17 Shades of Green

Every March my thoughts turn to green in all its glorious shades: emerald, kelly, lime, mint, olive, sage and everything in between.

Driven by the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day and the approach of spring, green is the perfect color to bring into your home this month. Green is an important color in nearly every culture and religion and generally has positive meanings. In feng shui, green denotes renewal, new beginnings and fresh energy. It’s the color of peace, happiness and prosperity. And since green is most often associated with nature, it is psychologically very calming.

Adding green can be a just a touch: a painted cabinet in the hall, a tray on the coffee table, or a bowl of Granny Smith apples on the counter. Or, go bold and paint a wall (or two!) a deep, saturated shade, or hang green drapes. I created a board on Pinterest in honor of the classic, calming color: “17 Shades of Green” to give you some ideas. Click here to view it and share it on your own boards.

Green plays off of nearly every other color, it’s just a matter of finding a shade that compliments your existing décor. It’s important to experiment. For example, say you want green pillows for the sofa in the family room. You’re in a shop and there are a couple of options, but you’re just not sure which green would be best. I buy one of each, confirm the store’s return/exchange policy, take them home and pick the one that suits the sofa and the room. If you have time to return the options that didn’t work, great! But, most people don’t have time the same day. In that instance, be sure to put the receipt in the bag with the pillows you’re returning and place the bag in the car. Make a note in your day planner to return the pillows when you’re near the store again.


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Time for a New Pillow?

January “white sales” are a marketing strategy employed by retailers since the late 1800s. In 1878, John Wanamaker of Philadelphia, the pioneer of the department store, decreed that January would be the time for a white sale—selling bed linens at a discount. (At the time, bed linens were available only in white, hence the term.)

With many retailers maintaining this 100+ year January tradition, now is the perfect time to take a look at your bed pillows, sheets, mattress protectors and blankets. If anything needs replacing, now might be the perfect time to buy something new.

© karam miri – fotolia.com

Your pillow can either make or break your night’s sleep, as anyone with a sore neck can tell you. How can you tell if you need a new pillow? If it’s a down and/or feather pillow, fold it in half; if it bounces back relatively quickly, it’s in good shape. If not, the down could be broken down to a point where it is no longer functioning to support your head. (Moisture and natural body oils cause down to break down over time.)

Whatever type of pillow you have, if you notice any back or neck pain, or your pillows just aren’t comfortable anymore, it’s time to buy new ones. Also note if your allergies seem to be flaring up. Over time, dust mites feed off of dead skin cells we shed and they can cause allergic reactions. (Which is why I spray my bed and pillows with Lysol every time I change the bed, and wash the pillow protectors often.)

When shopping for a pillow, keep in mind how you sleep—on your back, your stomach or on your side—as this can impact the firmness of the pillow you need. Also keep in mind any allergies to down or feathers as several alternatives are available from synthetics to memory foam and natural buckwheat. And then there’s the budget; generally speaking, you get what you pay for in a pillow. A high quality (and high cost, $150 and up) pillow will last years longer than a $15 variety. Hence, the white sale is a great time to buy!

No matter what type of pillow you buy and how much you spend, pick up some pillow protectors if you don’t already have them. (I like the kind with a hidden zipper.) They do extend the life of the pillow by adding another layer of protection from moisture, perspiration and skin oils.

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Falling for Gray

Color trend alert!!

I’ve been using shades of gray here and there for a couple of years now. The ceiling in my home office, a back hallway and the cozy powder room have all received an update with the hippest neutral: gray.

The other day I was thinking that charcoal and deep orange would be a more sophisticated palette for fall decorating this year, and I was right! Looking through catalogs and stores today, I am seeing that retailers are featuring furnishings and accessories in every shade of gray this season.

While it’s usually associated with a cloudy, gloomy day or a Russian prison uniform, gray can be soothing and quite chic. It all depends on the undertone — there are grays with a warmer feel, so don’t be afraid that it will make your room cold.

An easy way to bring it into your home is in small doses: an accent pillow on the sofa, a throw on a comfy chair, or a picture frame or vase on a side table. It’s less stark than black and plays well with nearly every other color, including all the metallics: silver, gold and copper. If you’re going all in and painting a feature wall, be sure to paint sample swatches of a couple options on the wall before investing your time and money.

You really can’t go wrong with gray!

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Jewelry Solution!

Mount double clothes hooks (available at any hardware store in a variety of finishes for around $3 each) on a wall in the closet, staggering the hooks up the wall. Sort necklaces by color and length. This works great even in the narrowest of spaces!


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Simple Summer Accessories

Shells are the perfect souvenir from your beach vacations over the years: they’re lightweight, beautiful and free! Plus, they make summer décor a snap. So grab your stash of shells (or pick some up inexpensively at a craft store) and display them in one (or more) of these easy, beachy ways.

Silver Bowl with Shells

1. Pile shells, bits of sea glass and pieces of driftwood in a silver serving bowl. The interesting textures of the shells play off the smooth, elegant, gleaming silver.

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2. Display shells in a clear vase or jar. I still have an egg-shaped jar full of shells from my childhood. It’s one of my favorite summer accessories. Start your own display by reusing clean, dry food jars. Spray paint the lid of jar, place an inch or so of decorative sand (about $3 at craft stores for a pound bag) in the jar and pile small shells on top. Or, use a leftover candle jar. Here, I used craft glue to cover the brand name of the candle company and sprinkled on decorative sand, then used hot glue to decorate the top with a few small shells. Inside, place a layer of sand and one distinct shell to showcase it.

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3. Use half of a large bivalve shell, such as a scallop or clam, and fill the shell with decorative sand. Nestle a tealight in the sand. This idea is perfect for small spaces such as a powder room. If the shell is wobbly, use a bit of tacky putty to keep it in place.

4. Wrap the top edge of a clear votive cup with jute twine (about $3 at hardware stores). Apply a small shell on top of the twine with hot glue. Use this idea on a pillar candle as well; wrap twine around the candle to form a 1 inch wide band; tie or glue on a shell.

5. Place a thick layer of decorative sand at the bottom of a clear cylindrical vase. Place a white or ivory pillar in the sand, then place shells or driftwood around the base of the candle.

Whenever using sand in your summer décor, be sure to use decorative sand, not the play sand from the hardware store. Play sand is great for the sandbox outside, but it’s coarser and darker than the fine decorator sand available at craft and home stores.

That’s it! Have fun curating, displaying and sharing your shells this summer!

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4 Tips for Spring Flowers

Yellow Tulips

Welcome Spring! One of the best things about springtime is the abundance of fresh flowers at local markets and grocery stores. Why not treat yourself to some fresh bursts of color (and fragrance, depending on the bloom) the next time you’re out shopping. Here are 4 tips to make the most of any fresh cut flowers.

1. Buy in bulk. Look for spring blooms such as daffodils and tulips sold in bunches without the frills of filler such as baby’s breath or ferns. Many times, these “grower’s bunches” are lower in price since there’s less processing involved. Buy as many as your spending plan allows and, if possible, display the bulk of the flowers together. One of the prettiest, and easiest, Easter centerpieces I ever had was 3 dozen yellow tulips in a glazed Wedgewood reverse Jasperware vase. It was simple, yet breathtaking.

2. Keep it clean. No matter how many stems you’re displaying, the container in which they’re kept must be scrupulously clean to help keep bacteria at bay, which in turns keeps the flowers fresher longer. I keep a small bottle of bleach under the kitchen sink and wash each vase after use, so it’s ready for the next bunch of flowers.  Fill the vase with a hot water and add a couple tablespoons of bleach. Let it sit a few minutes, then wash it with a paper towel (or a washcloth that is bleach-resistant). Use a small bottle brush to get any grunge out of corners or crevices and rinse with hot water. If it’s a clear vase, check for any ring of crusty residue where the water line was; if so, a cloth moistened with white vinegar will clean it right off. Then, dry crystal or clear glass vases with a linen cloth to ensure a lint-free sparkle.

3. Cut them fresh. Fresh flowers must be re-cut when you get them home. This helps the stem take in water, keeping the bloom fresher longer. Cut the stem at an angle with scissors, or, if it’s a woody stem like lilac, smash the end of the stem with a small hammer (on a protected, suitable surface, of course).

4. Spread the love. Because you bought in bulk, there’s plenty of flowers to go around! Add a couple of stems to a bud vase on a night table or bathroom vanity for a pop of color. (You’ll still have plenty to display together for that “wow” factor in #1.) I have a small green vase of on my desk, so every time I bring home a bouquet it gets a new resident for a few days. It makes me happy to see flowers while I work.

Where could you use a little pick-me-up in your home? Add some flowers and see what it does for your mood.

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