Calming the Visual Chaos

March 28, 2019 § 2 Comments

The epitome of calmness. Photo: @harlimarten

It’s all around us. Chaos. From the constant stream of visual information we scroll through daily and the mountain of snail mail we sort and toss to the stuff of life — equipment, cords, mismatched socks, you get it.

On the other side of chaos, we have the wisdom and direction of Marie Kondo who delicately advises us on how to live a happy and ordered life. It’s no wonder she has sold over 10 million copies worldwide of her “The Life- Changing Magic of Tidying Up” Series.

But what if you’re somewhere between surrendering to utter dysfunction and summoning up the energy to fight the entropy bombardment to disrupt your home? What else can you do to add some calmness to your home without ordering a dumpster for the driveway?

  • Rid Yourself of Red (unless it’s your favorite color)

Whatever tends to agitate you emotionally, get rid of it. I’m talking about colors, not your family members. Whether it’s your limey yellow kitchen walls, red curtains in the master bedroom, or the dated and kind of ugly wallpaper left by the previous owner, take the time to change it. Personally, I took all the red pillows and artwork out of my living room and replaced them with blues and calm neutrals. I noticed a remarkable change in my spirit.

Choose calming colors
  • Create One Beautiful Vista Per Room

If the thought of clearing out 27 years of living from your house is overwhelming, then focus only on the view of each room from the doorway. If you can free up and make beautiful only one wall of each room, you will enter the room each time with a feeling of orderly calmness. The rest will come with time. It’s a start.

Make one wall beautiful
  • Keep the Plants Living

It may seem ridiculous to say this, but “Water your plants.” If you have them, nurture them. Otherwise, give them away or toss. There is nothing calming about a dead plant occupying a coveted corner of your living room. You might better replace that pot with a decorative one with nothing in it.

Artificial but it LOOKS real

Now that you’ve started to create a calmer environment, you might have the energy to rummage through closets and drawers — maybe on a nice day with the windows open. I’m not suggesting you throw anything out. Just put like things with other like things. It will make a big difference.

  • Invest in Containers

In the laundry area, bathroom closet, under the sink, in the kitchen drawers — everywhere there is a bunch of related stuff cluttering up an area, put that stuff in a container: basket, plastic bin, or a box even. What that does is take all that visual clutter and replace it with one thing to look at on a daily basis. Then when you need to get an item, focus and locate it in the container. But until then, you’ve managed to calm that visual chaos.

  • Combine Cluttery Stuff

Books, collections, trophies, photos of the family — everything that tends to creep all over the house and look busy. Combine them into groupings: a collage of family photos on the stairwell wall, a curio cabinet with all your collectibles, dedicated bookcases for your library of favorite books. Once your collections are contained in a dedicated area for display, you will appreciate them more for all the stories you can tell about them. Plus, you can find them. You’ve contained your chaos of stuff by highlighting and honoring the reason you’re keeping it all.

  • Keep a White Flag Handy

Okay, that’s it. I don’t want to stress you out with another to-do list. There will be days, weeks, months when you need to take care of yourself and let the house go. Acknowledge that. Wave your white flag. Order a pizza delivered, close the door to the clutter, and put your feet up. Or take a bath. It will all be there tomorrow, but you may feel better about it.

Relaxxxx

Got Personality? Show It

January 19, 2016 § Leave a comment

What does your room say about you? Designer Jeffery Bilhuber (House Beautiful, Feb 2016) infused a boatload of personality and let us know a few other things as well. What this room shouts to me:gallery-living-room-1

  • Forget about symmetry. Mismatched end tables are way more interesting than a set.
  • Go ahead and mix woods. We acquire furniture from our parents, we find treasures at a flea market, and sometimes pieces have sentimental value. Use them — even if they don’t “match” your decor.
  • Add your favorite color to the room. And if you don’t have a favorite, use several. If you keep the colors at the same “hue value” (lightness or darkness of a color), they mix well together.
  • Function is important. Don’t forget that you need to set your wine glass down.
  • Forget matchy-matchy. This designer has taken that declaration over the top by using two different window shade colors. Bold and impetuous design choice there, but again, the room screams,”I want to be different.” And I applaud that.
  • Let color speak in the room by creating a neutral backdrop from which the color can “pop.” Here, the light gray walls and the neutral woven rug give the eye a rest.
  • Flowers and the little accessory details finish the room. Without them the room can look cold and staged (too many, of course, and you have a clutter zone).
  • Texture matters. That sofa looks so soft. Adding warmth and texture with pillows can warm up anything, even leather.

Bottom line: You’ve heard this before, but it’s worth repeating. Don’t just follow the design trends. Let your room reflect who you are and what you love.

 

Warm Your Soul with Color

January 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

ImageThose of us with light airy neutral homes are feeling the chill this winter. Whether it’s the frigid temperatures outside or the cabin fever inside, the light, low-contrasting palette we enjoy so much of the year for its calm and cool comfort just isn’t cutting it.

A recent trip to a home goods store had me craving color. On two separate occasions, my eye scoured the store’s palette of spring selections and landed on the same warm vibrant coral. I had to have it. First the pillow. And next time, two towels (for me only, I might add).

Color makes us feel good. Color cheers us up and calms us down. And the right color can make our homes feel cozy and welcoming any time of year. Welcome home, my new coral accents. And if the temps don’t rise soon, I’ll be off to the paint store for a gallon of, you guessed it, coral.

Stay warm, my friends!

Spring Into Unexpected Color

January 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

Designers are adding pops of color to the previous year’s light neutral color palette and in the most unexpected places. Look up for an opportunity to add color to your white kitchen. Pull some of that ceiling color down into the room with dishes, placemats, and other accessories. And create “flow” between rooms by adding a touch of your ceiling color to the adjoining room.

Color trends like this year’s fuschia are fun when you can add the color with inexpensive pillows or a single upholstered chair (http://www.worldmarket.com/product/fuchsia-nina-chair.do). Keeping the base of the room neutral lets you change your color palette when fresh new opportunities arise. Or with the seasons.NinaFuschiaWorldMark

Do You Know How Easy This Is??

January 18, 2014 § Leave a comment

Image This update, to state the obvious, is the easiest project short of rolling paint on a wall. So easy that many of you will skip over this post or roll your eyes that I’m even mentioning it. But just in case you are still looking at stained seat covers on your kitchen chairs, you have no more excuses.

  • Turn the chair upside down.Image
  • Take your handy-dandy screwdriver (yes, you should have your own) and twist out the 4 screws.
  • Next, go to your local fabric store and pick out a nice pattern and color that will look good in your room.
  • Buy 1 1/2 yards (of a 50-54″-wide) fabric. If you’re at JoAnn’s Fabrics and Crafts, go to the “Home Dec” section so the fabric is sturdy enough to hold up. You don’t want quilting cotton — too flimsy.
  • Lay the fabric upside down on a large table or the floor. Place your seat upside down on the fabric and cut out the new seat cover, leaving at least a 2-3″ margin after you lift the fabric up to cover the sides of the seat. Cut the fabric. (Don’t stress about the cutting — the edges are not going to show.)
  • Next. If you don’t already have a staple gun (sigh), you need one. So many uses.
  • Pull the fabric taut over the seat and put one staple in the center front underside of the seat.
  • Turn the seat around and pull the fabric taut again putting one staple in the center back underside of the seat. Repeat with the sides, making sure the fabric pattern is straight (turn the seat over and check).
  • Then pulling the fabric taut, staple the fabric onto the seat, moving toward the corners. Fold the corner pieces and staple underneath.
  • Trim the fabric excess. Turn the seat over. Place it back on the chair and put the screws back in.

VOILA!

Home-Staging Tips That Help You Sell

January 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

Image

Tip 1: Make the Master Bedroom a cozy nest.

Remove outdated window treatments.
Dress the bed to look welcoming.
Add art above the headboard.
Make sure there is adequate lighting.

Image

Tip 2: Clear the path to the room’s focal point.

Take away unnecessary furniture.
Remove dark window valances.
Rearrange furniture to feature focal area.

FDRafter

Tip 3: Remove styling that dates the house.

Less is more when you’re trying to attract young buyers.
Remove rugs to show off tile or hardwood floors.
Reorient furniture to add space.

 

Before shots:

ImageImageImage

Clear Knick-Knacks Before Buyers Knock-Knock

January 16, 2014 § Leave a comment

ImageAttention Homeowners:

1) Are you planning to put your house on the market anytime soon?

2) Are you a collector?

If you answered YES to both questions, then I’m here to help.

Whether it’s a massive book collection in the living room, a rock collection in the study, or a porcelain collection in the corner curio cabinet, the very first step in preparing your home for the market is to

  • Box up your collections.

You may think your treasures are carefully tucked away on high shelves away from onlookers, but collections, plain and simple, represent clutter and add to the perceived age of the house. Collections also draw the eye of the potential buyers away from the architectural features of the house (what you want them to see) and focus the buyer’s attention on your hobbies. What they most likely will remember about your house will be the collections and not the house.

Another even more practical reason to box up your collections is so that nothing will get broken. Potential buyers and their children wander through your house unaccompanied during an Open House, and a toy car collection will stimulate lots of interest, but not the good kind.

You do not have to strip the shelves completely bare. Empty shelves do not sell houses any better than over-stuffed ones. You can keep some books and larger accessories. As a rule of thumb, shelves should be about 2/5ths full. In other words, if you have a bookshelf with 5 shelves, 3 of them should be emptied and the remainder of the items redistributed. If you empty the entire bookshelf, then remove it from the room completely.

Hope that gets you started. Happy Selling!

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