Channeling Matisse: DIY Wall Decals

Matisse at the MoMa

Photo Credit: Matisse Exhibit at the MoMa

Matisse and I go way back. As a young girl, I felt his art was approachable, lively and colorful. Fast forward to my small-space design life, and I continue to channel Matisse in everything from  wall coverings to DIY-printed curtains. 

Matisse Inspired Wall Decals

The taupe walls in my compact master bedroom needed an upgrade, so I decided to make removable wall decals inspired by Matisse’s paper cut-out collages.

Matisse Inspired Wall Decals for Small Bedroom

White and taupe are one of my favorite color pairings so the cutouts are made from white-adhesive decal vinyl. The vinyl comes in a matte and a glossy finish. For this project, I chose a matte finish to feign the look of painted shapes on the wall.

White Vinyl Decal Paper

Silhouette Adhesive Vinyl

How To:

I drew six different shapes measuring about 7-1/2 inches tall and 6 inches wide. Print and cut each shape from card stock.  Place onto the white vinyl sheet and use a pencil to trace around each stencil-template. The adhesive vinyl was a little pricey so keep your pattern layout pretty tight to maximize every inch.

Matisse Cut-Out Template

Here are some Matisse-inspired stencils you can print:

Matisse-Inspired Stencil


Matisse-Inspired Wall Stencil


DIY Matisse Cut-Out Wall Stencil

Nutshell Tip: If a small corner of your decal peels away from the wall, use a dab of double-stick tape underneath the vinyl for extra support (the roller kind works great).


DIY Quickie: Burlap Lampshade

Burlap Lampshade DIY

Fresh off of a Decorate This, Not That book tourI was itching to make some design tweaks to my petite, master bedroom even though it had been styled for the book.  Some may call it a compulsion to add, edit and redo a finished space, but for me design is a vital form of therapy. You get into a meditative state working with your hands, and it calms the mind. With every tweak, cost is always a consideration, and whether or not I can incorporate materials already on hand.  Luckily, there is a surplus of burlap on my fabric shelf.  Be sure and check out more burlap DIY projects here.

Small DIY Burlap Lampshade

In the book, Decorate This, Not That, lampshades in the bedroom were originally covered with pretty, yellow gift wrapping paper.  But, I recently bought sisal-burlap trim for a bargain at a local Tuesday Morning store and decided to redo the shades in burlap to match. Tuesday Morning has become a surprisingly good source for trim, tassels and better craft supplies.

Burlap Trim from Tuesday Morning

Burlap Lampshade DIY Materials

How To:

Lay the burlap out on a flat surface. Roll the lampshade over the fabric and with a pencil, mark along the top and bottom of the shade until you make a full rotation around. Cut out burlap leaving a little extra salvage at the top and bottom. You will trim the excess later.

Cover the front of the lampshade with a light layer of spray adhesive. Next, drape the burlap over the adhesive, smoothing out wrinkles as you go. The adhesive is pretty forgiving. You will have time to reposition the fabric if need be. Once the fabric covers the entire front of shade, fold under the raw edge of the side seam and use a dap of fabric glue to keep it secure.

Burlap Trim Lampshade

Trim all of the raw edges of the fabric along the top and bottom of the shade. Glue the burlap fringe to the bottom of the shade (about  1/2″ above the bottom edge) and finish off the top with a narrow burlap ribbon. The trim will hide any of the uneven raw edges of the burlap and will keep it from fraying.

Final Top Trim Small File - DIY Quickie: Burlap Lampshade

Nutshell Tip: Use wooden clothespins to hold trim in place while the glue dries.

Hot Off the Book Press: Decorate This, Not That!


Decorate This, Not That! Book Cover

Decorate This, Not That! Coming January 2018

Over one year in the making, thanks to my dream editor-publisher, Marta Hallett, Glitterati Inc. and G Arts, I happily announce the arrival of my second small-space design book, Decorate This, Not ThatIt will be available wherever books are sold in January, 2018.

Small-Space Tips For Every Room

I transformed a rundown two-bedroom, petite beach house (all 614-sq.feet of it) from shack to cozy cottage, room by room to garden. Since this house will not be a forever home, I set up stringent design goals for this renovation:

•Keep decor accessible and easily done with my own two hands, paint brush, power drill with only an occasional call for help to my contractor friend, Joe.

•Keep decor portable and flexible, without permanently hurting walls, windows or floors so that it can travel with me.

•Experiment with surprising materials, storage ideas, unique colors and patterns to maximize every inch of a home.

•Throughout the making of this book, I fully embraced by maximalist ways. You will discover my love of color and the mixture of patterns, vintage with modern, high-end and low.

Petite Cottage Sneak Peek

Here is a preview of a some of my favorite book moments. Photographs for the book were shot by the talented, Gail Owens. Take a look:

Decorate This, Not That! Green Living Room

Blue Bedroom Nightstand

DIY Pink Valet Chair

Brooklyn Bridge Memories: Add Personal Touches in a Petite Home

Brooklyn Bridge Elephant Poster 1883

Decorate a Petite Home With Personal Touches

One of the top, small-space design tips that I stand by time after time is to layer a petite home with personal mementos that extend beyond family photos. Maximizing a space-deprived home is not only about square inches but how to make those inches matter.

I was trying to organize a gallery wall in the guest room, but I was having trouble gathering the right mix of images and art. I began to ask myself what moments and places make me smile, and the many walks across the Brooklyn Bridge to and from my old apartment in Cobble Hill came to mind.

Bring in a Bit of History

Rather than framing art photos of the bridge, I liked this print that celebrates the year 1883; 14 years after the Brooklyn Bridge was completed when P.T. Barnum (Mr. Circus himself) proved to the world that this architectural wonder was safe enough to allow 21 elephants and seven camels to walk across it with great fanfare.

Brooklyn Bridge 1883 Poster Close Up


Look out for a built-in, wide mat border, which gives this image a sense of importance. Here is a delightful children’s book called Twenty-One Elephants, which tells the story of the exciting elephant bridge walk. You could even frame a copy of the book cover for your wall.

Twenty-One Elephants Book Cover

Smile! Time to Take a Bed Shelfie


I always like to support any independent design entrepreneur who is trying to help us small-space dwellers live smarter and happier in our tiny digs.

David Eng photo

I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Eng, the inventor of the Bed Shelfie, a sturdy, chic, affordable and portable mini-nightstand that easily clips onto a bed frame. It’s compact and made from sustainable materials like bamboo. I only wish I had thought of it first!


Here is a bit of the interview with Chris that may inspire you to live better with less:

  1. What art or creative background do you have? Are you full time Bed Shelfie, or did you keep your day job?

I went to the University of Southern California to pursue entrepreneurship – you could say the intersection of design and business to meet the world’s needs. Most of my technical creative experience comes from Master Planning Disney Theme Park which took on a heavy Guest Experience focus to inform immersive, transformative experiences.

Working at Disney Imagineering was a childhood dream (literally) and the more I better understood Walt’s underlying message behind the parks, the more I realized he wanted us to understand we all (already) have the courage to pursue our deepest dreams and aspirations – mine being entrepreneurship. That said, I left Disney after seven years to take on projects like the BedShelfie, full time.

  1. What life event/needs inspired you to create the Bed Shelfie?

The BedShelfie was inspired by the magic of living with less. Some combination of constantly moving around for work and reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” inspired me to free myself of his clunky furniture starting with where I started and finished my day – the bedroom.

From working at Disney, I knew the best design accomplished multiple goals. To replace the nightstand the solution had to be equal parts beautiful, sturdy, easy to use and eco-friendly.

My first ‘aha’ moment came when studying the incredible strength and versatility of the time-tested clamp mechanism. The design question, at hand, became finding a way to translate the strength of something that was traditionally metal, into something both beautiful and eco-friendly.

  1. How difficult is it to go from concept, to engineering and construction of prototypes to marketing it?

I think the biggest thing I’ve noticed that’s missing from the innovation process, is what is typically thought of as the “last step” – marketing.

In taking concept to reality, I’ve had many personal breakthroughs around the importance of integrating marketing throughout the ideation and design process. Discovering who you’re serving and then engaging that audience to turn your hypotheses about their needs into facts about their needs, strengthened and informed every step of the development process from design specs, to material choices, to packaging, to brainstorming future improvement.

  1. How many prototypes did you go through before you knew this was it?

We iterated through 4 prototypes until we locked into something that achieved both the initial design objectives of aesthetics, load bearing requirements, overall weight and cost feasibility from a manufacturing standpoint to ensure the product was ultimately affordable.


  1. Who do you see as your target consumer?

The target consumer is someone who wants a minimalist approach to furniture to free up space in a smaller home. Think, a millennial who is design savvy but doesn’t want to invest in clunky furniture that would weigh them down from moving because they don’t expect to stay in one spot of the world too long.

  1. Was it important that you keep the materials sustainable and the product affordable?

Building a sustainable future is our highest priority and I’m in love with how much bamboo forwards that conversation. If there was a super food of building material, bamboo would be it. The strength, character and renewable characteristics of bamboo is what enabled this idea to move forward.

Product affordability was also absolutely part of the conversation the entire time, given this is a nightstand replacement.

  1. What is the Bed Shelfie manifesto? What are the core beliefs behind the product?

The BedShelfie manifesto is simple, to forward the magic of minimalism (the counterintuitive notion that less is more) while creating a future with a sustainable approach we can be proud of now.

Given population growth is something we can expect to reduce the size of our homes globally, the BedShelfie and the products I want to create help us rise up to that challenge.

Check out Chris’ Kickstarter video and find out how to put your name on the pre-order list.

File This Under “O” for Organized

Final Closeup Chalkboard ToolsSpring has sprung, and it’s time to get the petite guest room organized. For most small-space dwellers, a spare room adopts multiple personalities by necessity. This room needs to be a cozy retreat for out-of-town guests, while it stores an extensive fabric and paper collection. Throw an array of tools and art supplies into the mix, and the bedroom starts to look like a storage locker.

Embrace Open Storage Solutions

Final Chalkboard File Cabinet Tools

Closet and under bed storage is already filled to capacity so some  tools, like large levels and even a handsaw, have to be displayed out in the open.  Keeping tools hanging on the sides a metal file cabinet was a quick and handy solution; now the challenge was how to make this look good.

Julia Pots

Chalkboard Paint Keeps Tools Organized

Taking a style cue from Julia Child and her genius peg board pot and kitchen organizer, I painted the sides of my file cabinet with chalkboard paint. Chalkboard paint and I go back a long way, starting at the front door of my New York City apartment. It is not a novel design idea, but it never fails to become a focal point. Instead of going with utilitarian black,  I kept things light with Martha Stewart’s chalkboard paint in graytaupe. Try creating a stylish border with scallop painter’s tape. Finally, my hanging tools are displayed more like a collection than clutter.

Final Chalkboard Paint Demo Final


Organize craft tool drawers for less with Dollar Tree glass canisters. White chalkboard pens keep canisters labeled so nails, upholstery tacks and staples stay corralled and easy to find.

Metal File Drawers

Open Book-Decorate This, Not That! Coming in 2018

Book Promo Table

Decorate This, Not That! Coming in 2018

Hold the phone! This just in.  After a year of road testing chic and smart small-space design ideas on my petite beach shack turned cottage, I am thrilled to share personal tips and style breakthroughs that will help you live LARGE in your tiny dwelling in a new upcoming book, Decorate This, Not That!

Book Promo Bed Final

The book will be published in early 2018 by Glitterati Incorporated,  and I am still in the process of writing the last chapters gearing up for a very fun photo session in the next month or so.

Updates and Behind-the-Scenes Sneak Peeks

I’ll be posting lots of behind-the-scenes photos on Instagram and Facebook so please follow me there for the latest. Special thanks to my friends and fans who have been with me every step of the way.




Raffia Pillow Revival

Raffia Pillow CU 2

Pillow Love

My very first décor love has always been with pillows. From DIY ink-jet pillows you print onto silk to felt appliqué pillows with a cheeky attitude, you’ll find one that suits your decor or mood.  Pillows are one of the first things I learned how to sew, and they are the finishing touches I rely on to pull the entire look of a room together. And in a small boxy space, pillows impart a sense of depth and softness to a compact boudoir.

Raffia Revival

I was struggling with a blue and white theme for my master bedroom. I had collected pillowcases, shams, sheets, a quilt and duvet cover from various off-price sources, but one feature pillow was missing from the mix to anchor the entire ragtag collection. Recently, West Elm featured a raffia embroidered pillow in their catalog that caught my eye. Raffia makes me nostalgic for my mother’s raffia-adorned handbag that I thought was oh, so chic growing up. The West Elm pillow was the wrong shape and definitely  the wrong price point, but I have my DIY ways…


West Elm

Raffia Flowers 101

Use your 40% off coupon from Michaels and buy a plastic loom kit, which will help you make perfect raffia flowers in several sizes. Raffia comes in basic colors, and I chose black.


The loom comes with an easy how-to sheet, but this flower loom tutorial video was very helpful. For the overall design, I drew a floral and vine pattern freehand on a piece of paper and used a light box to trace the pattern onto the linen. If you don’t have a light box, no worries. Go old school and tape the pattern onto a sunlit window and tape the fabric over the paper and trace.

Cropped Close Up Raffia Pillow

Experiment and try layering a smaller raffia flower on top of a larger one. Glue to attach flowers together. Next, with an embroidery needle, handstitch the outline of the flowers. Glue or sew the woven raffia flowers to the front of the linen and voilà. You have a custom pillow no one else has. Onward to more small space decorating. More ideas coming your way!


Bargain Pillow Throwdown: DIY Designer Looks For Less

Cat on Blue Comforter Bed

Designer pillows can transform a pocket-sized space but if your budget is as slim as your little nest, here’s how to get that designer look for less. It only takes a little DIY to make a custom pillow unique to your space.

DIY Block Print

John Robshaw Blue Block Print Pillow

John Robshaw Block Print Pillow

Block print pillows by John Robshaw are front and center on my design inspiration board but one tossed pillow runs between $115-175. I discovered that kitchen towels, napkins and placemats are perfectly sized to cover standard pillow forms without much sewing involved. These blue and white, block-printed cotton napkins measure 20×20″ and fit a 20″ pillow form I already had. Just sew 3 sides and attach ribbons to tie the open seam closed. The napkins are from and come as a set of 4 for $30.

Blue Napkin

Kitchen Towel Pillows

Coral block print kitchen towels from are sold as a set of 2 for $8.98 and were just the color I needed in the living room. The towel measures 20×26″ and fits a 14×20″ pillow insert using an envelope style cover.

World Market Pillows

Carefully remove the pom-pom trim and save for another project. Fold the 26″ side of the towel in half and press the seam. Drape the towel over the pillow form and place the fold so it is at the center of the form.

Coral Pillow Pinned

Next, continue to pull the fabric towards the back so the two ends overlap. Pin the 2 sides closed, leaving the center flap open. Attach ribbons to tie the pillow case closed.  Once you tackle this project, why not try felt appliqué pillows for the bedroom? Take a peek. Enjoy!

Coral Pillow Sky Shot

Shiny New Painting: Original Art

Brittney Jette Original Portrait Painting

Original Art on a Budget

I am just putting the finishing touches on my master bedroom and the remaining decor budget is devoted towards acquiring original art; nothing more than $50 per piece is the goal.  Not an easy feat.

I wanted a small painting to hang to the left of a large mirror that takes up most of the wall. The artists on never fail to offer soulful paintings that fit a slim decor budget.

Close Up Painting Nr Mirror

Portraits Set the Mood

Artist Britney Jette’s portrait work caught my eye and now one of her paintings helps establish a happy, relaxed mood in the space. I love supporting these talented, independent artists and would much rather give them my hard-earned decorating dollars than to a big box store. Thank you, Britney!

Go Big in a Small Space

For larger original work on a shoestring, look for paintings or drawings on artist paper instead of canvas. But finding a frame to match is often more expensive than the painting itself. Check out this cool DIY gallery frame, which was a design game changer.

Stay tuned…many more small space decorating ideas to come.