Archive for March 2011

If you want have to earn it kids....

At least that's what Dwayne told his they're providing us with Handmade Chocolate Candies for Easter! Here's the note that Dwayne gave me about his kids and the candy!
EASTER CANDY: HANDMADE by Ian and Chloe (with very close supervision)
"If you want it, you have to earn it!"
The kids were wanting to have money for the trip planned this summer, and well...nothing is free! So Kathy and I realized that we were given an opportunity to teach a life lesson! So they are making handmade chocolate candies for easter, and selling them in our store to earn money for the trip! Also realizing they needed to give back/pay it forward, the kids decided without a second of thought that they were going to give part of their earnings to help the Red Cross to help all of those suffering in Japan.

The chocolates are available in limited quantities in the store until Easter, ALTHOUGH we are taking orders on the chocolated candies for people. Lists are already growing, so don't waste any time, they're small children and can't produce them out like Hersheys! What are the kids providing? Pure, Solid Chocolate Bunnies (in 2 sizes, above is the smaller $1 bunny, below is the $2 larger bunny) as well as chocolate suckers for $0.50 each! By the way they are good! I've eaten some of their profits - sorry kids! ;)
You can call the store at 859.523.3933 to order you chocolates.

Style You 2! -The 2 Button Wrap

I had admired a very stylish wrap on a fellow interior stylist a few months back and had been longing  for one of my own - While trendspotting on the Web, I accidently came across them! I guess Kathy Lee from Good Morning America sports them too, says the Web.  Needless to say I was thrilled.   I love the color, style, weight and versitility so much, I opened an account with the manufacter - And can now offer them to you.
  • Wear it down, buttoned once, over one shoulder, or wrapped and buttoned.

Style You 2 with this sassy wrap.

Stylish and super chic, this wrap can be worn in assorted fashions with its clever 2 button design.
Length: 63" x 16"
Material: 100% Acrylic
Price: 29.95 (plus shipping and tax)

Make sure when ordering to indicate what color(s) you want!
The 2 button wrap comes in a dizzing array of trend forward colors - I love the Coral and Perwinkle!  Be fashion forward and order more than 1.
  • Black
  • White
  • Coral
  • Periwinkle
  • Lavender
  • Tangerine
  • Lime
  • Raspberry
  • Light Turqoise
  • Candy Pink

A Boy Can Dream....of Laundry Rooms

So in my dreams of growing up and getting the house of my dreams, strangely enough....the laundry room is just about as important to me as the living quarters! A client of ours has what we call the "Taj Mahal" of laundry rooms, and it's to die for....did I mention that it has 3 large chandeliers hanging above the granite island in the middle of the room? I'm happy for her...but what about me! I'll have that someday too...right? A boy can dream I guess.
I recently came across this photo of this old galvanized bucket turned into a sink in a laundry room, and immediately started foaming at the mouth. Paired with the faucet, subway tile, and plantation was almost too much for me to handle!!!

Unfortunately for me, this has now been added to the list of things needed when buying our next house. Our poor realtor Maxine. I realize that most likely I will have to update the room into something like this, but I have to have the room to do it first!
I also came across the lower photo, and also adored it. I love the use of the picnic table in the middle as the island! Now I need even more room! My question for this home owner is....HOW MANY WASHERS DO YOU REALLY NEED?! I think they might have went a little over board if they aren't parents of 15 children or so. Who could have been the Octomom's, but then's white and too clean for her herd of children, lol.
Who would have thought I would be so obsessed with laundry rooms! I mean, I haven't washed clothes in almost a month! I guess maybe I should start practicing that now huh?

Putting it all together!

I know that sometimes I see things in a store, and love how it's displayed or used, but then when I get home, I'm not completely sure how to utilize what I bought in my space (yes it happens to us too!). I wanted to show how somethings we had in the store, resulted in a home!

Here you see a beautiful three tier stand paired with things to work in the kitchen. Having a newly bought item be beautiful, affordable, and functional are the trifecta of home design!

On the top shelf you see a collection of old vintage silverware passed down through the family tied with twine. Every time these are seen it reminds of special people who are no longer with us.

On the second tier, items used in cooking are stored in old mason jars. Anytime you can put food in a container to be displayed, you've hit the jackpot!

On the bottom tier, our numbered galvanized pots have been utilized to grow herbs by the window! So adorable, and notice our wired burlap ribbon that was wrapped around just to add an extra detail. Lastly, notice our Colonial Candles taper candles wrapped simply with the same burlap ribbon!~ Let's face it. There's something about candles in groupings that are magical, and when they're beautiful....why NOT have them on display and easy access!

Stages Of House Building - External Works

This refers to all those supportive works that help complete the building. They include the following:
· Boundary walls and hedges: these are meant for demarcating the space on which the building stands as well providing security and privacy. The most common walls are made of masonry while hedges are made out of plants like keiapple and bougainvillea. Most hedges add to the aesthetics of the compound when they bloom. One important thing to remember is that the wall should complement the building.
· Gate and gate house: Can be viewed to be a part of the boundary wall. Depending on the requirements and use of the building and hence the compound, the gate will differ in size, specification. In busy buildings with heavy vehicle traffic, an electronically opened gate will work better than a manually opened gate. Further, it is usually better to have a small pedestrian gate aside the main gate.
· Drives, parkings and pavements: These are usually hard surfaces like tarmac or paving blocks. They provide access and circulation within the compound. Pavements are good for training pedestrians on what routes to follow inside the compound. This will prevent trampling of areas like landscaped lawns.
· Landscape and Flower gardens: Landscaping can be viewed as dressing to the compound. It completes the picture. Variety is the secret here. Having flowers that blossom at different times of the year will ensure that the compound is in colour all year round.
· Gazebos and Porches: These are resting areas in the compound. They come in a great variety of designs to suit varying needs.
· Water points and ponds
External works need also be integrated within the works to ensure that they don't drag the completion of the works as a whole. Taking the example of landscaping, it will need a lot of time to grow some of the plants as may be required in the compound. These could be planted long before the building is put up, as long as they do not play hindrance to the construction.
From our series of previous articles, it is clear to see that there are many components that get into the building to make it complete. While each one of these have their different roles, they are put together concurrently. Planning is therefore very important to ensure that a harmonious process results. Moreover, the different components are usually put up by different contractors (service providers) thus it amplifies the need for proper planning.

Lifestyle Design – Home Staging the Garden?

Lifestyle Design Home Staging
As we all know, targeting a lifestyle is a well established design niche for both retailers and designers -from big box stores to model home designers, lifestyle design is all about knowing how your ideal client lives. Today, it's about fine tuning the enjoyment of your home. The most expensive thing we own, the one place in this unsure world we can feel safe - Home, now more than ever is where the heart is.

Take a stroll through the Home & Garden department at your local Wal-Mart, Target or Costco. That area no longer just houses pots, towels and trowels - Now, there are whole tempting outdoor rooms presented to you, eye candy equipped with beautiful planters, outdoor chandeliers and matching Melamine tableware. Catalogs like Grandin Road, Napa Style, or Smith & Hawken are totally focused on lifestyle design.

Old school homemaking is now big business. From going organic, brewing beer, to planting your own kitchen garden - the urban "Homestead" is hot! Last year I staged a very high-end home that had a Porsche in the garage, but rain barrels and a kitchen garden in the back yard. This month's Martha Stewart Living has a full feature on an upscale home planned around a garden. This past Sunday's Chicago Tribune had an article on kitchen gardens titled " Food for the Soul." Even the home party plan arena has gone from selling Tupperware to Wine Accessories and Green Cleaning Products.

Why? After 9-11, our safe haven became our home and the rise of using our home as the main entertaining zone. We were staying in, instead of going out and the movement has stayed "in-trend" since then.

We even staycation rather than vacation...

Packaging a Home for Sale
With the downward dip our economy has taken, we're using and valuing our entire home more than ever and looking for economical solutions too. From garages, carved out backyard rooms to kitchen gardens - From curbside to back fence everyone is celebrating every inch of their home.

So when it comes to Home Staging and packaging that home for sale, it's important to keep lifestyle design as one of your basic home staging strategies. As an example, I conducted a Home Staging consultation yesterday for a young couple relocating back to their Michigan roots. The home is in a cute suburb, with a boutique downtown that attracts their age group. In their 30's, this young couple with two toddlers in tow, are heavy entertainers, shop their town and dabble in gardening and yes - the garage is dapper too. As part of our staging plan, we incorporated those lifestyle choices - Since the predictable buyer will be someone just like them! Here are a few of my home staging tips and ideas for the seller -

•· Make sure the public areas of the home have a great open flow plan and are conducive to family & friends for casual living and entertaining. Make sure to establish rooms for their particular purpose and lifestyle - From a great cozy conversational seating areas in the living room, a TV viewing basement family room - to staging the built-in hutch in the kitchen with key entertaining pieces - Every space should read "This room is great for..."

•· Fresh. Take the extra effort and use real instead of fake. From a big bowl of real lemons, fragrant Key limes to a lovely orchid or tulip bouquet - Real speaks to the 5 senses and gives the home the essence of life.

•· Breeze Way is staged from floor to with bulletin board with great places to shop, dine and go, from Yoga class down to the "Whole Food" bags.

•· Backyard is "decked" out with furniture, vibrant container gardens, situated man grill, all to beckon the buyers to see the back half of this commodity.

•· Stage the garden - Budding gardeners, the kitchen garden that went in last year will be planted and maintained and featured as part of the home.

Since 1999, interior stylist Julea Joseph has owned Chicago area based interior design and home staging business - Reinventing Space. Your can see her work on HGTV or in the news giving homeowners expert insight on how to refresh, style and celebrate their space -Whether prepping their home to go on the market, just settling in, or just in need of a change. Julea also offers her expertise with certification training and mentoring offerings to Realtors, Home Stagers and Interior Redesigners in the industry. Visit her site, or Interior Stylist Program for more information or email her at

Life, Peers And The Five Fingers

The human hand is one of the most complex parts of the human body. With so many distinct units, making so many movements to all possible directions, it is actually a real work of supreme science. Among these magnificent building blocks is the arm, on which grows five fingers. These are also unique in the fact that all of them are different, both in size and character. There are long ones and stunted ones. There are those that bend thrice while others twice. And albeit they grow in the same hand, they perform different functions. Cooks will tell you that the middle three fingers are always in an awkward position as far as hot pots are concerned. On the other hand, carpenters will tell you just how many times they had had to lick they crushed thumbs!
You see, the fingers belong to the same hand, but they are so different. The same happens to us in our day to day living. Differences are so much inevitable, whether in the family or community. There is a common saying in my language that from the same womb come a pastor and a witchdoctor! Even the so called identical twins have some differences! It gets clearer when we get with our peers. You will find that your age mates are not all in your league as much as many issues are concerned. You think differently, you view life differently and you score differently. This is very normal. I remember that during my days in college, I was in the class with a guy driving a top of the range ride and another one that had to limit his toilet paper consumption to six segments a day... patting himself on the back when he used none! If anything mattered to him, it was how to get a meal the next day, while some others formed a snack club at the tuck shop. But all of us were in the same class, taking the same lessons, facing the same examinations and supposedly aiming similar success in life!
One thing about differences in life is that they do not depend on anything in particular. Most of them just happen. Just like happened with Cain and Abel, God chose Abel's sacrifice as opposed to Cain's without any apparent reason. But Cain took it personal; he scorned his brother to an extent of committing an ill never fathomed hitherto. To him, Abel had robbed the chance from him. The comparison had proved him unworthy, giving rise to the first case of sibling rivalry in the history of mankind. Egocentricity is one of the biggest reasons for non-acceptance where differences appear in our daily living, especially when our 'equals' prove an edge in whatever aspects. It leads to people living unfulfilling lives, working against all odds to reach to the level of so and so. Taking heavy loans and even slowing the leaders down, a common way being witchcraft and even killings. What we should always remember is that 'all animals are not, were not and can never be equal. Just be all you can, appreciate your abilities and respect those of others.

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Yet again.....Local First...

So it appears that once again, I have stumbled on an item that we have in our store, for considerably less! This Single Ball Topiary on will cost you $49. We just got them in the store today for $13.95

I have to tell you, I'm not purposely looking out for items that we have in our store! It just seems to keep happening! Which is showing me that "yes you can get high quality stuff local, and for less money!". Now I must say that the pot with our topiary is not white, it's a brown finish pot which is very similar, but....I don't know about you...but I'll save my $35 and paint the pot white if I have to have a white pot!

We've Done It Again.....CHEAPER!

So while shopping around on, I found this lovely chalkboard heart for around $36! Which is wonderful and all.....except we once again have it in our store for considerably cheaper! How's $14.95?
I have to admit that as a small business owner, it can be quite overwhelming to feel the pressure of having to combat with larger companies, however each and everytime I stumble upon an exact item for less money in a local store, it makes that feeling go away bit by bit!


Shopping Local First Saves!

I just got in the new Ballard Designs catalogue and was amazed when I turned to page 10! There I found these great resin entomology wall plaques, THAT WE HAVE IN THE STORE RIGHT NOW!
The real kicker!? Ballard Designs is selling them for $25 (originally were $39), HOWEVER you can get them at house for $10.95! That's right! $10.95!
This only reinforces why I look local first!

Take the Boys Home!

It seems that everday we are asked, "do you decorate/design people's homes?" It turns out that although we thought most new, there are many out there who still don't know that YES, WE DO.

Our website will be relaunching soon with an altered look and on it will be some video examples of some of the many works we have done. The picture seen here is a master bedroom that we have complete rehauled! It's simply beautiful! She's classic, but with an updated taste! And she simply adores her new master bedroom, she actually calls it, Club Bed!

We do as much or as little as you need. Consultations, color selections, furniture and fabric selections, custom builtins, reupholstery, tile and kitchen remodel, or if you just need to know what to keep and what to start over with! Don't be afraid to call! We won't bite! :)

Who says monochromatic is boring?!

Most of the time if you visit the store, and there's a floral arrangement that is basically monochromatic, I did it. There's just something about mixing the textures of one color that just fascinates me!

Even though this arrangement is all pink, look how rich everything is! The callas give this radient glow against the soft yet sturdy hyacinths, and the gerber daisies and tulips just nestle in behind like little soldiers! So pink....but SO rich!

By the way, note in the foilage, the pink edges! love it

A measuring cup...LITERALLY!

I just simply love this photo! I found it recently in someone's blog, and just thought that it was the best idea! What do you do with those left over cups where all of the rest are broken! Use it as a "measuring" cup!

I always love thinking outside of the box for how to use stuff, and this is a little more "thinking outside the cupboard@!" lol

10 Home Staging Tips to Make Your Listing Look like a Model Home

What is it about Model homes that make them so appealing? Is it the freshness of all new; is it the sassy paint colors, the perfectly placed furniture, art and accessories or the beautiful groomed backyard that makes you want to plop right down on that comfy club chair? Well…. Yes to all the above. A builder hold hosts to an array of skilled professionals to make that Model beautiful. From blue print to drawer pulls that Model home is meticulously planned.

Beyond the nicely placed furniture, Model homes are the current reflection of the home environment needs of the target market of the Builder. They are a turn-key product, designed & packaged for the desires of perfect buyer.

Models homes are lovely because they have the latest and the greatest, are fresh and new and are meticulously detailed. Psychology, more than decorating is applied to make them look so fabulous. From architecture to floral arrangements, Model homes are planned with “YOU” in mind.

So how can you make your next listing as appealing as a Model Home? – Here are 10 ways.

1.) Clean. Those nice angled vacuum lines, gleaming windows, and perfectly manicured lawns in Model homes speak to a potential buyer – You don’t have to do a thing. Translate that into - A little elbow grease goes a long way. A super clean home says “turn-key” to the potential buyer. Have every inch of the home, blind slats to porch light glass, super clean and perfectly coiffed. According to a national 2011 survey done by Real Estate based Home Gain (,)  a $290.00 cleaning investment gives a $1990.00 price increase, or a 586% return!

2.) Fresh & Smells Good. People buy homes on emotion, and your 5 senses are a direct path to your brain. If a home smells and looks “funky,” “doggy,” “smoky,” or if the stove is coated with cooking gone bad – The home is off their list. Just like you would detail your car to sell, invest in clean and spotless carpets, patched, repaired and freshly painted walls and new appliances if the old have seen better days. Be wary to skip this step and take the low road with room refreshers, candles and stove burner covers – Potential buyers are not fooled.

3.) Color. Any advertising executive will tell you color is a key to properly packaging a product; and a listed home is just that, a product. Throw away the off-white manta of old school home staging rules – Welcome to the era of HGTV. Using color is a powerful and inexpensive way of making that home stand out from the rest, and with so many decorating TV shows boasting the benefits of color, you better get hip to hues. From 1st Web impressions to curb-appeal, color is a strong emotional tug for the potential buyer. Update yourself on the latest color trends in wall color, appliance, fixtures, etc… and apply it to your target buyer. For home staging, use earthy, calm tones for the bigger areas such as wall color and add pops of saturated colors in the details; such front doors, accessories or annuals.

4.) Make Space. The joy of a Model home is the acres and acres of unused storage space & beautifully organized closets. Reduce, organize, upscale and edit all the home’s spaces when it comes to closets and storage areas. If the home’s price point dictates, upscale the closets with custom organizing options.

5.) Clear a Path. Consider that many people with be walking through the home. Make sure traffic patterns, entrances and exits are well established. Too much furniture, undefined entrances and awkward walkways confuse and discourage buyers from moving about the property. Follow a Model Home’s lead and create a concise walking pattern for potential buyers starting at curbside to back fence.

6.) Lovely Layouts. From the landscape to furniture placement, take a clue from Models homes that continuity and flow make for a good mix. Create curb appeal with nicely maintained landscaping, added annuals and perennials, an inviting stoop and well groomed walk and driveways. Inside, make sure each room depicts what its function is, enhances the highlights of the room (i.e. fireplaces or upgrades,) and allows the buyer to envision themselves in the space.

7.) Set the Mood. Create ambiance and character in the home with well thought out placement of sensory and lifestyle components. Soft music, lighting on dimmers, candles lit, and fresh floral are all great ideas for Broker or Open houses. If you have concern about candles, battery operated candles that even have timers built in are now readily available. Stage the dining room table tastefully, or set the stage in a back yard with a detailed patio retreat. Offering helpful lifestyle hints has always been in the Model Home arsenal and always is a huge hit.

8.) K.I.S.S. On the opposite note, don’t over accessorize, go over-board with the lifestyle tips or create “store bought theme” rooms (i.e. Chef-with-a-Hat Kitchen or Anniversary Bathtub vignette complete with Champagne bottle and fake ivy.)

9.) Appeal to a Target Buyer. Model home Builders hire tony Marketing companies that create campaigns to market that home. Consider "WHO” the ideal buyer that will be interested in the property is, and market the property accordingly. From advertising photos to furniture, consider who will find this appealing and desirable.

10.) Market, Market, Market. Model Homes have great marketing incentives inside and out. From clear address markers, great signs, to small exit giveaways, to an exit survey - Market that listing to the fullest.