Done By Design Online

One of a Kind Pillows

I know, you were wondering where I have been for so many months! Well, I had a bunch of things going on!Let me backtrack a little…..Since I last blogged, I have completed several renovation jobs, a new home theater project, a garden re-design, and thrown a big party (code for a “wedding”) in the re-designed garden, and, oops, almost forgot… designed a nursery. Yes, I have been re-miss in not keeping you in the loop about my shenanigans…sorry.

BUT, here’s the good news: I am re-focused now! I am launching a new business, in addition to the design business,  and I am now a pillow diva. Well, kinda’. Here’s how that happened. One morning I woke up and decided to make a funky pillow with appliqued fabics and yarns. Voila`. I liked the first pillow, so I just kept making more pillows. I have standards, though. Don’t start thinking these are a mass produced cadry of toss pillows. No, Ma’m. These are all one of a kind. In fact, that’s the name of the new business, “One of a Kind”. Want to take a peek?

Tulips and lettuce

I have waited  all winter long for the weather to get warm enough to dig in my garden. For me, there  is absolutely nothing more gratifying than gardening and landscaping. The excitement of  seeing the first flowers of spring, planting my pots on the deck and watching every day for the first little seedlings of arugula, basil, spinach and sage coming up among the violas and impatiens…..thrilling! I really like to plant edible vegetables in the pots with my flowers. It makes for a pretty and efficient garden. It’s very easy; you should try it.

OK, everybody is on a budget. I get it – I’m on a budget, too.  So last week I was talking to a prospective client who has a familiar problem. Here’s what Ann said:

“We have lived in our home 10 years. We purchased traditional furniture, but now we’re tired of  it and it’s  not our personality anymore. We have lots of projects to do in our home, so purchasing new furniture isn’t an option”.

Now, if I haven’t already told you, I am the self-proclaimed “Queen of  figuring out how to do everything on a budget.”

So, here ‘s my response to Ann:

Assuming your furniture is in good condition, consider re-upholstering a sofa or a couple of chairs.  There are plenty of affordable, discounted decorator fabrics available… I’m talking $6.99 to $30 per yard! Check around for a good upholsterer whose services are  reasonably priced. I have my favorite upholsterer nearby…. I’ll freak out if he ever retires!

Update by getting some new throw pillows, and maybe some new lamps. Lighting is SO important! make sure your lighting is balanced. If you have a dark corner, place a can light ($6.99 at Lowes) on the floor to wash the walls with light.

Paint. If your room feels like a cave, paint it a light color!  And, the addition of a new coffee table could change the entire feel of the room. You know, of course, that a coffee table is like a man’s tie… it’s the one thing in the room that can make a big statement for little $$$.

EDIT. Take out all the accessories. Place only the things you love and want to reuse on the dining room table. Take pictures of the items you want to reuse. Go shopping for some fresh, new accessories. Remember, less = more. Don’t over accessorize. Accessorizing is easy if you have a good sense of scale, balance and color. (If you don’t, you may need to call me).

Add a nice green LIVE plant.  If  you’re one of those unfortunate poor souls who can’t keep plants alive in your house (sorry – I have a green thumb), go to Lowes and buy a live Kentia palm for $12.99 and throw it out in six months when it’s dead, and buy a new one. So simple, so cheap.

This should get you started. Be sure to invite your friends over for a glass of wine to see the new look and shower you with compliments. Oh, almost forgot… remember  to take before and after pictures!

Last tip: here’s my favorite budget wine:  Jacob’s Creek Shiraz


Home improvements are a bargain right now, with contractors bidding 10%, 20% and even 40% less than they did for the same work a year ago.  So, if you’ve been thinking about remodeling, now’s the time.

But, before you run out and start getting bids, you should take some time to consider these  facts.

McMansions have gone the way of SUVs (yeah, I’m still driving an SUV). Large additions don’t pay off, and there has been a fundamental shift from quantity to quality. Having a big formal living room and a separate family room is less desireable than having one multi-use common space.  Rather than adding on, you’re better off to repurpose an existing space by reconfiguring a floor plan or  knocking out some walls (non-load bearing, please).  Or you might capture a basement or attic space.

Want a wonderful eat in-kitchen? Just knock down the wall between the kitchen and dining room (this is a $2,000 to $8,000  investment depending on whether the wall is load bearing or contains plumbing). This will make the whole space feel more open.

So, get a plan and start getting those bids! Just be sure to let the contractors know that you will be getting several bids. And, remember, low bid isn’t always the best bid. Get credible references!

Well, not exactly. What I meant to say is “How to get the complete picture.” You see, designers have a method to their magic. When the client asks, “Are you going to install accessories a little bit at a time, as you find them?” They are excited to see what accessories you have found and want you to conduct a partial installation. Your answer should be, “No.”

When only part of the design can be installed it only confuses the client. All they see is bits and pieces without seeing the finished product. Ideally, a room should be furnished and accessorized completely in one day. Otherwise, it’s kind of like serving an appetizer without the main course.  (OR, it’s like serving an appetizer one day and the salad and main course on the following day.)

Without all of the pieces in place, it’s not possible to see how everything ties together. The picture is incomplete — it’s a creation in process. So, resist the temptation to put accessories in place one piece at a time over the course of several days or weeks. Instead, build out the complete picture by installing everything in one day (or series of days if the installation is an entire house).

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Deck with chairsIt’s cloudy, cold, and dreary outside and you’ve got cabin fever. So what are you to do???  Well, it’s not one minute too soon to start thinking about the first daffodils and tulips of Spring, having friends over to share a cocktail on the deck, or “freshening up” your house for warm, sunny days ahead. But it’s so overwhelming ….where oh where do you start???

Take a deep breath. One thing at a time. Wash down the patio furniture; pinch off the dead leaves of winter. Get a new market umbrella; toss out the faded one. Get some bright throw pillows for the chairs on the deck.  Plant the pots with asparagus ferns, purple queen, begonias and impatiens. Need some big plants for a privacy screen? Need them to grow and get big FAST? Purple fountain grass is the answer.

Whew! OK, that wasn’t too difficult. But there’s still the inside to deal with. So, what is the word for the day? EDIT, EDIT, EDIT!  Get rid of the cozy clutter of Fall and Winter!  Bring in the lighter look of Spring and Summer. Put away the chenille (did you know that chenille is a French word that means Caterpillar ?) throw pillows with the fringe and replace them with some lighter linen throw pillows. Those floral arrangements with the Fall colors?  Store them away and bring in a nice palm tree in the corner…. backlight it with a can light placed on the floor… a $6.99 investment at Lowe’s or Home Depot.  Pack up the nick nacks, streamline the clutter. You’re done.  WOW!  That was easy.

OK, it ‘s back out to the deck.  Need a recipe for a refreshing cocktail? Try this:

Amaretto Sweet and Sour

  • 1  1/2  oz Amaretto liquer
  • 2 oz orange juice
  • 2 oz sweet and sour mix

Fill a glass with ice, pour in Amaretto, orange juice, sweet and sour mix. Stir and serve.


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