Sunday, November 29, 2009

IS IT A HOME OR IS IT THE MALL?



As an interior designer and decorator one would think that during the holidays my home would be “over the top” with Christmas décor! But you might be surprised to know that mine is not, in fact it’s just the opposite. Why? Because I've realized through the years that if the decorations are over done, it looks and feels contrived. It can also start to feel overwhelming and cluttered. I've decided I still want my home to look and feel like my home, but with a “touch of the season”, not a “touch of department store or shopping mall”.

Here is some sage advice for keeping your home’s décor simple and understated for the Holidays.

• Start with the front entrance, use simple greenery to adorn the door: it’s your Happy Holiday welcome.

• Real pine garlands and sprigs from your garden will go a long way to bring in a touch of the season and small hints of that wonderful aroma.

• Loosely wind some pine garlands around your banister. Pull the pinecones up on top then wind small white lights and ribbon through it.


• Place a rope garland of greenery on your mantel. Let it hang loosely off the ends.

• Evergreen picks are great for sticking in bowls, urns and containers and will transform any centerpiece into a festive one.

• Use lifelike picks to fill in your artificial or real Christmas tree. (Yes, mine is artificial!)

• Mix your pine greens in with other arrangements that you might have for an instantly winter transformation.

• Bring in some oversized pine cones for texture, beauty and drama.

• Buy some holiday ribbon and use generously in and around your decorations.

• Use ribbon to tie napkins, tie up tableware, to hang ornaments on tree, and to hang ornaments from chandelier.

• Try glass and crystal ornaments as they reflect the lights so well.


• Clear glass containers and bowls are great for candles, potpourri, Holiday decorations and just about anything you want to display.

• Little white lights displayed on the mantel will draw your eyes to it and become the focal point.

• If you have one keep logs burning in the fireplace whenever you can, nothing says Holidays like a warm fire.


• Place a tray with a “Hot Coca or Tea Set” on the coffee table. You may already have one in your hutch; why not turn it into a centerpiece!

• Appeal to your other senses, smell and hearing. Play soft instrumental Holiday music and plug in the Glade Holiday room oil. Place a bowl of Holiday Potpourri in simple white bowls, or burn Holiday candles.

• Throw a real red or white wool throw on the sofa or chair. It will beg your attention.

Now curl up in the throw, have some hot cocoa, smell the cinnamon and pine in the air, and listen to the music and be thankful that you are not at this moment in a shopping mall! Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving from your Decorator

Doesn't seem possible that it's that time of year when we all join together to give thanks. But it is and I am one very thankful lady for so many reasons.


We are all gathering at my house this Thursday and I'm cooking up a storm for friends and family. I can't wait to dig out all the old recipes. But if you are hunting around for a new recipe I have one to share with you here below. It's a crowd pleaser for sure! And I threw in a new prayer (who couldn't use a prayer?) that I came across. Written in 1860, it couldn't be more true today!

At this time of Thanksgiving I count among my many blessings your friendship, loyalty and support.

I am so very thankful for the confidence you have shown in me and my work. And I wish you and yours a most bountiful Thanksgiving Day !

Thanksgiving Creamed Corn Italian Style!



I give thanks to my Tennessee mother in-law, Ruth, for the best creamed corn I've ever tasted. But a few years ago I tried this recipe for creamed corn and everyone in our family raved about it. I think it's because it calls for "Romano" cheese and the Italian-Americans out number the southerners at our table! ! So here is my recipe!


1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 (16 oz.) packages frozen corn
1 pint half-and-half cream
1 pint heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
1 cup grated Romano cheese

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter and blend together with the flour.
3. Add the corn, half and half, heaving cream, salt and sugar. Stir and heat until mixture begins to thicken.
4. Stir in cheese and pour into a 2 quart casserole dish. Bake for 20 minutes.

Happy Thanksgiving and Tanti Auguri,

~Toni~

Saturday, November 14, 2009

LIGHTING BEYOND ILLUMINATION

Now that we've said so long to daylight saving time, what can we do to make our homes brighter? Lighting is the easy, affordable answer and it will allow the introduction of dramatic design elements and upgrade your life.

Lighting does more than perform a illumination duty. It also creates atmosphere and expresses personal style. Whether you hang a chandelier, install accent lighting outdoors or simply plug in a beautifully designed table lamp, lighting can make or break a room.




Here are some illuminating tips to help you choose the right lighting:

• Illuminate a room in proportion to the space. Lighting designers figure proper illumination by first multiplying the square footage of the room by 1.5. For example, a 15-by-20 foot room is 300 square feet. Now multiply that number by 1.5. In our example, 300 times 1.5 is 450, so that's the amount of wattage you need to properly light a room, dispersing that 450 watts through lamps, ceiling lights and task lighting. For concentrated task areas such as work spaces, multiply by 2.5.

• For great lighting accents, install wall sconces about 60 inches above the floor and spread them 8 to 10 feet apart in hallways, fireplace walls or flanking a dining hutch.

• Place a 20-inch tall candelabra lamp stick with a dark shade on each side your fireplace mantel, the console behind the couch or in the hallway for an elegant glow to the room. The dark shades will add a sense of masculinity to the space.

• When deciding what size chandelier you need, add the rooms dimensions together, but substitute inches for feet. For example, in a 12-by-16 foot room, you would add the 12 to the 16 to know that a 28-inch diameter chandelier would be ideal. To determine the diameter of a chandelier that hangs over an existing dining table, just divide the table width in half. For example, a table width of 48 inches would accommodate a 24-inch chandelier nicely.

• To hang a chandelier in a dining room with 8-foot tall ceilings, the bottom of the chandelier should fall 30 inches above the tabletop. Add 3-inches for every additional foot of ceiling height.

• If many of your existing light fixtures need replacing, new inexpensive lighting from a local home improvement store will work wonders. They show lighting in grouped collections for just this purpose.

• And my very favorite: Buy small silk shades in alternating colors that work with the color scheme of the room. Use these to replace the old grungy glass light covers most often found on your dated 1970s brass chandelier. They just snap right on the small bulb. You can also paint the shiny yellow brass finish in a gold, silver, bronze or black metal paint, for that wrought-iron look and a wonderful way to update and change the whole ambience of a room.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

THREE ONE HOUR CENTERPIECES!


For you DIY'ers here's a fast, beautiful, and inexpensive centerpiece to make yourself in one hour max!

At your local craft store, buy 7 branches of Bittersweet, 3 branches of Persimmon, 2 woody twig type branches for height, and a small piece of Styrofoam. Use any solid colored (non glass) vase you may already have or purchase a new inexpensive one at the craft store.

Randomly cut each of the branches a different length (as in nature) but leave the 2 woody twig ones nice and long. Beginning with the longest ones first and working down to the shortest, arrange them carefully in the vase that has the piece of Styrofoam in the bottom. No need to glue them into the Styrofoam, it will hold them gently as they lean against the vase. The idea here is to have the centerpiece look as though you just went out and cut these beautiful branches in the woods, brought them indoors and stood them in a vase. Which is exactly what you are doing, you're just going to the craft store instead of the woods for the branches!

Voila`! I made mine in less than an hour and its costs was minimal. My inspiration was one I had seen at Pottery Barn for about $335.00. Ouch, that was inspirational! This one is just as pretty and fits my pocket book! Now go make yours, you've got exactly one hour!



FALL CANDLE RINGS

Freshen up your old candlesticks! Purchase or make small grapevine rings to use as a base, or bend a piece of coat hanger into a circle. Next, wire on small stems of berries, leaves, and flowers using thin wire wound tightly around the base. Use fresh flowers for a one-use decoration. Or find pretty silk blooms for a longer-lasting design. Perfect for the food presentation at the buffet table!






PRODUCE CENTERPIECE

What better way to celebrate the Thanksgiving harvest feast than by creating a centerpiece using gorgeous green vegetables. To make the asparagus and green bean wrapped candles, stretch two sturdy rubber bands around a white pillar candle, then insert vegetable stalks underneath the band. Cover the bands with a circle of satin ribbon and arrange on one of your platters with a few white mums and coffee berry sprigs. To make the artichoke candle base, just gut the inside of an artichoke and insert a smaller pillar candle! This delicious centerpiece works well at the table as it is low and streamlined. For large gatherings use two to three of them on the same table!