Wednesday, December 17, 2014

SMALL SPACE DECORATING 101: HOW TO ENTERTAIN & HOST GUESTS IN A SMALL SPACE


The size of your living space shouldn't limit you from opening your home to friends and family. As with most small space decorating, hosting and entertaining guests in a small space requires a little creativity and thinking outside of the box.
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In this edition of Small Space Decorating 101,  I'll answer questions on how to prep your small space to host guests as well as provide you with creative ideas for hosting family and friends in a space that's short on size.

Here are 7 commonly asked questions on how to entertain in a small space.

1. Where will everyone sit?  

Try pulling your table up to your couch for a cozy dining experience and to better accommodate guests. Invest in a set of matching folding or stackable chairs (like these) to add to your table for an instant dinner party set up.  Folding chairs are compact and easy to store.  While stackable are great multi-tasking space savers, taking up less space when not in use. In the photo below, a table is set up in front of a sofa creating the perfect setting for a dinner party.

2. Where Can I Put Extra Food or Desserts? 

Believe it or not, an ironing board is the perfect for staging additional food items if you run out of table space.  In the photo below, a simple white cloth, bouquet of flowers and a vintage wood ironing board is used to stage an Italian themed Bruschetta Bar for guests. Simple but amazing!  Modern day ironing boards are metal so they are perfect for holding small hot dishes too.
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3. How Can I Keep Guests' Coats and Bags from Taking Up Space?

Closet and storage space was really limited in both our first apartment and home. Entertaining a large group meant figuring out where to place for guests' coats and belongings when they visited. Store guests coats and bags in a bedroom to avoid limiting the amount of space you have to party. Just make sure you tidy up the room before guests arrive.


4. How Can I Maximize and Organize Space for Food?

Don't just use horizontal table space when setting up your food table.  Use vertical space too. Elevating your dishes on tiered trays maximizes your buffet space,  makes the food more accessible to your guests and also leaves you with extra table space for more great food!
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5. I Don't Have Alot of Refrigerator Space. How Do I Keep All of the Beverages Cold and Ready to Serve?

Think multipurpose. Use your sink as an ice bucket. Fill your kitchen sink with ice, place bottled and can beverages in the sink, then toss additional ice over the bottles.  Voila! An INSTANT SELF SERVE BEVERAGE COOLER! Guests will enjoy grabbing their own drinks from this unconventional beverage cooler.
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6. How Can I Make A Small Space Feel Cozy and Elegant

Inexpensive holiday string lights (in white) are festive and fun when draped above a dining table setting.  You could also use fresh flowers and simple tea lights or votive candles along the table to create an intimate mood for your guests.  
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7. How Can I Rearrange My Space To Better Accommodate My Guests?

Don’t be afraid to make your living room into a dining room for a day. Create more space for your dinner party by rearranging furniture. Try swapping your dining room table and chairs with some f the pieces from your living room furniture and bring the party front and center. 

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Now who's ready for  great food, great company, and a great evening?  Try a few of these entertaining tips and let me know how it goes.  I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

YOU'LL WANT TO ADD THESE TO YOUR GIFT LIST : IMPORTED HAND BLOCKED QUILTS


I'm still putting the finishing touches on Zaria's nursery. This project means alot to me, so I have really taken my time selecting quality pieces for the room that are both functional and unique. Through using custom art pieces, decor and accents, I am slowly creating a cozy eclectic space for Zaria to call her own. So when;Khadijah Gurnah, owner and founder of Safiya's Room, offered to send me a couple of her company's exquisite hand made quilts to review and share with my readers, I jumped at the opportunity.

Safiya's Room offers unique hand blocked quilts made by artisans in Jaipur, India using traditional block printing techniques.


"These treasures are 100% cotton and carefully crafted by hand; starting from the preparation of the cotton for the filling; to the beautiful hand blocked designs and hand stitched finished product."

The JAIPUR and the RABIA toddler/crib quilts arrived at my home carefully packaged and were even more beautiful in person than online.  Each quilt is unique and a true work of art.  Just look at the vibrant hues and detailed stamping. 

"It’s important to me that my products are not only beautiful and unique, but its also very important that the artisans who make the quilts are valued and given fair pay for their work", says Gurnah"

The art of hand blocking is such a detailed process. Each quilt takes up to 3 weeks to make! Gurnah's artisans first create the outer cover using block stamps to create each individual floral motif, a process that can take up to two weeks. Once the outer shell is printed and has dried, it is hand-filled with cotton to ensure even distribution and softness. The quilt is then hand stitched using cotton thread for durability and longevity." Gurnah considers it a privilege to work with artisans who are so passionate abut their craft.

Gurnah works directly with artisans to ensure every item is unique, authentic and of the highest quality.



The quilt has been perfect for wrapping Zaria in on chilly winter afternoons.  Because of it's superb quality, the quilt will make a great heirloom piece that Zaria could even pass down to her own children. We love to wrap Zaria in her quilt at nap time. It's combination of softness and warmth make a perfect combination for sweet dreams!

 I like to keep the quilts in a woven basket when they are not in use.


The quilts come in both toddler/crib size and twin size and make a great baby shower present or perhaps a holiday gift for an expectant mom. These quilts look great all around the house.  Have a twin bed in your spare or guest room? Use a quilt to add some welcoming color and pattern to your guest room.


  You can see more of the exclusive selection of quilts at the Safiya's Room website here.

Monday, December 1, 2014

WHAT MAKES A GOOD KITCHEN DESIGN GREAT? - MY TOP 10 FABULOUS KITCHEN DESIGNS

Whether hosting a crowd, a smaller more intimate affair, or visiting family, I'm sure many people spent some time in a kitchen this past holiday last week.

We did the latter.  We packed up the kids and traveled to New York to spend time with my family.  One of the highlights of our trips to New York is eating my mother's home cooked meals and getting to spend time with my mother in her kitchen. 

I don't claim to be a chef by any stretch of the imagination, but I can certainly appreciate a good meal and a fabulously designed kitchen. What makes a good kitchen design fabulous/great you ask? Is it the lighting, the hardware, state of the art appliances, custom cabinets, or exotic stone counters?  The answer is E) ALL OF THE ABOVE.

A fabulous kitchen combines contrasting design elements to create a unique aesthetic.  


These elements can include the combination of rustic and modern elements or perhaps the combination of metallic and matte finishes. I find that incorporating a good mix of design elements and styles yields amazing results.

Here's a look at a few fabulously designed kitchens I definitely wouldn't mind spending some time in.













Want to see more of my favorite interiors? Follow me on Pinterest to check out what interiors inspire me plus helpful design tips and home decor styling advice.

Monday, November 24, 2014

HOW TO UPDATE YOUR KITCHEN WITH STYLE: 8 EASY KITCHEN UPDATES THAT MAKE A HUGE IMPACT

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Today’s kitchens are multi-functional spaces and in many households, are the hub of family activity. The kitchen is not only where meals are prepared and served, it’s also where weekly calendars are posted, mail and recyclables are sorted, homework is done, and where families gather to recap the events of the day. 

As a busy mom of five, I know how easy it is for the kitchen to become a bit of a mess with all of the activity that occurs there.  Having a messy kitchen can affect your cooking mojo and make you not want to cook at all.  A kitchen that is well organized, inviting, efficient, and pleasing to your eye will inspire you to spend more time there, help you maintain your cooking mojo and perhaps even motivate you to cook new and exciting dishes.

You don’t need to install expensive restaurant quality appliances to pull off a stylish and functional kitchen revamp. Here are some ideas for small changes that can make a huge difference.


Increase Space for Food Prep by Adding an Island
Incorporating an island into your kitchen’s design provides you with additional storage, a gathering place for dining as well as added work space. There are great inexpensive options on the market today that offer both function (island on wheels) and style (from butcher block to stainless steel).
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Add a Little Bling
Instead of completely replacing your cabinet hardware, spray paint the existing pulls and knobs with metallic spray paint for a fresh new look. Try a brushed brass finish to create a timeless and elegant feel.
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Update Your Cabinets
Increase the sense of space in your kitchen by removing cabinet doors to create open shelving. Have fun styling your selves with your favorite dishes, vintage ceramic collection, baskets or even plants, as seen here. 
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Stencil a New Backsplash
Not ready to take the plunge on tile for your backsplash? Breathe life into your kitchen by stenciling a new backsplash. Stencils are easy to use, cost effective,  and come in an array of patterns to match any d├ęcor.
 
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Add Under Cabinet Lighting
Adding task lighting in the kitchen brightens the typically dark spaces by putting the light right where you need it, it also highlights and brings attention to your backsplash and countertops.
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Use Creative Storage and Organization to Make Your Kitchen More Efficient
Help maintain your sanity by using handy drawer organizers, slide out cabinet shelves, and creative storage options. In this picture, kitchen supplies are hung from a wall mounted rolling pin. How creative!
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Use a Rug to Add Interest
Add a layer of style, warmth, color and pattern to your cooking space simply by adding a rug. Use the rug to tie together existing colors in the room or to inject new colors into the space. Indoor/outdoor rugs are perfect for kitchens because they are super easy to clean and are designed to stand up to lots of wear and tear.
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Customize Your Kitchen With Art
Art in the kitchen adds a cozy feel and gives the space more character. Artwork in the kitchen provides a sense of sophistication usually reserved for bedrooms, living rooms and other areas of the house where art is more commonly displayed. Showcase everything from vintage food advertisement posters, framed recipe cards, or your favorite canvases.


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Monday, November 17, 2014

'TIS THE SEASON : 5 WAYS TO DECORATE WITH THROW BLANKETS

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The season for sipping hot cocoa and snuggling under quilts or throw blankets has finally arrived here in Maryland! 

When the first snow flurries of the season fell last week, I couldn't wait to make a cup of hot cocoa and curl up on the sofa under my favorite throw. Like throw pillows, a throw blanket can add pattern, texture and color to a space.  They also provide warmth on chilly days. I love throw blankets because they are both decorative and functional. Throw blankets come in a variety of textures and fabrics (ie. cotton, wool, chenille, and even cashmere). The house can get a bit chilly so we tend to use our throws alot more this time of year.  I like to make sure the throws are easily accessible but also compliment our home's decor.

Here are 5 ways you can decorate with throw blankets in your own home:

1. PLACE and tuck a folded throw down the front of a sofa.

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2. LAYER a throw at the foot or the edge of a bed.  Try using a faux fur throw blanket to add a touch of luxury to your room's look.  

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3. DRAPE a throw over the sofa or chair arm.  A draped throw blanket is a casual and effortless way to make the sofa or chair look cozy and inviting.  

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4. TUCK a throw neatly down the front of a chair or sofa and into it's seat cushion to add crisp contrast.  Top with a printed pillow for an fun twist.

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5. HANG a throw from a blanket ladder as a unique way to display your throw blankets.

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Here are a few of my favorite throws this season:

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8
Ready to get cozy? Do any of these throw blankets catch your eye?  Which one is your favorite?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

NEW PROJECT: MILLER'S COURT - AN URBAN OASIS OFFICE SPACE

A few weeks ago I began working on an exciting new design project at Miller's Court in Baltimore. Built at the turn of the 20th century (late 1800s), Miller's Court served as the headquarters of H.F. Miller and Sons, a tin box manufacturing company.   Miller’s Court now houses both urban loft style apartments and smart office space for educational nonprofit organizations, like my new clients .



The building is great example of late-19th century industrial architecture in Baltimore. Miller’s Court is located near Johns Hopkins University and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.


"Much of the buildings original architectural elements remains, including massive wooden trusses, brick pilasters, and the original cupola."


The property sat vacant for nearly 20 years before receiving its massive renovation but now is the perfect creative combination historic meets modern elegance.


The opportunity to work in a space that is over 100 year old is a dream project for a designer and history-lover like myself.  I really admire and am impressed with the level of effort and creativity architects and engineers have put into breathing new life into this historic space. 


 Here are some amazing before and after photos of the restorative work that was done at Miller's Court.

MILLER'S COURT OUTDOOR COURTYARD "BEFORE"

MILLER'S COURT OUTDOOR COURTYARD "AFTE"
MILLER'S COURT INSIDE "BEFORE"
MILLER'S COURT INSIDE "BEFORE"

MILLER'S COURT INSIDE "AFTER"
MILLER'S COURT INSIDE "AFTER"
I'm excited to help to make a mark on a piece of Baltimore's history and  can't wait to show you my plans for helping my clients personalize their new office space at Miller's Court!