Interior Design

7 (Inexpensive) Ways to Add a Splash of Spring to Your Home

Today is officially the first day of spring (we’ll see what mother nature does), and it’s the perfect time to add some new style to your home…without breaking the bank! Here are seven ways to spruce up your interior as we welcome longer days, warmer weather and all that the season brings!

1. Update your accent pillows. Regardless of season, changing the throw pillows on your sofa or bed, is an easy way to update a space on a dime. If you have lots of neutrals, consider adding contrasting hues; if you have a more finite color palette, swap a geometric pattern for a modern floral or a solid for something with texture. I always recommend investing in down or high-quality synthetic inserts in standard sizes, so you can just wash your covers and swap them easily.

ZZ Plant I Welcomed Into My Home Last Year (Shooting Off New Growth)

ZZ Plant I Welcomed Into My Home Last Year (Shooting Off New Growth)

2. Treat yourself to fresh flowers or a new houseplant. Greenery is the best way to add some life (literally) to your home and, if you don’t think a plant is too much of a commitment, consider adding a decorative planter and a low-maintenance addition, like a ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia). As a bonus, plants can improve your indoor air quality! However, if that’s too big a step or your four-legged friends won’t stand for it, stop by a local store and buy a few stems to arrange yourself. I’m a big fan of the hydrangeas from Trader Joe’s (about $6 for three stems) as they easily fill out a low vase and can last up to two weeks (with regular trimming and water changes). I also find the act of arranging flowers to be relaxing and a great way to de-stress….another bonus!

Add Life to Your Front Door with a Pop of Color (Image: Southern Living)

Add Life to Your Front Door with a Pop of Color (Image: Southern Living)

3. Add some color and decor to your door(s). A fresh coat of paint (and a new color) can do wonders for your walls but even updating your doors can create a stylish impact (and take a lot less time). If you have a street-facing front door, consider an accent color that coordinates with your exterior….and add a new doormat, wreath or planter while you’re at it. If you live in a condo, simply painting the interior (if you have restrictions) with a bold color adds tons of style. Need more tips? Southern Living has you covered.

4. Edit your kitchen countertops & dining room table. We’re all familiar with spring cleaning but have you taken inventory of what’s on your kitchen counters or dining table? Now’s the time to edit what’s out on your kitchen surfaces (what do you use daily and what can go in the cabinets or pantry) and perhaps add a functional accent piece, like a colorful bowl you can fill with fresh fruit and veggies from your local farmers market or a bright canister to store frequently used cooking tools. Similarly, refresh your dining room by adding a colorful runner to your table and simple accessories (maybe even those flowers you brought home earlier).

5. Let the sun shine in. Take advantage of more hours of natural light by updating your window treatments. If you have curtains, consider swapping them for a lighter linen option, like the West Elm ones here. If you have blinds or shades, keep them open and add some sheers to frame and soften your window. Now’s the time to give your windows a good clean inside and out…you’ll be amazed at the difference!

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6. Bring the outside in with photography. One of my favorite DIY decorating hacks is to use photography and gallery frames to create inexpensive, meaningful and impactful wall art. Take your camera and grab some shots of the cherry blossoms and other flowers in bloom or find a talented friend and ask if you can print some of their shots you’ve hearted on Instagram. If you already have frames, just swap out the photos. If you don’t, head to Michaels for great deals on gallery-style frames (think narrow edges, modern lines and exaggerated white mats).

7. Re-style your shelves. If you have built-in bookshelves or a freestanding set, add some flower power with a removable wallpaper in the back (like this modern floral project from Top Shelf DIY). If you aren’t ready for wallpaper, simply start by removing all items from your shelves (and other flat surfaces) and carefully select pieces to add back in. Mix books with objects, framed items and other meaningful pieces. Less is always more.

Happy Spring!

Amber Harris is the owner of At Home DC, an interior decorator and a licensed real estate agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties working with clients in DC, Maryland and Virginia. 

10 Holiday Gifts Under $100 for the Home-Lover You Love

It’s hard to believe the holiday season is already upon us (even if some stores would have you think the Christmas season started in August). The winter months are the perfect time of year to re-imagine your interior spaces…and a great source of ideas for loved ones you are looking to shop for!

Here are ten of my favorite decorating finds (all under $100) that make great gifts this time of year (or really any time)!

Agate Cheese Board (Anthropologie) - $78   A cheeseboard is a great gift, but one can only have so many. What I love about this chic option is that even if your gift recipient has one, it can be used as a decorative item on a coffee table (put a few votives on it) or on your vanity. Lots of options to choose from, too!

Agate Cheese Board (Anthropologie) - $78

A cheeseboard is a great gift, but one can only have so many. What I love about this chic option is that even if your gift recipient has one, it can be used as a decorative item on a coffee table (put a few votives on it) or on your vanity. Lots of options to choose from, too!

Enamel Coated Mango Wood Canisters (VivaTerra) - $99   Decorative and functional for the kitchen, but also consider using in the bathroom, home office or as decorative pieces on a bookshelf.


Enamel Coated Mango Wood Canisters (VivaTerra) - $99

Decorative and functional for the kitchen, but also consider using in the bathroom, home office or as decorative pieces on a bookshelf.

Windowpane Pitcher and DOF Set (Mark & Graham) - $89   Mark & Graham is known for lots of quality gifts that can be monogrammed, like these pitcher and glass set (which I actually prefer without the monogram). This set will get a lot of use for everything from juice at breakfast to homemade cocktails!

Windowpane Pitcher and DOF Set (Mark & Graham) - $89

Mark & Graham is known for lots of quality gifts that can be monogrammed, like these pitcher and glass set (which I actually prefer without the monogram). This set will get a lot of use for everything from juice at breakfast to homemade cocktails!

Opalhouse White and Gold Polka Dot Vases (Target) - $14.99-$24.99   Give one or more of these fun vases to the home-lover who splurges regularly on fresh flowers and is a fan of great lines.

Opalhouse White and Gold Polka Dot Vases (Target) - $14.99-$24.99

Give one or more of these fun vases to the home-lover who splurges regularly on fresh flowers and is a fan of great lines.

Embroidered Letter Pillow Cover (Serena & Lily) - $88   This pillow cover adds a tasteful touch of personalization to a living room sofa, master bedroom or even a nursery. (Note: Pillow insert sold separately.)

Embroidered Letter Pillow Cover (Serena & Lily) - $88

This pillow cover adds a tasteful touch of personalization to a living room sofa, master bedroom or even a nursery. (Note: Pillow insert sold separately.)

Your Hometown Puzzle (Sundance) - $44   This Thanksgiving, I had a chance to do something I hadn’t down for 20+ years…put together a puzzle. It’s a great indoor activity and even more fun when the image is your hometown. It even could be framed and become wall art when you finish!

Your Hometown Puzzle (Sundance) - $44

This Thanksgiving, I had a chance to do something I hadn’t down for 20+ years…put together a puzzle. It’s a great indoor activity and even more fun when the image is your hometown. It even could be framed and become wall art when you finish!

Voluspa Maison Candle (Anthropologie) - $68   Candles may not be a unique gift, but an amazingly scented candle in a decorative container is the perfect hostess gift (and has life beyond that of the wick). If you are worried about choosing the wrong scent, stick with safer choices featuring vanilla, citrus and other crowd-pleasers.

Voluspa Maison Candle (Anthropologie) - $68

Candles may not be a unique gift, but an amazingly scented candle in a decorative container is the perfect hostess gift (and has life beyond that of the wick). If you are worried about choosing the wrong scent, stick with safer choices featuring vanilla, citrus and other crowd-pleasers.

Textured Oil + Vinegar Set (West Elm) - $39   For the foodie or home chef, this set adds some fun to the countertop. Sadly, they won’t ship until next year but they were too cute not to feature. Consider  these as an alternative !

Textured Oil + Vinegar Set (West Elm) - $39

For the foodie or home chef, this set adds some fun to the countertop. Sadly, they won’t ship until next year but they were too cute not to feature. Consider these as an alternative!

Barefoot Dreams Contrast Trim Throw (Amazon) - $99.99   What’s winter without a cozy throw? I am a big fan of Barefoot Dreams for their softness, stretch and washability (I even have a larger version of this one on my couch now…received as a gift).

Barefoot Dreams Contrast Trim Throw (Amazon) - $99.99

What’s winter without a cozy throw? I am a big fan of Barefoot Dreams for their softness, stretch and washability (I even have a larger version of this one on my couch now…received as a gift).

Faux Fur Hot Water Bottles (World Market) - $33.98   Even with more high-tech, longer-lasting options, there’s nothing like a hot water bottle to warm your bed in the winter or soothe an ache. Add in a soft faux fur case and your warm and stylish.

Faux Fur Hot Water Bottles (World Market) - $33.98

Even with more high-tech, longer-lasting options, there’s nothing like a hot water bottle to warm your bed in the winter or soothe an ache. Add in a soft faux fur case and your warm and stylish.

And, if you still can’t decide how best to delight that home-lover in your life, consider giving them expert help with a gift certificate for decorating services from At Home DC…available in the DC area and for remote consultations!

Amber Harris is the owner of At Home DC, an interior decorator and a licensed real estate agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties working with clients in DC, Maryland and Virginia. 

Project Spotlight: Focusing on Function & Family in Southeast DC

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While interior design is thought to primarily be concerned with aesthetics, some of the biggest transformations when working with a designer or decorator are measured by the function of the space for the person(s) that call it home.

That is exactly the case with the family I had the pleasure of working with in southeast DC recently. While they loved their DC rowhome, with two rambunctious kids, the space (and more importantly the furniture) they had did not match their style or need for flexibility. At the heart of this challenge was a beautiful, traditional six-seat dining room table that rarely was used partially for fear of it falling prey to adorable but potentially destructive young hands. This piece was creating a physical and emotional block that was preventing the space from meeting their needs. 

Other challenges that came up through our consultation included:

  • Frantic feel when you entered the house and a need for organization;
  • Limited space for kids to play (especially important with all the rainy days we've had lately);
  • Multiple dining spaces but none of which met all their needs; and
  • Untapped space in the kitchen that housed a mostly unused desk turned drop area.

To tackle these problems, we identified a few keys tasks and pieces that would transform the design and function of the home:

  • Consolidate dining spaces from three to two, including adding a cost-effective dining nook and new, kid-friendly drop-leaf dining room table (allowing the dining room to become a larger playroom, when needed);
  • Bring more modern lines and finishes to the space, playing into existing wrought iron elements and adding more casual/weathered wood elements;
  • Modernize the color palette, while working with the existing wall color (Benjamin Moore's Spanish Olive);
  • Incorporate flexible pieces that can work in multiple spaces and be moved easily, as well storage options (primarily for toys); and
  • Add sophistication by juxtaposing patterns and textures.

And here's where we are now (photos by Beth Caldwell):

While there is still room for some more touches (new/updated upholstered cornices above the windows, removing baseboards in dining nook for a more custom look with the benches, adding a console in the dining room for extra serving space, etc.), the transformation has helped my clients enjoy their home even more...which is always priority number one from the outset.

Goods Guide

Living Room

Dining Room

Dining Nook

Amber Harris is the owner of At Home DC, an interior decorator and a licensed real estate agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties working with clients in DC, Maryland and Virginia. 

'Trading Spaces' Tidbits: Lessons from Our Favorite TV Designers

Photo Credit: TLC

Photo Credit: TLC

While I've always been interested and invested in interior design on some level (i.e.,I would redecorate my room as often as my mom/budget would allow in middle school), there's no doubt that the debut of Trading Spaces on TLC in 2000 was a big moment for me and millions across the country (and later around the world).

As a junior at Georgetown University, TLC was always on in our dorms and living rooms (can't forget A Baby Story and A Wedding Story, too), and Trading Spaces had a great role in making interior decorating accessible. Fast forward to today where stores likes Home Goods  and Wayfair and platforms like Houzz and Pinterest help individuals pull together their perfect space or, at the least, articulate their vision to a decorator or designer.

Little did I know in 2000, that I would be working for the company responsible for TLC and Trading Spaces two short years later. Over 14 years, I worked my way to VP and also had a chance to meet a range of talent, including a few of the original designers. With the return of the series earlier this month, I thought it would be fun (and informative) to reflect on a few design lessons we can gleam from the cast (and that often come up as I'm consulting with clients).

Photo Credits: VernYip.com, LaurieHSmith.com & GenevieveGorder.com

Photo Credits: VernYip.com, LaurieHSmith.com & GenevieveGorder.com

Vern Yip: Timeless Design Doesn't Have to Be Boring
While there were always designers you loved to hate, I found myself drawn primarily to Vern Yip's work. Last month, I had a chance to meet Vern (again) at the Washington Design Center's Spring Market, where he gave the keynote, and his approach to timeless design remains. Trends will come and go, but classic lines, patterns and finishes aren't the opposite of "on trend." When creating a space, bigger spends are best spent on furniture and accessories that will pass the test of time. Layer lower cost, trendier pieces on top of those (think an accent table or decorative object) if you want to be "of the moment"...then you won't feel guilty when you want to move on.

Laurie Smith: Beautiful Fabrics Can Elevate Any Space
Laurie Smith was well known for spending the largest portion of her limited budgets on fabrics, adding color and pattern through silks and other luxe textiles. Throw pillows are a great way to update a space, whether a living room, bedroom or dining nook and you can find new and vintage fabrics to make custom pillows or search your favorite store for pre-made covers that make a statement through color, texture, pattern or special details like trim, fringe and beading. 

Genevieve Gorder: Fun is Part of Function
When choosing someone to partner with on your space, you want to have good communication and good energy, and Genevieve Gorder definitely always (and still has) both. Gorder always brought an energy to the rooms she designed not taking herself or the task at hand too seriously. Your home should bring you joy....so ditch that expensive white sofa that you hover over when guests sit down with wine and find furniture and accessories that are stylish and livable.

Were you a fan of the original Trading Spaces and/or are you watching the reboot? If so, what are the tidbits you've taken away and from whom?

Amber Harris is the owner of At Home DC, an interior decorator and a licensed real estate agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties working with clients in DC, Maryland and Virginia. 

Get Ready for Spring & Summer with Upcoming Free Workshop!

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In February, I had the pleasure of presenting an interactive session on designing for small spaces in conjunction with the DC Public Library. With more than 20 in attendance and positive feedback, I am excited to share that I'll be returning to the Petworth Library in May...this time with a superstar of landscape design!

Edamarie Mattei and I met more than 10 years ago by chance in a tennis class, and we connected over the sport, our shared alma mater (Georgetown University) and our interests in potentially pursuing careers beyond our current (at the time) lines of work in education and media, respectively. Since then Edamarie has built a thriving landscape design company, Backyard Bounty

That brings us to today as we both run our own businesses and decided why not tackle the topic of entertaining during warm weather months from both our areas of expertise! We hope you'll join us on May 15th:

Indoor & Outdoor Entertaining: Making Your Spaces Function & Flow
Tuesday, May 15 | 7-8:30pm
Petworth Library (4200 Kansas Avenue NW) | Lower Level Meeting Room

Amber Harris is the owner of At Home DC, an interior decorator and a licensed real estate agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties working with clients in DC, Maryland and Virginia. 

Free Local Event on February 8: Small Spaces, Big Style

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One of the many things I love about my line of work is getting to meet (and work with) neighbors, and I am looking forward to meeting many more next month at a special workshop I am hosting with my friends at the Petworth Library:

Small Spaces, Big Style
Thursday, February 8 | 7-8:30pm
Petworth Library (4200 Kansas Avenue NW) | Lower Level Meeting Room

RSVP Today!

Inspired by my work with clients that have small spaces (like this bathroom), I'll be sharing tips on how to make the most of all types of tight spaces. I also have asked participants to share their dilemmas before the session for potential inclusion (just email me).

Click the link above or the button below to let me know if I'll see you there!

Amber Harris is the owner of At Home DC, an interior decorator and a licensed real estate agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties working with clients in DC, Maryland and Virginia. 

Bathroom Makeover: Small & Green to Spa-Like & Serene

Even if we only spend a fraction of our day there, we place a premium on bathrooms. It's not uncommon for many of DC's row homes to lack a dedicated master bathroom but, often when they do have one, it's hardly a spacious five-piece en-suite. 

My clients recently had the chance to move to a larger home in the Brightwood Park neighborhood of Washington, DC, but their new-found master bath was dated and hardly a retreat (see below). While the small space meant there weren't any options for reconfiguring the layout (without undertaking a major renovation), we were able to radically change the feel of the space with new tile, new fixtures and combining some Scandinavian inspiration with natural elements.

Before...

Before...

You can see the end result further down, but I wanted to share a few tips and tricks that helped us create this miniature master spa bath:

  1. Keep your color palette simple. Less is more in terms of color when creating a serene space, especially a bathroom. While white is the go-to for a spa-like feel, adding a contrasting but muted color (in this case a lighter shade of Sherwin-Williams Bonsai Tint, created by mixing in a little more white to tone it down) with a lighter wood tone (via our tile) takes this bathroom from basic to custom.
     
  2. Limit the type of tile (color, size and shape) to create a more spacious feel. For this bathroom, we used a 6" x 24" Driftwood tile (in Greywood) from Architectural Ceramics. Meant to simulate wood planks, the tile was laid vertically in the shower to make the tight stall feel larger and horizontally along the floor to make the space feel wider. We did use a smaller scale 2" square tile for the shower floor, but you also could up the spa-feel by opting for a pebble floor (check out Island Stone's awesome options).
     
  3. Choose smart storage options. While less than 19" deep, the vanity selected features plenty of storage - concealed behind doors and using the open shelf at the bottom. While it may be tempting to add shelves above the toilet (as before), these would contribute to making the space feel smaller; alternatives, like a multipurpose baskets (as pictured below), allow you to store extra towels and toiletries in a stylish, mobile and contemporary way.
     
  4. Blend modern lines with organic materials and shapes. A clean-lined vanity and rectangular tiles could easily read cold but adding in natural textures, such as the twig-based wall art and the rope details on the waste basket and accompanying storage basket (all from HomeGoods), off sets the harder edges without going too country or rustic.

All in all, I just love the way we were able to create a personal spa in such limited space for these deserving clients. 

Amber Harris is the owner of At Home DC, an interior decorator and a licensed real estate agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties working with clients in DC, Maryland and Virginia. 

Earthly Inspiration for the Home

One of the many things I love about Washington, DC is the sheer number of (mostly free) museums that are minutes away from my home. That being said, it often takes out-of-town visitors to nudge me to take some time to enjoy them and their exhibits.

A few days ago, my nephew and I spent a good part of the day in two Smithsonians, including the National Museum of Natural History. While many flock to the Hope Diamond, we ended up getting sucked into the surrounding Geology and Gems & Minerals exhibits. Design-wise we've seen geodes as bookends and lamps and seen malachite as wall art and even inspiring wallpaper prints, so I thought I'd use my visit to explore some colors that caught my eye and could add a interest to your interiors...enjoy!

Striped La Jolla Basket (Medium: $128; Source: Serena & Lily)

 

While I neglected to get the name of this mineral (believe it may be chalcedony), this basket reminds me of the dusty pink shards (and, like the gems and minerals we saw, no two of these baskets are the same.

Pink isn't just for a girl's room, so try adding these to a mid-century design based in medium grays or navy blue. Baskets like these are great for adding style and storing a multitude of items - from spare throws or magazines to dog toys!

 

Ink & Ivy Rocket Armchair (Medium: $239.99; Source: Wayfair)

Continuing with some more muted tones, I love this pale jade-colored Mesolite - blending sharp and soft. This Ink & Ivy chair does just that with its strong structural wood lines and lighter upholstery (also comes in a bench).

This would be a great reading chair in a bedroom (pair with a matte metallic floor lamp) or you could use a pair to create a seating area (perhaps with a c-table) or to accompany a couch in a full living room setup.

 

Welbis Writing Desk ($321.99; Source: Joss & Main)

A bold blue is not for the faint of heart, but this lapis lazuli-inspired desk is a great accent in a home office or as a work space in a master bedroom. If you need a desk in a master, try mixing things up and pairing it with this matching chest as a side table on the opposing side of the bed. 

Amber Harris is the owner of At Home DC, an interior decorator and a licensed real estate agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties working with clients in DC, Maryland and Virginia. 

Own Your Own Gallery (Wall)!

I've written before about my love of (and more recent investment in) art, but I am also a big fan of adding personality to your home by framing pictures from your travels or featuring your family to create an impactful (and cost effective) statement.

In my own home, I have pictures taken several years ago during a trip to Latvia of my family's former farm where my mother was born (but my family had to flee during WWII) as well as photos from visits to the Great Ocean Road in Australia, Venice and South Africa (my safari at Arathusa still remains my favorite vacation to date). 

For this reason, I was excited to share this idea with my clients who had a blank (but beautifully and newly blue) wall in their DC rowhouse living room. The couple has international roots and travel is important to both of them, so I asked that they go through their archives and find 8-10 images that meant something to them - with a few bringing out the blues and yellows in their home's first floor color palette. Pairing these with double matted white gallery frames (these are from Bed, Bath & Beyond, but you can also find them - often on sale - at Michaels, Pottery Barn, etc.) with the stunning images resulted in just the impact desired.

Clients' Finished Gallery Wall (Note Rest of Room Still in Progress...Pics )

Clients' Finished Gallery Wall (Note Rest of Room Still in Progress...Pics )

Gallery walls can be intimidating but they're a great project to take on to add interest to a blank wall, whether behind a couch, in a hallway or along a staircase. If you're still nervous, here are a few tips:

  • Put the focus on images by selecting stylish but simple frames. I am a fan of white frames with white mats (as above) but you can achieve great looks with black- or wood-toned frames as long as they don't detract from the photos. To create interest, use frames of different sizes. 
     
  • Select more photos than you need for the space. As you piece your layout together, sometimes you'll find one or two images may not be working. It's always good to have options so you can play with alternatives on the fly. And, if you don't use the for the gallery wall, you may think of a new location to pair two or more of them (like your bathroom).
     
  • Embrace the flexibility of a gallery wall. Gallery walls can be permanent but they also can be dynamic - replacing images, adding new ones, playing with arrangements, etc. I highly recommend using Command Universal Picture Hangers for projects like this. Even if you own your home, no one likes an overly holey wall and these are reusable and allow you to make easy adjustments. I also love the mini strips for ensuring photos are secure and level .
     
  • Play with the layout on the floor or a table, diagraming on paper with measurements. I find the best way to find your ideal layout is to frame your images, measure the horizontal and vertical space you want to fill (you can event tape it out with painters tape on the floor/table) and then experiment. Don't forget to use consistent spacing between frames, as this ensures the wall looks purposeful but doesn't have to be grid-like. Once you have your planned wall, document it on paper - including frame sizes, spacing, etc. With this, you can then hang your frames in relation to the previously hung frames easily (taking into account the additional measurements for the placement of the nail or hanger). 
     
  • If you're not using an interior decorator or designer, enlist a friend or two! You'll find at times that you'll be wishing you had a third or fourth hand as you balance the hanger, level, measuring tape, etc...not to mention who doesn't want at least one more pair of eyes! Put on a pot of tea or pour a glass of wine and make an afternoon of it!

This is by no means an exhaustive or step-by-step list, but hopefully these tips will help you if you decide to embark on your own gallery wall! Happy hanging!

New Year's Decorating Resolutions

New Years Day 2017 Brunch Spread

Happy New Year!

While I am not a die-hard resolution-maker, 2016 involved a lot of (good) changes personally - most notably starting At Home DC! I have a big personal and professional list of goals for the year, but I thought it might be more fun to share some of my décor-related resolutions (or perhaps they are more of mantras for 2017):

  1. Step outside your comfort zone. It's easy to gravitate toward one style, color palette or even furniture or accessories store. While I firmly believe you should have a personal style, look for people to challenge what you'd normally choose when redecorating or adding to your home. Through my interior decorating services, I strive to help people do just this (but I need to remember to remind myself to do the same in my own house).
     
  2. Decorate your home to impress but, most importantly, live! A living room or bedroom straight out of a design magazine is a thing of beauty...but it has to add to your enjoyment of your home (and not your list of worries, chores, etc.). The two are far from mutually exclusive but, as with many things in life, it's all about balance (and being smart about paint, fabric and flooring choices to ensure the four- and two-legged ones in your life can enjoy your home, too).
     
  3. Embrace color, pattern and texture. Much like virtually reality has created more immersive experiences (sorry, former life as PR gal in media), bold or unexpected color choices and introducing new patterns and textures in everything from flooring to textiles only adds to the complexity and enjoyment of your space. 
     
  4. Share your home and embrace your community! Okay, perhaps this is me being influenced by this year's election or more likely by the amazing neighborhood I call home, but take time to open your home by hosting friends, family and neighbors. I have always enjoyed hosting  small and large events at home, but I am stepping things up in 2017 starting with a relatively casual but oh-so-enjoyable brunch this morning (pictured above). Not only does this mean you can show off your beautiful home, but you'll also be exposed to new people, new perspectives and (hopefully) new friends. 

Do you have any home-related resolutions? If so, I'd love to hear about them! Here's to a happy, healthy and homey 2017!

Emeralds Are A Girl's Best Friend

With the arrival of October, comes the return of rich seasonal colors. One of my favorite tones in fashion (as a redhead) and design is emerald green.

While it may have been Pantone's color of the year back in 2013, I still find that it can add a nice pop to any room and ups the sophistication (especially when in a lux fabric, like velvet). Emerald is great with various shades of blue, but you may want to save the navy pairings to smaller pops if you have a smaller room since both are such strong colors that can make a space seem smaller than it is. The jewel-toned green also pairs well with medium to light grays, as well as taupes and creams.

Emerald can certainly inspire a room re-design, but that doesn't necessarily mean a full living room or bedroom makeover. Just imagine how cozy and posh a powder room could be with the right wall paper and metallic accents!

Below are a few emerald OODs (objects of desire) that I would love to add to my home or another. Let's obsess together...

Investing in Art, Enhancing Your Home

When your first starting out on your own after college, "art" is a word that most likely was associated with what you'd check out in your local museum or when studying abroad...certainly not something that seems accessible or a priority for a tight budget.

"White Forest" by Texas-Based Artist  Austin Allen James

"White Forest" by Texas-Based Artist Austin Allen James

If you're like me, your first wall art might have started with framed posters from the aforementioned museums or perhaps some mass manufactured pieces from Ikea (although I did make the move to paint four canvases in two shades of green and arranged behind my bed early on). However, as I've matured and especially as I bought my first home, I saw the value in adding unique pieces to my walls - buying a large-scale original painting a year and a half ago and later investing in a beautiful panoramic print (both acquired during travels for work) a few months later.

"Kennilieti Lunduna" by London-Based, Icelandic Artist  Kristjana S. Williams

"Kennilieti Lunduna" by London-Based, Icelandic Artist Kristjana S. Williams

I decided I was going to start investing in art well before I found the right pieces and, since it may be intimidating for some, I thought I'd share a few tips if you would like to do the same:

  1. Identify wall space (blank or that has something you'd like to replace) for your forthcoming investment.
  2. Consider the scale of the space and surrounding items, the color palette of the room and they type of art you are most interested in (abstract, pop art, realism, etc.).
  3. Set a budget range that is comfortable but treats this purchase as it will be - an investment.
  4. Search for local galleries online (or post on a local message board to inquire about local artists, which I did) and set aside time on the weekends to browse and find out what you like and what you don't.
  5. Do the same browsing when in different cities and even online. As noted above, my two recent acquisitions came from a trip to Austin, Texas and during an overseas stint in London.
  6. When you find "the one" that speaks to you - if it fits with your space, design and budget - go for it! Don't forget to take into account any framing costs (if it's a print or canvas that needs it) and transportation (local delivery or cross-country shipping); both can be pricey but well worth it (my print required a custom mat and frame and my Texas painting had to be shipped via a specialized art freight company).
  7. Hang that piece and pour a generous glass of wine as you stand back and admire! (Note: This step can be repeated.)

Down with and Long Live Pumpkin Spice

As I got myself up this morning and checked my watch for the current weather before taking my dog for a walk, I was happy to see a temp that started with a "5." Cooler temperatures are certainly a sign of fall in DC...much more for me than the much maligned arrival of all things pumpkin spice.

As much as I am not a fan of PSLs and every food product that now comes laced with cinnamon, nutmeg and other lovely flavors under the pumpkin spice banner, I am a fan of spice-inspired design (I even have a tufted ottoman in a light cinnamon tone).

So, whether you like or detest PSL season, I've gathered a few design pieces below that I can fully support adding to your home decor this fall and year-round! Any others you would add?