The Best In Show: Making a Trophy Collection Pop

Living in a Nutshell Vintage Trophy CollectionRemember that trophy you got in high school for crossing the finish line in record time or for bowling the county league to their first championship?

Living in a Nutshell Vintage Trophy Collection Pop of Color

Painted Trophies

Everyone has a trophy they hate to throw away but don’t know what to do with. I transformed some inexpensive plastic trophies and painted them turquoise for a more kitschy-pop effect. Now they are whimsical pieces of “faux” sculpture that would look great on a bookshelf or dressing a mantel.

Extend a Vintage Collection with Faux Trophies

Try mixing in newly-painted “statuary” with a collection of vintage beauty pageant trophies. It’s an affordable way to extend the size of a more valuable antique collection. My pageant trophies are from the 40s and 50s, and they are actually hard to come by,  so the plastic stand-ins with a pop of color give the sparse collection presence and added personality.


For a “Best in Show” dog trophy collection, think about painting affordable plastic versions in a glossy white. They would look really chic standing as a group in a library or a kid’s room. Look out for trophies of all kinds at flea markets and yard sales. They are everywhere.

Look, There’s More

My love of vintage extends to all the rooms of a petite abode. Click here for more retro decorating projects.

What’s Your Shoe Number? Try This Storage Ottoman

Photo 1 Shoe Ottoman - What's Your Shoe Number? Try This Storage Ottoman

Shoe Honesty

For some women, to fully disclose the number of shoes in your closet, under your bed and hanging on the back of the bedroom door is as unnerving as owning up to the number of people you’ve slept with.

I am honest about my love of shoes and my undying search for storage solutions that perform double-duty while keeping a stylish yet “petite” profile when space is at a premium.

Shoe Ottoman Closed

Shoe Ottoman Closed

Shoe Ottoman

This chic storage ottoman is my inspiration piece by Lilly Pulitzer sold through Neiman Marcus with a hefty price tag of $999. It measures 36” in diameter and holds 16 pairs of shoes. It would take up too much floor space in my apartment not to mention putting a squeeze on the old bank account. I decided on going another route.

464fecc85ee8030998be00b57895e203 foot rest storage area - What's Your Shoe Number? Try This Storage Ottoman

Cheap and Cheerful Shoe Ottoman

I ordered this gray tufted-storage ottoman from Wayfair and with free shipping bought it for $149. It is only 21” in diameter so it can fit in a tight corner near the living room sofa.

Screen Shot 2017 11 13 at 12.07.31 PM - What's Your Shoe Number? Try This Storage Ottoman

The game plan is to line the inside of the ottoman with this hanging canvas shoe organizer that I will cut and stack horizontally. I like the black piping which references the piping on the outside of the ottoman.  I’ll attach the pieces with Velcro so I can easily clean or replace the shoe pockets.

Stay tuned for the big reveal next week!

Look, There’s More

Unique shoe storage is my jam so click here for more chic DIY ideas.

Bordering on Fabulous: Extend the Size of a Small Rug

Photo 1 Sisal Border - Bordering on Fabulous: Extend the Size of a Small Rug

Add a Border to a Smaller Rug

If your area rug falls a little short on style and square inches, give it some design ”heft” by bordering it with inexpensive upholstery webbing. My living room rug wasn’t big enough to make the bold statement I wanted, but now the extended rug border anchors the room and gives the rug a custom-tailored finish.

Photo 2 CU webbing - Bordering on Fabulous: Extend the Size of a Small Rug

Upholstery Webbing as Rug Trim

The sisal webbing comes in two colors, black and red, and creates a stylish contrast to most rug patterns. Ordinary carpet tape keeps the webbing secure until you change your mind—a noncommittal design approach that gives you flexibility.

If you are looking for more color options, try using plastic lawn chair webbing. It comes in an array of colors and striping that can play off of your rug. Here are some vintage webbing options to inspire you.

vintage lawn chair webbing

Look, There’s More

For more clever ways to add a rug border,  click here.

Moving Day: Design To-Go

Photo 1 Living Room - Moving Day: Design To-Go

Veteran Small-Space Nester

When I say that I am a serial small-space nester, I mean it. In the last 20 years I’ve called over a dozen tiny digs home sweet home… and here we go again. I’m getting ready to make a move to another nutshell of a space on the West Coast. This time I’ll have a tiny patio to decorate, which I am excited about but there are no, as in zero, closets! Stay tuned for more creative storage solutions.

Photo 2 Shoe Rack - Moving Day: Design To-Go

Taking Decor on the Road

In the meantime, I am putting my noncommittal décor ideas to the test. I have easily removed my decorative molding shoe racks held in place by Command Brand adhesive strips. Next, time to take down the artist stretcher bars that give my generic closet doors a style boost. They will come off easily, and then I’ll paint everything back to contractor white.

Photo 3 Closets - Moving Day: Design To-Go

I can’t forget about putting the door back onto the bedroom! It’s somewhere stored in the building’s basement. I definitely enjoyed the extra seven-feet a door-less bedroom gave me.

Photo 5 Curtain - Moving Day: Design To-Go

Petite Bedroom Door Removal

Putting the Bedroom Door Back in Place

Saying Good-Bye

Photo 6 Cat - Moving Day: Design To-Go

It will be sad to say good-bye to a space that challenged my decorating muscle and forced me to come up with smart, small- space solutions. These tips and tricks were not only practical but also brought humor and levity to my home.

With a can-do, DIY spirit, this generic little box became a beautiful space full of happiness and inspired an entire book that so many of you responded to. I am grateful!


One of my tips for renters is to ask the superintendent for a pint of the building’s wall paint, both flat and satin finishes. I do this as soon as I move into a new space. Empty plastic takeout containers preserve paint pretty well. This way I can always make repairs along the way as I road test new design schemes.

Ultra Ottoman: Multi-Tasking Shoe Storage

shoe storage ottoman

Ottoman Shoe Storage Unveiled

As promised I wanted to give you the “skinny” on the petite storage ottoman I ordered last week from I was absolutely impressed with its fabric quality and sturdiness of construction, not to mention the $149 price tag (with free 2-day shipping).

DIY Shoe storage ottoman


• Cut sections of a hanging fabric shoe pocket organizer to fit the inside perimeter of the ottoman. At every second pocket, attach with upholstery tacks to the inside of the ottoman.* By leaving two pockets free, you create an extra slot to hold magazines or purses. There’s even enough room in the middle to store a throw.

DIY Shoe and Magazine Storage Ottoman


Here’s what I wished I knew before I started poking holes into the interior. It is actually made of a hard, very dense chipboard and not wood. After a little tugging, the tacks started to become loose. I glued the tacks in place so problem is solved. *If I were to do it again, I would just use adhesive Velcro all around to attach the pocket liner. That way the liner could be removed if I needed to clean it.

Overall, I am very happy with my ultra, triple-duty ottoman. It sure packs a storage punch in just 21” of space.

Decorating with Postage Stamps as Art

Photo 1 Cow copy - Decorating with Postage Stamps as Art

French First Class Stamp Art

During one of my trips to Paris, I popped into the local post office to exchange currency and fell in love with a series of farm animal stamps they were selling. At the time they were .50 euro or about 60 cents per stamp. I ended up framing them as art in my country house.

Photo 2 Chicken - Decorating with Postage Stamps as Art

If you have no time to travel, you can buy first class stamps from all over the world online.

Queen Elizabeth Rainbow Stamps

Display in Multiples

Stamps of Queen Elizabeth stamps comes in a variety of colors. Display them in multiples to make a pop art style statement on your wall. Go to for foreign stamps at great prices.

Rug Stamp

Or you can go to the extreme and invest in a stamp rug made from New Zealand wool. God Save the Queen. Too fun!

Faux Felt Taxidermy: Kid’s Room Decor

Faux Felt Taxidermy Kids Room

Redesigning Guest Room to Child’s Room

There’s no end of fun to be had designing a child’s room. When I got the green light to redesign a guest room into a bedroom for my little niece, I tapped into a world of make-believe. The approach is to be whimsical without being too sweet and sentimental.

Choose a Theme

I chose a theme where woodland creatures would be looking over my niece when she was sleeping. These faux taxidermy animal heads made out of felt reflect just the right amount of humor the space needed. I found them at one of my favorite online boutiques:

Faux Felt Taxidermy Animal Head Kid's Room Decor

To customize these felt creatures, I attached felt butterflies in the same color with tiny straight pins. They can be removed easily as my niece’s taste changes.

Craft Cocktail Party Crawl

DIY Champagne Cork Paper Tassels

Crafts and Champagne Theme

Combining two of my favorite things, crafts and champagne cocktails became the winning theme of the Living in a Nutshell book tour across the country.

Chicago Living in a Nutshell Book Tour

Chicago Living in a Nutshell Book Tour 2012

I am convinced that people love to create something unique with their own hands, even though most people haven’t played with paper, glue, ribbons and scissors since grade school. A glass of bubbly loosens everyone’s inhibitions and was the perfect ice breaker for these in-the-closet crafters.

La Jolla Book Signing Living in a Nutshell

La Jolla Craft and Cocktails Book Signing 2012

DIY Champagne Cork paper Tassels

I developed a craft project that was affordable and easy for people to replicate as a group.  You want people to feel a confidence boost with their DIY creations at the end of the evening. Making paper tassels from a vintage book and a champagne cork was a project that had universal appeal. The idea that you can use corks saved from a wedding, anniversary or graduation made everyone enthusiastic about personalizing their home with them.

Throw Your Own Craft Cocktail Party

• Add on the invitation that it is B.Y.O.S. (Bring Your Own Scissors). Be prepared to have a handful of extra scissors for those last minute drop-ins. The dollar store is the perfect place to get craft scissors. I road-tested them in the store to make sure they would cut through a few layers of paper.

Photo 3 Bartender - Craft Cocktail Party Crawl

• Create a signature cocktail for your event and ask a friend, like my best buddy Joe, to stand in as bartender. Have flat and sparkling water on ice as well. No need to buy beer, wine and vodka. Keep it to one drink choice. Your pocketbook will thank you.

Photo 4 Guests Crafting - Craft Cocktail Party Crawl

• Teach one of your closest friends all of the steps to the craft project so you have an additional helper floating the craft party. In a big group everyone crafts at a different speed and you want everyone to have fun and be successful.

• If space is an issue, think about setting up craft tables without chairs. You can fit more people and standing-room-only crafting keeps the energy up in a room.

•  Raffle off a nice bottle of champagne wrapped in some of the cork paper tassels.

Have fun and remember, drink and craft responsibly.

Pack Rat Chic: Maximalist Decorating

Photo 1 Wide Beth's Apt - Pack Rat Chic: Maximalist Decorating

Pack Rat DNA

How much of our decorating DNA is passed down from family? I’ve mentioned in previous posts how I grew up in a home with pack rat tendencies. My parents were the first on our block to take recycling to extremes. Mom’s collections include vintage furniture and clothing, antique oriental vases and screens, salt and pepper shakers and so much more. There is not enough display space so the collections are starting to look like clutter.

My older brother can’t pass up a curbside electronic toss-away without stopping. Thankfully, he is an award-winning engineer or we would all start to worry.

Photo 2 Family Photo - Pack Rat Chic: Maximalist Decorating

Out of the Closet: Maximalist Decorating

I am not immune to being swept up in the comfort of a pack rat home. But because I’ve lived in one petite nutshell after another, I’ve been forced to edit.  Instead, I have channeled my pack rat DNA in maximalist decorating  ways.  Layering sumptuous colors, mixing in patterns, textures and pillows is as important to me as implementing space-maximizing solutions.

New Wide Bedroom

Add Depth and Coziness

Keeping scale and proportion in mind helps unify the look so your décor looks intentional, not cluttered or cramped. Mixing in high and low-end accessories along with masculine and feminine design touches creates a sense of depth and coziness in a home.

1 grey living room ZZwide - Pack Rat Chic: Maximalist Decorating

Look, There’s More

If you love that layered look in a space, click here and check out this little bedroom lair.


Wallpaper Unplugged

Photo 1 Final Wallpaper copy - Wallpaper Unplugged

The World of Wallpaper

The world of wallpaper is a glorious place to be. The patterns and colors of wallpaper expand the design possibilities of any space. But installation can get pricey. If you live in a rental, it’s hard to justify the cost or get permission from the landlord to permanently install papers to the wall.

Hanging Wallpaper Without Adhesives

Hanging wallpaper freestyle, draped down a wall, from a closet door or along the side of a bookcase, can feign the look of a wallpapered corner. The vivid designs and colors can hang as art on a wall.


Here’s a sneak peek of an easy-as-pie project you’ll find in my book, Living in a Nutshell.

7_faux wallpaper_detail2

• Hang two rolls of Cameo wallpaper from Anthropologie from two large bulldog clips (3″) found at any office supply store. Silver thumbtacks hold the clips in place without leaving a big hole.

Large Bulldog Clip

• Hang two pieces of contrasting French grosgrain ribbon down the front of the wallpaper roll.  One ribbon falls on the left and the other on the right side of the wallpaper front.

• Roll up the bottom of the wallpaper and use paper clips or clothespins to hold paper in place.

• Attach a shorter piece of ribbon to the wall with a small tack or gaffers tape behind the paper. Place ribbon about 12″ above the bottom of the rolled up paper.

• Tie front ribbons to the ribbons on the back of the wall to cradle the rolled up bottom of the paper. Remove paper clips and clothespins.

The wallpaper decorates a plain wall going up the stairs and can be taken with you onto your next house journey. Give it a whirl.

Look, There’s More

Click here for more unique and chic ways wallpaper can make your petite space live larger.