Think Beyond the Expected Wall Cabinet

It's not a new idea, kitchens of the past had furniture and not built-in cabinets. We've complicated our lives with too much stuff and cramped our spaces.

A kitchen doesn’t have to have upper cabinets. Highly functional and quality base cabinets can be built to accommodate everything and anything. For example, if you want more windows for sunlight and openness plan to maximize all your base cabinets for optimum storage.

In my own kitchen I opted for windows instead of wall cabinets. In the photos here I show you how I use the base cabinets for my baking needs. I love to bake which meant that I needed to have my baking supplies handy and easy to access. I had drawers built to store my baking supplies. It is easier to reach into a drawer than it is to sift through items on a shelf.

Custom Treatments

Custom window treatments are desired by clients because they want a unique look or have a very challenging shape or size. When you have a shaped window it is virtually impossible to find something "off the rack" to meet your needs. In this example there is a wall of glass. Walls of glass are great, but if it is your bedroom, it isn't so cozy, especially at night. At nighttime, there is no privacy so there needed to be something. The drapery panel is the right choice for this large space. The fabric added much needed softness to the hard surfaces. I measured and sketched the shape. This allowed me to convey the exact sizes and angles to my fabricators for the custom rod and panels. I chose to use grommets because they controlled the angled panels. Drapery panels serve many purposes: decoration, softness, privacy, light control, UV protection and insulation.

Quality Furniture

Not all leather furniture is created equal. That is why I only specify and sell American Leather furniture to my clients.. American Leather offers a large variety of styles and colors. My favorite pieces are recliners that look like club chairs, as shown in this example. When considering leather furniture, consider the finest quality so your investment will last for decades.

Dated Finishes Need to Go!

Why do you live with dated finishes and decor? If it is for budget reasons then the easiest way to improve the look of dated finishes is with paint. Stained pine trim is basic and can be dull. A fresh coat of white or off-white paint will instantly improve the look and feel of the space. In this example, there is a beautiful view. The stained trim distracted the eye from looking through the windows. Once the trim was painted the space was visually simplified to allow the view to stand out. This is just one of many ways to improve the style of a space.

Living Room Makeover

The design task here was to take a large space and make it cozy, comfortable and family friendly. The first step is to ALWAYS start with a floor plan. It is so important to know what will fit in the space. From there I create a layout. A living room with a fireplace and TV are always a challenge. Here is how I solved it. There is a large TV on the wall opposite the fireplace that is on a heavy duty swivel. The sofas with high arms were chosen so that people could sit back on the arms or lay down to face the TV. The two leather chairs are recliners. This layout comfortably seats four for TV watching. When the TV is not in use the focus in on the fireplace and the central conversation area. The two white side chairs in the foreground are overflow seating for the dining room. I love the flexibility of side chairs that can be moved around into other rooms as needed. The custom drapery adds a needed softness to the space. Coordinating the fabric to the wall color is elegant and simple. I brought in just a touch of whimsy with bird finials on the iron rods. Redecorating and refurnishing a room takes time. It is important to have a plan and implement it as your time allows.

Planning a Guest Room

When planning a guest room consider two twin beds. This will give you the flexibility to accommodate two singles or one couple. Two beds can be joined with a twin doubler which wraps around the twin mattresses to create a king bed. When using headboards be sure that they are attached to the bed frame to make it easy to slide the beds together. One example has no headboards and uses wall mounted lamps. The second example has upholstered headboards in a square shape so that they fit nicely next to each other.

Simple Flowers

Simple flowers are wonderful. The mix of wild flowers and a vintage ironstone pot are the epitome of country decorating. My own personal decor incorporates painted furniture, ironstone and crystal. The reason why I love it is because of the casual feel it creates when blending elegant and simple. It makes me feel welcome and relaxed. I think it also makes my guest feel welcome too. Forgot the fancy or expensive flowers and look in your yard for wild flowers. Put them in a pretty short container and you have instant color.

Organization or Containers?


I am a big fan of organization. So when on a recent trip to NJ, I had to make a stop at the Container Store to see all of the possibilities for storage solutions. The vast space is neatly laid out and uncluttered. It is inspiring to a person that pines to be organized. 

However, I became disappointed because what I really saw was high-priced boxes, plastic containers, and wire shelving; no real solutions. While browsing the bins, cubes, containers, hangers, etc. my thoughts went to how much one would spend to get “organized.”

These storage components won’t cure you if you are a clutter bug. It isn’t a quick fix or solution. Being organized isn’t just about having your stuff on shelves or bins. The real work begins by simplifying what you have. Don’t spend money on more stuff to store your stuff. Get rid of the stuff and you won’t have to spend more.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that pretty organizers and bins will solve your storage challenge. Cleaver storage is more than a new clear plastic bin or shoe organizer. It starts with evaluating what your needs are and how to maximize the space you have. Once you do that than you should store what is essential. 

I know I have over-simplified the challenge of getting organized. I urge you to think about bringing more things into your home unless you’ve dealt with the things you already have in your home. If you need help getting organized, contact a professional organizer or interior designer with an expertise in space planning to assist you.

The before and after photo above illustrate the makeover in a small vacation cottage. The laundry and bunk room are combined. To improve the overall functionality of the space we had to eliminate one set of bunk beds. This gave space for much needed storage and folding area. New paint, artwork and lighting are the finishing touches to make the room bright and pleasant.

Break Away from Neutrals

Do you love color? Most people do love color, but they are afraid to break away from neutrals when decorating. I have a current client that is an artist and she is not afraid of color. Together we have developed a colorful palette for her vacation home. We started with Periwinkle and developed the choices from there. As I have shown in my YouTube clip, using fabric as a guide, you can create amazing successful color palettes.

Simple Modifications Freshen A Room

I've lived in my house for twelve years now, and I realized it was time to freshen things up a bit. In January I took some time to paint and make some simple changes. I painted walls, ceilings and furniture, changed drawer knobs, de-cluttered, removed curtains, and hung drapery. I am confident in saying that I am a fast painter, I enjoy it. Here are the quick high lights that you can learn from so you can jazz up rooms in your home quick and easy.