January, 2011

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Creating A Cohesive Look

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

House Beautiful

What do you think a ‘cohesive’ room means?  The dictionary defines cohesion as: ‘the state of cohering or sticking together’.

                                                                                                                                                          Bryan Road

To me, in design terms, a cohesive room is one that works with pairs and creates symmetry. For example, look at the room below.  There are matching pairs of  tables, lamps and benches. 

House Beautiful

A cohesive room has a balanced look.

Oxford American Dictionary defines symmetrical as ‘able to be divided into parts that are the same in size and shape and similar in position on either side of a dividing line or around a center’. Symmetry is a ‘pleasing proportion between parts of a whole’.

The one room I always try for symmetry is in the bedroom.  Since the bed is the focal point, I work with pairs on each side of the bed. I like the look of two matching bedside tables or at least similar sizes in height and width.  I know, I know… it is supposed to be boring and traditional, but that is the look I find most people are pleased with- including me!  Matching lamps come next and again, similar can work but I would fight for matching pairs in lamps. See how in the picture below everything is a mirror image on each side of the bed.

master bedroom bed salvaged doorsHGTV

And look how beautifully nature works with symmetry:

Beautiful and perfect.


Would you consider this room below symmetrical or asymmetrical (not symmetrical)?

I do not find this room balanced because of the artwork on the sides. The different size prints throw the balance off, plus the table and lamp. Asymmetrical for sure.

Do you think of using symmetry when you are designing a room?  Do you think it is important for a room to have a cohesive look?  Which look do you prefer?  Symmetrical or asymmetrical?  Other comments?

If you need help getting the look you want,  contact me today for an in home or online consultation.

Other Topics You Might Enjoy:

Balance in the Bedroom

 Beautiful & Functional Tables




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Bring in Spring By Forcing Branches Now

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Who else wants to bring a little sunshine (i.e. flowers) into their homes right NOW?

mixed lily bouquet in clear vase

I do!! I love fresh flowers but when I  looked into buying them online, I found you can not really get something decent unless you want to spend close to $100.00 (includes shipping).  And then they die and this is what I end up with:

Another empty vase.

I do not have any extra cash right now (paying off Christmas credit cards), but I do remember reading something about forcing branches indoors.  That’s what I can do with my empty vases!  I just want something pretty and alive!


You can have spring blossoms early if you force branches into bloom inside your house. By forcing the branches into blooming, you are actually tricking them into acting as if it were already spring.

I have explained the steps on how to force the branches below but first here is a list I found on BHG which lists the month and which type of branches will do best for forcing:


Depending on where you live and what you plant, you can start hauling in armloads of Cornelian cherry dogwood (Cornus mas), forsythia, vernal witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis), and pear tree branches as early as January.



In February, gather branches from flowering quince (Chaenomeles spp.), rhododendron, pussy willow (Salix discolor), apple and crab apple (Malus spp.) trees, and cherry (Prunus spp.) trees.



Continue the chain of soul-lifting spring color with March-clipped boughs of magnolias, mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia), beautybush (Kolkwitzia amabilis), lilacs, flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), mock orange (Philadelphus spp.), bridalwreath (Spiraea prunifolia), Deutzia, and Fothergilla.


Forcing Basics:

Step 1: Select pencil-thick branch sections 12 x 24 inches long that boast numerous plump buds. Using a sharp knife or hand pruner, cut the branch, making an angled cut at the base. Immediately place each branch in water.


Step 2: Bring the branches inside and strip buds, twigs  and leaves from lower sections that will eventually be under water when you place them in your vase. Use a utility knife to pare away an inch or two of bark from the base. Next smash the woody bases with a hammer. These openings will enhance water absorption and help your arrangement last even longer.

Step 3: Place branches in a water-filled container set in a bathtub and give them a long, tepid shower.  Wrap branches in wet newspaper, then place them in clean, lukewarm water. Move to a cool, dark spot; mist branches and change water daily. Unwrap after two or three days.

Step 4: Once the flower buds have started to pop, arrange branches in a tall, water-filled vase or pitcher, and bring them into the light. Set the arrangement in a bright-but-cool spot out of direct sunlight. The cooler the spot, the longer the branches will bloom.

The closer to a plant’s natural bloom time you harvest its branches, the quicker the flowers will sprout indoors.  Forcing branches in January takes longer to bloom (usually several weeks) than February or March which may take only a week or two.  Prune branches on a day that’s above freezing to ease the transition between outside and inside temperatures.

What if you do not have any flowering branches in your yard (or neighbor’s yard hehe?)   I called my local florist and ask if it was possible to purchase branches through her shop.  She said that yes, she can order them for me. Each branch is between 6-7 feet long was $4.00.  So I did order a couple to experiment with.  I will let you know how that works out.

Another option is to purchase faux botanicals.  Just be sure they are very real looking!!  Pier 1 is always a good place to check and prices are reasonable.  Pottery Barn has beautiful flowering branches priced from $19.00 for a 49″ cherry blossom, up to $64.00 for each 49″ stem of white cherry blossoms shown below:

white cherry branch

white cherry branch

Look how pretty these arrangements are and so easy to arrange:

Faux Pink Cherry Blossom Branch

Pottery Barn

Faux Pink Cherry Blossom Branch

Pottery Barn

Faux Pink Cherry Blossom Branch

Love this one below!  Great inspiration.

Southern Living

Martha Stewart

I love finding easy, inexpensive ways to decorate.  Especially with flowers as you know!  Don’t you think they make a room happy?

Comments?  Any other decorating ideas/pictures using  forced branches?

If you need help making your home updated and fresh, contact me today!

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Using the 60 – 30 –10 Color Rule

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

Designers don’t really understand why people respond to these proportions when selecting a color scheme, but they do work.

  Jim Howard

The “60-30-10″ rule is a breakdown of percentages that helps guide you on how much of a color is needed to make the room balanced and cohesive. Usually, the walls make up the majority of the room, and will be your 60 percent. Your furniture’s color will take up the 30 percent, and the remaining 10 percent are items such as throw pillows, picture frames, rugs, or vases.

         Jonathan Adler

When using the 60-30-10 rule, keeping one of the three colors as a neutral (such as white, beige, or black) will create a “safer” palette, and give you more choices when trying to find objects in that color to accentuate the room.                                             Tom Stringer

You can play around with the colors and percentages, and doing so will completely change the look and the vibe of the room. For example, assume that your three colors are black, raspberry, and white. Imagine all the walls being white (60%), the furniture being black (30%), and your accents being raspberry(10%).

     Stephen Shubel

Now imagine your walls being raspberry (60%), your furniture being white (30%), and your accents being black (10%). It’s a totally different picture, but the color choices are exactly the same.

   Jonathan Berger

So, when decorating a particular room, divide the colors into percentages:

60% of the room’s color is the walls.
30% of the room’s color is the upholstery.
10% of the room’s color is, say, an accent piece or a floral arrangement.

When you think about it, this color breakdown is similar to a man’s business suit:

60% of the outfit’s color is the slacks and jacket
30% of the outfit’s color is the shirt
10% of the outfit’s color is the tie.

Remember that three color divisions doesn’t mean exactly three colors. It means tones. You can have furniture and window coverings that are both blue, but not exactly the same shade. They just need to complement each other. Textural differences can also add greatly to the richness of a décor.

       Marshall Watson

The orange accents used in this space was used in the right way.  As I explained here,  try repeating your accent color in 2 to 3 spots so that it creates rhythm within your room.  Do you think the blue can also be named as the accent color here?:

     House and Home

If you have a favorite color you want to use everywhere, then make sure to use several shades of it to give the room some depth.  You can still apply the 60-30-10 rule, just using different shades of a single color.

                                                    Tobi Fairley

Isn’t Tobi Fairley’s designs fantastic?  I love her rooms.

So next time you are looking to redesign a room, try using this 60-30-10 rule. Start with your furnishings if you are going to keep.  What color are they? This will be the 30%.  Do you want another neutral color for the walls?  They do not have to be neutral if you don’t want them to be.  After you select the wall color, your next choice would be the ‘fun’,the ‘pop’, and the ‘excitement’ of the rooms colors. Remember that these colors should be the 10% “wow” that should be carried out in three separate spots throughout the room. 

Comments? Do you use the 60-30-10 rule when planning colors for your room?

If you need help selecting great paint colors for your home, contact me today!







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Ben Moore Paint Now Available at Aubuchon’s?

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Did you know that you can now purchase Benjamin Moore paint and supplies at your local Aubuchon Hardware store?


I know!  Wow!  I was so surprised when I first heard about it.  Aubuchon Hardware?  But it’s true.  You are also able to purchase the Aura line.


Why do you think BM would want to be sold in a small chain store?  Is it to make BM products easier and local for the consumer to find?  Aubuchon Hardware has over 130 stores throughout New England and Upstate New York.

aubuchon2-1 Before you wonder how Aubuchon employees can possibly become a paint expert so quickly, I heard that they are provided with color training with BM color experts.  I checked into that fact and as it turns out, the store manager and assistant manager of each store are trained.  Here is a video that was posted on Aubuchon’s facebook page with a sneak peek at their new TV ad.

Aubuchon Hardware & Benjamin Moore Paints [HQ]

I stopped in a store to check it out.The display was displayed nicely, but of course not as large as a BM retailer.  They also did not have the little two ounce paint samples for sale.  I did inquire about them and learned that Ben Moore does not supply those small sample jars.  Another company does. Hmmmm.  I did not know that (I wish I was the owner of that business- they must make good money!).


Another little FYI I picked up today, is that most of the BM stores are now carrying the pint size sample can.  The pint size can be done in any color BM carries, not just the 600 color choices the 2 oz. is available in. The 2 oz. is sold on average for $4.99 and the pint is an average of $6.99 (price depends on individual store).

So now your up to date with Ben Moore.  Aren’t you excited? :)  Just wanted to pass on the latest news.  Love to hear your comments about BM at Aubuchon.

If you would like  decorating help at home or an online consultation, contact me today!




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