Painting with Jolie Paint

It’s amazing what a coat of paint can do for a room. I have seen such major transformations take place with just a stroke of a brush, and it’s why I always encourage the clients I work with to consider the role that color plays in their home. It can set the mood, tone, and atmosphere like nothing else! This is why I am so excited about the Jolie Home paint that we carry here at Allure with Decor…it’s high quality, goes on beautifully, and lasts for years to come. But when I hand over a gallon of paint, or I prepare to paint a room myself, I know there’s much more than just slapping a color on the wall. Here are my tips for preparing to paint a room or a piece of furniture: 

Source: JOLIE HOME

Source: JOLIE HOME

-Gather your supplies: This is crucial the process, and it’s not the time to pinch pennies. By investing in great painting supplies, you will achieve a better and more quality result in the end. Buy the brand-name paint tape, the good brushes or rollers, and the dropcloths that you aren’t sure you need..you will be so glad you did! Once you have gathered supplies, be sure to set aside plenty of time to prep your room or furniture item. Rushing only produces sloppy painting! 

-Measure properly: You know they say to measure once and cut twice…well, you usually aren’t cutting anything while painting, but it’s just as important to clearly know how much paint you really need for the area you are covering. Make your calculations based on careful measurements, and always add a little extra to allow for drips, spills, or touch ups (and you may want extra to touch up down the road so that the shade matches perfectly). If you are measuring a large piece of furniture like a hutch or dresser, make sure to calculate the width, depth, and height to ensure maximum accuracy. 

Source: JOLIE HOME

Source: JOLIE HOME

-Know what kinds of rollers/brushes you need: If your wall has a very thick texture, you will need a different roller than you would with a more flat or smooth texture. Your roller and brush choices make a huge difference in the appearance of your finished product, and choosing the right ones can even save you money because you will waste less paint. This tutorial on how to choose the right tools is extremely helpful


-Prepare your surface: If you are painting something like a cabinet or a laminate material, you will need to prep your surface. Jolie paint sticks to most items without sanding or prepwork, but it’s important to clean and prepare any surface you are painting, even if it’s just lightly cleaning and drying the area. Always test what you are painting in a small area that is inconspicuous. Another great thing about the paint is it works for both indoor and outdoor projects! You can read all about the FAQ’s on the Jolie website HERE


-Properly ventilate: It’s really important to make sure you have enough airflow and breathability when you are painting any area or item. Although Jolie paint is non-toxic and is also food-safe and baby safe after 14 days of drying, we recommend working in a well-ventilated area and always practicing safety first. Jolie paint is very low-odor, so there should be minimal noticeability, even right after painting. 

We are happy to answer any questions about the shades and types of paint we carry, and we would love to help you tackle you next big project!




Turning Summer Days into Memories

It’s no secret that I LOVE summer (see our last blog here for some top notch ideas), but as a busy mom, it can be challenging to slow down and make the most of every day during a hectic season. I have found when I am more intentional about making memories with my family, and I carve out time to be together,  things flow more smoothly. Making memories can be something that we put pressure on ourselves to do, when we should just allow time to simply be together! That’s often all our children want. Over the years, I have learned it’s less about manufactured “activities” all the time, and simply about letting my kids lead and keeping things simple. We are finding joy more and more because of this mindset shift! On our farm, we enjoy some of these simple, easy evenings when the weather gets warm:

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-Long walks: Not only are these good for you, they are a great way to bond with your spouse or children. Especially since we have had a smoke-free southern oregon summer this year, walking is one of our favorite ways to spend an evening.

-Lawn movie nights: You don’t have to get too fancy with these, but you can do a projector with your favorite family flick, and add popcorn and some delicious snacks (you can find “movie theater boxes” at the dollar store, and they won’t break the bank). 

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-Pond fishing and picnics: Although we have easy access to pretty spots from our personal property, there are plenty of options all over our region of Oregon that are just right for a little summer picnic! We recommend bringing along crackers, cheese, fruit, and salami for an effortless and easy meal (and no dishes!).

-Flower picking for beautiful bouquets: There is nothing sweeter than simple little flower crowns. You can make them with daisies, or little tiny clover flowers, and even bring along green floral wire if you have any. 

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All images courtesy Sharon Westergard Photography

Endless Summer Nights 

…And so it begins; my favorite season! Summer! I am such a lover of the sunshine, the cooler, long evenings, and all the things that accompany this unique time of year. Here in my corner of the world (Oregon), we have distinct seasons, but many of them entail…rain. So, when summer rolls around, we are always pretty excited! Here are some of our favorite summer highlight

-Making a fresh peach crisp: I think my mouth is watering just thinking of a fresh crisp! There’s nothing like warm, baked fruit topped with a tasty sugar and oat crumble, and it’s so easy, you really can’t mess it up. If you’ve never made one, you can start with this super easy recipe from AllRecipes, that comes together in just a few minutes. You can throw in some extras like walnuts or almonds to dress it up a little, but all it really needs is some ice cream or fresh whipped cream. We love to use peaches from our personal trees, or ones we buy at our local farmer’s market for the very best results! 

-If peaches aren’t your thing, try some easy berry parfaits (yes, even kiddos will eat this healthy and yummy treat!). Start with a base of Organic Straus Vanilla Yogurt, which you can find online and also at our local Co-op here in Southern Oregon, and top it with homemade or store bought granola and fresh berries. It’s super easy to throw it together, and it’s yummy enough for a healthy breakfast, or even a light dessert after a family barbecue. 

Source: Pexels.com

Source: Pexels.com

-Breezy linens: There’s nothing better than changing out my linens from those cozy fleece and flannels to light and crisp linen and cotton sheets and bed coverings. If you are searching out something affordable to change over to, you can check out this set from Target. It’s from Joanna Gaines’ line Hearth and Hand, and they come in several pretty and simple hues. They are also affordable enough for a guest room or a bed that isn’t as used. If you’re ready to invest in sheets for your master bedroom or your family’s rooms, try Brooklinen, which have a generous guarantee, and are well worth the investment. For the perfect bedroom aesthetic, add in a few blossoms in vases to give a pretty scent (we love David Austin roses and Orange Blossoms, for starters!)

Source: Pexels.com

Source: Pexels.com

-Summer wardrobe: NOTHING beats Free People for the best boho summer pieces. Although it’s on the pricier end, we like their basics, because they last and last. We recommend their long maxi dresses, and their distressed blue jean shorts. Try this gorgeous Saltwater Maxi dress, that’s under $100 and so lightweight and lovely. If you’re wanting something a bit more unexpected, check out a linen romper layered over a bralette or light tee. Lastly, these distressed shorts are under $70 and will take any old band tee or vintage tank to something a bit more fashionable. 

Happy summer!




A New Season!

It’s hard to believe, but Spring has come to a close. Between vacationing in England and France, and working on our family farm, this season in our lives has flown by. While our travel time was absolutely dreamy, it’s always nice to be home. When the seasons change, I typically change over decor and inspiration in our personal spaces as well, and this warm weather has me feeling extra inspired. Here’s a few things I’ve been up to…

Photo- betsy blue photography Venue-Sweet Rose Farm Roses-David Austin Cake-Mrs. Cards Cakes Decor-Allure with Decor

Photo- betsy blue photography Venue-Sweet Rose Farm Roses-David Austin Cake-Mrs. Cards Cakes Decor-Allure with Decor

-Pulling weeds to no end in my gardens: I recently found a helpful article by HGTV that gave me some tips for making this dreaded chore go faster. With our expansive land and garden spaces, there are plenty of weeds to keep me busy! My favorite new tips: to place mulch over areas where there is a lot of blank spaces for weeds to grow and expand, and to carry a mini trowel with a triangular head to really dig out the small weeds before they can spread their seeds!

-Fending off hawks and trimming roses: I definitely find one of these tasks more inviting than the other (I think it’s pretty obvious which one!). We have found hawks trying to prey on our beloved chickens, and one almost got to my favorite, Rosie. I like tending to my heirloom roses much better than trying to ward off the wildlife, and carefully prune them to make sure they grow strong and healthy. 

Photo-Sharon Westergard Photography Venue-Sweet Rose Farm Pillow Covers-Allure with Decor

Photo-Sharon Westergard Photography Venue-Sweet Rose Farm Pillow Covers-Allure with Decor

-Changing over my home decor to something lighter: I love things light and bright, especially as the weather gets warmer, and I’ve also added small vases of pink roses to all my tablescapes. I love having access to so many pretty blooms, right outside my own door. I have added in Jolie Marche pillows (we now carry these gorgeous accents) in pretty hues of pink and blue to coordinate and help things feel very cohesive and pulled together. After all, the best inspiration is always found in nature itself. And as a final finishing touch, I have added citrus scented candles. I love finding organic ones, as I am pretty picky about what I bring into my home and around my family, and this one fits the bill perfectly. 

Image: Jolie Marche

Image: Jolie Marche

Fresh and New for Easter! Springtime Tablescape

Here at our family’s little farm, it feels like Easter year-round! I love it, because Easter and springtime always make me think of changes, and of new-ness. I love that the flowers are all beginning to bud, and the grass gets tall enough to hide those sweet little pastel eggs that the chickens are just beginning to lay. I find that my springtime inspiration creeps into my decor and purchases, as well. As you well know, a beautifully set table is something I am passionate about. It doesn’t have to be complex, but it makes me feel accomplished and inspired. I wanted to break down how I set a welcoming springtime table today!

Source: Rooms for Rent via Pinterest

Source: Rooms for Rent via Pinterest

-Start with a base layer:  Whether you have a butcher block style table, or one that you enjoy laying down a tablecloth on, start with a clean, uncluttered table. Clear everything off of it, and polish it if necessary. Don’t forget to wipe off any furniture polish with a clean cloth and buff a a wooden table down so your guests don’t get a sleeve of oily polish! If you’re using a tablecloth, always opt for a pretty neutral (taupe, white, cream). 

-Add some height: I like the idea of varied heights in order to draw the eye around the table. Of course, try not to add too many items, because you’ll need room for people to pass food around or place large dishes on the table for serving. If you have too many large centerpieces, it can feel cluttered and not relaxing. Some ideas for taller pieces would be wooden candleholders, glass cloches, or potted plants on tiered stands.

-It’s time for the dishes! I recommend that everyone own one set of quality, neutral dishes. Whether you choose white, taupe, or another simple tone, pretty dishes will be something you use for years and years to come. If they’re well-made, they may stay around for generations to enjoy, so make sure you buy plenty of place settings as your family grows. Decide what’s needed based on your meal and add soup bowls or salad plates accordingly. I also recommend some plain drinking glasses or Champagne flutes, depending on your audience!

-Add your personal touch: I love fresh greenery on a lovely brunch tablescape, and there are many ways to incorporate it into your place settings. Consider hand-calligraphies place-cards, little sprigs of rosemary or other fresh herbs, or mini greenery wreaths at each place setting. Little strips of burlap can be maneuvered into silverware rings for a rustic and classic farmhouse look, and you can also tuck little sprigs of greenery into those. 

Now, your table is ready for your guests! Happy Easter!

Surviving the Winter Blues | Color and Inspiration

Are you feeling like the winter blues are setting in? In our little corner of Oregon, it’s been pretty rainy and snowy. The cold and dreary temperatures always make me feel ready to clean and organize everything with light and airy colors. I’ve found the bright and crisp tones help brighten my mood and my family’s space. Here are some of the colors that I love for giving any room a facelift…they are dependable and always fresh!

Pretty blues and crisp whites are always a beautiful combination that brings a ton of light to any room, whether it’s a bathroom, kitchen or family room. You can weave bright blues and whites into throw blankets, pillows, and towels for even more impact. I also love bringing in clean and pretty storage solutions. There seems to be an influx of “stuff” after the holidays, and it’s so nice to find clever ways to organize and store things to make daily life a little more streamlined. The space below is a little more modern and minimalistic than my personal, typical style, but it’s sure pretty and relaxing!

Source

Source

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This chic, rustic farmhouse hutch is also very pretty and a little more charming. The bright white is tempered with some bright greens, and a little bit of grey. While it’s a little more grounded, it’s just as lovely and holds lots of inspiration for  break from the winter blues! It is also something that is extremely practical, and can hold items like dishes, decor, or extra seasonal florals that you don’t have space for in linen closets!

Decorating for Christmas | Style and Inspiration

I haul out my Christmas decorations in November! I know, I know...it’s early. But my family and I absolutely love Christmas, and we love the feel our home has when it’s decorated for the holidays. As far as we are concerned, it’s never too early to get the holiday ambience going! I’m sharing some of my favorite pieces today here on the blog, ones that you can get in store right now! Some of my personal pieces are ones I’ve had for years and they aren’t available any more, but these would be the perfect addition or beginning to a Christmas collection and a very stylish, cozy home!

Image: Pottery Barn

Image: Pottery Barn

These wintery, textured stockings are at Pottery Barn, and you can add custom embroidery to each of them. I love the stockings from PB, because they last for years and years, and can become an heirloom item that can be passed down to generations. I love their mantle inspiration, with plenty of rustic wood, greenery (a-la-Joanna-Gaines), and industrial metal. They are the perfect look!

Image: Pottery Barn

Image: Pottery Barn

These vintage inspired ornaments are so beautiful, and add just a touch of charm to your tree. You could even add them to a glass cloche or another display item for the most perfect little arrangement or tablescape. I also loved these mercury glass ornaments and the way they gently shimmer without being too sparkly.  

If you’re short on time, adding just a few key pieces can add a ton of warmth and beauty to any space. I always love a few warm, textured throws like this one, oversized throw pillows in seasonal colors, and of course, a warm, scented candle to set the mood! You don’t have to go overboard and spend a ton of money, especially if you already have large, neutral items in your home like a mantle, fireplace, sofa table, or counter top. We love the gorgeous look below as well, from West Elm..it’s simple and sweet. 

Image: West Elm Catalog

Image: West Elm Catalog

Best of Amazon Holiday Decor

If you’re anything like me, you’ve discovered the benefits of Amazon prime! The one-stop shop even allows you to set up monthly deliveries of things like detergent or groceries, and you can basically knock out all your christmas shopping in one sitting with your smart phone! Amazon has grown and grown to include everything from organic products to inexpensive party supplies, and you can always snag a good book or two! Best of all, prime members get their purchases in just two days. But one area that is often overlooked with Amazon, is the home decor selection. They have the most amazing decor items, at super affordable prices! Here are my picks for holiday decor that will arrive quickly to your home, and look like you spent hours searching it out at expensive department stores!

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-Christmas Tree Pillow: this high-end looking pillow is under $10, and has free prime shipping! The cute print and little truck/tree design is perfect for any farmhouse inspired decor scheme, and best of all, it is 18x18 and slips right over your existing pillows as a slipcover. This means you can save space and utilize what you already own. Find it HERE.

-Rustic farmhouse sign: This is a great price, and looks adorable. It is really well made and is under $70, which is pretty affordable for a large sign. It also comes with two hooks for easy hanging and decorating, and looks good with any color theme, because it is such a pretty neutral. At 18x24”, it is large enough to make a big impact on your christmas decorating! Find it HERE.

-Plain burlap stockings: These are somewhat on the thin side, but they accent your existing decor really well, and they are just $12 for three stockings! They look great in front of a fireplace or hanging on a mantel, or you can fill them up and give them as gifts to teachers or friends. They are like a blank canvas, since they are just a simple tan and white design! Find them HERE.


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-Large christmas wreath: Wreaths can be quite expensive, and many are gaudy. This pretty, flocked artificial wreath is the best idea for your front door or even inside your home, layered on a big mirror or windowpane. It’s also filled with enough neutral greens and whites that you could use it year-round or add a little sparkle with added ornaments. It’s a bit spendy at $53, but pretty comparable to any other type of wreath you may find at Target or Home Goods. It’s available HERE.

As you can see, Amazon has tons of pretty christmas items, that are all affordable! Best of all, you don’t have to leave the comfort of your own couch to find them!

Setting Your Thanksgiving Table

Setting your table for the holidays is so important. It might seem like a small detail, but the table (like the kitchen) can be the heart of the home. Especially during the holidays, meals and gatherings play a huge role in building community and hospitality, and we believe they can be an expression of your personal style, too! We are busy dreaming up our holiday tablescapes around here, and wanted to share our favorite pieces to inspire you. 

Photo: Pottery Barn

Photo: Pottery Barn

The Leila dishes from Pottery Barn caught our eye this season, because of their blend of sophistication and rustic elegance. They have a hand-applied glaze, and they look stunning paired with copper accents and natural wood pieces. Don’t forget the basic pieces you’ll need for a table setting, including matching flatware, and plenty of linens. You can forego a tablecloth if you want a more rustic look, but a pretty burgundy or mustard looks beautiful for Thanksgiving or harvest dinners. We also love the Scarlett dishes, which have a subtle and elegant grey/blue pattern. I’d pair these with shimmering silver accents and flatware for a dressier event. 

Photo: Williams Sonoma

Photo: Williams Sonoma

Marble is not only beautiful, but the new pieces from Williams Sonoma also are functional. You can find their whole collection of serving trays and cutting boards HERE, and they look gorgeous against colors like navy and gold for an unexpected pairing. If your wallet can’t quite handle the Williams Sonoma price tags, Target came out with a similar collection, and most of their pieces are under $50. Their pieces are a great way to begin introducing marble into your decor at an affordable price. This beautiful tray is just $19.99, and would look perfect for your next cheese and wine appetizer.  

Stay right here on our blog for the latest style news and tips, and how to incorporate them into your everyday life and home! Ar you having a large party or event this holiday season? Allure with Decor offers personalized styling and event decor,  in addition to interior design. Let us know via our CONTACT page if you would like to book your event today.  Hurry, as holiday schedules fill quickly!

How to find the Perfect Candle Scent

I don’t know about you, but finding the perfect candle scent is one of my favorite things in life! That perfect scent can make your home feel so cozy, and can make you think of home instantly when you smell it. When the leaves start changing, I always love to add candles to my home decor, and then when the holidays come, my living spaces smell warm and inviting. How do you find that perfect scent? Here are out best tips!

Source: Yankee Candle

Source: Yankee Candle

Consider where you’ll be using the candle: A candle for a large living room would be quite different than one for a tiny office or bedroom. Always consider the fire hazard in small spaces, and if it seems like burning a candle might be dangerous, use an alternative such as diffuser sticks, essential oils, or plug in scent warmers. Obviously, do not burn candles in children’s rooms where they could be tipped over or forgotten. A lightly scented, very small candle will do next to nothing in a large area with vaulted ceilings, and a huge, heavily scented three wick one will overwhelm a tiny space.

Know what scents you are drawn to: Many people feb strongly about their perfume or cologne, and will often choose similar scented candles. I personally know that heavily scented vanilla candles can give me a headache if I burn it too long, but I love a lightly spiced scent like cloves and cinnamon for my house for a holiday-esque feel. Whether you choose fruity, spicy, strong, or mild, knowing what you want is very helpful.

Buy candles from reputable sources when you can: Of course, we have all picked up a great candle at TJ Maxx or a discount retailer, but what often happens is we cannot find the scent again! Sometimes, they are discounted, or even from past seasons, so they can be old and not as scented. We love Yankee Candle, Woodwick (for a crackling effect) which is perfect in the winter), and Bath and Body Works. Plus, you’ll be more likely to find the same scent over and over as you use it for lengths of time.

-Check out candles from Anthropologie: One of Anthro’s lesser known points is their fragrance lines. We love their many types and brands of perfume, but they also carry candles. We adore the Tocca line and the Volcano candle that’s pretty famous among fashion bloggers for it’s beautiful, luxury look and light fruity scent. I enjoy burning it in the kitchen or bathrooms when guests arrive, because it’s uplifting and not heavy.

-Take care of the candles you have: Don’t leave them in a hot car or outside on the porch (if you order online). Carefully trim your candles according to the instructions they come with, and don’t burn them longer than indicated on their packaging. This will increase how long they last for you, and will ensure you get the most for your money, especially for the pricy candles that you want to maximize!

It’s now just about fall here in Southern Oregon, and I can’t wait to bring out my personal candle collection to welcome in my guests and family! What’s your favorite candle scent?

Five Things We Love About Fall

When you think about making a list of things to love about Autumn, well, that list can get pretty long! It’s one of my favorite seasons, mostly because it feels so…cozy! Everything from blanket scarves to lattes, to the changing leaves and the tones of red and orange that are around, make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. They inspire me to make my home a place of comfort, and of physical and emotional warmth. Here are five things I just love about this season, especially in gorgeous Southern Oregon!

-The colors: Decor often echoes nature, and fall decor is no exception. I love the golden pumpkins, cranberries, and sparkle of gold as I prepare for fall. And although you know I love neutrals with a passion, I also love the fun and happy hues that arrive with the changing leaves. For another take on things, try a cream and sage green theme for something a little different, that also looks beautiful in the farmhouse aesthetic if warm tones aren’t your thing.

Source: Finding Silver Pennies

Source: Finding Silver Pennies

-The Clothes: Who doesn’t love fall fashion? I especially love dressing in blanket scarves and boots, because it does get chilly here in our part of the country, and I love being able to be outside without worrying about being cold. If you’re looking to add to your fall wardrobe, check out the new collection from Anthropologie! It is on the pricier side, but their fall items are so beautiful and can become classic pieces if you take care of them. While you’re at it, you can always peruse the house items…we won’t tell!

-The Scents: As time creeps closer to the holidays, something I love are all the fall scented candles. I love a good, spicy cinnamon and clove type scent, and burning candles always makes it feel like home, no matter where I am. Try the Bath and Body Works scent called “Leaves”, which is a perfect candle for anywhere in your house…it will really put you in the mood for the season. If candles aren’t for you, consider diffusing an essential oil like Thieves from Young Living to give your house a holiday-esque scent while also killing germs.

Source: Genius Kitchen

Source: Genius Kitchen

-The Food: Ohhhh, you know I love to cook! Spending time with my family around the kitchen is one of my favorite pastimes, and baking pumpkin or cinnamon flavored baked goods is another way to make your home smell delightful! Not to mention, you’ll be ready anytime guests come by. Try this recipe for pumpkin bread that will rival Starbucks, or check out a simple Snickerdoodle cookie for an even easier dessert.

-The decorating: Swapping out my summer items for fall decor may not sound like the most fun to you, but I love it! It reminds me to clean and purge out certain pieces, and it keeps me inspired to change up little areas and nooks and crannies in my house. To make it very cozy and welcoming, I plan around things that guests will love, as well as my family…big throw blankets laid across couches and oversized pillows make things picture-perfect for a movie night. A pretty tablescape with pumpkins and candles invites guests into our home for a dinner party with a warm soup and bread buffet. Cookies baking in the oven invite my children to plop down at our counter and share with me about their day!

These are just some of the reasons we love this special season!

A Beginner's Guide to Indoor Plants

One of Joanna Gaines' best tips is to add greenery throughout your home, to add a bit of whimsy and interest. I love the look that is accomplished by adding plants, they keep things pretty and filled with positive energy. If you aren't a person with a green thumb, so to speak, the thought of adding plants to your home may seem like a ton of work, not to mention a time commitment. We wanted to share some of our ideas for those of us who may be less inclined to have a gardener's heart...Okay, so maybe we have killed a few houseplants on accident! Here is our beginners guide to getting those beauties to stay alive and look gorgeous:

Source: Barely There blog

Source: Barely There blog

-Head to your local nursery and find an expert: While some employees at home decor stores may have a few ideas for you, they may not be plant experts. You will want to find a true nursery to locate plant experts, and if you don't have any locally, try your local 4-H or horticulture branch (which you can find using Google). Ask them which plants are easiest to grow for a beginner, and which grow well in your climate. The Philedendron and Spider Plant are two easy ones that may be a good start. 

-Consider the temperature and humidity of where you want to put the plants: Most houseplants like humidity, and you can achieve this even if your home isn't very humid. Try grouping plants together, and misting them with a spray bottle. You can even add an electric humidifier and run it at night or when you're at work. Try to avoid places where the temperature swings wildly from one extreme to another, such as an attic or basement. 

Source: NW Rugs

Source: NW Rugs

-How to water: When watering, be sure to place a run-off tray under your plants. Avoid filling decorative planters up with water, and "drowning" the plant in several inches of standing water. Don't water with freezing tap water, instead try to room temperature water to prevent "shock" to the roots and stems. Pay attention to the leaves drooping, or the soil becoming too wet, and you will eventually find a rhythm that works for you! If you forget to water at the frequency your plants need, try setting an alarm in your phone or calendar to remind you.

-Take care of them: Pluck off dead pieces and heads of the plants, and rotate them frequently so they can all get adequate light and air. Keep an eye out for harmful diseases by examining leaves and flower petals for dark spots and anything that looks off (like dark, sticky spots or large holes). Also be sure to choose pet-safe plants if you have furry friends that may chew on them or play near them.

With these tips, you will be on your way to becoming a successful houseplant parent! Want more gardening tips? 15 Best Houseplants For Beginners | Balcony Garden Web

A few Favorite Retailers for the Home

When it comes to shopping and sourcing items for my design projects, there's not really a single place where I find items. I work hard to find just the right chair, table or piece of art, and sometimes, that means hunting it down at a few different stores (or maybe a dozen! Ha!) I have made a list of some of my favorite home stores and retailers below. This post is not sponsored or endorsed by any of the brands below:

Source: West Elm

Source: West Elm

-Pottery Barn: Always a classic, this store has both brick-and-mortar locations, as well as online inventory, which means you can find nearly everything you may need. Rather than purchasing their "entire room looks", I like to choose some larger, more dramatic pieces to accent design plans. They also have amazing light fixtures, throw blankets that hold up in the washing machine, and occasionally, really unique wooden furniture that you can't find anywhere else. Lastly, their duvet covers hold up incredibly well, for years and years, without shrinkage. 

-West Elm: If you want a lighting fixture or chandelier that will be a total showstopper and the center of your home, West Elm is the place for you. They have stunning lighting fixtures, although the price tags make them a true investment. Their sofa and sectional couches are also beautiful, not too trendy, and made to last for generations.

-Target: Yes, it's true! Not every item at Target is well-made, but for smaller items like the occasional throw pillow, faux plant, and anything from the Magnolia collection, it's a great option and very budget-friendly. Avoid furniture and large pieces, as they are often made of particle board and the paint chips off very quickly. 

Source: West Elm

Source: West Elm

-Home Goods: If you have the time to dig through a bargain marketplace like Home Goods, you can find some treasures. When you're searching, look for quality fabrics and nice frames, artwork for children's rooms or places where you may want to change it up in a year or so, and smaller items like candles and vases. We have also found gorgeous faux trees and larger plants, such as faux Fig leaf trees in baskets for under $100. It takes some digging through the unorganized aisles to find the right items, but it's possible!

-Thrift vintage stores and yard sales: When you're on the hunt for something very specific, or something vintage or retro, thrift shops can be a goldmine. We suggest taking a full day to hit up larger thrift stores, and go with a specific list of what you're needing. Don't forget to measure your space beforehand, especially if you're trying to find large furniture items that need to be in an assigned room or area of the home. Bring along a tape measure and notebook, and never be afraid to haggle down prices if you're yard-saleing. Estate Sales can also be a great place for solid wood furniture and large armoires. 

If you keep an open mind, you can find gems for your space just about anywhere. You can even do it in a tight budget, if you're willing to put the time and effort in. 

How to Mix High End and Budget Items in Your Decor | Southern Oregon Design Blog

If you're an Instagram or Facebook user, you've surely run into the latest fashion bloggers; ladies who have learned to expertly pair budget friendly items with their high-end Gucci belts and Fendi bags. It's seriously an art form, and the concept applies to decor, as well. You can mix items from Target, with items from thrift stores, and luxury pieces from Anthropologie. Your home shouldn't reflect how much you spent on an item, it should reflect the things you love and the pieces that you find inspiring, no matter how much they cost. Here's a few pointers as you strive to mix splurge items with ones that are thrifted or from the bargain bin:

-Take good care of your furniture: Even if you have low-end pieces from Craigslist, giving them a proper dusting and cleaning and fixing up loose hardware can go a long ways. There are even dark markers and stain pens that can cover up dents and scratches for a low cost. When looking at thrifted pieces, look for solid wood with classic stylings that you can easily update with fresh hardware. In fact, Anthropologie has beautiful hardware that you can splurge on and make your thrift-store finds look more high end like these knobs.

Source: Pulte Homes

Source: Pulte Homes

-Frame cheap art in nice frames: You don't have to spring for pricey pieces of art to improve the aesthetic of your home. You can purchase inexpensive pieces at Goodwill or Home Goods, and remove the wooden or plastic frame that they're in. You can re-frame them in a solid wood or luxe metal frame for a piece of art that looks way more polished. You can also use this theory for photographs, by framing them in really nice metal and wooden frames to create your own, personalized focal points in your home.

-If you splurge, splurge on the main pieces:  sturdy headboards and beautiful rugs can be staples that lasts for years and years, whereas candles, pillows, throw blankets, and wooden trays can be found at mass-market shops and swapped out seasonally or yearly. If you're planning to spend a large chunk of money on a dining table or couch, look for classic colors and neutral tones that won't go out of style very quickly. 

Source: Home NBC

Source: Home NBC

-Remember that expensive doesn't equal perfect: Just because something has a hefty price tag doesn't mean its right for your house. You have to go with your gut, and pursue the things you love, even if that means it's free on the side of the road. Budget for what you love, and the pieces will work together because it's the look that you wanted and the one you worked hard on. 

-Choose items with purpose: When you design a room, think of the pieces you want to be in it, ahead of time. If you know you absolutely want a long console table, then search high and low to find it. You may find a treasure hiding at a flea market, or commission someone to make a custom piece for you, but you want to be sure it fits in your overall plan and idea for a room before adding it. If you shop without a purpose, you'll be more tempted to overspend your budget, and buy things you have no real place for. 

With these ideas in mind, you can begin integrating your thrifted finds alongside that piece you saved for, for years. Your design will always be a piece of who you are, so make sure it reflects that. 

How to Make a Rental Feel like Home

When you’re renting, there is a feeling of your house not being quite yours. Whether you’re renting for a short time or for years, it’s never fun to feel like you’re always waiting for the next step. It can be even harder to make your rental property feel warm, cozy, and full of your personality. You want your rental to feel like home, and for it to feel like YOU and your family’s space to relax and unwind. Here are our best tips to making your rental space feel homey without losing your deposit or making changes that can’t be undone:

Source: Apartment Therapy

Source: Apartment Therapy

-Peel and stick decals: These are awesome for infusing some design and inspiration into spaces like small bathrooms, kids rooms, or large blank walls, especially if you can’t paint. You can even do peel and stick backsplashes. Be sure to test out the adhesive and removal process, so that you don’t damage any paint when you move out of your rental. We also love things like little polka dots, name monograms, and simple, neutral patterns to give your blank walls a little panache!

-Utilize stand-alone shelves and furniture: If you are hesitant to nail things into the wall, try stand-alone shelves (ladder style ones), and over the toilet cupboards to increase your storage space, and give you the look of bookshelves and mantle shelves without the commitment and damage to the wall. We like the look of this one for small bathrooms. Aim for higher, taller pieces for more design impact in small apartments and townhomes, because they will draw the eye upward. 

-Mirrors and wall hangings: If you do decide to hang items on the walls, try using the 3M removable tape and hangers that come off without damage. Mirrors and large paintings can make a big impression, especially in small rooms that don’t have a lot of natural light or windows in them. Look for round or square mirrors in neutral colors, like distressed wood, white, and dark wood tones that will go with your decor even if you change color palettes.

-Add cozy elements: If you want to make your rental feel cozy on a budget, look for textured throw blankets, pretty pillows, and curtains. Look for curtains that are the proper length (ones that are too short or bunched up on the ground will draw the eye to that first and will look cheapy), and use neutral tones to make a small space look larger. We love places like HomeGoods and TJ Maxx for inexpensive items that look more high-end. 

Source: Apartment Decorating

Source: Apartment Decorating

-Incorporate plants and fresh flowers: Purchasing fresh flowers is a great way to add a little life to your apartment or rental home, and also can add a pop of color. Faux plants in little pots are another way to get some greenery into your rental without the upkeep of real ones and the watering duties that come with them! If you have a patio or backyard area, large potted plants and trees (faux) can add a little more personality as well.

No matter where you call home, these tips can help your rental feel like the place you can’t wait to come home to!

Making Your Home a Haven of Self-Care

We know, life is stressful. Your home shouldn't be. But how do you curate a home that makes you walk in and immediately drop all your stress and burdens? That's what today's blog is all about. Here are five ways to help your home become the place you always want to be:

Diffuse essential oils: Even if you don't believe in the medicinal properties of essential oils, they smell delightful and can really lift your mood. We recommend lemon or lavender oils for a very relaxing feel. They are also less toxic than some candles, which may be great for those with asthma or who are sensitive to strong candle scents. 

Source: Budget Decorator 

Source: Budget Decorator 

Mix up textures: We like the idea of mixing up textures in your living spaces, especially with pillows and throws. It's no secret that we love a good throw blanket, because they add instant coziness to a space. Plus, little ones love making forts or beds with them, and they're great for curling up with a good book or a movie! If you need a new throw, try this affordable, machine washable twin blanket from Target. It's bigger than a traditional blanket and extra warm. It comes in plenty of pretty neutral colors.

Get some fresh magazines and books to read: In the digital age, it can be hard to step away from your phone and laptop, but a good book can be just the ticket. Check out Oprah's book club for some great reads that will keep you inspired and expand your mind. A magazine like Real Simple or Southern Living is a relaxing read for a long bath, and you don't have to be too worried if the pages slip into the bathwater!

Source: Craftatholics 

Source: Craftatholics 

Try a bath bomb: The bath bombs from LUSH are our absolute favorites. They are cruelty free and made with organic ingredients that are good for your skin. They are definitely a pricey luxury, but you will love the way they instantly relax your muscles and make you feel capable of handling anything that comes your way!

Change out your photos: Studies show looking at photos can improve our mood and make us feel more energized! Swap out old photos in the frames and shelves in your home for newer memories, and make your home a place where your family can always look around and feel loved! Order fresh canvases or framed prints for photos that have been languishing in drawers or on your computer or smartphone...they will definitely make your home feel more personal and relaxing!

Simple and Easy Valentine's Day Decor Tips

Valentine’s Day is coming up fast, and love is already in the air… but is it in your home? Sometimes, decorating for holidays can be stressful, since we feel like we need to change up our whole house to meet the standard. But there’s no need to be extravagant unless you’re in an extravagant mood, and you can create a wonderful atmosphere in your home with simple accents and additions in your decor. All of this applies very well to Valentine’s Day, as it just takes a pop of pastel pink here and a bouquet over there to make the whole house more romantic! Here’s a few easy ways to celebrate this holiday in your decor:

source: freshome

source: freshome

•Splurge on a fresh bouquet

Faux flowers are timeless - at least, when it comes to their shelf life. But for such a holiday as this, it’s not just about the look, it’s about the atmosphere itself, and a bouquet’s wonderful fragrance is a big part of that. Visit your local florist and spend a little extra just for the smell of it. The pops of color in your kitchen or on the coffee table will lighten up the whole room and get everyone more excited for the special day!

 

•Pillows are the perfect festive accent

Speaking of pops of color, pillows are great for shifting the mood of a room from everyday to holiday. They’re small, light, easily throwable, and they fit just about anywhere, which leaves a lot of creativity available to you. Mix and match shapes and colors by picking out some heart pillows to go with the regular squares, and create a palette in your living room by playing around with the Valentine’s color spectrum.

 

source: stylemepretty

source: stylemepretty

•Light up the room with colored candles

There’s something so romantic about a candlelight dinner. The dim light, the intimate conversation, and the gourmet food that’s become the holistic Valentine’s dining experience is one of the most wonderful ways to spend the holiday, no doubt. But you can bring that whole experience home with you if you want to skip the crowds, and you can start with the candles. Even in the bright light of day, rose petal pink candles can give off a festive shine to any room in your home. Take it easy this year and recreate that intimate atmosphere, from the candles up.

 

•Say ‘I love you’ with a lovely banner

There’s something truly wonderful about being able to hold the proof of your special one’s love in your hands, or to see it on display. Stringing up a banner that does just that not only lifts the mood, but is a wonderful accent piece to your Valentine’s decor. Nothing says ‘I love you’ like the phrase itself hung across your mantle! Keep the conversation going by hanging up a few banners across the house, and the romantic atmosphere will follow.

Keep things simple this Valentine’s Day by focusing on the accents instead of a whole room makeover. Trust me, you don’t need the stress! Keep the focus on your loved ones, and really make them feel truly loved on this special day.

Warming up your Decor

photo: timelesswroughtiron.com

photo: timelesswroughtiron.com

Like clockwork, December’s rolled around again, and with it came the bitter cold. I don’t know about you, but I love the snow, and the whole season! One of my favorite things is a landscape covered in a perfect blanket of snow. But I can only handle the cold for so long, until I have to retreat back indoors to warm up by the fire. During the winter months, our homes become our heated safe havens, but heating them can be incredibly expensive. Instead of turning up the thermostat, I like to use some of these inexpensive but warming decor styles to help me deal with the cold.

Farmhouse decor has this style integrated very well. Every time I walk into a house boasting the style, I feel so warmed, surrounded by the woodsy interiors and the rustic color schemes. The style has been making a comeback for a while, but its roots are in the rustic cabins and lodges out in the woods, and those that built them knew just what they needed to shield themselves from the cold. Today, we’re not in a fight against the cold as much as a century or so ago, but we can take some cues from their decor and translate that into modern style. The most obvious one is wood itself! It has an insulating effect, keeping in the heat, and the woodsy look has an ambient effect that just warms you up from the inside out.

photo: havenly.com

photo: havenly.com

One of my go-to’s when the snow starts to fall is an age old solution: a warm blanket. Turns out, just the sight of an afghan or a knit has a warming effect in the home, cozying up the whole room. Spread around a bunch of cozy blankets to warm up your decor instantly, and having a knit close by means you never have to be chilly again. Pair it with a nice reading lamp and a comfy chair in your favorite corner, and you have the coziest place to snuggle up with a good book. Work on the whole room by layering fuzzy or warming rugs, if you have a hardwood floor, and use pillows to lighten up the room and give it a very inviting, snuggly feel.

photo: havenly.com

photo: havenly.com

Leather is another one of those farmhouse staples. Back in the day, it was entirely practical to furnish your home with natural leathers, as farms were often self-sufficient and used every part of an animal. Today, there’s many options for those who have qualms with leather, and you can still get that heart-warming look no matter what you go with. A leather furnishing inherently has a sense of character to it, and that brightens up any spot it’s put in. Pair the rich color of the leather with a cooler gray or neutral palette, and you get a great mix that’ll warm you to the core. It’s easy to use some pops of green to really pull it all together, if you like having plants around the house. If you like a more southern rustic theme, use some cactus or desert flora to really sell the mood.

Lastly, take a look at how your home is lit. If you have access to a lot of natural light, either through your windows or through a skylight, utilize it! Light, of course, is naturally warming, so keep those curtains open during the day to heat up your house for free. Also, take a close look at your windows to make sure no air is escaping through them. You want to be able to retain as much heat as possible, and it’s no good if all of it is being sucked out from cracks in your window frame or a door draft. You wouldn’t expect it, but you can really feel the difference when you make sure your home is leak-proof. If you don’t have a lot of natural light, use some warming, brighter light fixtures, and make use of candles. Not only will your home smell great if you use them, but you’ll feel cozier just gazing at the flicker from across the room.

The winter season is one of my favorites. Snuggling up with my family around the fire is one of my favorite pastimes, it makes my heart so warm. Coming in from the snow when your whole home is full of cozying decor makes life so much easier, and adventuring out in a frozen wonderland much more enjoyable. Here’s to snow outside and warmth inside!

Holiday Baking with Peggy Porschen

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You may remember me writing about my favorite bakery, right in the heart of London. I wrote about it in THIS POST about Europe, and her amazing confections always make me festive around the holidays! I dream of being as incredible as her in the decorating/baking department, and each year, I love making these delicious cookies with my children. Baking holds special memories for me, and I hope it also creates new ones for my girls! (All images via Peggy Porschen website, 2017)

Sugar cookie recipe
via Peggy Proschen's cookbook, "Cookies"

Makes about 25 medium-sized or 12 large cookies

  • 200g unsalted soft butter 
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten 
  • 400g plain flour, plus more for dusting

Optional flavours

  • For vanilla cookies, add seeds from 1 vanilla pod 
  • For lemon cookies, add finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • For orange cookies, add finely grated zest of 1 orange 
  • For chocolate cookies, replace 50g of the plain flour with 50g cocoa powder
  1. Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and chosen flavouring until well mixed and just becoming creamy in texture. Don’t overwork, or the cookies will spread during baking.
  2. Beat in the egg until well combined. Add the flour and mix on low speed until a dough forms. Gather it into a ball, wrap it in cling film and chill it for at least 1 hour.
  3. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead it briefly. Using marzipan spacers, roll it out to an even thickness.
  4. Use cookie cutters to cut out the desired shapes and, using a palette knife, lay these on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Chill again for about 30 minutes and preheat the oven to 180C/160Cfan/350F/gas 4.
  5. Bake for 6–10 minutes, depending on size, until golden brown at the edges. Leave to cool on a wire rack. Wrapped in foil or cling film, they will keep well in a cool dry place for up to a month.

Tip Always bake equally sized cookies together to make sure they cook in the same time. If you mix different sizes, the smaller ones are already cooked when the larger ones are still raw in the middle.

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Royal Icing Recipe via Peggy Porschen's
"Pretty Party Cakes" cookbook

  • 25g merriwhite (dried egg white powder)
  • 1kg icing sugar, sifted

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Equipment
  • Sieve

Kitchen Aid / electric mixer
spoon
sealable plastic container
j-cloth
Method

Mix the merriwhite with 150ml water and pass through a sieve to get rid of any lumps.
Place the icing sugar in the clean bowl of an electric mixer, add about three-quarters of the merriwhite mixture and the lemon juice, and start mixing on low speed.
Once the sugar and the merriwhite are well combined, check the consistency. If the sides of the bowl still look dry and crumbly, add some more merriwhite until the icing looks almost smooth but not wet.
Keep mixing for about 4-5 minutes, until it has reached stiff-peak consistency.
Spoon into a plastic container, cover with a clean damp j-cloth and the lid. Store at room temperature.
Royal Icing Consistencies

Simply thin down your basic royal icing with water, a little bit at a time, mixing with a palette knife, until you have the right consistency. Keep your icing covered with cling film or a damp cloth when not using it, to stop it from drying out.

Stiff-peak consistency: for piping sugar flowers and leaves
Soft-peak consistency: for piping lines, dots and borders
Runny consistency: for filling in the centres of spaces

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How to Choose the Perfect Farmhouse Paint

If you know me, you know that I keep moving all day long. From planning our meals, to taking my girls to and from activities, work, or date-night with my husband, I so often seem to come home exhausted. Don’t get me wrong, I love to stay active! But some days I need to just come home and relax. That’s why I love the farmhouse aesthetic. When I walk into my living room, it’s like walking through a time machine to a simpler time. It’s a calming nostalgia that instantly relaxes me.

It takes a beautiful pairing of muted, natural colors and rustic furniture style to achieve this restful, cozy feel, but with some planning it’s becomes an easy process! The pros use paint that costs upwards of sixty dollars a gallon, but you don’t need an expensive hue to look professional!

Here are a few colors that will transform your home without breaking your bank.

Off-white: I love the dining room above! The modern furniture perfectly compliments the rustic architecture, and the off-white tone pulls the room together beautifully. Just look out for the undertones, otherwise you can end up with a white that has a darker hue than you’d like. There are many variants of whites - like Cottage White or Simply White - that won’t run up the bill, and each have that unmistakable farmhouse charm. I can just imagine the delicious smell of a homemade apple pie fresh from the oven on that table!

Comfort Grey: Above is a beautiful example of a farmhouse grey. This grey goes perfectly with the brilliant white furniture, a staple of the modern rustic style. While more expensive than a gallon of off-white, it immediately creates a soft, cozy atmosphere where you can snuggle up on the couch to enjoy some herbal tea and a good book.

Svelte Sage: If you need a pop of color, this fantastic green will look wonderful paired with a white trim, as in this photo, and black or brown accents against the wall tie it together neatly - and professionally - and makes you feel as if you’ve just come in from tending your peach orchard. This cool, calming green instantly soothes me when I see it.

Source: Magnolia Home

Source: Magnolia Home

If you need a bit more of a relaxing atmosphere in your home, natural farmhouse colors are your best bet! Not only does it have that fixer-upper feel to it, it has that down-to-earth quality that always seems to slow down life, even if it is just relaxed at home. But that’s where we need that most, isn’t it?