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    How I Decorated My Fireplace Mantel for Summer




    Today I’m joining a few of my talented blogging friends for the Summer Seasonal Simplicity Series. It is all about summer mantel decorating ideas! If you have a fireplace mantel in your home, a sideboard or even a piano where you like to decorate the top for the changing seasons, you will enjoy these 15 doable and fresh DIY summer themed mantels ideas.

    Now that we are in the summer season, it was time to change up my fireplace mantel to decorate it for summer. Last summer, I loved how I decorated my fireplace mantel and will use the large planter I made for it again someday.

    This summer I wanted to see something new and different on the white mantel that is on a stone fireplace in my living room.
    You may recall this mantel was repurposed. It was once the top to my dining room hutch that we no longer could use, so we took the top off and turned it into a mantel.
    I didn’t buy anything new to decorate the mantel this year, but shopped my house to find decorative items in other rooms to use, as well as one large thing from my attic decor stash.

    I went in search of neutral colored and green items.
    I found a planter pot, candles, a wood beaded garland, tulips, a large basket and some greenery.
    Arranging Decorative Items on the Mantel

    To arrange the items in a stylish way, I tried to arrange the items across the mantel to keep a flow going. I used items with various heights, textures, colors and shapes to create interest.
    I played around with the items until I like what I saw.
    I was happy with how it looked in the above photo, but I felt the mantel needed more punch. I went on a search again to find something that would add it.

    Up in my attic stash, I found what it needed in the way of a large glass cabinet door I had used once before on my mantel one Christmas.
    It had been painted red, so I stripped it to the bare wood and then placed it on the mantel.
    Summer Styled Fireplace Mantel

    The stripped glass mullioned cabinet door gave all the items I placed on the mantel a cohesive look.

    The beaded wood garland is usually in a large dough bowl on my sofa table. I was happy to find a new way to use it.

    We don’t use the fireplace in the summer, so the garland will not be in the way. It adds an energy that I didn’t expect.

    I was happy with my efforts and also that the mantel goes with my White & Woodsy decorating style.
    Tips on What to Do With Your Fireplace in Summer

    When I decorate the mantel for summer, I also remove the large black fireplace screen that covers the fireplace and store it in the hidden closet in the foyer.
    In its place I put a basket filled with flowers or greenery.

    Shop the Look

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    Other ideas on how to decorate a fireplace when it is not going to be used for the summer are:

    More Summer Mantel Decorating Ideas
    Do you have a mantel to decorate in your home? If not, do you have a sofa table or a piano that can be decorated the same way a mantel is?
    If so, play around with items you already own or even new items to style your mantel for the summer.
    And be sure to check out how what my talented blogging friends decorated their mantels this year for summer by visiting the links under each of the images below.

    The Happy Housie // A Pretty Life // Modern Glam // Cassie Bustamante

    Rambling Renovators // In My Own Style // Finding Silver Pennies // Dans le Lakehouse

    Craftberry Bush // Maison de Pax // She Gave it a Go // Hallstrom Home

    Deeply Southern Home // My Sweet Savannah // Willow Street Interiors



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    Try This: Mix and Match Your Bedding

    Have fun when the seasons change by swapping out sheets, comforters and blankets on your bed. Seasonal change or even when you are simply changing the sheets to wash them, are the perfect times to give your bedding a mix and match makeover with the bedding you already own.

    Could your bedding use a wake up call? Do you change the bedding on your bed every season?
    I do, two times a year for seasonal changes to lighten it up for the warmer months of the year or to cozy it up for the cooler seasons.

    There’s no rule that says your sheets and bedding have to match in the way retailers like to sell them the “Bed in the Bag” way.

    I often post about how to use the furniture and decorative accessories you already own and move them from one room to another to change the look of each room, but now… why not do the same for your bed?

    If your linen closet is anything like mine, you may have quite a few bed linens stored there that over time you have simply forgotten about.

    Time to get in there to see what you actually have and can use to give your bed or any bed in your home a free and fun makeover.

    After taking the winter weight plush comforter and the channel stitched velvet quilt and shams off my bed, I wasn’t sure I wanted to put on the sheets and comforter I had last summer, but I didn’t want to buy anything new.

    So instead, I gathered all the blue and white bedding I owned and then played around using all of it on the bed instead of only using one matching set of bedding.

    These pillow shams have been folded neatly in my linen closet for the last 5 years! Time to use them again.
    Mix Sheet Sets, Shams, Comforters and More
    To mix patterns so they will look cohesive, there are definitely some key points to keep in mind: scale, color, and balance.

    When selecting the bedding options from your collection of bedding, remember to include a mix of scales such as pairing Damask print shams with polka dots sheets and a small patterned quilt to create visual interest.
    Be inventive and make up a new color story for the bed if your room color scheme is neutral. There are no rules that say you can’t mix a bunch of colors and textures to create an inviting and colorful bed in fun and unexpected pairings – no matching needed.
    A Few Mix and Match Bedding Ideas to Try
    Here is where you can have fun with any matching bedding set you already have. Mix it up with other sets to design a new look for your bed.
    Find a unifying element by taking color cues from a print on one piece of bedding. This could be the main color you want to use. Then choose the rest of the bedding that coordinates with it or simply looks good together in an unexpected way.
    If you change only one part of your bedding, change the shams. Sham covers can add a pop of color, seasonal style, or pattern. Plus, the large size makes the bed feel more comfy-cozy.
    Is your comforter or duvet reversible? Flip it.
    Look around your house for a decorative pillow in another room that would look good on your bed.
    To make a print on the bed pop, pair with white sheets, comforter or spread.
    Mix the new with old and vintage looking.
    How to Style Pillows on a Bed
    The Hotel Inspired

    Very symmetrical – stack two bed pillows on top of each other or propped on the headboard. Lean two more pillows in front of these and then a bolster in front.
    The Pillow Collector

    When you love decorative pillows so much and can’t have enough of them on your bed. Then go for it and add as many as makes you happy.
    Casual Ease
    Photo: Pottery Barn
    When you want an easy, effortless look, use an odd number of pillows. The aim to achieve ‘casual’ is to layer up bedding and accessories for an effortless look that doesn’t look like you tried too hard.
    Piled and Propped

    Adds a little bit of hotel inspired with a casual air.
    The Karate Chop

    Add a karate chop to the top of your bed pillows or poke the middle of your pillows to give them dents for a lived in look?
    The Sandwich
    Photo: Emily Kate Roemer Stying: Megan Hedgpeth
    When you have a large number of bed pillows at your disposable and like lots of color and pattern. Prop large shams or pillows against the headboard and sandwich patterned shams in between the propped pillows and 2 standard bed pillows covered in colorful pillow cases.
    The Matched Set – Reversed
    Photos: PotteryBarn
    If you have 4 pillow shams – 2 of one color and 2 of another, try this bed pillow placement idea. Or if you only have 2 sham-covered pillows and 2 standard pillow case covered pillows, reverse which one is in front for the other side of the bed.
    The Avant-Garde Rebel
    Photo: Pottery Barn
    Don’t like following rules? Then this bed pillow placement idea may be just your thing.
    The Minimal Zen

    And finally… the warm weather look I went for that makes my husband Ed extremely happy – is using only the actual pillows we put our heads on when we sleep.
    I may sneak in the two shams that I haven’t used in 5 years though. 🙂
    Where Do You Put Decorative Pillows When Sleeping?

    Where to put the decorative pillows when you are sleeping on the bed can become a problem if you have a lot of decorative bed pillows to take off every night.
    I try keep my pillows at a minimum and do like the look of large sham covered pillows over smaller decorative ones for my king size bed.
    I place them in a large basket at night that is across from my bed. Sometimes I move the basket to the opposite corner, but it is always in my room. Its only use is to place pillows in at night.
    When these pillows are not in use for the season, I store them in my linen closet.
    So the next time you change the sheets on your bed or are doing a seasonal change, don’t take styling the bed too seriously.
    Play with your bedding and mix it up!
    The bed styling that reflects your personality and style is the one that is right for you.
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    Decorating With Thrift Store Finds: Tips on How to Find The Good Stuff

    When you want to decorate your home on a budget, thrift stores and resale shops are the best places to go to find items to use, but what should you look for once you go? I am sharing what to look for and how to transform the items to fit your decorating style.

    If you have been reading my blog for a long time, then you know I like decorating with thrifty finds. I enjoy the “The-thrill-of-the-hunt” when shopping thrift stores, yard sales, and church rummage sales to find items that I can transform to use to decorate my home “in my own style”. This type of decor gets me excited. 🙂

    I was recently reminded of this when I found out that a huge Goodwill is being built in my town, along with a reader who emailed me wanting to know where I get all my white pitchers. It is a question I get asked a lot.

    I wrote back and told her that most are from local thrift stores and a few are from HomeGoods. She wrote back and said she shops at both, but never finds anything good. 🙁
    Often, I am asked how I always find “good stuff”. 
    This is what I hear from my friends and readers all the time…
    …“I go to the thrift store and never find anything”. “It is all junk”.  “ I don’t have a good eye” or “It’s so gross” to “Can I go shopping with you?”
    Once I was told that I should not shop at thrift stores because they are for people that have lower incomes and really need the items.  If I buy it – nothing is left for them.
    This is not true. Most stores use the money made in the store to give to charity.  So when I shop these stores, I am in turn giving to the charity or the non-profit organization that runs the store.
    Decorating With Thrift Store Finds: Tips on How to Find The Good Stuff
    When I set out to go thrifting, I always keep an open mind as you never know what you are going to find.

    I do however, have a list in my head of items that I like to collect that I use around my house. These items are – anything white – white pitchers, dinner and serving ware, ceramic pieces, books, baskets, furniture and vases are the most versatile items I use to decorate with.

    But I always come home with other stuff that I transform to fit my style or on some occasions use just as is.
    Tip No.1: Don’t Overlook the Ordinary

    When I am at the thrift store I don’t look for new or designer brand items. I look for the ordinary and consider what I can do with them to make them decor worthy.
    A 50 cent extra-large pickle jar used just as is, can become a perfect flower vase.

    Ordinary items are just waiting for you to add your style to using paint, paper or fabric.

    I bet you have seen baskets, not only at thrift stores, but at yard sales. It seems everyone want to get rid of baskets, but what they are not considering is how to change them to make them into something both decorative and useful.

    With a few snips with a knife or a good pair of scissors, baskets, even with handles can become chic storage containers.

    Tip No. 2: Keep Your Mind Open for Anything and Everything
    You may go in a thrift store seeking to find a piece of furniture for your guest room, but…

    …see a modern and unique glass vase that is only $1.60.

    Modern and unique pairs nicely with old-fashioned hydrangeas on a bedside table.  If I didn’t do a quick stroll around the thrift store after looking at the furniture, I would have never seen this vase.
    Tip No. 3: Know Your Style
    You have to know what you like and don’t like – otherwise everything just looks like clutter and junk.

    I found these candle lanterns for a few dollars years ago at a thrift store. They are OK just as is, but the color didn’t fit my style of decorating. However they are classic and have great lines so I knew I could easily transform them to my liking.

    Painting the bottoms using white chalk paint turned them into decorating items I like. I hope you never get bored of seeing them, as I have been using them for years now, both inside and outside my house.

    When you know your style – you will know that by removing a part of an item, cleaning it up, or painting it – it will look like something right out of a home decorating catalog. 
    I added small cedar wreaths to the candle lanterns this past Christmas and raised them up using another item I always look for at thrift stores and that is hard covered books that I can cover with colorful gift wrap or paint to make lifts of varying heights for decor, lamps and flower vases.
    Tip No. 4: The Good Stuff Goes Fast
    The home decor items that sell fast at thrift stores are usually reflected by current decorating trends.

    For instance over the last year, large distressed stone or terra cotta lamps like the ones sold at Pottery Barn for hundreds of dollars are very popular to DIY.
    Lamps with the right shape, even if they are ugly, are swooped up fast…

    …as they can be easily transformed with some Spackle and or paint.

    When thrifting with a group of friends, there is always going to be one item that all of you will reach for immediately when you see it.  This happened to me and my friend when we saw a cake stand.  I let my friend buy it knowing that eventually another one would come along. It did.
    Tip No. 5: Shop Often

    Make thrifting a weekly event. Mark it on your calendar.  I go once a week. Find out when the stores near you put out new items. This way you get a better chance of finding something sought after.
    Tip No. 6: Look For Items That are Useful

    When browsing the thrift store aisles, look for items that have good lines and shape. It is also important that they are in good condition and can be cleaned up with soap and water.

    SOLD! for 90 cents.

    Add some pretty paper and you have a chic new tissue box cover.
    Tip No. 7: Don’t Overlook Anything

    Just because the color of the item doesn’t float your boat, or it is just plain ugly, consider the possibilities.   Remember this little brown table?  I looked past the brown fake wood and the plastic wheels.  I saw a solid piece with a pretty vibe.

    A little DIY and I made it mine.  I removed the wheels, added ball finials, had a mirror cut to use on the top and painted it white. Everything can be changed with paint or by removing or adding something to it.
    I use it in my guest room now with a large basket on the bottom shelf.

    Tip No. 8: Don’t Give Up

    Keep searching until you find it. It took me a few months of searching before I spotted the simple brass chandelier that I was on the hunt for.

    With some spray paint and battery-operated candles, it became a beautiful way to light up my deck at night in style.

    Tip No. 9:  Look Beyond the Decorative Furnishing Aisles

    I always look in the book section for books, not only to make lifts for decorative objects as I mentioned earlier in the post, but also to find books with unique pages or colorful spines. I am on a search now to find more of these.
    To line this drawer, I used the pages of a calligraphy book I bought for 50 cents.

    Tip No. 10:  Shop for Seasonal Items Year Round

    To collect all the glass trees I needed to decorate my mantel one Christmas, I looked for glass trees on every thrift store shopping trip I took,  starting about 7 months in advance.  By the time the holidays arrived I had more than enough of the trees to add glitter and candles to decorate my mantel.  If you wait until the holiday or season, you may miss out. 

    Bonus Tip: Edit, Edit, Edit
    This could be the most important tip. For every item I bring into my house – one thing or more has to go out.
    Since I have edited the decorative items in my home like this, I have found the things that I keep – I really, really love. Editing my stuff has helped me pinpoint my decorating style.
    I keep a box in the back of my car that I put the unwanted stuff in so when I go to the thrift store I can easily drop it in the donation bins.
    What Doesn’t Make it into My Thrift Store Shopping Cart
    As much as I love finding decorating items on a budget, I have a few items that I never look at. They are upholstered furniture, pillows, electrical items and anything that cannot be thoroughly cleaned in a sink or washing machine.
    Where Else Do I Find Used Items to Decorate My House?
    Church Rummage Sales – One of my favorite sources for finding used items on the cheap is church rummage sales.  Church sales are better than a yard sale because there are dozens of people selling their stuff in one place and the prices are truly bargain basement. 

    Retirement Community Resale Shops – This is my secret source for finding the “good stuff” that many don’t realize exist. Find out how to locate them in your area in this post:

    Yard Sales and Facebook Marketplace – I have never found anything I like on Facebook Marketplace, but I know so many that do. Yard sales pop up all the time – to get the best stuff though, you need to be there as soon as they start selling in the morning.
    If you are in search of finding some new items to decorate a room or your whole house without having to spend a lot of money, then make a date with yourself to go thrifting. Make it a weekly thing as the thrill-of-the-hunt is fun and can be very rewarding.
    You May Also Like These Thrift Store Item Transformations: More

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    How My Living Room Decor Has Evolved


    Ideas on how to decorate a living room while allowing it to change and evolve over time to fit your life and personal style.

    If you joined the Facebook Group, The Decorating Panel (invite here), then you know this week is all about living rooms. When I went to look for a post to share in the group that showed how my living room looks now after living and updating the house for 5 years, I realized I didn’t have one.
    All of my more recent blog posts with photos taken in my living room are focused on a project I have done in the room or around holiday decorations.
    It was time to gather up a few photos in one post all about how the decor in my living room has evolved to what the room looks like now. It has gone through many changes – floor to ceiling.
    When I think back to how the room used to look, I realize just how much the room has evolved to make it fit the setting of the house and my personal style of decorating.
    I liked everything I did in the room over the years and don’t regret anything. The longer we lived in the house, the more I could see just what the room needed. The decor became more in tune with what is most important in the room… the view out the sliding glass doors to the lake.
    The Living Room – BEFORE

    If you have been a long time reader, you may remember how the living room looked when we first saw the house with our real estate agent. Here is a photo of the room with the previous owners furnishings.
    Once we moved in, I started removing and updating right away. The process has been ongoing ever since. One that I enjoy and will never be done doing as life changes, so must the spaces we live in.

    The first big change was removing the wall with a pocket door between the kitchen and living room.

    We removed it with the help of a contractor.

    It took some time, but was worth the effort.

    With the wall removed, the view to the lake was doubled from both the kitchen and living room.
    After this everything else we have done in the room, we have done ourselves to save money.

    On the opposite side of the room, we covered up this brick wall with…

    …white vertical paneling. We also built a stone fireplace using a product called AirStone.
    The mantel is from the top of a dining room hutch that was in our previous house. We no longer had a place for it and nobody wanted it so we had to break it apart, but saved the top to use as a mantel.

    Wall Color: SW Pure White
    I wasn’t sure yet what style of furniture I wanted for the room, so we brought the outdoor furniture into the room until we bought new furniture a piece at a time.

    On the long wall is the only place for the sofa. I have always had a slipcovered sofa. This one was a tie-on slipcover over a navy blue sofa from our previous house.

    I bought a new console table and placed it behind the sofa. It gave me a surface for a much needed lamp and decorative accessories.

    Eventually I bought a new Rolled Arm Slipcovered Sofa from Pottery Barn, made an oversize Fixer Upper Wall Clock and began to change the decorative accessories out every season. Blue pillows means it’s summer. 🙂
    Getting The Hardwood Floor Refinished

    When the hardwood floor was refinished is when I began to like the room. Up until this point, I always felt no matter what I added to the room, the orange floor always stuck out.

    The only time the floor looked OK was in the fall when I added fall colors to the room.

    The new grey floor stain made a huge difference. I finally felt I could do what I really wanted decor wise and not have to deal with the orange wood-tone anymore.

    How My Living Room Looks Now

    Sofa | Console Table | Rug | Barnwood Panels | Frames | Coffee Table | Pillows
    My house is on a point lot with the lake on 3 sides and tall pines all over our property. With nature all around us, I wanted the living room to reflect that so the two felt seamless. About a year ago I came up with a name for the decorating style of my living room.
    I call the style, White and Woodsy. It is a little bit traditional, not quite rustic, but has a nod to it. It’s casual and laid back, but overall has a bit of polish and uniformity.
    After going back and forth on ways to make the clock pop and add more of a cozy feel to the room, I chose to accent these two walls with Barnwood paneling instead of painting them a color.
    Adding it made the room come together instantly. I wouldn’t want it everywhere, but as an accent it works well.

    Wall Clock | Lamp
    It is cozy, yet bright and cheery. Cozy is more than a look, cozy is a feeling and I wanted it for this room.
    I created the gallery wall to create interest and to see the people I love the most on a daily basis.
    The Fireplace

    I change what is on the mantel seasonally, most of the time restyling items I already own in new ways.
    I looked for a long time to find comfy chairs that not only recline, but rock and swivel all around. This allows us to face the TV, the lake or swivel around to look at the fireplace.
    Full Room View

    Pom Pom Ottoman Slipcovers | White Sideboard
    The size of the room is 15′ x 16′. Not large, so I like to keep the furnishings minimal and cohesive.
    To create a conversational grouping of furniture in the room, two chairs across from the sofa would have made the space feel cramped and the chair backs would block the view to the lake.
    Instead, for more seating that visually doesn’t block the view, the pair of ottomans works perfectly. Extra and moveable seating when needed while adding to the decor.
    I painted the existing ceiling fan white.

    This wide-angle shot kind of distorts the room and makes it look larger than it is, but you can get a better overall feel for the space.
    Sliding Glass Doors & TV Wall

    I semi-made the extra wide drapery panels on the sliding glass doors by sewing two pre-made panels together. The TV is on a swing arm mount so we can easily change the angle to the kitchen or living room.
    Decorative Details Around the Room

    Basket Table | Floor Lamp

    Faux Concrete Planter

    Firewood Storage

    Coffee Table Styling

    Seasonal Changes
    One reason I like neutral walls and seating is that I can easily change out the decorative accessories to seasonal colors and not worry about having things match or coordinate. No matter what color I place in the room, it goes. No set color scheme to have to work with.




    The view from the kitchen to the living room. My latest project was creating this plate rack wall. It provides a nice transition between the two rooms.

    I know that was a lot of photos, but they tell the story of how the room has evolved over 5 years we have lived in the house.
    The room will never be done as I enjoy changing the decor seasonally. I also know that my life and tastes may change, so will this room.
    Do you like to change things up in your living room for the seasons or as your tastes and circumstances change?

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    After Christmas Winter Decorating Ideas


    How to transition from Christmas to winter decor? I have a few comfy, cozy and doable winter decorating ideas for your mantel, living room, kitchen and more.

    Now that the holidays are over and we have officially been in the season of winter for a little over 2 weeks, how do you transition from Christmas to winter decor?
    Our rooms may look a little barren after the tree comes down and the holiday decorations go back into storage until next year.
    With the coldest two months of the year ahead of us, along with staying at home more. Our need for the ultimate in the “comfy-cozy factor” goes up a few notches.
    A few little changes in all the right places can make a big difference in how you and your home feel right now.
    Make room for what matters by refreshing your spaces with cozy layers, tranquil touches, warm textures mixed with intentional objects. These will help you get through chilly January and February in warm and comfy-cozy style.
    Winter Decorating Ideas
    When transitioning from Christmas to winter decor, start small by simply rearranging your decorative accessories in new ways.
    Here are few ideas to get you started. Resource links for where I bought a few of the items I used is at the end of the post.

    Choose an Accent Color – This time of year I always like to see the fresh color scheme of green and white in my living room. I have used this color scheme in previous years using my collection of white pitchers and greenery from my yard.
    When you add one color around the room in the way of a pillow, vase, throw or even a painted small accent piece of furniture, it will make the room look refreshed. The accent color will tie the accessories together giving the room a styled look in an easy to do way.
    Go in search for items to use. Head to your china closet, basement or other rooms in your house to find items to use that are behind closed doors and missing out on adding decorative style to your home. Consider every item. Group or layer them to come up with new arrangements.

    For my winter fireplace mantel, I gathered two of my white planters and filled them with greenery – it’s fake from Hobby Lobby. 🙂

    Previously, the smaller of the two planters was on a sideboard in my living room and the larger one on my coffee table.

    Putting them together on the mantel creates a whole new look for them as well as my mantel.

    Along the mantel I also mixed in a new collection of woven baskets.
    Inside each basket is a cardboard spool that ribbon comes on. They act as hidden lifts so the candles I added to each basket look taller. On the mantel, no one will see these spools, except if they are 8 feet tall. 🙂
    Experiment with adding height to items you like that may seem too small by themselves to be displayed along a mantel. Use ribbon spools, boxes, or books to add height to items.

    Add Things You Love – For areas in full view – like a mantel. Make family photos the focus or a collection that you love but is not out in the open. Bring these items out to be seen.

    I only get to see granddaughter every few months so I intentionally added these two photos of her in a set of large frames I had where I could see her on a daily basis.
    I printed out photos from my phone to my computer. I used printer paper made for photos. It comes in glossy or matte.

    Place Items With Texture Around the House – Find pinecones or rocks outside and fill a bowl with them. Leave just like that or add a candle to the center of the bowl.
    If you don’t have any rocks outside in your home’s landscaping, you can buy a small bag at home improvement stores in the gardening section.
    Add thick and furry pillows and throws to seating to cuddle with.
    Place a basket or two on the floor to hold the throws when not in use.
    Add candles throughout your rooms. There’s no better time than chilly nights to enjoy the warmth of candle glow in a room. I have become a big fan of the battery-operated flicker candles, but still have a few real candles in my living room.

    Add a Small Lamp to Your Kitchen –
    Adding the small lamp to my kitchen counter has changed the way my entire kitchen and living room look at night. I experimented with a larger lamp I had to see if I would like the look and I did. I bought a new smaller lamp that fits better. I love the soft glow of the 40 watt bulb that a few readers told me to place in it.
    I wish I had added it years ago. If you don’t have a small lamp on your kitchen counter already – winter is the perfect time to add one.

    Set Your Dinner Table – Since we are not getting out to restaurants and friends homes to enjoy food as much. I know I miss doing this.
    Make an effort to make your dinner something special. Use pretty napkins, light candles and prepare new recipes. Good food simmering on the stove or baking in the oven is one of the best ways I know to make your home feel wonderfully warm and cozy.
    How do you decorate your home for winter?
    Winter Decorating Resources:

    Other Winter Decorating Posts You May Enjoy:

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    Home Decorating & Improvement Projects I am Planning for 2021


    Here we are on the other side of the holiday season and in the year 2021. If New Year’s Day didn’t land on a Friday I would have been back posting on January 2nd. The weekend was an added bonus to our holidays. 🙂
    Now that it is the first business day after New Year’s Day, it is time for me to get back at it.
    Taking time off always renews me and gets my brain fueled with new ideas, especially knowing that HOME has taken on more purposes and meaning than ever before.
    Although we’ve said goodbye to 2020, its challenges didn’t go away at the stroke of midnight on January 1st. In my home I still am in control and can make it as comfy cozy as I can for the uncertain times we are living in.
    As I redefine my surroundings to fit into how 2020 changed how I do a few things, I will be making a few changes for my everyday needs.
    For instance, when I updated my kitchen island to make it work even better to make it easier to do daily tasks. Function first – then styled and pretty. 🙂
    I love when I look around my house, it’s hard to find an area where there isn’t something I spend time working on with my hands as a way to put my personal stamp on my surroundings.
    This makes my home feel just right for Ed and I – not overly styled… just cozy and our own.
    I thought I would share the projects that I have on my 2021 “To-Do” list with you.
    Some are small and will be done in a few days time. Others will take more time and will be ongoing and will be part of an ongoing series as we complete them.
    But first I have to get organized. This won’t take me too long since I keep on top of clutter by editing what I no longer use or like frequently. I am starting the year by donating the things I no longer need. It is what I plan to do right after I post this post. 🙂
    Home Decorating & Improvement Projects I Am Planning

    Add a Plate Wall in the Kitchen – As much as I enjoy drawing on the chalkboard wall that I created on the narrow wall in-between my kitchen and living room, I love my collection of white platters even more. One of my first projects will be transforming this wall to a plate rack wall.

    2. New Table Top for My Kitchen Table – I have been searching for a new larger round kitchen table for some time. I have found many that I like, especially a few that have removable leaves, but the cost is out of the question.
    I shared how I changed the top of the table in these posts – table covering that looks like wood and faux zinc, but even though I liked both of these – we need a larger table.
    So we are going to keep the existing base that I like as it is classic in design and in contrast to all the wood in the room. I will remove the 4-foot round top and replace it with a 5-foot round top that we make from stock lumber.

    I would like the finish to look like this table.
    3. Add a New Covering on the Wall Behind the Table – Right now the window wall by the kitchen table has textured wallpaper. I would like to see more texture on the wall and am considering adding white horizontal panels or a grid wall.

    4. Transform This Storage Closet – This closet is in the game room that at one time was a bedroom that needed a clothes rod in the closet that we don’t use.
    What we do need is a highly organized closet for a range of misc. items from the overstock of paper and canned goods, board games to family photos. I am thinking something like this closet.
    Exterior & Outdoor Projects

    5. Add Front Porch Railing – Since we removed the shrubs in front of the porch when we had the house painted, we need to add railings, not only for safety, but for overall curb appeal. In keeping with the modern vibe of this side of the house we are going to use cable railing.
    I have been doing a lot of research and reading how-to’s to figure out the best way to proceed and what power tools we may need. I figure we can start once the weather warms up which will be around mid March.

    6. Kitchen Garden – We have already started this and hope to have a few raised beds ready for spring planting. I took this photo late yesterday afternoon when the area was in the shade. We have removed shrubs and are in the process of lengthening an existing French drain near the area.
    Project I Am Dreaming About

    This most likely isn’t going to happen this year unless I win the lottery, but both Ed and I are serious about expanding the kitchen with an addition that looks like the open and airy space in the above photo.
    We have a very small kitchen that we are content with, but it is tight and we get in the way of each other all the time when working in the space.
    We are going to research costs and meet with an architect/builder to see what could be done.
    DIY Decor
    I always enjoy creating pretty things and will be sharing them as I make new items to decorate the house all through the year.
    Your Projects
    I receive hundreds of decorating questions every year and answer them directly to the reader.
    It dawned on me that my responses to many of these questions are problems that many readers may have.
    So starting this month, I will be sharing a reader decorating question and my response in a blog post. This will also open up the conversation in the comments where other readers can offer ideas that will in turn help all of us.
    My Blogging Goal
    My main goal here on the blog though is to continue to remind and inspire you to nurture the spaces that help make you live your best life possible.
    Having a warm and well-kept home can enhance your life and we could all use a little more of this.
    My 2021 decorating plan is simple:
    Embrace and then add what I LOVE – If something makes you smile and feel good, make it yours!!! Find a way to add it and then enjoy it every single day.
    Change What I Can – Re-purpose and use what you have to change things up. (I will be sharing how I just did just this to refresh my fireplace mantel decor for the winter months.)
    Don’t Worry What Others Think – It is your house afterall! Do it – In Your Own Style!
    What would you like to see me post more about for 2021? After blogging for 11 years, I have covered a lot, but I know you may be looking to find out how to do something in particular. Let me know in the comments.
    XO – Diane

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    How to Display a Collection of Matchbooks


    You know I have a thing for candles in the house. But did you know that I also have a thing for something that all candles need to produce candle glow and that is matches.
    Yes, I have a thing for matches.
    It started when I was a child and my mom thought my siblings and I needed to each acquire a hobby of collecting something to broaden our horizons.
    My brother chose stamps. My twin sister – miniature books, and I chose to collect matchbooks. My younger sister was an infant at the time, so she missed out on this new adventure.

    Over the years, my matchbook collection made it through 6 moves and is still going strong.
    Recently when styling the coffee table in the living room, I was at a loss for something to add that was unique.
    After a bit of contemplating, it came to me  – my favorite collection. I can place them in a bowl or small tray –“why had I never thought of that before?”
    I think I always felt I needed to protect it, but why have something you love, if you can’t enjoy it. It can become the best  home decorating accessory, better than just another tchotchke.
    I don’t collect many things as I am a firm believer in less is more, but I do have an abundance of one particular item – a true collection in every sense of the word.
    A collection that I am rather fond of and that has many memories attached to it.  I went in search of it – It is in a big hat box that has been stored in a closet. Bringing it out to the light of day, I realized was also going to help me keep one of my New Years goals in check  – to have my favorite things around me. Happy colorful things that make me smile…
    …like hundreds of matchbooks and matchboxes!!!

    I have a lot of them in all shapes, sizes, and colors from places near and far.
    Each of these matchbooks has a story behind it. I can pick one up and automatically, I recall a fond memory. The restaurant where Ed proposed to me, or the store where I got my first job in display, and the trip we took to Hawaii.
    When I thought more about using the matchbooks as a decorating accessory, it made even more sense as matchbooks fill the bill in more than one way. When placed on a table they can become interactive conversation starters as well as visually adding color and interest to the tablescape.

    My matchbook collection started when I was in elementary school. My mom thought it a good idea that my twin sister Carol, and I each collected something. She called it “broadening our horizons”.   My older brother collected stamps so we knew a little bit about collecting as a hobby and were excited to have a collection to call our own.   My mom decided that I was to collect matchbooks and my sister miniature books.
    We both still have our collections. I have a lot more items in mine as matchbooks were a little easier to acquire than mini books.

    They are not as easy to find anymore – since smoking is not allowed in most public places and most smokers use lighters nowadays.

    My dad traveled to many business dinner meetings and always brought one home for me wherever he went.  Most of my matchbooks are from-restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, drug stores, department stores, beauty salons, and banks as there was always a stack of free matchbooks for the taking.
    I had an aunt that lived in Brooklyn and worked on Wall Street. When she came to visit, she always had a bag full of them for me. As a kid these were the most exciting to acquire since they were from the big city – they were shiny and big from sophisticated and elegant establishments. As I got older, I started picking them up wherever I traveled. These have become my favorites – the ones I picked up myself.

    I love seeing all of them together, but I do have a few favorites – one from a long gone restaurant that was on the bay in Ocean City, NJ called Holgate’s.  I also love the one from Hess’s Department Store, The Copacabana in NYC and the real estate office in Ocean City that my family used to use to rent our vacation home every summer – fond memories…

    Most collectors choose what they want to collect, but my mom knew me well when she chose matchbooks for me. She knew the colorful art and designs on the covers would pique my interest. She was right as I still pick them up if I see an interesting or colorful one when I am out and about– it has become an automatic response.

    My mom is no longer living, but I think it would make her smile if she walked into my house today and saw that I have them prominently displayed.  They are the perfect decorating accessory – interesting and meaningful.  I have to thank her for wanting to “broaden my horizons”.
    Did you collect anything as a child that you still have or display in your home?

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    How to Decorate So You Feel at Home


    How to decorate your home in the best way possible, so you feel at home.

    When I first started blogging, I kept one of my favorite quotes about decorating and lifestyle in my blog’s sidebar.  If you have been a reader since the beginning, you may remember it.

    Diana Vreeland the legendary fashion editor’s insight so elegantly reveals the impressions we feel when we are in others homes. We may visit a friend’s home and love the way she arranged and accessorized her family room.
    When we enter our own family room we frown and think it lacks style and we need to go buy something new because it doesn’t look the same as your friends…
    …or does it?

    Decorating versus Lifestyle
    When I did residential design, clients would show me room clippings from magazines with the look they wanted to achieve in their space, but I found what they really wanted was the lifestyle and feeling the room evoked.
    I ended up not actually decorating for them, but helping them to “style their lives” and help boost their confidence in the choices they made.  It rarely involved spending money. It was more of a matter of making better use of what they already owned.
    When you think about how to decorate your home  – walls, furniture, paint, fabric, and accessories usually come to mind, but the list often omits the most important factor – YOU and your families unique traits, passions, and personalities, and of course the “stuff” you love.
    These traits and things we all personally do to our homes with individual flair add up to enlighten others without us even knowing it. We don’t see our own decorating style from their perspective.
    It is when we think we need to copy or follow the dictates of some arbitrary decorating source to create a beautiful home, that it backfires on us because it is not authentic.

    When I look at magazines, I get more excited when I see a glimpse into the homeowner’s personal life –   a telltale sign that shows a life in progress.
    It could be the books in the bookcase or the way they have their mudroom set up with the names of their children over each hook. These elements add human interest and tell the lifestyle story of the occupants.
    Instead of thinking “designer” or good, better, best as the only element when choosing furnishings – think comfort, function, and personal style.  Instead of wanting to copy a look you see in a magazine – first figure out what it is about the space that caught your eye – then proceed to add that element to your home.
    It may not have to be purchased or it may just require you to move items out or in from another room.
    How Do You Want to Feel in Your Home?

    Stop thinking about how you want your home to look, instead think… How do I want to FEEL in my home?
    Ask yourself:
    Does your home truly reflect who you are?  If the answer is no, or only a little,  then ask yourself – Why not?  Then figure out what is needed so that it does reflect you.
    Are all your needs being met physically and emotionally?  What do you do upon waking, eating, working? Is everything you need at arm’s length or easy to get? Do you have the right wattage of light bulb to read by? Is the sink at the right height, the cabinet for your dishes right above the dishwasher so you can empty it with ease. Do your rugs feel good under your feet?  These little things make the way you live “the best” – not designer plates or an expensive appliance.
    How do I really want to live?  Is it casual, formal, cozy, spacious, dark, light.
    If you were the only person you had to impress, how would you decorate your home?  This is the hardest to figure out but once you do, you will be on your way to knowing what change is needed so you feel good in your home.
    How one feels in their home is as individual as each one of us – our tastes, personality, and past. Your home should feel customized just for you and your family.
    How to Begin to Feel at Home
    So how do you get your home to start feeling the way you want?  Simply start with a list.
    Start small… tackle a kitchen cabinet first.
    Take everything out and ask, “What do I hate, what do I love?”  Only put back in what you love. From this point forward only add back in what you truly love or need to that cabinet and then move to the next.
    Keep going around your kitchen. Once you’re done, start in another room until you have edited every room in the house.  It may take you weeks or longer, but know that you are on the right path to creating a home that feels like you are getting a big hug every time you walk through the door.

    My Feeling at Home Love List:
    I have expanded on each item to show you how I try to make it happen in my home.
    Comfy Seating – I have an oversized sofa and chair and two movable ottomans in my family room – they are worn, but super comfortable.  To make them look more cohesive with each other, I covered them with white slipcovers.
    Lots of Natural Light – I don’t have window treatments that block any light so throughout the day the house always feels bright and cheery.
    Smells Good – This one is a constant struggle, but I do feel much better in my home when it is clean and smells fresh. I use home fragrance to entice my sense of smell. It also helps when I don’t have a chance to get the Spic N’ Span out every week.
    Expansive views – (a recurring theme that goes with the natural light above – makes it extra important that I make sure I have this in my home). I have regular sized windows, but do not cover them up with heavy window treatments that block the light or views.  I use roller shades at every window so that if I do need privacy or to block the sun, I can simply roll them down.  On windows were I have curtain panels, I made sure that the rods were cut wide enough so when the panels were hung they didn’t cover the window, only overlap the window trim.
    Clutter-Free – I only keep what we love on tables and mantels and bookshelves.    Trendy or stuff bought on a whim always seems to end up in the pile for Goodwill.
    Fresh Air  – Window and door screens are a must in my house for the summer.  I want to catch every breeze that blows by. I could not even imagine living in a house without open windows and doors to allow in the fresh air.
    Color – I like white walls and seating with pops of color scattered throughout each room.   If your spouse dislikes a color you love, don’t let this stop you from enjoying the color in your home.  Paint the inside of your drawers with it. Think how happy it will make you feel when you open one of them to grab a t-shirt.
    Low Maintenance – Enough said  😉  Even as a DIYer I have my limits on what I want to take care of around my house.
    Natural Elements – In the Spring and Summer I bring in whatever is blooming outside and place it in a vase. I usually place it on the kitchen table or island.  In the Fall, I bring in branches with colorful leaves still hanging on.  In the Winter –  greenery that I buy at the local nursery and at Christmas, the clippings from the bottom of the tree when we buy it.  In the Summer, I display my shell collection, in the Fall – pine cones and acorns, although with Trax the cat, the acorns usually become his play toys.
    Candle Light – Candlelight is magical.  I like to use it as much as I can, at dinner, taking a bath, along the mantel, outside in the summer. It elevates the mood to one that says sit and stay awhile.
    Photos of Family– I used to have a lot more photos of friends and family around, but as the photos faded or the frames outdated, I have only put back a few – mostly of my daughters since they no longer live at home I like to see their photos and blow them a kiss as I walk by.
    Mirrors – Across from windows and doors to expand the light. I also place one by my front door so that I can take a quick glance at myself to make sure I look presentable when I answer the door. If you work from home in yoga pants all day, having this is a necessity.
    Simple, Yet Highly Functional –  I like simple appliances with no bells and whistles that take a 100 page manual to learn how to use. On/Off is good enough for me.
    Texture – I don’t like anything that feels scratchy against my skin.  I once made pillows with burlap.  Not only were they scratchy but they smelled of burlap when you sat or laid on the sofa. Not a good feeling.  Out they went.
    Soft White Lightbulbs – I am not a fan of the new LED and CFL lightbulbs.  Even the newer ones that are said to have nicer light still give off an odd cast of light. As long as they keep making soft white light bulbs,  I will be using them.
    When a space starts to feel off, I take out my list and edit the space until it feels just right again. Many times all that is needed is the removal of a few items and the addition of an item taken from another room.

    In the journey to feeling at home you will take some missteps, but decorating a home is a journey that as it evolves over time, will get better and better.
    What would be on your list? Nobody’s list will be exactly like yours, but if you follow it and edit the rooms in your house you will begin to feel truly at home.
    Download a Free Printable Feeling at Home Love List

    Remember to Keep These Points in Mind

    Enliven Every Day – Surround yourself with beauty.  Don’t save items that you love for special occasions only- use and enjoy everything you own every day. Drink your daily intake of water out of a crystal goblet.  Use the good china every night. Buy the fluffiest towels so when you step out of the shower you feel pampered.  Place a lit candle on the table at dinner every night.  Keep a vase of flowers on your desk.
    Fulfill All Your Senses -All through the house, play your favorite tunes and spray or diffuse room fragrance. Buy the softest bedding you can find so after a tough day your body melts into the sheets.
    Edit…Edit…Edit…  Learn to be choosy – most of us are so programmed to live the way marketers want us to live. They rely on the fact that people no longer have the creative energy after a busy day to think for themselves.  Edit out the noise and only choose what truly makes you smile.
    Follow Your Instincts – That little voice in your head is usually right.
    Break the Rules – How boring would homes look if we all followed the rules?  Decorating rules were made to be broken. There is no such thing as the decorating police – you are the only one stopping yourself from doing what feels right when it comes to picking out what you like and don’t like. Instead of thinking you have to have a sofa in your living room because that is what is expected, ask if your family would prefer to each have their own chair to watch TV.  Four oversized club chairs arranged in the room may be a better option.
    Let it Evolve – Take your time; decorating a home to feel good does not have to be done in a day, a week, or a year.  I let my decorating evolve – it will never be done since I am still living.  It will be done when I am no longer alive.  When you take the time to let the rooms evolve over time is when you create rooms that fit perfectly into your life.
    The next time you find yourself doubting the way you decorate your home, turn the tables.
    Cherish the way you decorate. Realize that others are inspired by you, just as much as you are inspired by them.
    Take pride in the fact that you organize your kitchen cabinets in a way that is ultra efficient.  You think it is nothing, that anyone can do it, but your neighbor thinks it is terrific, since no matter how hard she tries she can never get her organization to the same level.
    The more you edit, follow your gut, and break the rules, the more you will feel at home.

    How to Decorate Series BlogHop
    This post is part of a How to Decorate series hosted by Beth at Home Stories A to Z.  If you are looking for more decorating inspiration from other DIY decorating bloggers, then follow the links below.
    Day 1:1. Beth, Home Stories A to Z: How to Find Your Decorating Style2. Courtney, A Thoughtful Place: 5 Gallery Wall Styles3. Stacy, Not Just A Housewife: How to Decorate with Plants4. Myquillyn, Nesting Place: Turning a House into a Home on a Thrift Store Budget5. Donna, Funky Junk Interiors: How to Turn Worthless Junk into Home Decorating Must Haves
    Day 2:1. Melissa, The Inspired Room: The Secret Ingredient Every Room Needs2. Jessica, Four Generations One Roof: How to Decorate with Container Plants3. Traci, Beneath my Heart: How to Style a Coffee Table4. Cyndy, The Creativity Exchange: Tricks for How to Zone in on the Perfect Paint Color5. Laura, Finding Home: 5 Ways to Personalize Your Home

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