Thanksgiving Tablescapes

Thanksgiving Tablescapes
Thanksgiving Tablescapes

Monday, November 17, 2014

Your Thanksgiving Tablescape

It's nearly here, and I thought I'd better speak to your Thanksgiving tablescape while you're still planning for the big day.  This doesn't mean that you have to get out every pilgrim, Indian, and turkey you've ever owned.  Sure, those are "traditional," but you can choose to go another direction.

First of all, it's best to match your table to your decor: if you have a traditional home with all its decorations, then by all means bring out the cornucopia with fruit or root veggies, or turkey tureen or such.  However, if your decor leans more toward the contemporary vibe, then you can go with that overall look to have your table "fit" your home's style.

The same is true for colors: Thanksgiving is very yellow, orange, rust and brown as well as beige and tan.  If those colors fit in your decor, great.  If they don't, there's nothing wrong with using colors that work in your decor.  Maintaining the royal blue accent color in your living/dining room with your blue stemware- just make sure it relates to something else on the table, like blue dishes for sauce or condiments.

I try to make the focus of Thanksgiving on being grateful for what we have.  One way I do that is to ask each guest to name 2-3 things that they are thankful for this year.  I collect those, and print them up on paper.  One year I wrapped those strips of paper around the stems of the wine glasses.  Another I folded them like Chinese fortunes in the rolls I baked.  One can be obvious, like "I am thankful for my cats," but one should be more enigmatic like, "I'm thankful for my health after a real scare this year."  Then we all guess who had which one, and the focus of dinner is in sharing happy moments we've experienced since last Thanksgiving.

Whether you're cooking turkey and dressing for two or 20, make the table something to "ooo" and "ah" about, so do prepare it ahead of time.  I usually set the table on Tuesday (or Wednesday for sure) and add the final touches on Wednesday evening.  I have two rules that I use for Thanksgiving:

  1. Use candles at the table.  They bring a warmth and elegance like nothing else can.
  2. Elevate your centerpiece a bit, without making it impossible to see the person sitting beyond it.
If you need more inspiration or information, go back to Oct. 28, 2013's ( entry on this blog, where I detail how to set a table, silverware placement, as well as some other fabulous ideas.  If you need help, whether it's a color consultation because you're preparing to paint your house, or a feng shui consultation to create an uplifting environment for your whole family, please check my website at and contact me from there.  I'd love to hear from you below, as well, with comments, questions, and/or pictures of your Thanksgiving tablescape.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Selecting the Right Flooring for Your Home- Part 2

Selecting the right flooring for a room or area in your home may seem like a difficult task. It's a procedure that must combine your personal taste with careful consideration about practicality. After all, it's a surface you, your family and friends will walk, stand and sit on, your kids will spill, play and grow up on. But asking yourself a few key questions at the beginning of the process should help reduce your worry, ease your choice and increase your long-term satisfaction with your new floor.  Last week, I discussed hardwood, bamboo, cork and vinyl options. If you haven’t read last week’s entry, check it out first, then by all means, move on to this one!

Tile, Marble and Granite

Ceramic tile, porcelain tile, limestone, marble and granite are all popular and functional flooring choices, coming with a big variation of different price tags and requiring various levels of expertise to install. Working with ceramic or even vinyl tiles is relatively easy, and some homeowners should be able to successfully do it themselves. 

Ceramic tiles look great and provide superb durability, but they are more expensive. Another consideration is weight- some of these add considerable weight to move and install.  (I selected porcelain tiles for a bathroom recently, and wondered what I was thinking after carrying stacks and stacks of 50 lb. boxes up 3 flights of stairs.  Whew!)
If you should elect to go with an even more challenging and higher-end material such as marble or granite, you're definitely going to need to hire professionals for the installation.  Two considerations for tile, one is that it tends to be cold winter and summer, so if you live in a cold climate, you may want to add radiant heat under the floor to warm it in the winter.  (This of course adds to the expense, but it’s worth it in my opinion.)  Second is that it’s a very hard surface, so some would prefer something with more give in it like the examples previously mentioned.

Concrete Flooring

Concrete is a relatively new application indoors.  Since many kitchens have a concrete sub-flooring, they can often be modified into a beautiful and durable flooring, by pouring thin slabs of concrete on top of the sub-flooring.  

Concrete floors are slow to heat up, so depending on your climate can be comfortable under foot, and radiant heat can warm up the floor as needed.  They’re easy to clean, and don’t attract allergens like other more porous floors.  The look of a concrete floor can be altered and customized with acid-staining process. The stain, a mixture of hydrochloric acid that reacts with the concrete so it changes the color of the concrete, never fading or chipping.  After staining, a layer of wax is applied, followed by a layer of sealant, giving the finished kitchen floor a rich, burnished sheen. Maintaining acid-stained concrete floors is easy, requiring only a mop and periodic polishing.  The costs for installing and staining a concrete floor are very reasonable, at about $3 to $15 per square foot, depending on what type of stain and sealant are used, and whether an artisan is used to create patterns or decorative effects on the floor.  It is, however a very hard surface to walk on if you love to cook and spend a lot of time in the kitchen.


Linoleum is one of the most enduring and popular materials used.  Durability is one of the biggest advantages, lasting many years with proper cleaning and maintenance.  

Because it has the same color through the thickness of the flooring, so doesn't show dings and divots.  It’s softer under the feet than other surfaces, and is therefore quieter than most flooring.  Another big plus is that it’s made of renewable resources, and it’s recyclable. It’s water proof, so a spill can be easily cleaned up.  Linoleum traps moisture and can damage a concrete subfloor that sweats as well as during the actual installation of linoleum.  It’s more costly than vinyl but is completely recyclable, unlike vinyl, so it’s a great environmentally friendly choice.

In conclusion:

Do you have further questions or concerns?  Are these ALL the choices? In a nutshell, there are a few other options, but these are the ones that I’ve had some experience with in my design practice and can recommend, depending upon your budget and tastes.  What questions come to mind as you read this entry?  Send me a message and I’ll do my best to answer.  I always have time for my readers. Need more help?  Check out my website at and contact me.  I’d love to help you!


Monday, November 3, 2014

Selecting the Right Flooring for Your Home- Part 1

We visited my daughter and her family in Muncie, Indiana (Go Ball State University Cardinals!) this past week.  My son-in-law asked me a question that inspired this week’s new blog entry:  “When we get new flooring for our kitchen, breakfast room & family room, what’s the most practical, long-lasting yet nice looking flooring we can get?”  Of course, that requires a lot more questions, but I decided to answer that question for everybody making that choice in more general terms.

Selecting the right flooring for your home may seem like a really challenging decision.  Your personal taste has to be combined with thoughtful decisions about practicality.  Unlike a piece of furniture, everyone in your household as well as your guests will stand and walk on it, your kids will spill on it, drop things on it, and your dog or cat may even pee, vomit, or poop on it!  So, ask yourself some key questions before you make your decision, and your long-term satisfaction with your choice may be a better one:
  • What size family regularly uses the space?
  • How much traffic will the floor get?
  • How many and what ages are the children in your home?
  • What pets live in your home?
  • Will the floor be exposed to moisture regularly?
  • How often will the floor need cleaning/How often do you take the time to clean the floor?
  • How long do you anticipate your new floor will need to last?
  • Do you want your floor to be a selling factor if you’re planning to sell in, say, five years?

For a long time, there were three possibilities when considering flooring for a kitchen: linoleum, vinyl, or tile.  Many more choices have become viable options for homeowners today.  I'll discuss a few today, and return next week for more possibilities.

Wood Flooring:

Wood flooring has made a major comeback as homeowners want to increase the ambiance, value and comfort factors in new and remodeled homes.  One reason is because more open floor plans can help blend two or more rooms together creating a seamless look and more spacious feeling.  Wood has a visual warmth to it that other options tend to lack.

Factory pretreated finishes, such as polyurethane, on wood flooring will mean easier care and clean-up and only have to be resealed ever 5-6 years.  It’s also a whole lot less messy and smelly installation.  (We had to move out to a hotel for three or four days when we had traditional wood floors installed in our dining room years ago.)
Engineered wood floors that are higher quality are another good option. You’ll just need to follow the manufacturer’s suggested routine maintenance, so that they are durable and easy to clean. 
Again, while options used to be pine or oak, homeowners can select from a much wider range of woods including maple, cherry, Brazilian cherry and hickory among others.
Selecting a stain that’s in the mid range of tones will help your floor camouflage spills and the normal dirt that’s tracked into your home.
I’d suggest that you avoid wood floors that are finished with oil and wax, because although they giver a beautiful weathered, antique look, this finish is less durable in a kitchen installation, and requires regular waxing. 
Installed hardwood flooring generally runs $3 to $12 per square foot.

Cork and Bamboo Flooring

One of the hottest trends in flooring for kitchens is cork and bamboo flooring, that are made from treelike tropical grasses.  Both products work well in kitchens, as these tropical are treated to withstand the occasional spills.  
Bamboo flooring

Bamboo flooring stained dark

Cork flooring tiles

Cork flooring

Cork is a very comfortable choice underfoot, with a natural give to it.  It also has antimicrobial benefits that are a huge plus when preparing food. Cork is a durable, versatile material available in a variety of colors. It is water-resistant and reduces impact noise.  I recall one client who selected it for a meditation room, and then decided to put it in her kitchen, and never had another broken dish!  Bamboo is a sustainable resource, and comes in a variety of hardnesses, which varies in pricing.  The cost of installed bamboo or cork flooring runs at the upper end of hardwood flooring.

Vinyl Flooring

Invented in the 1930’s, vinyl flooring first made an impact on the architectural world in the years following World War Two. By the 1950’s it was a major competitor against other resilient options, and had all but usurped linoleum’s position as a low cost water resistant flooring option.

There are a variety of advantages that come with installing vinyl flooring in your home. These are the same tried and true characteristics that have been touted since the fifties by vinyl flooring retailers and suppliers.
The colors and pattern options that are available with vinyl flooring are nearly endless. Solid and composite vinyl can be combined to create a number of unique, random patterns. Printed vinyl is even more versatile, allowing you to recreate the look of natural stone, hardwood, or any other material you can think of. You can even mix and match material facades to make it look like you’ve combined different elements in your floor.
Vinyl flooring is relatively easy to care for. You have to make sure that grit and dirt are kept swept free to maintain the surface of the floor. Then you can use a damp mop and an approved vinyl floor cleaner to remove stains.
A well installed vinyl floor is almost impervious to water penetration, making this the perfect material for use in a bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, or other high moisture space in the home.
Vinyl does not get cold in the winter, and is generally soft beneath your feet. Some vinyl sheets and tiles have a padded layer that can make walking on these floors even better on your (tired) feet.

In conclusion:

Do you have further questions or concerns?  Are these ALL the choices?  Next week I'll discuss concrete, linoleum, as well as tiles, marble and granite.  There are a few other options, but these are the ones that I’ve had some experience with in my design practice and can recommend, depending upon your budget and tastes.  What questions come to mind as you read this entry?  Send me a message and I’ll do my best to answer.  I always have time for my readers. Need more help?  Check out my website at and contact me.  I’d love to help you!


Monday, September 29, 2014

Good Feng Shui in Your Bedroom

The foundation of Feng Shui is the pursuit of the most advantageous and harmonious place to live and work. We spend approximately a third of our lives sleeping, but the bedroom is often the last room in the house to receive any attention. When it does obtain consideration, often it’s to buy a new mattress. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting a comfortable mattress on which to sleep, I’d like to share some other contemplations for your consideration.

A Boring Bedroom:

Color Schemes:

The bedroom is a Yin room, where you want to relax, regenerate, and be intimate. (Yang rooms could be considered to be any place where you entertain company, or gather as a family.) Research shows that the most relaxing colors are blues and greens- perhaps because they echo the colors of water, the sky, plants and trees in nature.

The late Professor Grandmaster Lin Yun, beloved leader of the BTB Sect of Feng Shui would have agreed that these colors work well in a bedroom, helping one to relax.

What if blue and green just don’t work for your tastes? You could lay the Ba-gua on your home and figure out the best color(s) according to it.  You could use colors that help you to feel relaxed. I’d just suggest that you avoid too many dark colors or intense hues in the warm family such as red, bright yellow, or orange.

Selecting a pastel, a version of white (like stark to beige), or a soft neutral like grey would also work.

The good news about the modern (or BTB) Feng Shui that I practice is that there’s a solution for almost every problem, which we call cures. Some cures are easily explainable, and follow science, medicine and good design principles. Other cures, however are illogical, irrational, mystical and/or transcendental. It’s the latter that often makes the bigger difference in the Ch’i or energy creating an uplifting environment within a home.

Bed Placement:
Because the bed is the largest piece of furniture in a bedroom, it’s going to be the focal point. After you’ve dressed it in fabrics that are wonderful to the touch as well as visually pleasing, then think about its placement. To create the best Feng Shui, put it in a position so that you can see the main door to the room when you’re laying down without aligning the bed with that entrance. (The one is the picture above is floating in the middle of the room- not a great placement.) Sometimes this is difficult or impossible due to windows and doors to closets and entrances. If it is, call me and we’ll set up an appointment for a consultation to determine the best option for your situation.

Do You Need a Headboard?

In short, yes, and it can be made of anything (ideally) except metal. Although a headboard attached to a bedroom wall rather than the bed is perhaps better than none, you really want your headboard to be attached to your bedframe, supporting the mattress and box springs. Place the headboard against a wall (or in the corner if you have enough space in your bedroom.) Think of it as a foundation for a quality night’s rest.

Bedside tables:
Nightstands do not have to match, in modern or BTB Feng Shui. Just like you and your partner are different, you can have two different tables to meet each of your needs. Think of it as asymmetric balance, or even Yin and Yang: you want a lamp to read, and table to place your book; your partner may want several drawers to neatly store night time needs. That’s just fine.

Master Bathrooms:According to Feng Shui, it’s best if your bedroom and bathroom are not part of a master suite (i.e. that they’re separated only by a door.) Worse yet, however is when there is no door separating the two rooms.
If you're thinking, "let's get real, Shelley. I need a bathroom close to where I sleep," then keep in mind there are cures for this situation.
If you have this situation in your home, give me a call and we’ll set up an appointment for a consultation to determine the best option for your situation.

Beam Me Up, Scotty!
A flat ceiling, 8' tall or higher is the best one, according to Feng Shui. If you have beams (like in the picture above), a coved ceiling or other architecturally detailed ceiling, it may cause problems. Again, contact me for a consultation and we'll figure out the best solution to the problem.

Your Thoughts:
I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions regarding this ancient and amazing philosophy. Clients in the greater Puget Sound area have experienced the benefit of Feng Shui through a consultation. Maybe it’s time you are shown you how to alter your surroundings to create a more uplifting environment where you are able to breathe and be at your best. Think about it and contact me when you're ready:  
Credits: Thanks to and for pictures used in this entry.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Hollywood Regency Style

While Hollywood Regency design is a return to the 1930s, it's still incredibly contemporary and pertinent to today's hurried lifestyle, where people view their abodes as sanctuaries where they can relax, entertain, and have FUN! My husband and I recently drove to a public venue to pick up his sister to take her out to dinner. We saw ten out of eleven people using their cell phones as we picked her up. We live in a crazy time, when people use every available minute to check, text, and/or talk on their cell phones.

Hollywood Regency style is all about enjoying people, enjoying time together, and enjoying the moment. It’s about glamour, appeal, and enjoying the concept of entertaining.
Hollywood stars such as Greta Garbo, Jean Harlowe and Joan Crawford come to mind in films that featured Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and Tyrone Power to help with your mind set.
Marks of Luxury: Hollywood Regency design is silk lampshades, dense, sculpted carpets, and velvet window treatments. People’s homes were their calling cards, their mark of distinction in the 1930s. Being invited to some homes for a cocktail party, dinner, or a party was a mark of honor.

Lacquer: Hollywood Regency focuses on making the home a centerpiece for guests, and classic designers spared no shine, glitz or glamour in making that happen. A home became a showpiece when designers added glossy shine on furniture.
Smaller Scale: Because the era is all about people, the furniture is small by comparison to our sectional sofas and “oversized” (furniture) society. One wants to create an atmosphere where the most important consideration is how people can interact with one another. The furniture and its arrangement simply follows that function. Modern furnishings work best in a Hollywood Regency space. Straight and clean lines, a touch of French influence, a little Art Deco (leftover from the 1920's)all work in a Hollywood Regency décor as long as you keep the proper scale and modern influence with your furnishings.
Invest in Classics: Investing in a few classic pieces of furniture can make the difference in any interior. Although many of us can’t invest our savings in designers Dorothy Draper and William "Billy" Haines works, we can observe the lines they created and find great quality pieces. You can also begin with lamps, side tables, Chinoiserie artwork, or accessories.
Color Schemes: Use a color palette that is tasteful and refined. Classic combinations included red, black, and white or vanilla, as well as ice blue, taupe and white or crème. These groupings can create the glamorous feel of old Hollywood. Bold patterns and textured fabrics also lend themselves to the "over-the-top" feel of the design.
Textiles: Think extravagance when picking out fabrics: silk, satin, leather, suede, animal print, and anything textured or with a hint of glitter and glam are wise choices for both the upholstery and for accent pillows, drapes, and other fabrics used throughout the room.
While Hollywood Regency design is a salute to another era, it's still incredibly modern and relevant to today's hurried lifestyle, where people view their homes as sanctuaries where they can relax. If you enjoy entertaining, and love to have friends and acquaintances over, then consider Hollywood Regency style. Not sure? Watch some old movies, and take note of the style used on their movie sets. When you’re ready, go for it, or better yet, give me a call and we’ll discuss it in my office… maybe over cocktails!
Thanks to HGTV, House Beautiful,Pinterest and several sources. Let me know what you think! I can’t wait to hear from you.