January 2013

Whenever I look at beautiful spaces, the one thing that always pops out at me is the presence of something old.  No matter how shiny, new, or modern some of the furnishings may be, the thing that gives a room character is the presence of something from a different era.

We have a wonderful salvage yard nearby where I like to go exploring for unique windows, doors, and hardware.  Though we’re not doing any major remodeling these days, I keep my eyes open for something as simple as a vintage window pane.  How very interesting it looks propped up in a simple vignette!

old window as art bhg


There’s an antique faire that happens downtown twice a year where the street is shut down to traffic, and vendors come from miles around to sell their wares.  Some of my favorite booths include the ones that specialize in rare prints or a collection of colorful imagery from out-of-print periodicals.   

vintage bird prints bhg


Architectural salvage can be used artistically in many ways, you’re only limited by your imagination.  Below, a time worn mantel becomes a focal point in a bedroom space as it plays the role of headboard. 

salvage above bed bhg


A bin from an old general store is reinvented as a shoe storage rack and brings more character to an entry than a ubiquitous mass produced laminate version would provide. 

bin for shoes bhg


On a smaller scale, look for containers originally intended for other purposes such as this chicken feed bin which now corrals oils and vinegars on a kitchen counter.

metal tin organizer bhg


Old and mismatched mercury glass containers are often available at antique stores and flea markets and make perfect cachepots for low maintenance succulents.

mercury glass succulents bhg


Bring nostalgia to a desktop by tucking old photos inside containers to remind you of favorite people and memories.

old pictures in jar bhg


I find it’s often the things discarded by others which can be reinvented to suit your needs such as this series of benches painted in fun colors and transformed into unique bookshelves.

antique benches bhg


What’s your favorite “something old” on display in your home?


Last week, I placed a spotlight on televisions over the mantel as a practical design solution for including televisions in your home’s space planning.  As promised, I rounded up another group of solutions for designing around a television that do not involve a fireplace as a combined focal point.   Here are five great ideas!

1.  The Media Unit.  One of the most popular solutions for incorporating a television into everyday life is a with a media unit.  Whether it’s a freestanding piece or built-in shelving and cabinetry, a unit designed with entertainment in mind is always a smart choice.  There’s an added bonus gained storage that accompanies, for books, decorative objects, and favorite movies or games.

media built in bhg[2]


built in for tv bhg


2.  The Console.   Less bulky than a media unit is the alternative solution of mounting a flat screen above a console.  While the television takes up most of the space on the upper portion of the wall, down below there is storage for video equipment and other family necessities. 

tv above console  bhg


Choose a console that complements the style of your home, whether it’s traditional, cottage, or modern, and remember that layers of pattern, color, and texture in a space will help detract from the big black box!

tv over console bhg[4]


tv above console bhg


3.  The Niche.  This option requires advance planning, but if you’re working on a new build or remodel and want to include a place for the television, consider a recessed niche as a way to use architecture to create a frame for the television. 

niche tv mount bhg[3]


niche for flat screen


4.  The Shelf.   Smaller screens easily fit inside shelving units, especially those that are open in the back, and layering stylish objects on other shelves gives equal emphasis to meaningful decor.  Smaller screens can also be used on counters in a laundry room or kitchen to entertain while you cook and clean.

flat screen on bookshelf bhg[2]


tv on shelf


5.  The Gallery.    If you seek to minimize the dominant effect of a television in your space, one of my favorite ideas it to curate a collection of favorite artwork around the screen.  This solution allows for both entertainment and the injection of your personality through a display of personal artwork or photographs in a main living space. 

art gallery around tv bhg[3]


There are other solutions too!  Close off your television in an armoire, hide it under a piece of art; you can also disguise it or frame it like I mentioned here

What solution have you come up with in your home to design around your television?


The latest issue of Better Homes & Gardens is all about color!  What perfect timing, since we’re all feeling the chill of winter and longing for spring to come again.  The pages of the February issue are filled with inspiring palettes including citrus shades, ocean colors, and several other fresh combinations to inspire your own refresh at home. 

One of my favorite features was on a single page – 23 expert tips for choosing color on page 66!  Today I’m highlighting a few great quotes, together with some images from the galleries to illustrate the point.  Enjoy!

expert color tips


“Colors close together on the color wheel are analogous and will make a calm room. Colors that are farther apart are complementary and add drama.” ~ David Bromstad

orange wall blue cabinetry bhg


“Give yourself permission to use bold color. You don’t have to love it everywhere – one throw or pillow might be just enough.”  ~ Nate Berkus

white brick green throw bhg


“When you shop for paint, take along an existing pillow, a piece of drapery fabric, or a photo of your space.  You’ll make informed color decisions.”  ~ Alejandra Bernardez

taupe cabinetry orange accents bhg


“Play with intensity.  I love monochromatic rooms that use a single hue in a variety of ways.”  ~ Sarah Richardson

monochromatic dining room bhg


“What’s more livable than the colors found right outside your back door?  Look to earthy natural colors, blues, greens, beige, and taupe – when choosing color for your room.   ~ Sehra Han

branches and agate bhg


“When rooms open to one another, avoid choosing radically different colors, or the space will look choppy and small.”  ~ Courtney Price

open foyer with light colors bhg


Your home is made up of more than walls – ceilings, floors, stairs, and doors, are also great places to have fun with paint.” ~ Bob and Cortney Novogratz

painted dutch door bhg


Are you bringing more more color into your home this year?  Will it be paint, fabrics,  accessories, or all of the above?



Investing in furniture designed in classic shapes is a guarantee those pieces will never go out of style, and a timeless look is one we all seek when decorating our homes.  Over the course of time, you may look around your spaces and find it feels dated in certain ways, and you’re craving a modern twist to mix things up!   

When the mood strikes, there’s no need to completely remodel when a dose of contemporary style may be all you need.  Here are seven spaces that showcase what good things can happen when traditional meets modern.    


1)  The white brick pattern tile and the neoclassical inspired mirror are the traditional details in this powder room, but the sculptural vanity and geometric wallpaper add a modern design aesthetic. 


traditional mirror modern vanity and wallpaper bhg



2)  Refresh a traditional dining room by breaking up the dining set and introducing a stylish chair with contrast to surround the table.  White Chippendale faux bamboo chairs upholstered in a fresh geometric fabric and a pastel Chevron patterned armchair invigorate this otherwise conventional dining space.


modern meets traditional dining bhg



3)  Bringing home a modern touch can be done in small doses.  In this family room, a bold zebra fabric reinvents a traditional French chair while a contemporary coffee table with graphic lines brings welcome contrast to the classic neutral seating.  


modern zebra chair bhg


4) Old wood dressers are valued for their history and quality of craftsmanship, and when mixed with an Eames molded armchair, the combination is eclectic and fresh.


traditional dresser eames chair bhg



5)  A healthy dose of style is introduced into this living room in the form of modern art, a wire back chair, and white lattice ceramic stools.  These contemporary touches perfectly complement the classic gold leaf finishes and tailored furnishings.  


traditional sofa modern accents



6)  A traditional living room is given a brand new look with the introduction of three elements:  a contemporary geometric rug, a brightly colored Ikat upholstered ottoman, and a variegated grasscloth textured wallpaper. 

modern ikat ottoman and geometric rug bhg



7)  Cafe style seating and a wood pedestal table will never go out of style, and the vivid and vogue modern fixture adds an unexpected twist to this chic gathering space.


sculptural chandy traditional seating bhg



If you’re seeking a fresher look for your traditional spaces, don’t rid your home of classic furnishings.  Instead take a cue from the spaces on display and introduce a few modern accents.  Consider a new light fixture, an interesting wall treatment, a geometric or exotic fabric, or a new area rug to mix it up and make your home feel new again!




The television has become a mainstay in most homes and as a result everyone seeks creative ways to incorporate a TV into a space.   How do you include that big black box in your everyday life without it overpowering the room?   

Some people have both a living room and a family room, which allows a separate space for casual TV viewing and a more formal space for sitting or entertaining.  However many households need to squeeze that television into just one main living space and a common solution among renters or homeowners is to mount the television above the mantel. 


tv above mantel fireplace bhg


Mounting the television over the fireplace establishes one focal point instead of two, so it’s a sensible solution for that reason since furniture can be arranged around that singular viewing zone. 

One thing homeowners must plan for when mounting a television above a fireplace is the location of wiring.  Specialists in the industry can assist with where to place the equipment and speakers and in the the clever hiding of unattractive wires.  


tv above fireplace bhg


A sure way to achieve balance is to closely align the size of the television screen with the size of the fireplace box.  Temperature is always a concern for any television mounted above a fireplace, so take precautionary measures with framing and sheetrock to ensure the heat to the flat screen doesn’t rise above 90 degrees.  


tv over mantel bhg


Opting for a gray frame when making a purchase is one way to help the television recede into a lighter background.  Incorporating software that will project landscapes or other soothing images when it’s not in use is a clever way to make the television mimic artwork.   


tv above fireplace mantel bhg


How big should your TV be? The answer often varies when you ask women and men.  Most men prefer larger screens, especially the sports fans!


tv above mantel bhg


The general rule of thumb is that the distance from the television screen and your viewing spot should be between two to three times its width.  Ex: with a 32” screen, sit between 5 ½ and 8 feet (96”) away for the best entertainment experience.

For those who seek alternatives to placement of a television other than the mantel, good news!  Next week, I’ll feature several creative ways to design around a TV that do not include placement above the fireplace.  

How have you designed your living space to accommodate a television ? 



I’m drawn to old things that are unique, pieces that aren’t fresh out of a box or showroom and don’t look shiny and new, but are instead from another time.  Often these pieces are distressed in that their paint has worn down over the years, and in those chipping layers there is story to be told.  Old pieces of furniture often leave me wondering where it lived in its past life and what purpose it served.   


salvaged desk bhg

One of my favorite things to do is dream up new uses for old things found by scouring flea markets or thrift stores and then bring them home to reinvent them.  Sometimes the doors or drawers are squeaky or in need of a small amount of repair, but with a little attention and care, they can be fully functional and make a one-of-a-kind statement in your home.

Using salvaged furniture is one of the current trends in home design and for good reason.  Rescued pieces bring character to a space and are also an eco-friendly opportunity to use what exists in a new and creative way. 


patina island bhg


It’s always an adventure to hunt for treasure in the form of used furniture and if you’re lucky, you’ll chance upon the perfect piece at an antique fair, flea market, thrift store or on Craigslist, but what if your piece is the perfect size, but not necessarily the right finish?  Good news, it’s easy to give your new find a distressed look with a just a little paint. 


rustic console bhg


Achieving a layered distressed finish is a technique easily mastered with a little practice and patience.  I created a planter for my yard in a look very similar to this stool below by simply dry brushing different colored sample pots of paint onto pieces of wood.


painted distressed stool bhg


Whether you’re whitewashing wood or layering with a more vivid patina, the first rule is choose a water based paint in a color you love, then add just enough additional water in a separate container so that the paint has the fluidity of milk. 

Dip the brush in the paint mixture, scrape most of it off on the edges of your container, and slowly apply the color in very thin layers until you achieve your desired look.  Having a sanding wedge on hand is also useful if you apply too much and want to reveal more of the wood tone underneath. 


patina technique


Layering two to three colors in similar shades will create depth and character, and will give your piece a time worn look.  When dry, finish it off with a coat of clear furniture wax and you’ll have a focal point that will please you for years to come.


distressed green armoire bhg


Are you a fan of salvaged or distressed furniture?  What pieces have you found while treasure hunting and how have you reinvented an old piece to suit your modern needs? 



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