A Joyful Heartbreak

You may be wondering, where the heck has Carole been these past two months!? I'm so sorry, friend, I’ve been totally MIA, and I have so much to tell you! We’ve been in the process of packing up and moving everything across the country, and since this is my tenth move in eleven years, you might think it would be easy for me by now. But it wasn’t. Actually, it was a LOT harder than I thought it would be, and so, I had to take a step back from blogging and social media to process everything. But let me tell you all about how we ended up moving!

One day I was sitting on the sofa, after we’d eaten dinner in our little New York apartment, when hubs comes into the living room and says, “I got an interview with JPL,”.

Wait, what?

He tells me he applied to a position there a while ago, and just got a call to set up a phone interview. If you aren't sure what JPL is, it stands for Jet Propulsion Laboratory, managed by Caltech for NASA. They're most recently known for putting the Mars Rover on Mars, and their main objective is space exploration and earth science research. Pretty much, it's been hubs dream to work in some kind of space related field, so you can imagine how happy he was to get an interview with them! So, after he tells me about the interview, and when I finally stop jumping up and down with excitement, I remember where JPL is. I start to panic inside. We’d just seemed to hit our stride in NYC, with friends, church, and growing my business. What was I going to do if I had to leave all of that behind, and move all the way to Southern California?

My sweet friends were telling me not to worry. Not to get too far ahead of myself. Maybe he wouldn’t get the job. And that’s when it hit me - I didn’t want to see him give up his dream for the sake of my fear of change. I couldn’t ask him not to take the job if it was offered to him. No way!

As you might guess, after a phone and in-person interview, and many days of waiting for a few things to process, he got the job! We were so excited for the amazing opportunity he had been given. But then it was time to start saying goodbye. For about a month (a huge blessing we were given so much time before he had to start), we spent as much time as we could hanging out with friends and family, and getting around to all of those New York things we'd let fall by the wayside. This is where I had a second epiphany. There were a lot of tears and sad last embraces, and I realized how lucky we were to be sad. We had really made a home in NYC, by investing enough time and energy into that city to make it painful to leave.

Our friends threw us a going away party! The friend who hosted went all out with the decor. She's a fabulous decorator and I love these poms she hung from the ceiling.

Our friends threw us a going away party! The friend who hosted went all out with the decor. She's a fabulous decorator and I love these poms she hung from the ceiling.

When you’re surrounded by friends who love you and cry with you during those tough transitions, you know you’ve truly found home. Home isn’t just a pretty place to relax or entertain, it’s the people you do those things with that create a home. New York, though it might be hard to believe, with it’s crazy, never ending energy, sirens every few minutes, and smelly, sticky summer sidewalks, was truly a home. Our hearts were full there, and we celebrate the memories we made with people we love. We will always consider New York a special home, because there are so many people there who hold our hearts in their hands.

The day we left, I sat on the plane, tears in my eyes as I watched our city and home fade away through the window. All those people I loved were down there, but I was happy to know that even though we were leaving, I would always have the best part of New York in my heart. Friendship, family, and a sense of what it means to be at home.

Our last Saturday in New York was spent with good friends on the rooftop of The Standard. Hubs and I came here to celebrate our third anniversary, so it was really special for us to come back with friends and to say farewell.

Our last Saturday in New York was spent with good friends on the rooftop of The Standard. Hubs and I came here to celebrate our third anniversary, so it was really special for us to come back with friends and to say farewell.

If you ever struggle to find that missing link to creating your best home (even a temporary one), here’s my humble advice: reach out to community and friends. Be intentional with them. Share yourself and your life with others who need all that you are. You’ll know you’ve done it right when your heart breaks just thinking of saying goodbye. And more than that, you’ll be making a home for others with your friendship.


I know I can’t leave you hanging on the details of our life now! We’re in Pasadena, about ready to move from company housing into a cute little cottage with a big ol’ yard for Penny, the monkey-dog. I call her that because there’s this awesome, tree-filled dog park we’ve been hanging out at every morning, where she’s learned to actually climb the tree trunks. She gets about five feet up, in her frenzied attempt to capture the squirrels. She's crazy! At least I know she’s enjoying her new surroundings as much as we are! My favorite thing so far is that sun never stops shining, except at night (duh), and it’s warm and dry. No more humidity, thank you very much! And as you can see below, the scenery is more beautiful than I could have imagined.

As far as the new house (which is a rental, by the way), I’m already planning and scheming about how to decorate it, and I’ve got some great ideas (thanks to some serious input from hubs, who is a genius). In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing those decorating projects with you! I'm SO excited to get started!

This is almost in our backyard! It's only a five minute drive from our new home, so hiking as a morning workout is actually doable. But since I'd want to spend all day here, I think we'll save it for the weekends. ;)

This is almost in our backyard! It's only a five minute drive from our new home, so hiking as a morning workout is actually doable. But since I'd want to spend all day here, I think we'll save it for the weekends. ;)

Thanks for reading friend, and for making it the whole way through this long post! I won't be posting as frequently as I was before, just until we fully settle in, but I wanted to put something out there so you wouldn’t think I fell off the face of the planet. We're moving this Saturday, by the way! Wish us luck! We're so ready to feel a little permanence again.

xoCarole

Why "Slow Design" is Great Design

You’ve probably seen those shows on HGTV, where an amazing design comes together in an hour or less, right? Or, do you remember that show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, where they’d build a whole house in seven days for a deserving family? And of course, you’d cry at the end because it was so magical? Okay, I did, and it was hot tears of joy:

Oh yes, I drew this is Microsoft Paint. I'm sorry, I don't actually have a pic of me crying! But you get the idea...I'm a blubbery crier. So probably best not to see a real photo, anyway!

Oh yes, I drew this is Microsoft Paint. I'm sorry, I don't actually have a pic of me crying! But you get the idea...I'm a blubbery crier. So probably best not to see a real photo, anyway!

What you don’t see behind the scenes are the many, many people hustling to get it done quickly. In reality, design takes months, and sometimes years (depending on the size of the project). Have you ever kept track of what the people are wearing throughout an entire HGTV show? Usually, their clothes change with the seasons, proof that their project is taking longer than just a few weeks!

Thank goodness for television editing, so we can watch months fly by in one hour. Saves on how much ice cream I need to buy for my weekend Rehab Addict fix!

Let's Slow Down

While there are a lot of things you can do to give your home a quick re-fresh (which, p.s., is one of my jams) what I’m really talking about here is a full makeover. And in that case, slow design is the best design. I don’t mean time-stopping slow. I just mean, the process will last much more than a few weeks. And remember, it all depends on the size of the project.

Before you run away, let me try to illustrate this with an example:

Let’s compare fast food to home cooked food. Fast food is made pretty quickly, or pre-made so that the heating up process is quick. But what is the result? It’s kinda thrown together, salty, and has lots of weird ingredients that make your stomach feel like you could fry chicken in it. No offense to my fast-food eating friends, because I LUUUV Burger King cheeseburgers! And Egg McMuffins. :)

On the other hand, home cooked food is generally made a lot slower, using non-pre-cooked ingredients. The process involves adding a pinch of this and that (don’t forget love), timing the cooking process perfectly to get the right texture and temp, and then all the ingredients are put together to make a meal that leaves your tummy and intestines happy.

Slow design is a lot like home cooked food. Great detail and attention (and love) are given to every aspect of the project, with every nuance considered so it reflects you and your needs.

Some Real-Life Reasons for Slow Design

  1. First and foremost, the most important reason is you. Heehee, I don’t mean you are slow. I’m saying that I need time to get to know you. I need time to ask you lots of questions, to fill in the blanks where I’m missing something, and to listen to you. And of course, I don’t want to rush you through the process of figuring out what you want and like. You might not actually know what you want. It takes time for us to figure that out together.
  2. Secondly, each person is different, so I won’t use all of the same pieces for you that I did for another person. Which means meaningful time spent, hunting for that just-right combination of loveliness that will make you happy.
  3. Third, each client has a different budget, and different "priority needs”. That means I will adjust where money is spent, in terms of items of importance, for each person’s design.

There are other reasons for slowness, which are less sexy. Like backordered, or the dreaded no-longer-available items, issues with delivery, lead time on custom pieces, and sometimes really yucky stuff. Like a race-car bed gets delivered instead of a regular queen, for the master. One of those things is expected at some point, and it’s worth mentioning. Okay, maybe not exactly the race-car bed scenario, but you just never know! Anyone else think that would be a little bit funny?

How Much Time Does a Decorator Need?

Your decorator or designer will work hard to keep to the schedule and make deadlines (when out of control factors don’t come out to play). We don't want the process to be slower than necessary, for your sanity and comfort. But in the name of slow design, here's a helpful tip; if your deadline to redecorate a few rooms is “in time for the holidays”, get in touch with a decorator at least four to six months in advance, especially if you want custom pieces. That way, the new, custom family sofa will be there in time for the whole family to crash on!

Holiday crashing ready!

Holiday crashing ready!

Thanks for stopping to chat, friend! I hope this helped you understand the benefits of slow design and will ease your mind when your decorator estimates the timeline for your project!

Have more questions about timelines for a specific project? Send me a note with your project goals! I’d love to help you make your home holiday ready!

In a pinch and don’t have time for that? No worries! We can still spruce up your space a bit to make it work for you. No fretting, let’s chat!

xoCarole

A Designer's Secret to a Perfect Home

I'm going to share a secret with you. You know all those pretty rooms you see in magazines, on Pinterest, and HGTV? They're fake. Yep, fake-o. I'm seriously not even kidding. Let me explain.

It’s fake, like you sent your kid to school for picture day wearing their best outfit, hair done, their body is clean, and it doesn't look like they've been crying at all.

It’s fake, like you got dressed up for a date with your love, and actually put on lipstick, a dress, some heels and did your hair.

It’s fake, like you can hear your neighbor knocking at the door (you're hoping they have cookies), and you're stuffing everything, I mean everything, into the hall closet before letting them in.

Do any of these things sound familiar? If yes, keep reading!

Look at that pretty table! It's so perfect and clean! And oh so not like that all the time.

Look at that pretty table! It's so perfect and clean! And oh so not like that all the time.

Behind the Scenes

All the real stuff, the life stuff, is in hiding. Just like we put on our best selves for others, all those magazines and perfect Pinterest and Instagram photos are doing the same.  For instance, a lot of the furniture in the photos probably lives there for good, but not all of it. And, yes, it's immaculate for the photograph. But none of those spaces always look like that. Most people don't live in a perfect world where nothing gets messy and unorganized, covered in dog hair and dust (guilty), or full of crunched cereal in the sofa cushions (you think I'm talking about kids, but I'm actually talking about me *Captain Crunch* obsession).

Unless you've got A LOT of money to have a maid come over everyday, no one's space looks pristine and perfect all the time. Behind the scenes of those photos looks like this: furniture is brought in or moved out and re-arranged on picture day. Accessories and flowers are added for punch. And, of course, it gets cleaned like nobody's business. Oh and I can't forget to mention photo editing. It happens to every single photo that's made public. So, you've not only got all the staging beforehand, but the touch up afterwards.

That's a lot of fake.

See? Backstage pass to my life at work. Messy, mug that doesn't match anything, dog toy, papers on the floor, and unattractive cascading robe. Gosh I love that robe. So blissfully cozy.

See? Backstage pass to my life at work. Messy, mug that doesn't match anything, dog toy, papers on the floor, and unattractive cascading robe. Gosh I love that robe. So blissfully cozy.

What About My Friend's Perfect Home?

Oh my gosh, I hear you, friend! I'm not going to tell you that maintaining a beautiful place is impossible (or a crime if you happen to be a Martha Stewart type, in which case please share your magic). But it takes a lot of time, discipline, and commitment (or money) to keep it looking great. There are some people I know whose homes are pretty darn clean and nice looking, but there are housekeepers involved on some level, they have to work really hard to keep it that way, and pretty much they just don't have a lot of "stuff" to begin with. And, guess what? They still get crunched cheerios in the carpet and in the sofa cushions, and some days, it looks like an explosion went off.

Let Perfect Go

So, my friend, are you going to let yourself off the hook a little bit? I hope so. Life is messy. Life is unorganized. Life is flying by the seat of your pants sometimes, just hoping everyone eats, bathes, sleeps, and makes it to wherever they need to be safely, with their clothes on.

Mmmkay, so with all that being said, won't you give yourself the gift of decorating your home? There's never going to be a perfect time to do it. Life is always going to present you with some reason or other not to. Amiright? And, oh my goodness, let me share this with you, friend! There are so many kid, pet, crazy-life resistant options out there to ease your hesitant mind. Here, let me give you some examples:

  • Sunbrella fabrics: while they don't produce their velvet anymore (sad day, but hey it was really expensive anyway), you can get some indoor fabric in pretty patterns and colors...even cheetah print! Their fabric is tough and cozy, for a soft touch and easy, just-wipe-or-wash cleaning. They also offer rugs, accessories, and drapery fabrics, so you can incorporate it into every corner of your home.
  • Use paint with higher sheen: it's typically used for bathrooms and kitchens and places that have high traffic, like hallways. But if your kids, pets, or other crazy life activities end up leaving traces of themselves on the walls, try using it everywhere. Makes walls a lot easier to clean!
  • Durable furniture: break up with your college dorm room stuff and opt for well-made, sturdy pieces that can withstand the hurricane that is life. If the family and pets are going to jump on it, you might as well make sure it won't break. (Hint, save money and buy sturdy stuff that's already showing it's age. You can spruce it up, or leave it a bit scuffed to help blend the new scuffs in).
  • Clean lines and off-the-floor: clean lines make a room look more streamlined, and using furniture with legs that allow you to vacuum underneath helps make it easier to get dust balls and toy balls behind it.
  • Take time to purge: now's your chance to get rid of those chachkies or put them away for a while. No sense dusting them or worrying about breaking them. Keep out a few select, special items and put 'em up high where hands can't reach.

Yes, you could actually have something that looks like this using all the tips I just mentioned!! But remember, it won't always look this perfect and that's okay. As a matter of fact, I hope you get messy, because that means your're living your life. That's the real secret to a perfect home.

One Last Thought

You don't have to spend a ton of money on decorating, which you can read about in this post. But if you're ready to make an investment that will last through the lifetime of whatever crazy you've got going on right now, go for it! There's really no better time to get started on making your space work for you than now, and enjoy it, too! Really, if your space is causing you more stress than help living life fully, it's worth fixing.

Thinking about hiring a decorator to do the work for you? Well, hey there, friend! Take some time to poke around, read this post on how to pick the right decorator for you, and send me your questions! I can't wait to hear from you!

As always, thanks for stopping by, friend!

xoCarole

5 Things a Decorator Will Do for You

Ever wonder what an interior decorator actually does? It might seem like the job is easy, shopping and spending money, looking at all the pretty things, and being fabulous. Okay, there is a little of that, but there’s a lot more to it! I want to fill you in, so you can be sure how hard your investment is working, and how much love is being poured into your home. Also, I'm just going to admit right now that I'm not as fabulous as I pretend to be!

One way I get inspired is through gathering objects together to create a mood board.

One way I get inspired is through gathering objects together to create a mood board.

1. I'm Kind of Your Therapist

*Squealing* I really really really love this part! After all, I'm an INFJ (The Counselor - Meyers Briggs Personality Test). Aaaand I just gave away how dorky I am. Also, I am not actually a licensed therapist or counselor (just covering my bases, here).

My job is to ask you all about you! Your style, your goals, your hobbies, your dreams, then use that juicy information to put together a unique design. But that process can be intimidating for you...which is where the "therapy" comes in. The reason I love this part so much is because I love drawing people out of themselves. I think the first thing clients tend to do is hide behind "safe" colors and styles, because they're worried about the outcome of the design. Totally understandable. That's why I make it a priority to soothe your mind, and gently draw you out (and maybe challenge you a bit) so I can give you the absolute best design possible.

2. I'm Your Personal Artist

I've spent hours at design shows, attending workshops, thumbing through the latest magazines and blogs, chatting up vendors, finding inspiration during my travels and off-time, and taking classes to become certified...just to be prepared for this part. And all of this was for you! And I thrive on it.

I take a lot of time choosing each and every piece of furniture, accessory, color, fabric, artwork, plant, floor covering...right down to the hinges on the doors. Each aspect of the design has to be something you'll love and they must work together harmoniously. And obviously, they need to fit in the space and function well for you and your family.

Totally in love with these pillows from KL Design Ireland

Totally in love with these pillows from KL Design Ireland

3. I've Always Got Your Back

Yep, I always make sure I have a back-up plan! The reason? I can't read your mind, though I wish I could! And that little pigeon lamp I picked out for you may remind you of the time you were attacked by a flock of them when you were five...which you might not want to be reminded of, like, ever. So, I pull out a handy-dandy back up lamp, and voila! No more terrifying memories. True story...I was chased by a flock of large white goose as a kid, and even now, they scare me a little bit!

4. I Respect Your Investment

A big part of the process involves prioritizing which pieces to spend more on and which to spend less on.This is a tough one, but I do it so we stick to your budget. The budget has to cover all purchases, taxes, labor, and my fees. Finding a balance in giving you what you want, spending money in all the right places, and staying within budget takes skill, time, and sometimes a little hair-pulling (out of my own head, not yours, haha!). But I love the challenge, mostly at the end when it all comes together.

5. I Put the 1000 Piece Puzzle Together For You!

Ooooh, ooooh, the most fun part! This is when I actually purchase all the pretty things!! And it's so much fun! Now, of course, sometimes, I face delivery problems, back orders and out of stock pieces (maybe time to use that back-up piece), and I'm also coordinating scheduling times (making sure the pieces are coming to your house in order, like the rug before the sofa, because who wants to play Jenga with large pieces of furniture), painters and installers, and all kinds of things you never have to worry about. 

The best part? When everything is finally delivered, I get to come in and make sure everything's perfectly arranged according to plan, art hung on the walls, and the little details styled to pure loveliness. I get to see the look on your face when your home is finally finished, and you get to live in and enjoy it.

Everything's prettier with coffee!

Everything's prettier with coffee!

One Final Thought

Each decorator is different, and has a slightly different approach to their process. So, before you ever jump into having your space decorated, be sure to hire the right person for you, someone that gets you and you trust. And be ready to share freely and honestly once you find the right one. Check out these posts on how to find the right decorator for you and how to get the most out of the interior design process.

Have more questions about the process? Or are you ready to get started? Maybe you just want to say "hey"! Comment or send me a note...I can't wait to hear from you!

How To Get the Most Out of the Interior Design Process

Each decorator or designer has a different process, but the basics are the same. Your decorator asks you lots of questions about what you like and want, they present you with a few different design schemes based on your responses, and then they start decorating! That sounds pretty simple, right?

I love that drawing floor plans and coloring them are part of my job. Kid goals = complete.

I love that drawing floor plans and coloring them are part of my job. Kid goals = complete.

It is, and it’s lots of fun! That being said, I know it can also be a little scary. Even though you have chosen someone that you know is awesome and “gets” you (read about choosing a decorator here), you still might have some hesitation and fear about what they’re going to create. After all, this is your home we’re talking about, and you're the one who's going to live with the decor every single day.

So, what is the best way to get a design you love that’s totally you?

Be Real!

This is probably one of the most important things you can do during this whole process. You gotta be you, friend. You’ve got to reach down deep inside and pull out those secret things you love, and tell your decorator all about it. Consider your decorator to be a bit of a "design psychologist", and open up! For instance, share your real favorite color. You don’t have to share only “safe” colors, in fear that your floors, ceilings and walls will be painted some cascading rainbow of crazy. That's not gonna happen when you've got the right person on your side!

There are so many colors, and so many ways to use them tastefully! Which one is your favorite?

There are so many colors, and so many ways to use them tastefully! Which one is your favorite?

Your decorator wants to make the design reflect your personal style, in a way that satisfies you and is livable. This means they take your taste, lifestyle, habits, hobbies, etc., into serious consideration. To do this well, most decorators will ask you questions about your favorite styles, but even further, your lifestyle. Some of them might feel pretty personal, but those are the questions that help us learn as much about you as we can! It’s lovely to design a living room with no television, but if my client admits to having a Netflix addiction, you can bet they’re going to want a living room that allows them to lounge about. They'll need lots of surfaces for snacks (and drink of choice), cozy places to chill, and a big television as the focus of the room. And I get to make it look good, too!

You Should Be Able to Trust Your Decorator

Remember, your decorator knows what they’re doing, and a trustworthy one isn’t going to make a circus out of your home. Your decorator will know how to incorporate your favorite colors, patterns, and textures into a cohesive design that reflects your taste. Whatever your style, from soft and neutral to bold and colorful, make sure you share that with your decorator.

While it’s really important to communicate what you want in lots of detail, it’s no fun for you to do all the work. Your decorator knows their stuff, knows where to shop, knows the tricks to saving money in the right places, and knows how to make everything come together. You’ve hired them for a reason, so let them do the work for you! They take the pressure off of you in coordinating everything, from how things look, to timing of purchases, delivery and installation. There’s A LOT of work that goes into designing a room, and I’ll talk more about that next week.

I love a table full of furniture catalogs! Here I've got (clockwise from top left) Juliska, Dmitriy & Co., Francesco Della Femina Furniture, kate spade new york home, another Dmitriy & Co. postcard, and House of Hackney London. I'll take something from each one, please!

I love a table full of furniture catalogs! Here I've got (clockwise from top left) Juliska, Dmitriy & Co., Francesco Della Femina Furniture, kate spade new york home, another Dmitriy & Co. postcard, and House of Hackney London. I'll take something from each one, please!

Ask Lots of Questions

Trusting your decorator comes from choosing the right one for you, but it also comes from asking questions. It's really likely that you’ll have some questions about the design and the process – and that’s totally normal. Honestly, good design challenges you to stretch your imagination; your decorator wants to give you something that says “Wow!”. And from that come lots of questions! Don’t be afraid to ask for an explanation about the process and design they've created. And if you're really uncomfortable with something, by all means, let them know!

A good decorator is a good listener, passionate about giving you something you love, and will always take you seriously. So be open, honest, and ask questions. If you can do that, you’ll have a great experience decorating your home!

Thanks, friends, for stopping by to chat! If you have any questions about the design process, or you're looking for a decorator, send me a note! Don't be shy - I'm so excited to help you on this journey to great design!

xoCarole

How to Find the Right Decorator for You

“There’s no place like home,” –Dorothy Gale, The Wizard of Oz

Even after going over the rainbow, Dorothy just wants to get back to the place where she feels safe and everything is familiar. A place unlike any other. Home.

Isn't this a sweet little home-y cabin?

Isn't this a sweet little home-y cabin?

We all consider home to be a precious place or concept, so when you decide you want someone to decorate it for you, that can be a little bit scary! Or maybe a-lot-a-bit scary. You’re basically entrusting someone you don’t know to come inside your most intimate space and put their stamp on it; to essentially “create” home for you. 

You not only want to find someone who has a style you love, but someone you can trust will listen to you. You probably want someone who will challenge you with fresh ideas and create a design that speaks uniquely to you. But at the same time, how can you find someone who won't convince you to cover your walls in bright purple chicken feathers?!

If you’re willing to make the investment in a decorator, but you’re nervous about everything I just mentioned, keep reading. Yes, the process of finding the right decorator is time consuming, but definitely take your time. Don’t just go with the first person you find. There are a lot of decorators out there who have great taste and a great portfolio, but decorating is more than just “what looks good”. You want to find someone who thinks like you, someone you can relate to.

You Really "Get" Each Other

"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one," -C.S. Lewis.

Yep. Finding a decorator should feel a lot like that. It's that light-hearted feeling of excitement and joy when you realize, hey, this person is a lot like me! The opposite is true when a decorator isn't a right fit, that kind of heavy feeling in your gut accompanied by hesitation. If you can discern between these two feelings and listen to them in your search, then you'll have a much easier time sorting through all of your options!

Um, hello, Carole, how do I get that feeling at all you ask? By spending time on their website, following them on social media, and reading their blog. Once you think you've found the right person, it's a great idea to reach out and ask them about their process and see how they respond.

  • Are they communicating clearly?
  • Are they being transparent?
  • Do they seem genuinely excited to help me? 
  • Does their personality make me shout YAY!?
  • Do they sound like they know how to take care of me and ease my mind? 

These are all good questions to ask yourself when making your pro/con list. Also, I'm a big fan of lists, friend! If you've never made one before...try it, it'll make you feel better! And, it will help you narrow down your choices even more.

Get out that planner and take notes, make a list, and feel better!

Get out that planner and take notes, make a list, and feel better!

Why Is This Important?

Decorating your home is a slow and delicate process. It takes time and a lot of communication (which I'll be talking more about next week), so it's worth taking your time upfront to research who is best for you! Both you and your decorator will be happier knowing you are on the same page. It'll help make the whole process smoother and more fun, I promise! And you deserve the best outcome from your investment.

Are you searching for someone to help you decorate your home? Click on over to the contact page and send me a note! I'd love to help you decide if we "click"! (Pun intended, lol!). Oh, and if you're interested in learning more about decor, follow me on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest to get lots of pretty inspiration!

Lots of love friends! Thanks for stopping by today!

xoCarole

Spring House Tour by New York Junior League

Are you ready to see some champagne party worthy apartments? Are you sure? Because I’m warning you, if you scroll down, you’ll never want to leave this page. Okay, well, that’s fine with me. But first, join me and grab a glass of the best stuff you’ve got and start scrolling!

The New York Junior League put on their annual Spring House Tour (they have one in the fall, too. I’m totally going), this past Saturday. Basically, they feed you delicious food, serve you champagne, and let you walk around in luxurious apartments all day. Nuff said. Count me in anytime all of these things are combined. More about the NYJL later in this post!

1110 Park Avenue, Carnegie Hill Luxury

Lucky for me, my dear friend asked me to join her this weekend, and the first place we saw was 1110 Park Avenue, located in Carnegie Hill, one of the most prestigious and coveted neighborhoods in NYC. It’s an apartment listed with Toll Brother’s City Living , staged by Interior Marketing Group (more pics here), and the kitchen was designed by Christopher Peacock. All I can say is, I’m moving in. Well, maybe when I can dig up enough pocket change. *BIG cheesy winking*. We rode up a private keyed elevator, which opened up to a west view of the city. A terrace overlooks Park Ave, and there are two floors. Yes, stairs inside a NYC apartment. Check it out!

When we realized we were starving, our second stop was lunch at Desiron. It just so happens that the next apartment on the list is owned by Desiron's owner and founder. We rushed through lunch so we could zip over to his place!

Desiron, USA is located at 200 Lexington Ave, New York Design Center

Desiron, USA is located at 200 Lexington Ave, New York Design Center

Barrow Street - West Village Walk-Up

This apartment is in the West Village, one of my favorite places to walk around in the city. I took a bunch of pics of the neighborhood, and included a few here, just for you. My friend was a real sweetie for putting up with my "oh, wait, I gotta take a pic of that," every five seconds. Thanks, friend!

Okay, so the building was a pre-war, walk-up (thank goodness we only had to climb to the 3rd floor). This cozy one bedroom was like a charm on a bracelet. It felt so open with windows that look north and west (lucky!). Even the bathroom has a window, which is a dream come true for a New Yorker. The owner designed it to feel like a luxurious hotel, but I think it’s even better than that. It’s warm and personal, and oh so fresh!

Before we move on, I have to tell you that I failed you. There were seven homes on this tour, but we only made it to three. We just couldn’t stop taking pics and looking at every detail. So, I’m really sorry I don’t have more than three homes to show you! Hopefully there are pics floating around out there of the other four, and I’ll do my best to find them and let you know!

Lispenard Street - Tribeca Penthouse

The last space we saw was a penthouse in Tribeca, and was a combination of an office and home. Upon arrival to the building, we were greeted by an incredible hallway that reminded us of Hogwarts, but a really modern version. Unfortunately, my pics were way too dark to see much (I'm still figuring out this photography thing).

The penthouse was designed by the talented Lindsay Tarquinio. She combined the owner’s cherished artwork, bright open spaces, and gorgeous modern finishes to create a retreat-like feeling in the middle of chaos. Both the work space and living space were beautifully reflective of each other. I think there were a total of five outdoor terraces, and an airy, fabricated glass staircase leading all the way to the roof. I was a little scared to climb it since I’m afraid of heights, but I think I could get used to it pretty fast if it was in my apartment!

kate spade new york - Post Tour Reception

At this point, our feet were aching, our tummies were hungry, and we needed to hit the last spot, the kate spade home pop-up shop (open through the end of May)! Of course, it’s the absolute cutest storefront right in the middle of Soho. The store was filled with people, cute stuff, drinks and food. It was a real party! There were so many people crammed in here that I only managed to take a few photos.

We had such a great time soaking in all of that beauty, I can't wait to do it again in the fall!

A Snippet About NYJL...

The NYJL is a non-profit women's volunteer organization, the largest in New York City. They devote over 250,000 hours of service to this city every year. By promoting volunteerism, they improve communities and develop the potential of women through action and leadership.

History

NYJL (originally called Junior League for the Promotion of Settlement ) was founded by a 19 year old Mary Harriman in 1901. She saw poverty in NYC and wanted to do something about it. So she gathered some friends together and began teaching and mentoring immigrant families on the lower east side. Ever since then, this organization has been reaching out to the people of New York City, empowering women and the people they serve. For more information about NYJL, visit their website here

Thanks, friends, for stopping in for a chat! And if you need some help making your place look more like these apartments, click over to the contact page and schedule a consultation with me!

xoCarole

Why You Should Use Scent in Decor

I have a friend who lights candles every single time I go over to her apartment. She's decorated it beautifully to begin with, but there's something extra magical about it. Like you stepped into friendship and joy. Actually, it might be the cute way she answers the door...but seriously, those candles!

Spruce up a forgotten corner with a plant and a great smelling candle!

Spruce up a forgotten corner with a plant and a great smelling candle!

I can't even recall what the scent of her candles are. But I bet one day, I'll come across it again, and I'll be transported back to cheese and wine nights. While we were watching Harry Potter, of course, with her and her new baby. It'll be a lovely memory.

Do you have a memory like that?

Why is This Important?

Decorating isn't just about the here and now. It's something that impacts how you and your guests remember your home. When we decorate, I think it's important to consider how it will affect the future of a space and the lives of people we love. Scent can play a big part in that.

Rose, lemon and mint are some of my favorite scents

Rose, lemon and mint are some of my favorite scents

How Does It Work?

Scent is the strongest of the five senses, in terms of recalling memories and feelings. And here's where all those long hours studying collage anatomy helps. The really simple explanation is the smell center is neighbors with the memory and emotion centers in your brain. I don't want to scare you off with more details, so if you want to learn more, click here. (it's fun, I swear).

Since these centers are chillaxing near each other, it means a scent you smell during any experience can be connected with the memory and emotion you felt at that time. Years later, you might smell perfume on someone, and suddenly you're transported back in time. For instance, every time I smell Red Door by Elizabeth Arden, I remember opening cards from my grandma that smelled like her. It always makes me feel joyful!

Do you have a favorite scent you'd like to use in your home? If not, get out there and hunt one down! I have to admit, this is one of my favorite things to do. You can find me smelling every single candle at any store you can think of...I just can't leave until I've smelled them all.

How Can I Make My Home Smell Amazing?

There are so many ways, but here are a few of my favorites!

  • Light candles or use candle warmers/wax melters
  • Make a simmer pot or crock pot potpourri (a couple of recipes here)
  • Use scented, natural cleaning products
  • Wash your sheets, pillow covers, throws and other washables in fragrant detergent
  • Spray febreeze or essential oil + water as air and fabric fresheners
  • Bake cookies or bread. It'll smell delicious and then you'll have a treat

    *Hint these things work best in spaces with fresh air. So throw open the windows! Clean the dust from the cracks in your home, invest in a lidded trash bin and air filter.
    *If you have sensitivity to scent but still want to smell something in your home, I recommend natural products, like an essential oil + water spray or homemade potpourri that you find tolerable.

I hope you've found this helpful! Let me know what your favorite scent is, or your favorite method of scenting your home in the comments!

As always, thanks for stopping in to chat, friend!

xoCarole

4 Tricks to Create an Entryway (When You Don't Have One)!

How long have you been dreaming of the perfect entryway? A long time? I know, me too. My dream includes a spiral staircase, large vase of flowers, and lots lots lots of storage. Oh, and a super special place for setting my kate spade purse when I come home. That girl needs a royal setting.

If you don't have room for any of this dream nonsense (like me), then you probably need something I call a transition space. Since storage in the entry area is virtually non-existent in small apartments, it can make coming home stressful and messy. What you need is a temporary place to set your bags and shoes, store your keys, and easily transition into the home. Check out how I transformed a tiny spot into a functional, and pretty, entryway, using four easy tricks. 

Mirror salvaged from an old medicine cabinet and re-purposed. Flower vase and key hanger were gifted (but you can find a fun vase here and key hanger here. Chindi rug from Laytner's Linen & Home, but you can find them everywhere! 

Mirror salvaged from an old medicine cabinet and re-purposed. Flower vase and key hanger were gifted (but you can find a fun vase here and key hanger here. Chindi rug from Laytner's Linen & Home, but you can find them everywhere! 

The key rack used to be beige, but I wanted a pretty gold accent so I spray painted it using Rust-Oleum Hammered in Gold. The mirror was sanded and painted with a matte sample of Behr Premium Plus Ultra in Creek Bend.

The key rack used to be beige, but I wanted a pretty gold accent so I spray painted it using Rust-Oleum Hammered in Gold. The mirror was sanded and painted with a matte sample of Behr Premium Plus Ultra in Creek Bend.

What's your favorite flower? Mine's lilac, but I couldn't find any at the flower stands! I guess I'll settle for roses. ;)

What's your favorite flower? Mine's lilac, but I couldn't find any at the flower stands! I guess I'll settle for roses. ;)

  1. You need a place for keys

    How many times have you lost or misplaced your keys? I used to lose them every single day. Seriously, I lose everything unless it has a home! Now, I always know where those darn keys are because the moment I walk in the door, I hang them up.
     
  2. You need a place to take off your shoes


    Because this entryway isn't a storage place, but a transitioning place, you need a place to take off your shoes, not store them. A pretty rug provides a nice spot for that, and a place set down your bags. Then you can put shoes away in a closet or shoe rack elsewhere. It also helps your guests know where to leave their shoes and bags. Toss down another rug if you have a large group of people coming over.

    I like this method because it discourages you from leaving a heap of shoes in the doorway, since you'll trip on them if you do. Well, at least I would! I often leave one pair out if I know I'm going to be in and out a lot during the day. The rug designates a perfect spot for on-the-go shoes, and keeps the space looking tidy.

  3. You need a "last look" before you leave

    A mirror gives you a chance to apply some lipstick, check your hair, and make sure you don't have anything in your nose (super important) before you go out into the world. It also creates the illusion of more space and light in your tiny entryway.
     
  4. You need a little pick-me-up

    When you come home after a hard day, how nice would it be to be greeted by a fresh flower? Hanging a small vase is a great alternative when you don't have a table to set one on. If flowers aren't your thing, hang a small photo of a loved one, or a favorite place that makes you feel happy and relaxed.

Permanent storage of things like coats and bags need a closet or shelf. For really tiny apartments that can't even house a rolling clothes rack, you can add hooks to an entry wall for storage, or hang them where ever you hang your clothing. You can also use over-the-door hangers for yourself and guests coats/bags, like this:

I hate the look of a bare coat rack...it feels too utilitarian to me. I like to add some kind of art, like this paper and string mobile. Coats and bags can be hung right over the top of it!

I hate the look of a bare coat rack...it feels too utilitarian to me. I like to add some kind of art, like this paper and string mobile. Coats and bags can be hung right over the top of it!

Oh, and one more very important thing. A pretty rug is great for sleeping fur babies.

Penny loves this spot since it's also right next to the kitchen!

Penny loves this spot since it's also right next to the kitchen!

 

Do you have an entryway that needs help? Send me a note today and let's fix it together!

Thanks for stopping to chat, friends! Happy decorating!

xoCarole

Two Reasons I Love Your Favorite Color

What's your favorite color? Now, don't lie to yourself. I know you're ready to run away in fear, and I know why!

You don't want an alarming amount of fire engine red slathered all over your home. That's why you won't admit what color you really like, because you think you'll be forced to paint every wall in your house with it. Trust me, you never have to do that. Actually, please don't. So be brave! Humor me and shout your favorite color from the mountain tops!

By the way, my favorite color is all shades of pink and coral. Okay, so I cheat, and I have more than one fav! Anyway, my own living room is painted a barely-there shade of blue. Not pink or coral.

Seriously, though, why do I care so much about your favorite color? A couple of reasons:

 

  1. It tells me about your personality and helps me choose a mood that will achieve your goal for a space.
  2. It's an easy way to get you thinking about what you want from your decor.

 

For instance, if you love fire engine red, but you want a relaxing room, I'll gravitate to cool colors for the room, but will consider your vibrant personality. I'd incorporate something you love that nods to your fiery side. And, yes, I might choose some red accents for you. Like a vase, a decorative pillow, or maybe a jazzy little footstool. Or I might incorporate the feeling of red by using a bold, fun pattern, without actually using red.

Thinking honestly about your favorite color is a way to stimulate your tastes. It's a great starting point, and helps draw out your personality. Once people open up about something that's personal to them, more details spill out, and that's where the fun begins. Unique design is created from personal details about you.

 

So go ahead and answer truthfully, what's your favorite color?

If you really struggle with choosing color in your space, set up a color consultation with me, and let's remedy your color woes together! Click over to the Contact page to send me a note today!


 

Curious about what your favorite color represents? Click here to find out!

Thanks, friends, for stopping by for another chat. As always, you are the reason I love my job!

xoCarole

 

 

How to Spend Money on Decor

Last week I gave you a little hint about how to spend money on decor and furnishings: spend less on trends, spend more on timeless pieces! Today, I'm going to share my favorite places to shop for both, and what I look for when I do.

Trendy Decor

Trends: What to Look For
Even while you're trying to save money, it's still a great idea to look for things that have some kind of quality. Stay away from anything that screams I'll break/disintegrate the second you bring me home. Even trendy things should last a few seasons, at least until they aren't trendy anymore.

I snagged both of these pillows for a total of $60 from Target! And you can, too! Scoop up the Floral Indoor/Outdoor Decorative Pillow in coral here and the Rizzy Home Cotton Decorative Pillow in Gray here.

I snagged both of these pillows for a total of $60 from Target! And you can, too! Scoop up the Floral Indoor/Outdoor Decorative Pillow in coral here and the Rizzy Home Cotton Decorative Pillow in Gray here.

What I loved about these pillows was the price, the look and the quality. The gray pillow is cotton, which is soft and cozy and washable. The floral pillow is indoor/outdoor which means I can wash it and it will also stand up to lots of use over time. I bet I'll spill some wine on both, eventually, because I'm a klutz.

Trends: Where to Shop
Target, H&M Home, CB2, Etsy, Wayfair, Overstock, Dot & Bo, Home Depot, IkeaModCloth, Zazzle, World Market, Urban Outfitters, HomeGoods

Timeless Decor

Timeless: What to Look For
This kind of item should be high quality; something that can last at least ten years and preferably more. That means it should also be able to stand the test of trends; basically it should be versatile enough that it can pair well with lots of design styles. You want to consider color, style, construction, materials used, and of course, how much you love it. If you don't love something, run away from it!

Check out this sofa by Mitchel Gold + Bob Williams for some timeless inspiration...

It might sound frumpy to some, but to me, antiques are a great alternative to new purchases; the charm of an antique will last through the ages. Plus, they generally pair well with any style! Not every antique is ornate, so don't worry. You can find many that match your taste!

Timeless: Where to Shop
Room and Board, Mitchel Gold + Bob WilliamsEthan Allen, Kravet, 1stdibs.com, Design Within Reach, Ralph Lauren, Etsy

Flea, Thrift and Yard/Barn/Estate Sale

Okay, this is my favorite way to shop for home decor! I'm so excited to start thrifting this year, that I'll be posting too many pics of cool finds, so watch out! Thrifting is such a great way to save money and find trendy and timeless pieces. It takes a bit more time than online or off the shelf shopping, of course, but the money you save makes it worth it. 

This piece is actually a dumpster dive. I know. Why would someone toss this?! Well, it used to be coated in aquamarine green paint, so maybe that's why. You can find this kind of great stuff at flea markets, and it's totally worth all the hours you'll put in, sanding off the paint and giving it new life!

This piece is actually a dumpster dive. I know. Why would someone toss this?! Well, it used to be coated in aquamarine green paint, so maybe that's why. You can find this kind of great stuff at flea markets, and it's totally worth all the hours you'll put in, sanding off the paint and giving it new life!

Thrifting: What To Look For

Furniture: make sure it's sturdy and made out of quality materials. If it's broken and can be fixed, consider the price. Also, please do not buy quality, antique/vintage pieces with the intent to paint them. Please, I beg you not to! It will ruin it's value and integrity, and that piece will be sad. If you want to paint over something, chose less quality pieces that don't have much historic value.
Accessories: oh, you can find anything you could ever want! I especially like looking for quality items by checking the name brand on the bottom. You just never know what you'll find!
Fabric: you can find anything from vintage to modern fabric. Just make sure you clean it well before using it (bed bugs are real, friends).
Lighting: make sure it works, and if not, decide how willing you are to have it rewired for the price.
Art: basically, if you like it, go for it. It doesn't matter what it is, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise! If you're unsure about pieces that claim to be valuable, be careful and do your research before purchasing, especially if it's got a large price tag.
Things Not to Buy Secondhand: Medical or hygienic equipment, including foot spas, anything that can't be cleaned properly, cheap plastic dishware (unless it is brand new or in excellent condition), anything you know you won't fix or work on in the next 6 months, and plain ol' junk. Totally. Not. Worth it.

More to Come...

Spring and summer are approaching, loves! Soon, I'll be posting more details on how to get the most out of shopping flea, thrift, yard/barn/estate sales. Stay up to date with my latest posts by following me on Facebook and Instagram!

As always, thanks for stopping by! You are seriously the biggest reason I write in this little notebook, so just know how much I love ya! xoCarole

Quick Tip on How to Spend Money on Decor

Recently, we talked about how to freshen up for Spring without spending any money. But, if you're feeling the need to burn some cash, here's the quick way to decide how to spend:

If it's trendy, spend less money. If it's timeless, spend more money.

All of this is in the "I saved money" category, but it's all "in" fashion. I saved big on the table, which is actually a vintage Singer sewing machine. I scored it for $25 at Goodwill!

All of this is in the "I saved money" category, but it's all "in" fashion. I saved big on the table, which is actually a vintage Singer sewing machine. I scored it for $25 at Goodwill!

I'll give you details next week, with a few resources on where to shop for what, and what to look for.

Happy Easter, everyone!

xoCarole

Tricks to Decorating for Spring Without Spending a Dime!

It's been far too long since I've had sunlight streaming through my windows. It's like a magic spell, instantly lifting my mood while mysteriously revealing a hovering cloud of dust. Sure...I dust every week. *wink*

Wow, check out those dusty windows! 

Wow, check out those dusty windows! 

Dust aside, the approaching season of new beginnings has me jumping out of my socks! Ah, Spring, how I love thee. It usually means kicking into cleaning gear, and for many of us, we also crave a fresh look in our homes. But after holiday shopping and winter vacations, you probably don't want to spend a bunch of money freshening up your space. I've made a list below, of ways you can get that fresh spring look without spending any money. Enjoy!

 

  • put away any winter-y decorations and pull out the ones you stuffed in the back of your closet. If you're crafty, give them a fresh coat of paint or cover them in some bright fabric, *hint: you can use anything from an old shirt to sheet set.
  • rearrange the furniture (move a chair to that now sunlit corner and bask in it)
  • vacuum your sofa, under the cushions, too, and dust all the crevices in your furniture
  • wash and IRON the curtains, including the shower curtain. Ironing anything gives it a fresh, crisp look
  • hang any pictures or art you've been him-hawing about for the entire winter
  • use a white sheet as a tablecloth (or any spring-y colored sheet)
  • try de-cluttering (click here for more on that!) or letting go of bulky furniture that isn't really needed
  • wash the sofa pillow covers
  • wash small rugs and hang outside for some fresh air
  • take down those Christmas cards
  • go through the piles of mail and recycle all junk and envelopes (find a pretty place to organize that mail when you come in the door)
  • vacuum and dust the lampshades and light bulbs (make sure they're turned off so you don't burn yourself)
  • pick some pretty winter weeds and put them in a vase (green helps freshen up a space, no matter if they're winter or spring weeds and weeds aren't necessarily ugly. Have some fun looking for the prettiest ones! Also, this gets you out in the sunshine)
  • leave some seeds or nuts out for birds...there's nothing like wild animals outside the window to brighten your mood
  • if you're really crafty, cover some of your dark colored books with light colored paper (use the back side of those Christmas paper scraps (they're usually white) or even some paper bags from the grocery store)

Do you have a favorite way of freshening your house for Spring, that costs zero dollars? Tell me all about it in the comments below!

xoCarole

One Simple Way to Start Decorating

Take a look at this photo. What do you see?

On a recent trip to Disney World's Animal Kingdom, I found these beautiful banners hanging in a temple on the Maharajah Jungle Trek.

On a recent trip to Disney World's Animal Kingdom, I found these beautiful banners hanging in a temple on the Maharajah Jungle Trek.

Now, ask yourself, what did I feel, looking at that photo? Take, like, one full minute to think about it. Just humor me!

You felt something, right? When I saw these banners in real life, I felt a sense of fun, lightheartedness, and adventure. Okay, maybe that's because I was in Disney World. But even now, they remind me of summer, and I feel relaxed, thinking about lemon-y smelling sheets blowing in the wind and maybe the smell of fresh cut grass.

My point is that decor invokes emotions, and the experience is different for everyone.  Even the simplest, most minimal design invokes emotion. Some people feel comforted by the clean lines and lack of objects. Others might feel emptiness and lack of warmth. 

How Does This Help Me With My Decor Goals?

Whatever your decorating goals are, it's really, really important to consider how a design will affect your emotions. If you ever struggle to begin decorating for yourself, think about how you want your space to make you feel. Often, once you figure that out, you can easily pick items that reflect that feeling. But remember, you should pick things that create the desired feeling for you.

Oh, feelings schmeelings. I don't want to deal with feelings, you say. I know. I promise, you don't need to get a counselor for this.

Try This:

Gather together some things you love. Pictures of places, objects, or decor schemes. Favorite fabric prints, stationary, calendar photos...really, anything that makes you say oh my gosh, this is beautiful/awesome/amazing. Also, consider a favorite scent. Mine's lilac.

Now, put them all together somewhere and study them. Like this:

Everything from shoes to drawer pulls, here!

Everything from shoes to drawer pulls, here!

Is there a common feeling you get from the things in your pile? Maybe it's a couple of feelings. Even better! Write 'em down somewhere. Keep your pile of photos or things for more inspiration. Now you've got a great starting place for your decor goals. And, congratulations. You've just made your first mood board...or pile. Good job!

That wasn't too hard, right?

Tell Me All About It!

Thanks for reading, friends! As always, I'd love to hear from you in the comments section! Or shoot me a note on my contact page, whichever makes you feel happier. Tell me, what do you think about using emotions in decorating? If you've already tried it, was it easy or hard for you?

xoCarole

6 Ways to Jazz Up a Neutral Palette

So you want to decorate with neutrals. But you don't want your home to look like it's covered in oatmeal colored everything? Well, here's the list for you!

1. Use Texture

What is texture? Texture is smooth, rough, furry, soft, velvet, chunky, chalky. Texture creates depth by adding or taking away tiny shadows of different shapes and sizes in each object. For instance:

All totally neutral beige, but the difference in textures create interest and depth

All totally neutral beige, but the difference in textures create interest and depth

2. Use Pattern

Pattern is a friend to texture, because you can create pattern using texture. For example, a beige pillow might have a chevron pattern that's a raised pattern you can feel on the pillow. Notice in the photo above the stripe pattern on the bottom fabric! Subtle patterns are great for a neutral palette, since the goal of using neutrals is often a relaxed feel in a room. Subtle patterns can be anything that doesn't shout at your eyeballs.

Totally neutral box, but check out that pretty floral pattern!

Totally neutral box, but check out that pretty floral pattern!

3. Use Shine

What is shine? Shine is light that's reflected off an object. Okay, you knew that, so I'll just give you examples. Crystals, mirrors, metallics in textiles, silver, gold, glass, and some plastics create shine when light bounces off their surface. It's like the diamond earrings of a room. They add that special touch of beauty.

Here, a shiny silver tumbler doubles as a small vase for greenery. It adds just the right amount of sparkle!

Here, a shiny silver tumbler doubles as a small vase for greenery. It adds just the right amount of sparkle!

4. Use Contrast

Okay, didn't I say we'd be covering neutrals? Yes, I did, but contrast is important. What is contrast? It's any color that opposes the one you are using as your main color. Contrast can range from subtle to bold. The bolder the contrast, the more refined your room will look. A more subtle contrast will feel more casual and relaxed. P.S. Your contrast CAN be a neutral. Check it out below:

From left to right: subtle, bold, and fun! Okay, the owl is fun, too.

5. Use Color

Ahh, again with the non-neutral suggestion! What I mean here is, mix some neutrals together if you prefer no colors from the rainbow whatsoever. Don't just stick with one shade of beige. Use a few shades of beige, or add in a soft grey, brown, or white. The first photo in this post is a great example of that. If you like the color suggestion, try adding it in some art, subtle patterns on a textile, a few small accessories or even the cover of a book. If you chose the color route, pick one color, a few shades of the same color, or different colors in the same family (warms or cools).

From left to right: as soft blue-green perfume bottle (cool option) and a peach depression glass bowl (warm option) add subtle hints of color to all beige!

6. Use the Right Lighting

Lighting is so important, and I'll have to write a more detailed post on that later. But I have to mention it now because lighting is a mood changer. Why do you think romantic songs often talk about turning the lights down low? Because it creates a romantic mood! You can use light to highlight, distract, warm up or cool down a room. Light reveals the colors and textures of everything we see. Often, overhead lighting is not enough. Try adding a floor lamp in a dark corner, or a table lamp near a sitting area you especially love. Maybe a reading lamp next to your favorite chair, bookshelf lights, or display lighting to showcase an art piece. And maybe and occasional candle, for a relaxing evening in.

Bonus 7!  Use Plants!

Plants are often overlooked as a source of beauty in decoration. I don't mean just a vase of flowers, but actual greenery! You can find hearty plants that survive not-so-green thumb types (yes, you). Just check out your local nursery or florist, and they can recommend something to you. You can also buy some pretty darn good fake plants these days, so no need to force it if your thumb is, well, hexed. No matter if fake or real, plants add a kind of fresh air feel to a space.

Just a pop of fresh green livens up all of these neutral colors.

Just a pop of fresh green livens up all of these neutral colors.

So, that's pretty easy, right? You can really achieve a gorgeous, neutral palette  just by following these simple guidelines. Neutrals don't have to be boring anymore!

Do you love neutrals? I'd love to hear how you jazz them up in your own home in the comment section below!

Thanks, friends, for stopping in for a chat this week. Can't wait to hear all about your neutrals!

xoCarole

Suggestion Box

Hello, Friends!

Let's just say, this week has been crazy, so I'm passing the mic to you. Since that note about 6 Ways to Jazz Up a Neutral Palette just isn't ready yet, I'm wholeheartedly admitting to defeat and putting another topic in it's place. YOU!

I want to know what your biggest decorating question is. When do you throw your hands up in the air and say I wish I had a magic wand for this and then give up?

Tell Me!

This little notebook isn't just a place for me to talk at you. Okay, there's a lot of that going on, but I want to interact with you, dear readers, in a way that helps you make better decorating decisions. All of my posts are for you, so why not give you exactly what you need? Go ahead, tell me. What are the worst parts about decorating? What do you struggle with that you can't find answers to, even though you've been searching the web for days?

You Could Be Featured in The Little Notebook!

Just FYI, I'll be sneaking your questions into blog posts (you get a shout out and everything). Your question might even be the topic of an entire post!

Carole Schopp Interior Decor The Little Notebook Suggestion Box

Don't worry, friends, you'll see the post on decorating with neutrals on Monday. Did I mention, someone asked me to rule the world this week? It hasn't been going well.

Please, friends, ask away! I can't wait to help you solve some decorating problems!

xoCarole

The KonMari Method Phase II: Last Day in the Kitchen. And Boxes

Speed Bumps and Suggestions

Dear, dear friends. I wish I could tell you that I'm 100% done with the kitchen, but I'm not. It's a long battle, this one. All I'm going to say is, maybe I should have done the cleaning supplies before a huge project like the kitchen. I got really overwhelmed. Lesson learned, everyone. Start small. Really, really small. Don't get overconfident about your decluttering skills on your third category. This statement in NO way says I'm giving up, or have no confidence that we can do this! I'm just trying to throw out a helpful suggestion for success!

I did manage to make this happen though:

Yep, that's a donut pan. Present from the hubs. He's a genius.

Yep, that's a donut pan. Present from the hubs. He's a genius.

I really love that all the pans fit in the oven drawer now! It frees up a ton of space in the cupboards.

What Do I Do Now?

As I slowly work my way through the kitchen, here's what I'm doing on the side. I'm collecting boxes. Okay, not to add to the clutter. I'm just gathering organizing tools that already exist in the house. Like some of the Christmas gift boxes and a few other random boxes. For my sock drawer! By the way, Marie actually suggests doing this, so really, I'm not breaking the rules.

Carole Schopp Interior Decor The Little Notebook The KonMari Method Phase II: Last Day in the Kitchen

Remember how nice and neat those socks were stacked (from two weeks ago)? Well, they're easy to keep that way when the drawer is full, but the closer laundry day gets, the harder it is for those legless socks to stand up straight. Which could spell failure if you find that your socks are migrating to the other side of the drawer (mess ensues). 

So, What About Boxes?

I'm going to try organizing the socks by putting boxes in the drawer, as Marie suggests. This is supposed to give them a very specific area to live, which should keep them from sneaking out of place. I did this for the hubs a while ago. I can't say that it's helped him much - sorry hubs, but I want to try it for myself. I'm actually pretty dedicated to a neat sock drawer, so I think this might work for me. For those of you who aren't (like my hubs, no judging here), I imagine just having actual sock pairs (no pair-less floaters) will help you keep that drawer in check.

Carole Schopp Interior Decor The Little Notebook The KonMari Method Phase II: Last Day in the Kitchen

I used my favorite kate spade box, bottom and lid, to organize. See how, even if the socks on the left fall, they'll still be contained within that one area of the drawer? Plus, now they're all so easy to see, I don't have to rummage anymore. And, there's a pretty box to look at.

I Want to Hear From YOU!

Now on to the questions! I'd love to hear how your decluttering projects are going, and also how you've managed to stay focused and encouraged or notNo shame or judgment here, so tell it like it is! Let me know in the comments below!

Friends, thanks for stopping by (and joining the conversation)! Next week, I'll be taking a short break from the decluttering series. I'll be giving away secrets on how to make neutrals NOT boring! So make sure you come back if you're a neutral decor lover! Cross my heart, I'll get back to posting about my mess the week after that.

See you next week! xoCarole

The KonMari Method Phase II: Kitchen Dilemma

Declutter Level: Not Fun

Nope. It's not as easy as I thought it would be. 

Decluttering the kitchen. We all have those moments when we ask why did I commit to such a ridiculous task? Okay, maybe I used a few expletives in the process. First of all, backstory. The kitchen has always been the worst room to pack during a move, at least for me. I always end up wanting to toss everything while packing, and live off paper plates and cups for the rest of our lives. Hey, that would eliminate dish washing, too! And so it goes with decluttering this beast. It. just. doesn't. end. It's the worst.

Example. It's a disaster. Why do we have so many water bottles, you ask? Because the hubs is a rock star cyclist.

Example. It's a disaster. Why do we have so many water bottles, you ask? Because the hubs is a rock star cyclist.

Let's cut to the chase. I didn't do as well going through this category. Why? Because I have a fantasy that one day I'll have time to be Julia Child and get around to working my way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I actually borrowed that book from a neighbor, and haven't even opened it yet. Feel free to judge! Anyway, none of the stuff I own will probably help me with fancy cooking, so I have no reason to hold on to the extra lids in the cupboard that have no pot. You read that right. AWOL pots.

See, two pots need lids, and there are four lids. Two missing pots. And Penny (bottom left) joined the party to rub her nose all over my dishes and lick them. Must mean I need to wash them better?

See, two pots need lids, and there are four lids. Two missing pots. And Penny (bottom left) joined the party to rub her nose all over my dishes and lick them. Must mean I need to wash them better?

Solutions

I just had to step it up and recall my goals. Is digging through a cupboard with everything falling about going to help me have more free time to do other things? No. Actually, getting rid of some of this junk might give me more time to read Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Instead of wrangling pot lids back into the cupboard (while consequently smashing my fingers in the process), I could be basting and sipping an aperitif in a frilly apron and heels.

Wouldn't it be fun to dress this pretty every single day?! Yes, yoga pants totally go with these accessories. At least they do in my house.

Wouldn't it be fun to dress this pretty every single day?! Yes, yoga pants totally go with these accessories. At least they do in my house.

The Point

The point here is, if you wanna make that dream meal in a frilly apron and be sane doing it, you gotta get rid of some unnecessary pot lids, or ugly mugs, or that massive treasury of collectible wooden spoons that don't bring you joy anymore. Think about it! You could replace them with practical tools that will help you cook the dream meal, and you won't be under a pile of everything that fell on you out of the cupboards. And guess what. You'll get to cook it more than once, because you'll actually be able to function in your kitchen.

Okay, this pep talk I'm giving you is really firing me up. Are you with me? Are we gonna do this? Yeah. We are.

Thanks, friends, for stopping in this week. It's been a tougher one than usual, and by next week, I'll have some photos of my new, clutter free kitchen. Can't wait to see you then! Let me know in the comments how your decluttering is coming along. Or if your're feeling inspired to jump in, too!

xoCarole

 

The KonMari Method Phase II: Clothes and Books and Struggles!

Ahhh, a week has gone by, and what have I accomplished?

A lot.

At least as far as getting rid of more than I thought I would. I'm going to be honest, I tried the KonMari method a few months ago. Like, just my clothes. And it REALLY worked! But...I probably wasn't as honest with myself about some of the clothes as I should have been. You know the feeling, when you think I like this but if it could just be a bit looser/bigger/less itchy, and then you keep it. That's when you know you're not being honest with yourself. And I know, because I got down and dirty in my clothes again, and got rid of another full grocery bag of them.

As you can see, I don't iron my duvet.

As you can see, I don't iron my duvet.

I consider that bag a lot, since I already did this once. You're supposed to do it "one and done" style, though. This time around, I think what really helped was being 110% tired of living this way, and also having written down my goals and detailed reasons for them. I was able to keep most of them in mind while doing this. 

I also relied heavily on the question, Does this bring me joy?. Both times decluttering, I had to imagine myself opening my drawer or closet, seeing that item as the only thing I had left to wear (because I always procrastinate doing my laundry). If it gave me a feeling of oh man, I guess I have to wear this today since it's the only clean thing I have left then it went into the donate pile. That included clothing that didn't fit me right, even if I loved the way it looked on the hanger or felt in my hand. Yes, you should hold each piece in your hand. It really helps!

Once you finish the process and boot it out the door, you've got to find a way to store those clothes. Marie explains how to fold and store them. She prefers folding into small squares and standing each piece on end in a drawer, like this:

Looking down into the drawer, at my workout clothes. I need to use them more. ;)

Looking down into the drawer, at my workout clothes. I need to use them more. ;)

I decided to try the same thing with my sock drawer...yes, I even went through those! See how great it looks, without even having to use boxes? Eventually, I plan on adding pretty boxes to keep everything in place and looking crisp. Check it out:

I have to say, I'm really glad I don't have the option of putting on socks with holes in them anymore.

The next category I decided to tackle was my books. This was a bit harder to do, since many of them hold sentimental value. I knew I was going to have to be strong, so I turned on some fun music (yeah, I totally bellowed Hello by Adele) to keep myself feeling upbeat. Isn't singing fun? Marie actually advises against playing music or TV in the background, but I had to try it. I know ya'll, I'm already breaking the rules. It helped me, but it might not help you.

A few weeks ago, I also KonMari'd my way through my books. But I got rid of about 21 more, on top of the 20 I already put in the "donate" pile. Crazyness. Look at this pile.

The box is full, too! P.S. The hubs taught me how to stack like that, without it falling over. Oh yes, it's still standing as I write this. He's got talent.

The box is full, too! P.S. The hubs taught me how to stack like that, without it falling over. Oh yes, it's still standing as I write this. He's got talent.

For those of you who like to collect books, like me, let me illustrate how I was able to get rid of any of them. If I felt that the story didn't resonate deeply with me, like if it didn't change me, I put it in the donate pile. Remember, Marie says, if it falls short of JOY, then don't keep it. I also got rid of some technical books that I figured I could easily Google the info if I need to. Thank you, internet!

I also let go of my copy of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Gaasssp! Please, before you accuse me of committing a shameful crime, let me explain why! First, I LOVE this story, like from down in the depths of my heart. BUT, I don't like this horrible green copy, with an illustration that makes Elizabeth's fingers look broken. So I decided I would get rid of this copy, and one day I'll buy myself a pretty copy that can fill my whole heart with joy.

I still have a lot of books, but I was able to empty the bookshelf and find new spots for the ones I have left. One of my solutions was storing them in this chest:

This trunk has always struggled to find a use in our house. Now it's finally got a purpose!

This trunk has always struggled to find a use in our house. Now it's finally got a purpose!

Friends, I have to conclude, that so far this method seems to be working for me. I already feel lighter and less stressed when I get dressed in the morning. My books aren't taking over my bedroom anymore. As a matter of fact, I only have about ten in there, instead of all of them. And, I don't feel a sense of guilt for owning things I don't like. It's not wearing me down and making me feel crazy, out of my mind.

Here is a summary of this weeks tips you can use to help you begin the decluttering process:

  1. Write down your goals for wanting to declutter, and why. What lifestyle do you want to achieve?
  2. It might help to print them out and paste them on a wall, wherever you are sorting. I might do that for the next category of stuff I work through.
  3. Sort it by category, not by location.
  4. Be honest with yourself, does the object bring you total joy? Or is there something about it that makes you feel anything other than joy?
  5. This process took me a few hours to do clothes and books. It might take you longer, so make sure you set aside enough time to do ALL of each category at once.
  6. If you encounter a challenge, do something to clear your mind. I chose music, but you might go for a run, or each some donuts.
  7. Hold each piece in your hand. Touching it helps you connect with the object differently than if you only look at it.

Thanks, friends, for stopping by to offer your support! As always, I truly hope this post helps you confront the clutter in your life and banish it forever! Stay tuned for next week's post when I tackle the kitchen related items! Also, let me know in the comments section what your particular hang-ups have been when decluttering!

xoCarole

The KonMari Method Phase 1: Why Decluttering is Important

I don't know about you, but I think the last time I saw the whole bottom of my closet was before we moved in here...like when we were viewing the apartment before we signed the lease. That was...over a year ago!

Oh my gosh, this is the closet of nightmares...the catchall that haunts my dreams. And I'm really embarrassed to show this to you! I'm actually cringing and dreading making this live.

Oh my gosh, this is the closet of nightmares...the catchall that haunts my dreams. And I'm really embarrassed to show this to you! I'm actually cringing and dreading making this live.

That's not the only part of my home that's cluttered. Every surface is cluttered. Yes, I know, I'm supposed to have a beautiful home, like the cover of a magazine, because I'm a decorator. Right? Sorry to disappoint you, but it's far from that. While I've been slowly changing out old frat house looking furniture for a grown adult look, I've been fighting the clutter like a plow in a snowstorm. I've donated literal truck loads of stuff, and somehow it feels like I'm living in the Room of Requirement at Hogwarts.

Thanks, Buzzfeed, for letting me borrow your photo!

Thanks, Buzzfeed, for letting me borrow your photo!

No, not the Dumbledore's Army, clean, vast version.

The, "home to all the lost junk in the history of one thousand years" version.

 

Honestly, I've been living like this since I was a kid. I've never been able to shake it off. For years, I've held on to things for a million reasons, and it's about time I confronted them. Let's just suffice it to say, decluttering is emotional for me, as I expect it is for a lot of you.

I've decided, for my sake, and for the sake of all of you who identify with clutter-y lives, to dive in to the KonMari method of decluttering, and say goodbye to stuff.

You can get her book here for as little as $7 used!

You can get her book here for as little as $7 used!

Her basic premise is, if something doesn't bring you joy, get rid of it. She says, declutter, then organize. She also talks a lot about the psychology of why we hold on to stuff, and how it reveals how we hold on to the past, or harbor fear of the future. Deep stuff, folks. Real deep.

That being said, it's going to be tough, and I'm gonna cry and get super overwhelmed, but I want to change my life. I want to show you, friends, that if I can do it, you can do it, too. So, I'll be documenting the whole process, ugly clutter photos and all (see, I already proved I will based on that first photo), just for you! I'll share my thought process, tough decisions, final storage ideas, and lovely, finished photos.

So let's dive in right now. Her first requirement is that I state the reasons why I want to declutter; in other words, visualize my destination. What kind of lifestyle do I want, and why? Now, remember, these are my personal reasons and are meant as an example of Marie's instructions. Your's, I'm sure, will be different ;) And it's long and detailed, I'm just warning you!

Reason's Why I Want to De-Clutter

  1. I want it to be easier to clean (vacuum, dust, wipe counters, scrub bathroom)
  2. I want to feel comfortable inviting people over
  3. I want my home to look neat and beautiful
  4. I don't want my dog to chew on stuff she shouldn't
  5. I want my mind to relax and not be filled with chaos
  6. I want to have more time for prayer and devotions, and be able to exercise

Why Are These Reasons Important? (Marie says, for each answer above, I have to ask why five times.)

  1. (I want it to be easier to clean): I don't want my house to smell. I don't want my clothes to smell. I don't want to smell bad to other people. I don't want people to disapprove of me. I want friends.
  2. (I want to feel comfortable inviting people over): I don't want our guests to feel gross when they see fur-balls, dust, and junk. I like making people feel comfortable and luxurious when they come over. I like to feel that way at other people's homes. It feels lovely to be in luxury and be clean. Luxury and cleanliness allows for comfortable conversation and makes people want to come back.
  3. (I want my home to look neat and beautiful): I want to feel like I live in a luxurious place. I want to feel cozy and content when I'm home. I don't want to stress about cleaning. I want to be able to do other things, like read with some tea or hot cocoa. I want more room for cozy blankets and silky sheets and soft pillows. I want to ease my mind.
  4. (I don't want Penny to chew on stuff she shouldn't): I don't want her to get hurt or need to spend lots of money on vet bills. I love her and want her to be healthy and want to save money. I want her to live a long life and I want to use money for other things like stuff for the house or vacations. She deserves to be taken care of well and taking vacations is fun. She is a living creature made by God and vacations build relationships with husband, family, and friends.
  5. (I want my mind to relax and not be filled with chaos): I need to be able to think clearly. I need to be able to plan and execute projects/tasks. I need to get things done for my business and personal life. I want to grow and learn. I want to live my life fully, to do the things God is calling me to and not waste my life.
  6. (I want to have more time for prayer and devotions, and be able to exercise): I want to grow my relationship with God and to feel healthy. I want to know and trust God more and I don't want to be sick and broken. God is who gives me life and purpose and I want to have more time to do life and not be physically limited when I'm older. God created me, and I want to give my kids and husband good memories. God loves me and I want my kids and husband to live LOVED, know family, and be happy.

Wow, that....took a while. But it was worth it. I can more clearly see what I want out of life and what is important to me. Somehow, eating more donuts didn't make it on to this list. I might need to go back and make some changes, because I always want more donuts.

What about you? What reasons do you have for wanting to de-clutter? Ask yourself why until you get to the underlying reason. You might just learn something new about yourself today!

THANK YOU for enduring that! I'll let you go now to make some new year's resolutions of your own.

I'll be back next week with my first post about actually getting some decluttering done. Thanks, friends, and chat soon!

xoCarole