Thanksgiving | Simplify Your Day

I am hosting Thanksgiving this year and the irony of it is that, while we're so busy at work trying to get everyone's home decorated before the holiday, my home is 100% not ready....and I'm an interior designer!  I moved over the summer and we've done a good amount of settling-in but there is still so much undecorated and unfinished.  But you know, that's just how it has to be for me this Thanksgiving.  I'm too busy decorating everyone else's home to do my own!  Oh well.  While a beautifully decorated home is wonderful, I understand that the holidays are about family and time-spent together not necessarily about a perfectly decorated home.

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All that to say, I've been trying to figure out the best way to prepare for the day little-by-little instead of stressing myself to the max the week of and waiting until the last minute to do everything.  I feel like I may not be in this boat along because this article showed up in my inbox this week...as if maybe others are trying to avoid stressing themselves out too! Ha!  So, today, with Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I thought I'd share some of the useful tips that were so graciously bestowed upon me this week in the hopes that it might help you have a happier, less stressful Thanksgiving day yourself!

Of course, at the top of the list for Kitchen/Food Prep is pre-make as many dishes as possible.  But one other thing that I thought was wise was advice to clear off your kitchen counters of unnecessary items before the big day.  This, while seemingly obvious, was a great reminder for me!  So often, we want our homes to look perfect that we leave out all of the decorations but really, when guests arrive and food is put out, the pretty stuff gets shoved to the side.  So why not save yourself the stress and pre-move all of the items that might get shoved in the corner last minute.  That way the food (which, let's be honest, is the most important part) has a designated home as soon as it arrives!

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Tip #2. Make room for the food in the fridge!  On thanksgiving day, it always happens the same way.  Guests all arrive at the same time and everyone asks you where they should put their food.  If you haven't cleared out your fridge, you're scrambling to move and shift items while the chaos grows.  So plan ahead.  Throw out the small tupperware containers of leftovers that probably won't get eaten anyway, bring in a cooler or some other container for drinks, and leave lots of shelf space for the food.

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As a secondary side-note to tip #2, clean out the dishwasher too!  That way, once the meal is over, there's a quick place to stash all the dirty dishes without feeling like your kitchen is overflowing with mess.

Tip #3.  Hire someone to clean your house. For the past events I've hosted, I've always cleaned my own home.  I kindof like to wait until the last minute so it can be as clean as possible when guests see it.  However, that's just not a realistic expectation this year.  My husband (genius that he is), actually suggested hiring a service to clean our house this year before Thanksgiving.  He knows how busy I am with your homes and knew cleaning would be hard to do along with all of the other prep so he told me to get someone else to clean my house (maybe he wrote this article and made it look like it came from another publication....lol!)...so that's what I'm doing.  One more item marked off my list, one more step towards enjoying Thanksgiving day!

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Tip #4.  Appetizers.  We all know Thanksgiving dinner is a feast.  There's too much food and you can only eat a spoonful of each item (even though Aunt Ellen spent 2 hours preparing her dish), but it's sort of part of the enjoyment of the day.  Appetizers do not have to be complicated.  Appetizers need to be just enough to hold guests off until the main event.  Maybe take it one step up from chips and salsa, but not too far.  If you do, everyone will be full of the delicious appetizers before Thanksgiving dinner is even served.  So keep appetizers simple.  Have enough for guests to munch on but by all means, don't stress yourself out with a complicated dish.

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Tip #5.  Don't cook the entire meal.  I learned a long time ago that the meal is more enjoyable for everyone if you're not cooking it all.  While you might want to look like superwoman by making all the food, the truth is, you'll end up stressed and frazzled on a day that's supposed to be enjoyable.  If guests offer to help with a dish, let them!  They don't want to spend the day around a host that's stressed and they can put all of their energy into making their 1 or 2 dishes super yummy!

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Enjoy this day.  Thanksgiving comes only once a year, the food is delicious and it's a day off work!  Make it a day to remember and don't sweat the small stuff.  Life is too short (and there's too much good food to eat!)

From one Thanksgiving hostess to another. :)

Jenna

Recent Install | Lake Sylvan Oaks Model

This week, we're tooting our own horn a little bit.  We've been busy, busy, busy designing this year and it seems that a lot of our installations are happening all at once...at the end of the year.  But we do have something to show for all of our hard work so far.

This summer, we installed a beautiful model for WJ Homes.  It is a semi-custom home in the Lake Sylvan Oaks development of Sanford.  Close to 3000 square feet of marble, glass stair rail, custom trim molding detail, and lots and lots of natural light.  We went very modern on this design--mostly white with pops of blues in the main living areas, hints of pale pinks white touches of chrome and gold accents in the secondary bedrooms, and warm wood and leather elements scattered throughout.  Instead of the traditional white kitchen, we actually did charcoal cabinets with a white countertop, keeping it clean and modern.  We scattered in some geometric tile and some great wallpaper and kept the walls white with art as the focal point.  It was a long time coming but turned out beautifully!  Check out all of the photos taken by the fabulous Stephen Allen and the full post on our Houzz page here.

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Halloween Decorating | Quick Tips to Spook-up Your Home

Halloween is just around the corner!  And while we may have put a lot of thought into our kids halloween costume, we may have neglected to get our home ready.  If you're in the same boat and want some quick easy ways to make your home a little more halloween-y, you've come to the right place!  There are different ways to decorate for halloween but we're going to focus on how to decorate in a spooky way without being gross.  We understand that there are a lot of horror movie lovers out there but, we're trying to keep our decorating tips family-friendly.

One of the best ways to get your home in the halloween mood is by lighting.  Black lights and candle light and even some with an orange glow can add to the mood of your home.  If you've got some lights on your walkway to your front door, swap out the bulbs with a different color so they don't shine so bright.  You can swap out the bulbs in your foyer lantern too to give a good halloween glow.  Take a page from Disney's haunted mansion and bring out the taper candles.  Inside your home, you can cover the mantle with half-burned candles to create a old-house feel.  Also try tucking lights behind pumpkins or trees to give the effect of a nighttime shadow.

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While dead bodies and skeletons aren't really our thing, a little bit of fake spider web goes a long way in the spooky factor.  Stretching some of this over your windows and around your door frames can make for a great haunted-house look.  You can also go for the abandoned-house vibe by putting boards over the outside of the windows to make it look like your house is a do-not-enter zone!

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Another quick and easy halloween is hanging shreds of black fabric...or white fabric for that matter.  Add a little fan in the background and these dangling tendrils are sure to cast fun shadows on the wall for kids.  You can use this halloween garland inside too and swag it across archways and doorframes.

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Of course, this isn't necessarily a quick tip but fog machines are pretty awesome and go a long way for halloween spookiness.

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Other than that, post a few keep out signs around your home and throw on the spooky sound track and trick-or-treaters will be giggling with delight as they walk up to your door on Halloween!

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Tile | New Tricks

Tile has really come a long way in the design world.  Where it used to be only for kitchen and bathroom floors, it's really evolved into a serious decorative element for multiple rooms in the house.  Tile comes in a variety of materials but technology has enhanced it to give so many more effects now.  We've discussed different types of tile in a previous post, but today we're giving the run-down on the visual effect tile can offer based on information from this article from Houzz.

The benefit of tile that many people overlook when it comes to using it as a decorative element is the fact that it is so durable.  Yes, it's semi-permanent as well but it can really create some impressive visual effects so look at the durability as a pro instead of viewing the semi-permanency as a con.

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Not too long ago, tile when from looking like stone plus to basic printed patterns and colors to also looking like wood (ie. wood-look tile floors that were all the rage).  Now, tile is expanding into looking like other materials such as fabric, wallpaper, concrete, and even elaborating on the wood-look.  To be honest, it just keeps getting better and better.

Tile sizes are changing to.  Tile used to only be available in certain square sizes which then evolved into larger square sizes, then there was elongated sizes like 12x24, oversized square like 36x36 and now there are all sorts of specific shapes tile is cut into such as fishtail, hexagon, fleur, leaf....really, the possibilities are endless.

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The nice thing about the larger sizes is that tile can create a seamless effect on a wall---with larger tiles and minimal grout lines, tile can be applied to walls and appear to just be an all over texture or finish.  This consistency is very appealing since it is so durable.  It's perfect for commercial and exterior applications to ensure longevity.

The same is true for patterned tile.  Because it is so durable and has the ability to show very little grout in a wall application, tile is quickly becoming a much more durable version of wallpaper. Be sure to use a skilled installer when installing this type of patterned wallpaper because it does require skill to make the pattern repeat consistent all over.

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There are certain linear patterns of tile now, as well, that, once applied give an overall fabric application effect.  Once again, tile is much more durable than a fabric wall application so this a great development.  Hospitality venues really get the most benefit from these type of tile applications because they can carry their themes throughout the building without risking them being destroyed when applied in high traffic areas.

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Of course, pattern and prints on tile have evolved dramatically as well and you can purchase tile now that look 3D and very realistically mimics patterns and objects that occur naturally in nature--such as marble, river rock, and even water.   Wood has also continued to evolve with plenty of color and weathering level options that can be used almost anywhere.

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It's awesome to see something that used to be so basic being used in so many different applications.  Really, when it comes to tile, with a good installer, the sky is the limit!

 

 

Holiday Preparations | Sprucing Up Your Family Room

The holidays are coming!  That means hosting parties, making lots of food, house guests, and lots of good memories!  But it also means, you need to get your house ready!  Agh!  As a designer, and probably for anyone else in the interiors business, this time of year gets very demanding.  Everyone has been traveling all summer and, once school gets into a steady swing in the early fall, they realize their house isn't ready for all of the guests they have coming and they want it to get done, FAST!  If you've hired someone to work on your home but they may not be able to have it all done in time, here are some tips you can use to spruce it up yourself.  A beautifully decorated home is nice to be able to present to guests upon arrival, however, a comfortable home is most important!  People will remember how they felt in your home more than what it looked like, so hopefully these tips will help make your upcoming guest more comfortable!

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Add layers!  A rug, some pillows, throw blankets, even small side tables contribute to the layers of a room.  If you've got a soft place underfoot and some great pillows and blankets for guests to cuddle up with, they'll feel right at home and will be able to relax in your space.  When selecting these items, think big.  Bigger rugs are always better because, believe it or not, they make a space feel larger.  A rug defines the space so a small rug places the outline around a smaller area, making the room feel less than it is.  So go with the larger rug.  Get big fluffy pillows too.  And a lot.  Layer and mix and have extras floating around that can be used for the floor so guests can really get comfortable.

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Hang some art.  Art on the walls makes rooms feel more finished.  If you don't have a lot of decorative paintings or special art you want to display, opt for a gallery wall of family photos or even some of the kids' art.  There are tons of websites that allow you to purchase prints that can instantly be downloaded, printed, and framed, and allow you to fill in gaps if you're short on pictures.

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Bring in some lamp lighting.  Floor lamps and table lamps add a different lighting layer that is warmer than overhead fixtures.  It also gives guests more control of their light because they can just turn one on while the rest are off.  If you have a small space where you'd be open to string lights, they give off a super warm glow and will make any guest feel at home.

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If your home doesn't have a good flow for guests, consider rearranging the furniture layout to make it more conducive to hosting more people.  Bring in extra chairs, set up small seating areas, pull up the side tables for drinks, and allow your guests to be able to really enjoy!

Ultimately, the holiday are a time for you to enjoy family, friends, and good food so don't let an imperfect home ruin your experience.  Hopefully these little tips will help you prepare and will be remembered when you're throwing together all of those last minute preparations before the swarm arrives!