I was doing a radio show this last weekend about getting ready for spring. The host asked, isn’t that a bit premature? I replied, “Honey, come spring, the last thing I want to do is spend it inside, purging, cleaning, organizing or even tweaking. Nope! I want to do all that stuff NOW so I can actually enjoy the brief rejuvenating moments when the world of nature springs back to life.
Here in Colorado, winter can be bleak. Then, adding COVID: Wave #2 to the mix and well, it’s the perfect time, under house arrest, to stop letting the four squares drive us bonkers, and start anticipating new possibilities. So, herein are some of the random notes we talked about on the radio show in no particular order.
Of course, purging is and should always be an ongoing thing. As the new year gets under way it’s the ideal time to stop and consider what it is you actually used last year and what you did not, while it’s still fresh in your memory.
Remember, everything you own and have under your roof is still charging you rent to be there. Every inch that those items take up is costing you something to exist in your life. So, it’s time to decide if it’s worth it or not?
With the “supply-chain” issues we’re seeing that more people are hitting the thrift and consignment stores HARD! However, more than ever before, I noticed that many of those pre-owned retailers’ shelves are getting bare too. So, for the first time in a long while, they’re in need of new inventory.
It’s a great time to turn the stuff you’re not using into cash. Or if donating, remember, there are so many folks who are experiencing really difficult times due to COVID and could really use the stuff you no longer need or even care about. Lower your footprint pay it forward! Win win!
Next, one of the things you’ve probably noticed is that when forced to really use every inch of your home (more now, than ever) it’s gotten a bit claustrophobic. If your walls are closing in, its time to implore a few designer tricks. After you have, sure…you may know your home isn’t really any bigger, but never, ever, underestimate the amazing power of “visual illusion.”
Two things that stretch space and create a whole new mood in a tired old room are mirrors and more strategic lighting.
First, really think of finally using mirrors (set in nice chunky architectural frames) to visually stretch your living environment. I know, I know… I talk about this a lot, but few ''get it" until they actually remove dated wall art and place-holding clutter and replace it with a great mirror instead. Wall mirrors are timeless and now cheaper than they’ve ever been. Who cares if the frames aren’t “real” wood or metal as long as they look like it? No one’s going to be running through your home tapping the frames for "material authenticity." How rude? And remember, you can always upgrade later if you want to.
Placed opposite windows, mirrors will bring the light and the view clear across the room and into those dark places where no one ever wants to sit. A full-length mirror leaning up against a small, dim alcove wall (you can’t do anything else with) will actually give the illusion that it’s an entrance to another entirely new room. Who knew?
Try attaching mirrors to blank doors with heavy duty (removable) Command Strips. Suddenly the visual barrier turns into what can look like a see-through French door reflecting the entire room. Again, never underestimate the power of visual depth! You can use the light weight wardrobe mirrors for Walmart and paint the frames the same color as the door. Cheap and easy.
Many of you have just taken down your Christmas decorations and are suddenly going through “cozy withdrawal.” The tree lights, the fairy lights, the faux candles et al, brought a beautiful intimacy and cozy glow to the home. Right? With them gone, the place looks way too sober…?
Well, its lighting that’s another indispensable designer’s secret weapon, especially when used in tandem with mirrors.
We think of lamps as only applicable from dusk to dawn, when in fact, they can be used all day long too. Often man-made light is the only way to illuminate those parts of rooms that seem so unwelcoming. Why do you think real estate brokers dash through a listing turning every light in the house on before a showing?
Now that L.E.D. bulbs (which are super cheap to run and now finally come in “Warm Temperatures” ) are available almost anywhere, there’s no reason to not have balanced mood lighting in every room, everywhere. Plus, they now act as today’s new accessories.
If you haven’t noticed, high style designer looking lamps are even at Home Depot now. They may not be as well made and weighted as the $1,200 dollar lamps in designer showrooms, but hey, for $60-$125 bucks, who the hell cares? It’s a holder for the dang bulb, which is the real point here. Dig?
Often a single lamp on a table, or a pair on a sideboard, chest or end tables, with clean modern shades (even on traditional bases) makes a huge difference. You can get rid of the clutter on those surfaces now too, because a single lamp as “the new accessory” is all you need. Now there’s space to actually use those cleaner surfaces to, you know…live?
For those of you who say you don’t have room for chests, sideboards and the like, it's probably because you still have your sofa up against the walls.
Did you know that your uninterrupted wall space is the most valuable real estate in any room?
Why take up that space with a sofa? Which, if you haven’t noticed, is upholstered on all four sides and is designed to float in conversation groupings in the center of rooms. Think “hotel lobby.” So, when at all possible get them away from those valuable walls. Moving them will change the whole dynamic of the room too!
On that note, I suggested to my sister that she get a low sectional with a half-armed chaise at one end. So, she tried one that is the new “rage.” You’ve seen them, I’m sure. These “reversible" chaises, as they're called....kind of suck. Rather than having an actual full uninterrupted chaise frame, these so-called “reveraible” models are really just a top mattress on an ottoman frame underneath. So, your ass is practically on the ground and your legs are up in the air straddling the underneath ottoman frame. Seriously? Whose bright great idea was this?
Yup, they are a few hundred bucks cheaper than a real chaise extension, but if they’re not comfortable, what’s the point? These are investment pieces so, do it right and splurge already!
With the sofas repositioned, now the walls can now be used for what they’re designed for: storage units, bookcases, hutches, chests, sideboards and the like. Remember a room you can actually live in, day-to-day, must have as much closed storage and display area. And just because you own something doesn’t mean you have to “show” it.
As many of you (who still hear my voice in your head) already know, the human form only needs 18 inches to comfortably navigate furniture, like between a sofa and say, a coffee table etc...
So, it’s time to get a new coffee table that is at least the length of your sofa. let’s get rid of this idea that a small oval glass coffee table on an iron base will make the room look “bigger.” Who cares even if that were true? Most average households don’t use the living room as formal “company parlors” anymore. Today, we want to put our feet up, do homework, or play a board game (fill in the blank) on these important surfaces. Right? If a room isn’t comfortable, no one wants to use it. Period.
If you can find a great hard surfaced coffee table with closed drawers underneath, then all the better. If you can’t find one big enough for your whole conversation area, then get two of them, push them together and put down a table runner or serving trays to cover the seams. DONE!
NOTE: There's a video on my website that illustrates this and everything I've mentioned here.
Walkways between furniture groupings (like the distance between a sideboard or chest and your (now) floating sofa) only needs to be about 30 to 34 inches, which is the width of most apartment hallways.
Also, because the furniture is below the waste, you can often get away with even less inches because there are no obstructing walls, just "open" space. So, you can put more furniture and groupings in a room than you might think.
Square feet is really an optical illusion in and of itself.
When someone enters a room, they look and the amount of furniture to determine its size, not the size of the room itself. That's why when you move and all the furniture is out of the room, it actually looks smaller than it was. Who knew?
And finally, with new lighting, a bit of mirror magic and floating furniture groupings in place, you can now feel a lot more comfortable with adding a bit of deep, rich wall color to those once dark and small looking spaces. Even if it’s only a single, small accent wall, it makes all the difference in adding that new, fresh, designer feel to a room. With my new room recipes now online for you to download (totally free) there’s no excuse. Now you have all the color courage you need.
Look, we’re all trying to figure out who the hell we are now. It’s been a tough life-questioning few years for all of us. If you’re like me, you’re acutely aware that those of us still in possession of open hearts and an understanding of our eternal spirits are, in human form, basically aliens here. In the school of life, it's always been the case. It’s why we always need faith, which sometimes feels like it’s being sabotaged at every turn.
Here, right now, fear rules if we go down that rabbit hole. Little seems to be within our control beyond our front doors. But behind that front door, you still have all the power!
I don’t know about you, but I’m questioning my quality of life all over again, each and every day.
That’s a good thing and I know I'm not alone. Why do you think people are leaving perfectly good jobs even if they can’t afford to? Why do you think those forced to work from home, no longer want to go back to human cubical farms? We’ve had it.
Our quality of life is OUR spiritual responsibility now. So, it’s up to us to make the places we park our hearts as inspiring as they can possibly be, illusion or not.
Maybe it's time to invest that small vacation kitty (remember those?) and spend it on our spirits. Living a whole lot more intentionally will help clear the haze. Through our inherent creativity we can get closer to the clarity we so desperately need. Even if it’s only one throw pillow, one mirror or one can of paint at a time.
Now it’s the “Power of Pretty” that will get us through the ugly times.
So, plug in your tiny little lamp with the pretty little shade and let your light so shine!
We can do it!