Easy Advent Calendar Tree

At the end of this post, please share your family advent traditions with us. 
While browsing around Etsy the other day, I came across an adorable set of numbered muslin bags at Grandmas Chalkboard. They were so cute that they inspired me to have a family countdown to Christmas with the kids this year. I ordered the numbered bags, picked up a small inexpensive faux tree and a box of red Christmas balls to create an advent calendar tree...

To make the inexpensive faux tree look a little more important, I placed it in a special bucket style tree base (Ballard Designs). Felt tipped feet make it easy to slide the tree around until I find the perfect spot for it to stay.

At first I was stumped as to what I should put in the bags. My whole goal was to make this a family event each night, something the five of us would do together. For an element of surprise, I stuck candies in a few of the bags. For the rest, I used black gift tags and a white paint marker to make little tags that state a bible verse for us to reflect on or a Christmas carol for us to sing. 

The muslin bags came with the cutest, tiniest, black clothes pin which made it easy to clip the bags on the tree. Plain white lights and red balls make this tree a festive holiday decor accent. The bold, black numbers provide graphic interest which is very hot in Christmas decor right now. 

Our advent tree looks really cute in the family room, but the dining room would make it convenient to do our activity every night after dinner. It also gives the room much needed Christmas bling. I may move it around a few times this season. 

While I was on Etsy, I came across some really cute advent calendars. Here are a few of my favorites:
Now it's your turn…
What is your family advent tradition? Do you have an advent calendar, and if so how do you use it, or what do you put in it? Please tell us in the comments. 
For information on my affordable online design service, please click here.

It's All About That {Greenery} Base

When it comes to setting a gorgeous Christmas scene inside the home, it all starts with the greenery. Through many years of experience as a professional Holiday Decorator, I've learned that the better the greenery, the better everything else looks. This year I scored a beautiful pre-lit Christmas tree, garland and wreath from Balsam Hill which took my greenery base to a whole new level.

Here is a look at my adorable assistant, Kristen working her tree-fluffing magic on my new tree...

For years I've read other blogger reviews about the quality of Balsam Hill greenery so I was prepared to be very happy. However, I have to admit I was still pleasantly surprised when I opened the box at how realistic it looks. I chose the Fifth Avenue Flatback Pre-Lit Tree and the Castle Peak Pine wreath/garland set. In addition to it's good looks, the tree was so easy to set up. It took less than five minutes. All three pieces (the tree, garland and wreath) required just a light amount of fluffing. 

 The wreath and garland look great on the mantle, but I haven't decided if I am going to keep them here. I've moved them around the house and love how the greenery and warm white lights brighten up different rooms. Decisions, decisions.

I know exactly where the tree is going. I've already decorated it, but you'll have to wait a few weeks to see it in the Holiday Houswalk Home Tour.  Well okay, here is a little sneak peek…

Truth be told, in the past I've been known to be a "real-greenery-snob" but, with the nature of my work my Christmas decor goes up insanely early.  Faux greenery has become a safer option. High quality, faux evergreens like this are the answer to my blogger prayers.  Now I have the look of real, fresh evergreens along with peace of mind knowing I can safely display them for months.

Now, I'd better get busy decorating my new greenery. I've got a lot to do before the Holiday Housewalk Christmas Home Tour which will take place just after Thanksgiving. Here is a look at my 2014 Christmas decor inspiration board. These are some of the items I'm using to create a "contemporary cabin" theme. For the story behind this theme, visit this post.

How To Make a Striking Table Runner With Ribbon

Today, I'm sharing one of my top secret table styling tips. This is one of my favorites because it's quick, simple, inexpensive, and looks amazing. All you need to make your holiday table look extra special this year is a couple spools of ribbon (just the cheap stuff, no wire edges required) and a roll of duct tape to create a bold, eye-catching Ribbon Table Runner.  

The best thing about this project is that it is extremely versatile. You can use any color or patterned ribbon that complements your dinnerware. In this example, I used plain, red velvet ribbon from the clearance aisle.

To create the ribbon runner, start by placing a strip of ribbon down the middle of the table with a few inches of extra length on each end. Secure the ribbon with small pieces of duct tape placed under the table top. Repeat this process until you have a total of five, evenly spaced strips in place. 

Once the strips are all in place, tuck the loose ends up under the apron and secure with tape. 

A beautiful, eye-catching Ribbon Table Runner. 

Later on this week, I'll be sharing another simple, but fantastic holiday decor project using simple wire edged ribbon. Thanks for stopping by. 

For information on my affordable online design service, please click here.

Warming Up A Cool Color Palette With Rich Wood Tones

Today's featured online design plan was created for our client, Jana. Our goal in this project was to design a serene, relaxing and comfortable living room for her young family. After viewing photos of Jana's home and getting to know her through our online consultation, we delivered a design plan that included a complete product source list, and step by step instructions on how to implement the new design.  

Here is a look at her design board featuring some of the products we recommended:
(All product sources are listed at the bottom of this post)

Below is the true to scale floor plan illustration we prepared for Jana. This birds-eye view allows her to see where each piece we selected should be placed: 

A palette of grays and blues provide a spa like feel which lends a feeling of relaxation. To keep the space from feeling stark or cold, we warmed up the design with rich, medium wood tones.

For example, this beautiful, warm wood toned end table from Ballard Designs not only looks great but is uber functional due to the extra storage it provides. A clean-lined,  gray slip covered sofa looks neat and  tailored while being a great choice for a young family. The removable, washable slip cover allows for frequent cleaning. These two pieces together are the perfect combination of cool gray and warm wood.

We chose this gorgeous, dark blue upholstered chair not only for the fantastic color, but also for it's nice shape.  We selected a basket style end table from Home Decorators to place next to the new chair. This piece is perfect for storing throw blankets or toys. The finish is nice and rich an complements the other wood tones in the room.

How fun are these metal orbs? They are great for accessorizing her mantle or the new bookcase we placed in this space.

This bar cabinet from Wayfair placed adjacent to Jana's piano, filled with beverage supplies is perfect for entertaining. When the family is not entertaining, it looks beautiful with the doors neatly closed. 

This large rug adds warmth to the design and anchors the seating area.  It features an amazing, soft color palette and an eye-catching yet subtle pattern.

A pair of lamps provide soft tranquil lighting to the room.  What I really love about this particular lamp is the large size, fun shape and the combination of a clear glass base with contrasting dark shade. Custom toss pillows from Etsy bring in the beautiful blue accent color and add instant personality to the sofa's.

We suggested painting this space a neutral color like Revere Pewter from Benjamin Moore. This color looks great with grays and also works with warmer colors.  It's all around versatile, go-to, never-fail neutral. 

A large, abstract art piece like this from Amazon was recommended for the space above the new bar cabinet. The blue/gray color palette of this canvas painting is stunning, not to mention the movement and texture a piece like this lends to the space is amazing. 

In addition to the items shown in this post, there were more recommendations and specific product selections provided in Jana's design plan. Drapery, additional furniture and accessories were included to deliver a complete, professional, ready to implement design plan. 

If you are interested in getting started on a design plan for your home, please click here for more information. I'm now open for new projects! Thanks for stopping by.

Product Sources:

Giveaway~The Last Step In A Worry-Free Makeover

At the end of this post, please leave a comment for a chance to win $100 Visa gift card!
Welcome to the last post in my series titled, "Four Steps To a Worry-Free Kitchen Makeover."  As a design professional, I know firsthand that for many homeowners the thought of a kitchen renovation is accompanied by anxiety over all the decisions that need to be made.  I'm teaming up with Sub-Zero and Wolf to share my tips for each stage of a kitchen renovation to help put your worries to rest. 
Here is a look back at the other three posts in this series:
Step One: Define Your Goals. 
Today's post will address the last step: Living in Your New Kitchen and Making It Yours.
Hiring a design professional right from the beginning stages of your project will automatically reduce anxiety associated with a kitchen remodel.  In the end, they've helped you make all the big decisions and together you have created a kitchen that will stand the test of design time.  When the time comes for the contractors to pack up their tools go home, it would seem like the time to consider your project complete. At this point the main design elements are in place and your beautiful new space is by professional standards considered "installed".  However, be prepared that it may not feel like it's really yours until you begin the very last step of the makeover process.  Breaking in your new kitchen.  Entertaining family and friends, cooking and living in your new kitchen will create memories that bond you to the shiny new space.  Here are three ways to get started...
Add Personal Touches
One of my favorite ways to bring an instant dose of familiarity to a brand new space is to incorporate family heirlooms or treasured items.  Some of the first things I introduced to my new kitchen after the makeover were my favorite cookbooks, our Grandmothers dishes and a treasured family photo.  Not only do we use these things daily, but they double as decorative accessories that give the brand new space a personal touch. There are so many fun and attractive ways to display items such as these.  Browsing through kitchen photo galleries or sites like Houzz.com, you can get a lot of ideas for staging personal items.  For example, I typed in "cookbooks" in the Houzz search bar and found some great inspiration.  I love the way they have the cookbooks styled in this image...
Here is a great example of vintage dishes displayed in fresh, updated, modern day kitchen…

This is fun use of photography in a kitchen…
Cook Your Favorite Meal

  During every stage of my own kitchen makeover, I envisioned myself cooking for my family.  Each design decision was made with this vision in my mind.  As soon as the contractors left, I began cooking one of our favorite meals right away.  My brand new kitchen and I instantly bonded. Putting your new appliances to use has to be one of the most exciting points in a kitchen makeover.  If your new kitchen features Sub Zero and Wolf appliances the Sub-Zero and Wolf website offers exclusive tips to help you master their products and create delicious meals. In addition, industry professionals share their passion for the perfect food and the experts at Sub-Zero and Wolf have created a library of recipes tailored to their appliances.

Host a Family Party
  Another way to instantly bond with your new space is to host a family get together as soon as the space is complete.  Shortly after my kitchen renovation, I hosted a big family gathering.  Of course I enjoyed showing off my new kitchen, but having my family share a meal together christened the space. The time we spent preparing our food, eating and cleaning up afterwards marked the end of my kitchen makeover project and the beginning of many new memories to be made in my new space.  Seeing the new kitchen you love packed with people you love is the best part of a kitchen makeover.
Join in the conversation and follow Sub-Zero and Wolf on Facebook. For more information on their appliances, visit Sub-Zero or Wolf online, or view their Kitchen Design Planner kit here.
To enter for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card, leave a comment below letting me know how you would upgrade your kitchen!

Sweepstakes Rules:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 11/6/14 – 12/4/14.

Be sure to visit the Sub-Zero and Wolf brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

Liz's Fresh Style Family Room

Just in case you missed the announcement the other day, I'm now available for new online design projects. After being completely booked for two months, we now have openings for my online design service. I am excited to share some of the projects we have been working on behind the scenes. Today's featured online design plan is a recent custom design we created for Liz's family room.  Our goal for this project was to create a space that is stylish yet comfortable and inviting to her young, active family. This amazing color palette was drawn from beautiful art work chosen by our client.  
(All product sources are available at the bottom of this post)

Here is a look at the true to scale floor plan illustration we prepared that shows Liz where to place the items we included in her design plan…

We chose this comfortable sofa in beige from Pottery Barn for it's functionality.

This rug from Home Decorator's is a great choice for its monochromatic color and interest it brings to the room.

By adding accent pillows with soft patterns, it will add color to the otherwise neutral sofa and chair.

The chair will be placed near the fireplace to create a cozy atmosphere for chilly nights.

This dark Havana seagrass cocktail table is a great option for those with little ones. In addition to this piece being family friendly, the round shape works well with the sectional sofa where space for a coffee table is limited.

These accent pillows in deep coral not only add fun details and warmth, they perfectly compliment the art work chosen for the room.

I just love this large orbital chandelier from Home Decorators. It adds a contemporary touch to an otherwise traditional space.

This media console from Pottery Barn is an unique piece that is going to serve as the focal point to the room. The weathered canvas and metal trim adds just the right amount of detail to this piece.

This is just a sampling of the design recommendations we made for Liz's family room. As with all our online design projects, her plan included a complete product source list and step by step instructions on how to implement the new design.

If you would like to get started on a design plan for a room in your home, please click here for more information. Gift certificates for my online design service are now available for your gift giving needs this holiday season. Thanks for stopping by. 

Product sources:

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