Friday’s Photo: High Low decorating at High Point

Whenever a client’s budget is limited (and who’s isn’t) I think about what I can use that is lower priced (and still look great) that will equal out a splurge purchase.

While at High Point Market I saw a perfect example of the high/low mix. Designer Suzanne Kasler used IKEA lights (low) mixed with pieces from her new furniture line for Hickory Chair (high). Simply fabulous!

Hickory Chair: Linda Holt Photo

Hickory Chair: Linda Holt Photo

Do you mix low and high elements in your rooms?

Looking to update your home for Spring? Need help pulling your room/s together? Give me a call.

 

 

Emotional Beauty

When I was about 10 years old my class went on a field trip to Trinity Church in Boston. When I walked through the huge arched doors and looked up I vividly remember the hair standing up on the back of my neck…and then I started to cry. I had no idea why this was happening and I was so embarrassed trying to hide my tears from my teacher and the other kids. I now know this experience was the first out of many more to come where I was simply overwhelmed by the beauty and power of a space. It happened while visiting cathedrals in Europe, grand historic homes, even art museums. I’ll wander around with the other tourists trying my best to act completely normal, all the while trying to hold back tears. It’s still embarrassing but it’s out of my control.

Not that long ago I had a similar experience much closer to home. My husband and I attended a memorial service for a special friend who had quite suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. Her family were long time members of the Sconset tennis club on Nantucket, known as “The Casino”.  Our friend spent all her Summers there, worked there as a teen and then as a manager as an adult. I’m not sure what I was expecting but certainly not this.

Linda Holt Photo

After a bit a research I found out The Casino was built in 1899 as a “hall of amusement” by John Coffin. From what little history I could gather, the Casino was later remodeled in 1923 by architect Frederick Hill of NY. Hills elaborate use of painted latticework on the ceilings and walls was influenced and resembled the famous Newport Casino. Being in this space while paying honor to our friend was a very powerful and emotional experience (to say the least).

Decorators and designers understand and witness the emotion that beautiful design can bring . Many of us have experienced clients bursting into tears of joy when they see their newly designed room for the first time. I believe we should all feel emotional beauty about our home, yet in my experience so few do. Many of the homes I visit have too much clutter, or the homeowner is hanging onto furniture or artwork they don’t like out of family obligation or they have rooms that don’t function or enhance the family’s current life style.

I have been on a mission in my own home to strive for emotional beauty. It is certainly a process but over the past few years I have given myself “permission” to let go of family heirlooms that do not enrich my life. I have sold and donated furniture that was “very expensive” but is no longer my style. I have painted walls with colors that I love even though they are not “in”. I let go of accessories that I didn’t love yet felt obligated to keep because they were given as gifts. The more I let go of, the better I feel.

After our friend passed away I was reminded yet once again that life is short. I decided right then and there, I will only live with what I love and create a home that brings value to my life and that of my family.  Maybe one day I too will feel like crying when I walk through my own door.

How about you?  Do you experience emotional beauty? Have you ever cried when you walked into a space? Most importantly, are you living with things that do not serve or enrich your life? Let me know, I would love to hear from you.

Friday’s Photo

While at an event this week at the Boston Design Center I noticed two trends that show no signs of fading; large scale lighting and organic elements used as accessories. I especially loved the entrance display at Webster and Company.

Linda Holt Interiors

Linda Holt Photo

That antique lantern is just incredible and although the hefty price tag might not work with all budgets, the succulents in the organic inspired pottery is easy to recreate. As if the Universe was making it easy for me, I stopped at Home Depot on my way home and what did they have? A whole table display of succulents. My weekend project is about to get underway.

Have a happy weekend everyone!

Looking to freshen up your home for Spring? If you would like help with decorating or color give me a call.

Which wall is best for a painted accent wall?

I recently received this question from a reader who was painting her family room and wanted to know which wall would make the best accent wall. She was confused as to whether she should pick a solid wall that was a side wall, the fireplace wall, or the wall behind the sofa which had a window and a door.

Regardless of how you feel about accent walls (many designers and decorators see them as dated) they are still very popular here in the north east and quite a few of my color consulting clients ask for them. When choosing an accent wall, remember it will be a focal point in your room, so be sure there is a good reason to draw attention to it. A random “side wall” doesn’t make for a good accent wall just because it’s a solid wall. Also, don’t default to an accent wall just because you don’t have the courage to paint all four walls your accent color, otherwise it will just look like you haven’t finished painting.

So, which wall is best for a painted accent wall?  Here are the three things I look for when deciding on an accent wall.  

1. A solid wall with no breaks or interruptions. A solid wall behind a sofa or a bed is always a good choice. It is a great place for a pop of bold color that adds visual interest to an otherwise lack luster room.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

2. A symmetrical wall. If you must use a wall with windows or other architectural features it will look best if the wall is symmetrical.  A wall with various sized windows or windows and a door is not the best choice.

symetrical accent wall

In the photo above, the accent wall is symmetrical with the two matching windows and sconces. The dark gray also relates to the sofa and draws you visually through the room while adding some interest to what looks to be a long narrow room.

3. The ceiling. Painted ceilings are very on trend right now and since the ceiling is the 5th wall it is a great place to add a pop of color.

blue painted ceiling

image via Apartment Theraphy

Similar to solid walls, a painted ceiling works best if there are clearly defined boundaries. In other words, if you live in open concept house, a bold turquoise ceiling may not work for the whole house. Bed rooms and bath rooms are my rooms of choice for a painted ceiling.

The Novagrats via Apartment Theraphy

The Novagrats via Apartment Theraphy

This morning I stopped by a client’s home who I had helped with choosing color a few weeks ago. She had recently moved to a beautiful new condo and her main floor was one very long and narrow single room (approx. 60′ x 20′) that was kitchen, living room, dining area.

We decided on an accent wall for the far back wall for two reasons. She wanted to tie in the orange accent from her rug, pillows, fabric and art work and we also wanted to visually shorten the room with the advancing orange wall. Here is the result.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Here is another view of just the wall

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

She told me it is her favorite thing about the condo and just loves walking in and seeing the pop of bright color.

As always, I love feed back…What do you think of accent walls?  Do you have an accent wall in your home?

Tips and strategies for decluttering and downsizing: part 2

via Pinterest

via Pinterest

In my previous post I shared my tips on the best way to sort items when decluttering and downsizing. What I found was that it was relative easy to decide on what to keep (items I loved, needed or used) and what to throw away (broken items, old TV’s, obsolete computers.) . The donate pile was easy too, (old clothes, furniture, extra kitchen utensils and small appliances).

The biggest stumbling block for me, which I assume it might be for others, was deciding what to do with those items that were relegated to the sell pile. We had items like vintage fishing lures that had belonged to my grandfather, antique linens and china that had belonged to my mother’s great aunt and a pottery collection that I had grown tired of. These things were obviously not suited to my local Salvation Army drop off. Luckily time is on our side since we plan to downsize in 3-5 years not next month. I therefor had the time to try out a combination of multiple selling venues. Listed below is what I found to be the pros and cons of each.

Yard Sale:

Pro’s: people came to us and in one day we cleared out some stuff and what didn’t sell we hauled back into the garage to deal with as time allowed.

 Cons: It was a huge amount of work getting ready for it and we made only pennies on the dollar. It also involved giving up a full day on a beautiful weekend in the Spring.

 What I learned: Yard sales are great for things that you know local folks want. Kids toys, garden supplies, picture frames, current best seller books and tools. What didn’t sell were cheap decorative items (made in China), clothes, older sports equipment, old books, and rugs.

Craigslist:

Pros: I was somewhat able to set the selling price (I got more than I would have at the yard sale) and people came and picked up the item.

Cons: Strangers come to your house, and what I found was that people would make an appointment to come and see the item and then 75% of the time they wouldn’t show up, nor would they call and cancel.

What I learned: Similar to yard sales, people shopping on Craigslist are looking for rock bottom prices. After weeks of listing and re-listing we eventually sold an oriental rug that was in mint condition for $300… sadly,we had paid close to $2,000 for it. Out dated dining sets will only sell for a couple hundred dollars and no one wants upholstered pieces unless you are practically giving them away (the bed bug scare maybe)?  What sold best for us on Craigslist were current style, well known brands; Pottery  Barn, West Elm and Crate and Barrel items all received an immediate response.

Ebay:

Pros: The items that sold, fetched WAY more than I had even anticipated. If you are listing as an auction item the listing fee is free. If something doesn’t sell it is easy to re-list. 90% of the items I listed sold the first time around and the second 9% sold the second time around. 1% of the things I listed didn’t get any bids even after several attempts. It’s also fun to watch the price go up as people bid and out bid one another.

Cons: Okay, I’ll be honest, there are a lot of cons to selling on ebay. First of all, it takes a huge amount of time to photograph each item, list it and then once it sells it is your responsibility to package and ship it. It took me a full day to photograph and list 6 items. There is a learning curve for selling on ebay and the listing process is tedious and time consuming. Lastly, since I don’t own a postage scale I lost money on almost every single item because I underestimated the shipping cost.

What I learned: Small and hence easy to ship items are the most manageable to sell on ebay. I sold some pottery and then spent almost an entire day searching for suitable shipping boxes, purchasing bubble wrap and peanuts and then packaging everything up to take to the post office. Antiques do very well on ebay as do any kind of vintage collectibles. An antique doll sold for $184.00, a pair of miniature sterling silver antique scissors sold for over $50.00 and the antique fishing lures all sold for good amounts.

My final post (part three) of my declutering experience will be up next week. I will give both the pros and cons of my final three selling venues;  auction, consignment and a local flea market. Until then, happy decluttering.

What is your favorite way to sell items?

If 2014 is the year you decide to finally love your home, give me a call.

 

Tips and strategies for decluttering and downsizing: Part One

Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful holiday. Now that it’s January it seems the number one focus on everyone’s mind (based on Pinterest, blogs and magazine covers) is juicing, and decluttering. Both with the ultimate goal of being thin and organized in 2014.

It makes sense that the majority of us are feeling the need to purge after a month of too much food, too much partying, too much clutter, and too much overall excess.

clutter

I have the personality type that functions best if my environment is organized, clean and clutter free.  Having said that, you would assume my house would reflect that but you would be wrong. You see, as a decorator I am by nature a collector. I have way too many throw pillows, dishes, table linens, extra furniture and decorative accessories. My husband is a high tech guy so he is equally at fault with having too many computers, monitors, cords and “high tech” stuff.

About six months ago I decided enough is enough. I had reached my breaking point (again, my personality type) and we have been slowly decluttering. I will be honest, it has not always been easy. Many items have sentimental or monetary value and deciding what to do with those items is where we get tripped up. We are continuing to move forward though so that by this time next year I want to proudly claim that we are clutter free.

For those of you who also plan to make de-cluttering or downsizing a goal in 2014 I thought it would be helpful to share tips and strategies that have helped us.

1. De-cluttering is a process. Unless you are the rare bird who can say, “just pull the dumpster up to the back door” and then start heaving stuff into the trash, de-cluttering takes time…lot’s of time. What works best for me is to set the timer on my iphone for a designated amount of time (usually 45 minutes to one hour) and work only for that specific amount of time.

2. Target one area at a time. I started with a single closet in the hallway and only worked on that space until it was done.

3. Divide items into four groups. Group one are items to keep, group two are items to be tossed, group three are items to donate or give away and group four are items to sell. When deciding which group something should go in, this is where you need to be a little ruthless. Try to keep emotion out of your decision. Just because something was given as a gift or cost a lot of money doesn’t mean you need to keep it forever. If it is not adding to the enjoyment of your life, or you are not using it then it is time to let it go.

4. When deciding what goes in the “keep”group ask these three questions.

Do I love it? (furniture, art work, accessories, clothes)

Do I need it? (tax receipts, waffle iron warranty, 20+ scented candles)

Do I use it? (ten year old treadmill, old tools, clothes 2 sizes too small)

Only things that fit into one of these three categories should go in the keep pile when de-cluttering…again, be brutally honest.

 Now that you have items separated into one of four groups what next? 

Check back later in the week as part two will address the best resources I found for dealing with things to donate or sell along with the pros and cons of each resource such as charities, yard sales, Craigslist, Ebay, and a few more.

How about you?  Is decuttering a goal for you in 2014? Do you have tips that worked best for you? I would love to hear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas decorating and a few of my favorite things

One of the things I like most about Christmas decorating is pulling out all the “special” decorations. They might not be the prettiest or coordinate with my homes colors but they are ones that are full of family history and have the most meaning. Now that my Christmas decorating is finished, I thought I would share a few of my favorite things.

My vintage Santa cookie jar, inherited from my mother in law, sits on the kitchen table and stands guard over the trays of Christmas treats.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

My grandmother’s champagne glasses are all ready for the Christmas Eve toast. They don’t hold a lot of champagne so the bottle is always nearby!

Linda Holt photo

Linda Holt photo

Our tree may not be magazine worthy or even blog worthy but every single ornament has some kind of special significance. It was either given as a gift, purchased while on vacation or hand made by the boys when they were little.

Christmas tree

This plastic Santa ornament has been on my Christmas tree for as long as I can remember. It was one of only two ornaments I asked to take with me when I got married.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

This paper origami whale has survived unscathed since 1991. It was made by a good friend of mine from photography school. Thanks Jill!

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Phot0

We’ve always loved this Star of David ornament, made by my now 27 year old when he was in the 1st grade. I guess it was the schools attempt at sending home a politically correct Christmas ornament.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

It must not have gone over too big because just 3 years later when my younger son was in the same class there were no more Christmas ornaments.

The angel at the top is over 30 years old. My husband and I bought her for our first Christmas when “Country” was really big.  I know she is really dated and every year I am tempted to retire her but I always end up giving her another year. For some reason my husband seems to be most fond of her.

What do you think, should I keep her going or replace her with something more my style?

My Christmas table is set and for the first time in a long, long time I went with a traditional red, green and white color palette.

Linda Holt Photo

The bottle brush trees and little figurines were part of a big snow village that I remember from my early childhood. My mom stopped setting it up by the time I was a teenager and after she passed away these few trees and figures were all that I could find of it. My favorite is the little skater and the glass “pond”.

bottle brush Christmas trees

Linda Holt Photo

I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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