when your happy home faces water damage

Water damage, whether from a natural disaster or plumbing issues, can ruin your floors,  walls and ceilings. If you don’t get the place dried up quickly, you could face a severe mold problem, and of course your personal effects could be damaged beyond repair. Acting quickly and following the right steps can save your home from complete destruction and save you from having to spend a lot of money on repairs.

Immediate Clean up

If it is safe to do so, your first step should be to (more…)


Decision Fatigue (or, why are there bees in my head?)

It’s happened to me twice. The first time was two years ago right before my wedding when someone asked me what kind of spoons I wanted at the dinner tables. The second time was when my assistant gave me options for the design of the name tags at my book launch party. I heard the question, and then suddenly it was as if all could hear were bees buzzing around in my head. Decision fatigue!

A very frustrated and angry woman screaming. Isolated on white.

There comes a point in any big project – not just wedding and party planning, but also remodels – where you just. can’t. make. one. more. decision. I got there about six days before my book launch. And if you are embarking on a remodel, you’ll get there too. It usually crops up right around the day the contractor is installing your cabinets and says he’s ready for cabinet handles. He asks, innocently… “have you chosen them?” And your brain explodes. In that moment you couldn’t give a rat’s patootie about cabinet handles, and often you just say “put on whatever you want.”

Now, it’s not necessarily that you don’t care about the handles, it’s just that (more…)


How design-porn can destroy your happiness

I recently devoted an evening to reading and recycling the stack of magazines on my coffee table (because even for a declutter queen like myself, the piles can grow quickly). The pile included glossy editions of Elle Decor, House Beautiful, Better Homes and Gardens, Gray Magazine, Sunset Magazine, HGTV Magazine, and others.

I spent about two hours flipping through the magazines, pouring over design details and drooling over gilded furniture. I loved the content, but by the end of those couple of hours I felt completely unhappy with my home. What?!

magazine clutter

Now, I literally wrote the book on being happy at home, so this was pretty silly. I love my home. When my hubby and I sit in our living room one of us always pipes up about how nice it feels. And yet, somehow, after looking at all that design-porn, I realized I felt like my own space didn’t measure up.

What’s the lesson here? My PERSPECTIVE, not my space, had changed. I had put myself in a grass-is-greener situation. In that moment, instead of practicing gratitude for what I *did* have, I was practicing envy and desire for what I did not have. It had nothing at all to do with how good or bad either space was, but simply where I was placing my focus.

We fall down this rabbit hole not only in print but also (more…)


A Bedroom Built for Two

Want to know how to create a bedroom built for two? Here are the basics:

  • Have a comfortable bed with space for two. Both you and your partner should be able to get in from your own respective sides, and neither should have to crawl over the other just to get up and pee. Annoying for them, disruptful for you!
  • Flank the bed with generous nightstands. Having one nightstand might just suggest a, well… one night stand. I mean, both people deserve a place for a glass of water, right?
  • Have fresh sheets and, if possible, furniture that is not leftover from a past relationship. Bedrooms, more than any other room, should be about love and growth and current relationships.

What about the decor, you ask? We’ll, this is where you have to do the tough work of figuring out what is “our” style – not my style or their style. I absolutely love the bedroom I share with my husband. That said, it’s not at all what I’d have if it were mine alone (it’d be more feminine, lots more turquoise!) or what he would have if it were his alone (he’d have a big screen tv!). But we *both* love it, and that’s the key.

bedroom built for two

How do you find “our” style? I’ll go in to detail in another post, but basically – both of you should go online (I like to use Houzz.com) and each (independently) find 10 bedrooms you like. Look at what themes come up for each of you, then compare notes and find what you have in common. 

Most importantly, (more…)


Book Journey: Where to start

One of the hardest parts of writing a book is knowing where to start. One of the early keys to my success was a short course I took from Angela Lauria of The Author Incubator. Her courses and programs have grown since I worked with her and she now takes authors from zero to finished, but the course I took was meant to help me write a book in a short period of time, and my biggest takeaway was in how I organized all the thoughts floating around in my head.

What did that look like? It was brilliant. She had me outline ten chapter topics, and then for each chapter gather three quotes, three stories, and three  stats. That worked perfectly  for me because the whole reason I was inspired to write my book was all the amazing books I’d read early in my career from Winifred Gallagher, Sarah Susanka, Maxwell Ryan, and more, so focusing on what had come before helped me find my own voice amongst others in a brilliant and established tribe. By reflecting on the work that came before my own, I knew I could bring something both meaningful and unique to the table.

So, what is the takeaway? (more…)


How to Rock an All White Room

Is it possible to pull off an all white room and still look fab rather than drab? ABSOLUTELY!

Transitional Living Room by Houston’s Marie Flanigan Interiors

The first thing to know is that there are a million shades of white, all with their own undertone. Whites are either warm or cool, with undertones that range from yellow and pink to green and blue. When creating an all white room, you want to make sure that the different elements you use have undertones that get along. The more you stay within the same shade, the more cohesive the space looks. If you start pairing different undertones, the more noticeable those colors will be, and (more…)


Sexy Firemen and Egress Windows

What do sexy firemen (or women) have to do with egress windows? And what’s an “egress window” any way? Let’s answer the second question first…

As egress window is one that is big enough (as determine by local building codes) for a person to escape from in case of a fire. They are   required in every room used for sleeping purposes (bedrooms) and also in basements with habitable space.

It’s possible that you live in a home that was built at a time when codes were different, and you may not have egress windows in all your bedrooms and very likely not in your basement. The city is not likely to make you change that unless you do a remodel. As soon as you undertake a remodel most cities require you to bring your space up to current-day code standards.

If you can “get away” with remodeling without permits and not add egress windows, should you? Well, (more…)


Book Journey: Why I wrote a book

It was 2014. I had six years under my belt running a successful interior design business. By choice I wanted to keep my design work local, but I felt a pull to help more people and give them the courage to make needed changes to create happy, supportive homes. I knew I wanted to keep designing locally, but it was time to start speaking from a broader platform.

I love being in front of groups. Teaching and speaking fire me up. Because of that I knew that the best way for me to help and encourage more people would be to get more speaking opportunities. But how to do that? Hey, why not write a book? Should be easy enough (yes, that is your cue to laugh).

I went to a fantastic seminar by (more…)


20 great low maintenance houseplants

There are so many great things about having plants around the house. They smell wonderful, they clean the air, and they often provide a much needed burst of color. But sometimes plants just feel like too much responsibility. You have to remember to water them and make sure that they have enough light and nutrients. These things alone can scare people away from keeping plants in their homes, but if you pick the right plants, there’s nothing to fear!
low maintenance plants
The folks at FTD put together this beautiful infographic to share a list of twenty of the easiest plants and flowers to take care of. Many can go for a week or two without water. Some can survive in low light. Others remove toxins from the air and can even help heal sunburns. Even if you’re a self-proclaimed brown thumb, you’ll be able to keep these plants alive and well. The hardest part may even be choosing which plant you want to bring home first.

(more…)


I love Luxury Vinyl Flooring! Why? Well…

We believe that high-end looks can be achieved without spending a fortune, so when GoHaus contacted us about posting about their company we took a look at what they sell to see if they fit in our philosophy. The answer appears to be yes! How nice!

lvp

So, what do I like about what they sell? Well, I am a huge fan of luxury vinyl plank flooring, which they happen to provide. Also known as LVP, it’s one of my go-to solutions when I want a wood-look in a concrete floor basement (wood is not a good option over concrete) or if I want a wood look in a bathroom but don’t want to install tile. Vinyl has come a long way and the realism of a beautiful wood tile can trick even the savviest eye – I have even used it successfully at the base of wood stairs and you’d never have known you were transitioning from real wood to pretend wood.

LVP prices out similarly to (more…)


Leaving a happy home for your survivors

I am sorry to share that this week we lost a member of our family. My father in law passed away suddenly at the much-too-young age of 63, and we had to take an unexpected trip to New Jersey to settle his affairs and arrange his funeral.

This experience has been such a good reminder of how much we leave behind in our lives when we go, and how much we can help our loved ones before we pass.

In memory of Ted Konasiewicz 2

We were so lucky because my father-in-law was incredibly organized. He had all his important paperwork in impeccable order, had sent a copy of his will and safe deposit key to his son to keep in a safe in Seattle, and didn’t have anything in his home that he didn’t need or love. It was no less heartbreaking to go through his belongings, but it was much less stressful and confusing thanks to the care he took with his home.

Keeping your home in order isn’t just about your happiness. It affects those who come into your home after you pass on. If you haven’t reviewed your stuff in a while, please join us this month as we review our own planning:

1) Review your will. Make sure it is up to date and that a copy of it is stored with a lawyer, the executor of your will, or in a safe deposit box (and that a family member can access that safe deposit box). If you haven’t made a will, (more…)


Exterior Paint: Avoid paint emergencies

It’s painting season, and if refreshing the exterior of your home is on the agenda this summer, it’s time to get on it – even now painting companies are nearly booked solid through the summer!

Green and Cedar Shingle House

If you’ve booked your painting company, now is the time to do your homework. The last thing you want to do is spend thousands of dollars on your professional paint job but pick the wrong color! How do you avoid that? First, don’t wait to the last minute to pick your color – there is no excuse for a “paint color emergency.” Better to choose the color at your leisure and be able to live with the decision for a couple weeks than to scramble at the last minute and make a decision under pressure.

Second, (more…)


Change your light bulbs

change your light bulbsOkay, really, how long have those bulbs over your vanity or dining table been burned out? It’s time to take 15 minutes and change the darn bulbs!

This isn’t a primer on what kind of bulb to get (fluorescent, incandescent, and LED all have their place) but rather a reminder that living with burned out bulbs is just not something you need in your life. First, it sends a subconscious message that there is something you need to do. Do you really need more things on your to-do list? Second, it makes it harder for you to do what needs to be done. Good lighting reduces eye strain and fatigue and increases safety! Can’t argue against that, right?

Third, any time you live with broken things in your home it negatively impacts your life. This post was actually inspired by a client who’d (more…)


Cabinet Pulls with personality

change your cabinet pulls anthropologieWhile there’s nothing wrong with a basic cabinet handle, unique pulls can add a ton of personality to your furniture and make it feel more like art in your home!

Of course our go-to place for fabulous, fancy pulls is Anthropologie, and as you can see in this amazing lingerie chest (the Intaglio Dresser), having a set of unique pulls took what was already an artful piece and made it feel like jewelry for your home!

Few places compare with Anthropologie for that gorgeous jewelry look (though we’ve found some fun finds at World Market!) but we’ve also found (more…)


How to Choose the Right Size TV

If you have ever asked yourself if size matters…well it does…at least in relation to the size of your TV! Too big and you’ll have wasted your money on a screen that just doesn’t work in your space. Too small and you’ll miss out on the full entertainment experience. Too far away and you’ll miss out on important details, too close and those nifty features you just splurged on can be obscured by pixilation.

Choosing the right size TV

Before you impulse-purchase a gleaming 80″ panel screaming your name from the shelf of a big box store, check out these considerations (the same tips apply if you are keeping your current TV and are just looking to maximize your viewing pleasure).

(more…)


Seattle Locksmiths We Like and Trust

The best way for us to test out folks to refer is to use them on our own home, and we’ve had two stellar locksmiths out to our property. Need a locksmith in the Seattle area – we wouldn’t hesitate to call either of these folks again.

carpenter at lock installation with electric drill into interior wood door

Tim of Davern Safe and Lock came out to swap a sticky lock for us. Usually I require all my referrals to have a website and a way to email them, but in this case I drive past his shop at (more…)



Don’t shop on Memorial Day without reading this!!

I like to tell my clients that Memorial Day is a great day to go furniture shopping (the sales can really save you money) unless you go in without a plan. Without a plan you are in danger of spending your money unwisely and saddling yourself with some unfortunate purchases.

Before you head out shopping the very least you need to do is take measurements of your space and of your existing furniture. When you are out in the department and big box stores the scale of the warehouses can really throw you off. If you aren’t armed with measurements it’s super-easy to come home with a whale of a sofa that looked like a harmless minnow in the store!

DON’T SHOP ON MEMORIAL DAY WITHOUT READING THIS!!

(more…)


Quartz vs Granite

granite-vs-quartzHere’s the skinny on quartz verses granite counters – pros, cons, and the general information you need to make the right decision for your kitchen or bath remodel.

To your happy home!


Toss the dead plants!

Plants are super! Maybe you should have some in your home?

People in environments that include natural plants show better creative problem-solving skills.

In hospitals, patients heal faster in hospital rooms with a natural view.

Employees who work in environments with interior plants report being more satisfied with their jobs and have fewer sick days.

Plants improve indoor air quality and reduce noise pollution.

Prisoners who have access to gardens develop better social relationships.

The take-away? Plants in your environment are good for you.

Dead plants suck the life out of your living room. Toss them!

That said, if you have dead, brown, or wilting plants in your space, or dusty, sticky fake plants in tiny, tippy woven baskets… please, for the love of all that is good in the world… Throw. Them. Out.

Having *no plant* is better than having a dead plant. (more…)


Happy homes have great curb appeal

WeDesign Seattle Landscape DesignerWe talk about curb appeal when it comes time to sell our houses, but what about the curb appeal that greets us when we come home every day? Why do we wait to dress up our homes until we are about to give them away?

Having a home entry that makes you smile as you pull into your driveway each evening is an essential ingredient to creating a happy home. A yard, walkway, and front door that makes your heart sing even when you are still several houses away starts to ease the stress of the day and reduce your blood pressure, and sets the stage for a pleasant evening. On the ot
her hand, a yard that looks dead, dreary, depressing, and reminds you of “all the things you meant to do” adds to the stress of the day and just continues the wear and tear you experienced for the last eight (or more) hours.

While RWI’s exterior services are limited to helping you choose great exterior paint colors, we work with some amazing colleagues who can turn your lacking yard into a lush and low-maintenance oasis. One of our favorites is Michael Lockman at WeDesign. Why do we like him? He’s a fantastic listener and a problem solver (kind of like us). He’s great about bringing up possibilities that might never have occurred to you as solutions to your yard problems.

Seriously, check out this space he helped makeover. It started out as a barren landscape that looked more like the kind of place you might store a broken-down old pickup truck than a place to grow a family. It offered no shelter, no privacy, and not a bit of loveliness. All that barrenness also made the house look boxy and out of place in the neighborhood. (more…)


Why do we keep stuff? Reason #1: Fear

Why do we keep all that CLUTTER? Reason #1: FEAR

Fear.

Sometimes we keep Stuff because we are afraid nothing better will come along. Sometimes we think we are being “prepared.” Sometimes we just fear the unknown and feel more comfortable with our unhappy, but familiar, lives. Being prepared is a special trap we fall in to — it sounds so valiant. We have a responsibility to our families to be ready for anything, right? We carry 8 different snacks and 5 different toys in the baby bag just to be ready for Junior’s whim. We save boxes for things so we can pack them up to move later, or to mail a gift to a friend at the holidays. We stockpile food from Costco so we are ready for the Zombie Apocalypse.

The intent behind being prepared is well-intentioned, but be careful. As Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan writes in Apartment Therapy: “‘being prepared’ can sometimes be a euphemism for being scared to let go. How much we carry — whether it is on our bicycle, in or bag, or in our home — is often directly related to how little we trust in life to guide us well, and in others to help us out in a pinch.” (more…)


When Your Spouse Just Doesn’t Get It

When your spouse just doesn't get it: Remodeling and Marriage

What if your spouse just doesn’t get it? What if you just know that the ugly recliner has to go, and he just doesn’t see it? What if you just know that the whole family will be happier, smarter and more successful if you just get rid of that stupid chair? Does that give you permission to just dump it?

No.

Take a deep breath and recognize is that your partner probably wants a comfortable home that they feel proud of just as much as you do. Of course, what that means to them might differ, and how they express what that means to them might be hard to interpret. Nonetheless, everyone living in the house has a right to feel at home there, and so everyone should get a vote. This will mean compromise. Sometimes the chair will stay.

The home affects both men and women. Many times women assume that men don’t care as much about their home, but I have found that to be utterly untrue. While men may not always care about the specific wall color or whether they have throw pillows, the state of their home affects them deeply. (more…)


Entrepreneurs: Design a successful workspace

Side view of young businesswoman drinking coffee at office desk

So you’ve decided to work for yourself. Congratulations! Where are you working? At your dining room table with piles of junk mail and kid’s homework pushed to the side? On your living room couch in front of the tv? In a disorganized office with shabby walls and a calendar from 2009? If you are not working in a space that makes you feel and behave like a professional, you may be sabotaging your own success.

Every time you walk into a professional space — from a restaurant, to a hair salon, to your CPA’s office, you make judgements about the quality of the work based on what you see. Delicious colors and intimate eating nooks elevate the food. Creative colors and eclectic design suggest the ability to create personal and distinctive hairstyles. Tidy piles and a clean space suggest an organized CPA in full control of her client’s accounts. Just as we evaluate other professional spaces, our own environments speak to and about us and affect the output of our work.

When you’re starting out it’s perfectly reasonable to carve out whatever space and time you can. Just getting a single client is cause for celebration, and no one ever needs to know that you did it while feeding the baby, running the dishwasher, and wearing your pjs. But as you grow as a professional your output will grow and mature too, and may deserve a bit more focus than a stolen five minutes perched at the breakfast bar can give you.

(more…)


You now have permission: Let it go!

There are few things that give gratification as immediately as purging your home of clutter. It’s like losing 100 pounds instantly. You feel lighter, freer, happier, more capable. Magic.

Let it go!

Unfortunately, most of us have stuff in our homes that shouldn’t be there. Some of it will be easy to let go once you make the time for a declutter session, but other stuff is more of a challenge. There are three kinds of stuff that likes to stick around long past its welcome: (more…)


Bringing the Meditation Retreat Home

Ahhhh, the luxury of a meditation retreat. Time devoted to yourself and your growth. You get to step away from it all, for a moment forgetting your demanding life and 1001 distractions. You’re submerged the warm, bubbly world of zen. Whether you’re at a quiet desert retreat or in the fairytale world of a tropical rainforest, you get to focus 100% on your meditation, self-care, and getting in touch with your inner calm.

Bring the meditation retreat home

Then you come home. And it’s all waiting for you, right where you left it. All the distractions, demands, and do-me lists, along with about a million emails that piled up while you were away.

Wish you could bring the retreat home?

You can! (more…)


Decluttering: Too much luggage

Seriously, how much luggage does one gal need?
Last month I collected and photographed all my luggage to illustrate that we all have more than we need. I’d planned to take the photo and then put it all back, but I suddenly realized – whoa! I really do have too much luggage!
bigstock-Kittens-In-Retro-Suitcase-65178007
Living with less fosters gratitude. Keeping extras “just in case” quickly moves from smart to stingy and encourages a habit of greed. It rarely starts from bad intentions. I didn’t have over ten suitcases out of fear, or out of desire to have it all for myself. They just kind of (more…)

Houseplants for your healthy home

Plants are more than just pretty decoration for the home or office: their presence creates a sense of calm and improves healing rates of the sick. They literally clean the air, creating healthier indoor environments. And in the kitchen, growing your own herbs can save you money!

plants in kitchen

Want to know which houseplant is my favorite, where to get gorgeous and low maintenance house-warming gifts in Seattle? Read on!

(more…)


Create a unique home while saving money

Want to design a personal, eclectic home? Want to spend as little as possible to do it? It’s time for a scavenger hunt!

Vintage Orange Eames Shell Rocker as seen at chairish.com and found locally in Seattle at Armadillo Consignment

 

Shopping vintage and second hand isn’t the fastest way to decorate your space, but it’s a fantastic way to end up with a unique home and score some fabulous deals.

Want to know three of my favorite local consignment stores, a great online resource (no, not eBay) and the best way to start designing a room made of fabulous finds? Read on! (more…)


Save a Tree and Your Sanity: Online Billing

Want to save a tree and your sanity? Go paperless on your bills.

In our busy lives, paper mail piles up quickly on the counters, and bills can easily be lost amongst the junk mail and take-out menus. In this digital age, why get your bills in the mail? In all likelihood you’re already paying your bills online, so finish out the cycle and receive your bill online, too!

save a tree go paperlessThe three benefits to this change are: (more…)


The perfect “green” paint

Want a paint color that is timeless, promotes health, vitality, and wealth, and can brighten up a dark basement room? Aim for green! Want a paint that will let you breath easy? Aim for low VOC!

Here I’ll share three of my favorite Benjamin Moore greens, and let you know what I think of their low and no-VOC paints.

benjamin moore green

Three of my go-to greens, great for resale when you are trying to show off a kitchen or master bedroom, and lovely for warming up a big but dark basement room, are (more…)


A Beautiful and inexpensive way to dress your bed

Bedding can be surprisingly expensive and, no matter how much money you spend, you often end up with a bed that looks either too fussy, too generic, or too fragile, with fabrics that you guard from the dog and the kids.

ashworth guest room

Here is my favorite way to make a bed that looks interesting, is budget-friendly, and is easy to make and maintain. (more…)


Craving Cozy? Space Heater Buying Tips

If your space heater is just taking up space instead of heating your space there’s no better time than now to get yourself a new one and take advantage of end-of-season sales! Our latest edition of Consumer Reports included some smart shopping tips on heaters – which ones to buy and which to avoid altogether — and we’d thought we’d share them with you!

For both safety and convenience, you’ll want a heater that has: (more…)


Get rid of unused keys – Charitable ways to lighten the load

Everything we carry adds weight to our lives. Today, take a moment to eliminate unused keys from your key chain. You know, those keys that “might” go to something important but you haven’t actually used in years, even decades? If you’re extra motivated, pull the mystery keys out of your junk drawer, too. Give yourself 15 minutes to run around the house and try to figure out what they go to, then pitch them.
Afraid some enterprising person might dig through your trash and use the key nefariously? Assuming you just checked to make sure they don’t open the doors to your home, trust me, no thief is likely to figure out what they go to, either.
Feel bad throwing all those keys away? You have options! (more…)

Carpet Cleaners to the Rescue

Whether it’s time for spring cleaning or your dog just had an unfortunate accident, having a good carpet cleaner is important to the long-term maintenance and appearance of your home. No matter how good your vacuum may be, sometimes life calls for a deep cleaning. Here in the Seattle area we have three folks we love to recommend.
Restore One and Nelson Carpet Cleaning are both small, family run businesses that both myself and my contractor-husband refer out all the time. We love having personal relationships with our subs and contractors, because (more…)

Go Ahead: Swag Your Chandelier

If you live in a home where the right spot for your dining table is unfortunately not centered underneath the location for your ceiling fixture, you don’t necessarily have to pay for an electrician, drywaller,  and painter to come move it. As seen in the Dec/Jan issue of Gray Magazine, even in high-end design it’s okay to choose a light fixture with a cord or chain and swag it to meet your needs.
A lot of my clients really worry that it will look cheap, messy, or half-done, but I have found that (more…)

Dress (your home) for success

home and happiness concept - smiling young woman lying on sofa a

Just as we can dress ourselves for success, we can dress our home for success, too. You probably already know that putting on an outfit that “feels like you” changes how you behave, speak, and carry yourself, and that in turn changes how others treat you and how capable they believe you to be. The same is true for living in an environment that feels like you. When you wake up each day to a space that says you are successful, capable, healthy and happy, then you start the day on that note and have a much higher chance of success throughout the day. Even better, when you have a rough afternoon you get to come home to a space that centers you again, and shakes off the stress of the day.

Your home is a key ingredient in your life, the foundation of your day to day existence, and it should support you. You should feel as great waking up to your bedroom as you do slipping on your most comfortable jeans. You should feel as successful in your home office as you do in your most fashionable work clothes. You should feel as beautiful in your bathroom as you do in your loveliest evening gown. Your home should support your goals and good habits and challenge you to live the life you yearn to live. It should never sabotage your goals, keeping you stuck in past failures and heavy histories. (more…)


Give The Gift Of Getting Things Done!

Ready to give thoughtful, personalized, clutter-free that can even reduce stress for the recipient? Renters and homeowners alike have hefty to-do lists for their home. Why not choose holiday gifts that will help make that list easier to conquer for your loved ones?
Idea #1: Gift Certificates to Home Improvement Stores
Know someone planning to retile their bathroom? (more…)

The right paint color can help you move on from divorce

So you are divorced, and you are sitting in the living room looking around at the house you once shared with your ex. All the memories of your past are staring you in the face. Everything in that room echoes with memories.

Being surrounded by your past is not a good way to move forward, but you’re not in a position to move. What can you do?

When that happened to me I got out the paint. I painted every surface a new color, and moved the furniture around so that I literally had a new perspective – on the room and on life. By making these simple changes (more…)


Mood changing colors: Benjamin Moore’s Soleil

The sun has come out this week in Seattle, and you can feel it in the brightness of people smiles.  It brings out the sundresses, the convertibles, and the iced lattes, and everyone is just a little friendlier than usual.  Just like the sun is able to brighten a person’s mood, color can, too.  One of the most obvious happy-colors is, of course, yellow.

Yellow is the color of optimism, brightness, cheery attitude and mental clarity.  It can promote creative, clear, upbeat thinking and decision making, ease depression, and encourage laughter.  It’s not for everyone, of course, and the wrong yellow, or yellow for the wrong person, can increase irritability and hyperactivity.  But as with any color, used well, it’s lovely.

Benjamin Moore’s Soleil lifts the mood atop of grey Sparrow and creates sunny harmony in this dining room.

One of my favorite yellows is Benjamin Moore’s Soleil.  When a client tells me they want a yellow room, it is one of the first places I look and so often, it is perfect. I have used it to create a warm and happy dining room, a sophisticated and joyful bedroom, and an inviting and warm home office.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s quite yellow.  When you put it on all four walls you are not going to wonder if you ended up with a yellow.  But unlike the many (too many) yellow paint colors out there, this one won’t scream CAUTION at you.  It won’t get bitter or sharp.  It won’t get babyish.  It’s just… right.  Give it a try, or write to me for a couple of my other favorites.

Have fun, and don’t fear color.  It’s just paint!


Personal Note: “Interior Designer” or “Interior Decorator”? What’s in a name?

Recently there was a post on Linked-In asking How do you handle it when someone calls you a decorator instead of a designer, without offending them?” Some responses pointed out that some of the biggest historical names in interiors (Billy Baldwin, Sister Parish) were all “Interior Decorators” and suggested embracing the title.  In fact, Billy Baldwin abhorred the title “Interior Designer.”   Others asked “who cares what they call you as long as they write the check?” Still others said they had “studied too hard and put in too many hours to be called a ‘decorator’.”

I am definitely in the camp of ‘who cares what they call me.’ Not because the client has the power of check-writing, but because my mission is to help people feel more at home in their home.  If they need decorating services and I can help with that, great! If they need help with a remodel and I can help with that, great! If they just need help letting go of Aunt Suzie’s armoire and I can help with that, great!

Rebecca West, a designer for “the rest of us.”

We all came to be home interior professionals from different paths.  For some the *art* of the project and being on the cutting edge of design is paramount, and the title will go hand in hand with the position they seek to establish for themselves in the design world.  Others have been spurned too many times by an Architect who called them ‘just a decorator’ without any respect for what a color and materials specialist brings to the table, and the training to be a ‘designer’ comes with a great deal of pride in that investment.

What bothers me is that there is still this lack of respect *within* the design community for our colleagues. There are plenty of clients in the world for a stadium full of designers, decorators, redesigners, stagers, and color consultants.  Instead of getting hung up on titles and heirarchy, why not create a collaborative, supportive environment so that we can more easily bring beauty and order to this chaotic world?

Am I too plebeian in my world view?  Maybe.  With catch-phrases like “Design for the rest of us” and “Design for real people”I doubt my voice will be heard among the upper echelons of the design world.  But I stand by my opinion because, in the end, the client’s needs should always be paramount.  For me, that means that no question is too small, no worry too inconsequential, if it leads to a happier life and home for the client.  The title has no bearing on that outcome.


Personal Note: Video on what I do at RWI

If you hear something “From the horse’s mouth” it means that you hear it directly from the person concerned or responsible.  Well, here I am with a quick take on what I do at Rebecca West Interiors. (Note, we changed our name from Rivalee Design in 2014 – this video was made before the name change.)

 


Hot Paint Colors for 2013 – do color trends matter?

Every year color forecasters announce what the HOT colors will be for next year for everything from cars to fashion to home interiors.  Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore both do paint color forecasts with much fanfare.  It’s great fun to go to the color forecast events and see what is trending, but how much does it really matter?


This year at the Sherwin Williams color forecast they laid out four color moods that are supposed to be trending in 2013 – Midnight Mystery, Honed Vitality, Vintage Moxie, and High Voltage. In my experience, each year the paint colors shift ever so slightly from the last, and over a decade they morph into something “completely new.”  I put completely new in quotes because one of the things that I always notice is that ‘old’ colors always hae a way of sneaking back in.  Anyone remember emerald green from the 80s and mint green from the 50s?  Yep, they’re on the way back.  And plum and mauve from the 80s? Back in full force!  What we pair the color with changes, but often time it’s just ‘what old is new again.’

So, am I excited about this years color trend forecast?  Well, I did love the presentation of Midnight Mystery – bold, sensual, and masculine, but then I have been a fan of rich, deep, dark, moody wall colors for quite a while now.

My best advice to all of my readers and clients is to enjoy the trends, but in the end, choose colors that you love and that suit the geography and architecture of your home, and the personality and habits of your family. Truly, all that ever matters is that you love what you see every day when you wake up, and every evening when you come home from a long day at work.


Spend More Time with Friends and Family: New Years Resolution

“Spend More Time With Friends and Family”

This one seems to top the list of many people’s New Year’s Resolution lists.  If this really is a priority for you, what’s getting in the way?  If you, like many of my clients, feel embarrassed by your home, then naturally that is keeping you from inviting over your friends and family.  If the thought of a houseguest makes you anxious, something needs to change.
When I work with a client that shares this goal with me, we do three things to fix the situation.  I ask them to:

1. Imagine the life you WANT to live.  Close your eyes and describe for me what it means to spend time with friends and family.  Paint me a picture, in detail. Where are you?  How many people are there? Who are they?  What are you doing?  How long do people stay?  Who initiated it? (more…)


A different kind of holiday wishlist

We’re coming up on a time of year that tends to be about buying a lot of ‘stuff’ cleverly camouflaged as gifts.  Have you noticed that many of the gifts we exchange at Christmas just add to the piles of unnecessary things in our houses?  This year, why not take a different approach to the Christmas wishlist?  This idea is more economical because it calls on your skills instead of your wallet, it’s better for our home because it doesn’t bring in more ‘stuff’, and can potentially create more lasting memories as you work with your friends and family to accomplish something.
Take a tour of your home and make a list of all the things you’ve been putting of or meaning to do – glue the leg on your dining room chair, replace those burnt out light bulbs, repaint the front door, swap out the kitchen faucet, take that load in the garage to goodwill.  Then email the wishlist to your partner, friends and family and ask them for help with these things as your Christmas gift this year instead of ‘stuff’.  In turn, ask them to email their own wishlist – you might be surprised what they could use a hand with that you might find easy to do!  How great would it be to start the new year with all those little things accomplished, and know that you helped out your friends, too!
Normally I clean my car, gutters and windows myself.  It’s one of those things I can do so I am too cheap to hire someone else to do it for me.  But I HATE doing it – it’s cold, wet, and messy.  So last year, for Christmas, my family hired someone else to do this for me.  My dad got my a gift certificate to detail the interior of my car (he’s in Kentucky or he’d have done it himself), a friend’s handyman-husband cleared the gutters, and Paneless Window Cleaning came and did the windows.  Not only was it such a luxury, but they all did the job so much better than I ever had.  These were gifts I really treasured and would not ever have purchased for myself.
Happy gifting!


Wish you were $6000 richer? The truth about Self-Storage and clutter.

self-storage units
http://www.stonecreekstorage.com/

“America has a problem with overaccumulation” says Peter Walsh in his book It’s All Too Much. “It’s abundantly clear if you spend one minute noticing how many self-storage facilities have sprung up in your neighborhood.”

While there are times that renting a storage unit can make sense, if you are one of the many people with stuff in storage, maybe it’s time to reevaluate this choice.   (more…)


Do you deserve a beautiful home?

The simple answer is… YES!

But if you’re still not sure you deserve to create a welcoming, nurturing, beautiful home, consider these questions for Sandra Felton in her book “Messie No More“:

  • Why not be among those who are thrilled to invite people over on the spur of the moment?
  • Why not be the person to whom people say, “Your house is so lovely!”
  • Why not have people over for meals without working yourself to death to get ready?
  • Why not have a house that raises your self-esteem rather than tears it down?
  • Why not have a house filled with your favorite colors and accents?
  • Why not have a house that reflects peace so that others love to come over?

The question is not “why should we have a nice house?”. The real question is, why not?


Teaching kids gratitude while clearing clutter from your home

Want to clear the clutter from your home, teach your kids great habits, and encourage gratitude in your home? Start this new holiday tradition.

Set a day on the calendar for “making room” and be sure that each person or child you want involved will have time free that day. This can be a good activity the day after Thanksgiving as a way to reflect on the meaning of gratitude, or chose a day closer to Christmas as the kids are getting more and more excited about the new toys they want. (more…)


Make room for your new life – clear out clutter!

After my divorce a good friend gave me some wonderful advice when I was trying to decide what to do with my wedding ring. She said that I needed to get it out of my home in order to make room for all the good things that were waiting for me to make space for them.

That really hit home because without realizing it, by holding on to that token of my past I was keeping myself from opening to new love.

Now I work with clients trying to make fresh starts in their own lives, and I always share that wisdom with them. Every time we start I hear the list of excuses why they CAN’T get rid of Aunt Ann’s chair, the second set of dishes, the broken mirror, the dusty records in the attic, etc… At this point, after reminding them that they are trying to move FORWARD in their lives, I gently remind them that instead of hoarding the stuff out of fear and guilt, they can let someone else use and enjoy it! Not only will the stuff have a new life, but there will be room in their home and heart for things that will bring them joy to look at and use.
If you are ready to tackle your home and lighten its load, here are five helpful tips to focus the project:

  1. Contain the project. Choose one half of a closet, one quarter of a garage, or one box of papers. Make it an area that you can finish in an hour or two.
  2. Get comfortable and prepared. Have a chair or pillow to sit on, have water on hand, and have boxes ready for the things you are keeping, the things you are letting go, and the things that need further consideration.
  3. Set a timer for one hour. During that one hour do not answer the phone, wander to the fridge, or otherwise get distracted. When the timer dings, take the box for Goodwill to the donation station immediately. Move the Craigslist items to a corner and post them within 24 hours. Action is the key!
  4. Make money.  If you are going to sell your items through Craigslist, decide how you want to use the money you make. Write down that goal or post of picture of it in the workspace you are organizing. By posting a picture nearby of what you DO want then as you hold each item you can ask yourself if it supports the life you WANT or the life you have.
  5. Forget how to read.  Unless you are focussing on paperwork for the hour, NEVER read, sort or file the papers you find while decluttering. You’ll NEVER finish because either you’ll drown in nostalgia or get overwhelmed. Instead, have a small box on hand, toss the papers you find into it, and make that a separate organizing project.

Once you finish an section, celebrate. Imagine how much closer you are to having the life and home you want, and smile!


Why our homes must change

Show up to work every day in your favorite outfit from the 80’s and you wouldn’t feel quite as smart, successful, and accomplished. You’d feel silly and people would wonder why you were having so much trouble letting go of the past. Yet many of us still live in homes surrounded by the same furniture, colors and artwork that we had in our last marriage, or when our kids were still toddlers, or when we weighed 60 pounds more.

Author Terah Collins, in “The Western Guide to Feng Shui“, writes:

“Embracing change is often resisted in our culture. We are supposed to always look 25, buy furniture once, and choose one career we can stick with for a lifetime. As we all know, life doesn’t work that way. Change happens. As we grow older and wiser, we may marry, have children, divorce, remarry, go back to school, change careers, move, make new friends…”

She goes on to explain that we can’t fully move forward in life if our homes fail to reflect those changes.

Bedroom BEFORE Rivalee Design
Bedroom AFTER Rivalee Design

Take a look around your home. Try to see it as if you were a new friend visiting for the first time. How would you describe the person that lives there? What gender is this person? Does a single person, couple, or family live here? What is their age? What interests do they have? Do you think they live a happy, energetic, successful life? Does it look like this person is excited about the future and is living fully?

If you home isn’t sending you the messages you want then it is time to make a change. You simply can’t wake up every day to a home that brings you down and expect to get what you want out of life. Your home should support you and your goals and make you feel great about the life your are living!


Renting doesn’t have to feel temporary and bland

When we rent we often feel like we are in a temporary home and there is no sense putting effort or money into making the apartment feel like home.  This can be a big mistake since it can encourage you to treat the rest of your life as temporary too and you might not put the energy into your career, relationships, and yourself that you need to in order to achieve your goals.
Setting aside the concept that all of life is, in fact, temporary, let’s agree that the only time we can be sure of having is this moment, right now.  If that is true then the place where you are living right now is your home and is the only place setting the stage for how you start and end your day.  While you might daydream of that perfect home you might someday have, why not make something of the home you are already living in?
Rented Queen Anne Condo BEFORE Rivalee Design
Rented Queen Anne Condo AFTER Rivalee Design
It doesn’t have to cost a lot, and it wouldn’t make sense to make permanent changes to the space (unless your landlord will reimburse you), but a lush area rug, a coordinated color scheme, even a fresh coat of paint can make you happier in the place in which your are living and give you the feeling of success and motivation you need to pursue your other goals.
Even if you are convinced that you’ll be buying your dream home in just another year or two, make the effort to create a home in your current place, because a year or two can become five years before you know it, not to mention that anything can happen in a year.

Let your kids decorate, it’s a learning opportunity

Is your son or daughter begging for a bedroom makeover? This is a great chance to teach them about budgeting and let them express their personal taste!

Photo courtesy of archzine.org

First, set a budget. Decide how much money your can afford for the project and decide if the child has to contribute to that fund. For the lessons in this article, it’s not really important for them to contribute, since it’s about budgeting and planning, rather than earning.

Next, decide the parameters. Are the floors off-limits? But an area rug is okay? What about paint? It’s reasonable to let them choose the wall or ceiling color, but what about the trim, molding and doors? Can they paint the furniture, or buy new?

Once the limits are set write them down on paper along with the budget and have everyone sign the decorating contract.  Make sure they understand that they only have this amount of money, that it needs to account for sales tax and shipping, if applicable, and help them create a complete plan before they ever lift a paint brush or buy a comforter. Teach them to ask about return policies at stores and how to care for packaging and save receipts in case they need to take something back.

Make sure the contract states that you get to review the plan before implementation to assure that the limits were kept in mind, but otherwise try to keep your hands off the project. Not only will your kid feel valued by being trusted and allowed to express some personal taste, they’ll come to understand the real cost of goods, learn to prioritize and make choices they must live with, and begin to learn to budget.  They might even care for and clean the room since it is theirs, not yours!  Priceless!


Can a beautiful home make you happy?

In the book “Women and Stress” Jean Lush writes that “beauty and a sense of order in your home are functional. They have a purpose and are not unnecessary luxuries. Creating beauty around us gives us a sense of accomplishment, charges us with energy, and reduces tension.”

Living room by Rivalee Design (www.rivalee.com)

Many of my clients wait years to call me because they feel that spending money on their home is wasteful, self-indulgent and worldly, but as a result they spend those years feeling like their home is unfinished and for many it means that they don’t have friends and family over to enjoy their home because they feel embarrassed.

“Beauty is not just for the rich and famous. It is right for everyone and fundamental to emotional health” writes Lush. And beauty need not be expensive. It’s about prioritizing the items in your home, getting rid of what is not needed, and making the most of what you have. Of course, it usually involves a can of paint and a good vacuuming, too, because while things don’t need to be sterile, they should be clean enough that wrestling on the floor with your kids doesn’t give you a face full of old cheerios and dog hair.

Frank Lloyd Wright taught his students that beauty dissolves conflicts, quiets us within, inspires us, creates a sense of happiness and serenity, refreshes us, and consoles us in times of depression. “Beauty,” he added, “is not unnecessary or impractical.”

If life has you feeling overwhelmed, try spending an afternoon getting one room in order. Take at least 10%, if not 50%, of the stuff to Goodwill. Open the windows and close the closet doors. There is a good chance that you’ll feel better afterwards, and be better prepared to face some of the harder tasks in your life.

Keeping a marriage happy throughout a remodel

One of my clients shared this cartoon with me and, after a good giggle, it made me think about how often a kind of “marriage counseling” comes into my work. As both a ballroom dance instructor and an interior designer I have learned a number of things that can make or break a project for a couple, and I’d like to share some of that insight with you. If you’ve never undertaken a remodel together before, you’re in for a pretty big adventure, and you want to go in with the right attitude and, ideally, the support of a designer that *both* of you like and trust and who can make sure that the final design is one you both like.

Comic by Besty Streeter

Here are key ingredients to achieving the goals for your home and, when you’re done, still have a happy relationship:

1) Identify your dream(s).
First, understand that you both have some idea of what this project will end up looking like, but that you might have very different ideas of that end product. We have to figure out how you want to feel in your home when it’s done, how do you want to live. The key here is to LISTEN to each other, and don’t judge! At this stage every idea is valid.

2) Destroy preconceived notions. (more…)


Using color excite and energize your room

This image from the new line at CB2 (Jan. 2011) shows a great example of how to energize a room using contrasting color.  

Room and accessories by CB2

Contrast can be created in a number of ways, but using “complimentary colors”, that is, color that are opposite each other on the color wheel, is a sure-fire way to increase the sizzle and zing of each color and of the room in general.  In this example they use one of my personal favorite combinations of red-orange and blue-green; I find this combination fresh, whimsical, and fun!  

When playing with complimentary colors, try using varying values of the colors (meaning how light or dark the color is).  Consider a saturated blue green with a very pale red-orange for a more subtle effect, or try both in a very pale version for a subdued yet interesting look.  Staying in the same range in lightness and darkness often creates a too-rich and garish, or too-boring and beige effect.
So,if you are wanting a playful, interesting and energetic room, try turning to the color wheel and playing with opposites – you might just come up with something fantastic!

Teaching kids gratitude while clearing the clutter from your home

Want to clear the clutter from your home, teach your kids great habits, and encourage gratitude in your home?  Start this new holiday tradition.

  1. Set a day on the calendar for “making room” and be sure that each person or child you want involved will have time free that day.  This can be a good activity the day after Thanksgiving as a way to reflect on the meaning of gratitude, or chose a day closer to Christmas as the kids are getting more and more excited about the new toys they want.
  2. On the given day, start off by reading “Too Many Toys” by David Shannon.  It’s a great way to help kids relate to and understand the idea without any lecturing.
  3. Set a timer.  Adjust the time based on how much you want to declutter.  Older kids and adults can probably handle an hour or two, but with younger kids, limit the time to thirty minutes.  
  4. Set the example by choosing some number of things from your own closet, craftroom, or storage area to give away.
  5. Have the kids choose the things they are ready to give away (you can determine how many items that should be).
  6. Then let the kids celebrate by making up their Christmas wish list.



This should be a time for appreciating gifts from the past, and for learning that generosity returns only to those who are generous.  By making this an annual ritual you will not only keep the clutter down in your home, but also help teach the kids, and reminds yourself, of the importance of generosity and gratitude.




Happy Holidays!


3 key questions to help you declutter

Okay look, the hard truth is that most of us don’t need better organizing systems. Most of us just need to get rid of STUFF. Now, you probably know that, and yet it can feel nearly impossible to actually declutter. Not only is it hard to make the time to do it, but then once you start you feel overwhelmed. Next thing you know you are reaching for the cookies and the TV remote, and you’ve barely made a dent.

Aside from lighting a match and sending it all up in smoke (not recommended) how can you more effectively and efficiently declutter? The next time you find twenty minutes to sort through some stuff, ask yourself the following three questions to help you make fast and effective decisions:

1. Could someone else use this better than me?

The impulse to hold on to something just because you *might* use it may feel thrifty, but it’s rooted in fear. Fear that you may need it and won’t have it. Fear that you can’t access that again if you need it. And meanwhile, while you are sitting there afraid, hoarding all those things you *might* need, someone else might be thinking how nice it would be to have very item you’re not even using. So turn down the dial on your fear, turn up the dial on your generosity, and set that item free. Trust that the Universe will provide when it’s your turn to need something.

2. if I didn’t already own this, would I buy it again?

We are all suckers for (more…)


SPRING CLEANING: going deeper

Adulthood. Ugh, right? Bills, creaky bones, stubborn fat cells, job losses… not to mention death and taxes. If adulthood has got you feeling a little beaten down and battered, why not let your soul take a long, hot shower? I mean, if you’d just run a marathon you’d hop in the tub for a soak, right? Well, if life has been a bit of a battle it’s time for more than a “spring clean.” It’s time to shake things up and really move on. A while that could mean getting a new job, or a new hair cut, I suggest starting a little closer to home. Literally.

How to move on, without moving out  


Pick a room in your house, and (more…)


Design yourself a better night’s sleep

I don’t have to tell you how important sleep is to your health. You probably already know. But in this crazy, hectic world in which we live, it can be hard to get enough sleep, much less good sleep. The great news is that you have a LOT of control over this, and it goes far beyond your ability to pop a pill. So what can you do?

1) Create an environment that reduces your stress (instead of adding stress to it)!

2) Design an space that gives you the best shot at actually sleeping through the night.

3) Make some lifestyle changes that support, instead of sabotage, your efforts at getting some good zzz’s.

1) reduce stress

Stress doesn’t just keep you up at night because your mind is racing. It actually triggers a hormonal and chemical effect that is designed to keep you awake. Remember, your body doesn’t distinguish between the stress of being chased by a predator and the stress of chasing a deadline. (more…)


The perfect color for a fresh start: pantone’s color of the year

While I’m not usually one to follow trends, I actually like the philosophical stance behind Pantone’s annual color pick. It’s not necessarily meant to be the color everyone should run out and paint their bathroom (though maybe you should – check out the *adorable* bathtub below!) but rather a symbolic “color snapshot of what we see taking place in our global culture… an expression of a mood and an attitude.”


This year’s color pick is “Greenery,” a joyful, zesty new-growth green that signals the end of winter and the start of spring. Why pick that color for 2017? Well, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s a little crazy in the world right now. Families are at odds with each other politically, countries are picking sides and drawing lines in the sand, and everything feels just a little bit scarier and fragile, especially if you spend any time watching the news (not recommended).

Greenery symbolizes new beginnings. It’s about taking a big, deep breath and trusting that we are going to be okay, that we can start again. And of course at Rebecca West Interiors we are all about new beginnings, so I give this color pick two thumbs up. I mean, it’s really about choosing a positive attitude and challenging all that stress and fear, right? (more…)


A table for one in love-crazy February

The month of February can feel overwhelming and lonely for the single gal or guy with all its focus on couples and love and dinner-for-two. Instead of going crazy looking at all the mating-messages, why not use this month as an opportunity to surround yourself with the things you love and create a home, and a life, that feels incredibly “you”?

 

Step one: clear your space of any stuff in your home that belonged to, or came from, anyone you no longer care to have in your life. Artwork you chose with an ex, mementos of trips you took together, gifts or books, clothing (especially lingerie), even the bedding itself. Take an inventory of your space and single out what might be trapping your thoughts and keeping in you to past relationships.

Remember, there are no “rules” about what you “should” let go of! If a present from an ex still brings you joy, there is no need to ditch it. But if the things around you, from furniture to photos, bring you down, get that stuff out of your space! It’s silly to surround yourself with things that make you feel miserable.

(more…)