Increase Food Prep Space
Every inch counts especially when you’ve invited family and friends to dine in your petite abode. Before you start sweating like a contender on the Next Iron Chef, double your usable prep area right over the stovetop for about $3! It’s a smart way to give your old cutting board new “legs”.
Adding More Feet in Your Kitchen
Attach four wooden craft candle cups (1-5/8” tall) with a 2″-long wood screw to the bottom of a large cutting board. You can find them at your favorite craft store. They come with a pre-drilled hole to make installation super easy. Use the head of a sharp nail to tap a pilot hole into the board for the screw and then with a few turns of a screwdriver the feet are secured. You can opt to use glue to attach the wooden feet, but I like to keep small-space accessories flexible and removable if my needs change.
The feet will raise the board high enough to stand securely over most stovetop burners. Use the new super-sized counter space as a tidy serving buffet station or as a bonus food prep zone. When the dinner party is a wrap, the board is still compact enough to disappear under the sink until the next gig. Cheers!
To protect from scratching your stove top, use cork furniture pads under the new cutting board feet.
Thrift Store Party Inspiration
I was totally inspired by my last trip to a local thrift shop. There was a collection of abandoned lamp shade frames that had seen better days but were structurally perfect. Talk about a bargain! There was a 50% off sale day and each shade cost me $2.25! I immediately knew they would be the focal point of my upcoming party in a nutshell. By hanging over the bar cart, they elegantly establish a bubbly champagne nook.
Keep it budget friendly. Use gold spray paint and gold sticker seals from the office supply store for extra shimmer. The gold stickers add instant drama to the frames without having to use pesky glue or tape. The look can also easily swapped out for the next party.
Instant Votive Holders
Two of the lamp shades came with what is called a “slip uno fitter,” the internal ring that sits underneath the bulb and holds the shade in place on the lamp. As it turns out the ring cradles a votive candleholder securely. Brilliant!
My color scheme for the cocktail bash is pale pink and gold, and this paper banner has the perfect vintage pink hue and letter font I was searching for. I found it at a favorite spot, Paper Source.
Because every storage inch counts, I made sure these three lamp shades stack compactly on top of each other before I brought them into my space.
Have fun and give a lamp shade frame chandelier a whirl at your next fabulous fête!!
Faux Croc Adds Instant Chic
A little mock “croc” goes a long way to enhance your petite home décor, especially when it comes in the form of very affordable embossed paper. Layering in textures adds a sense of depth and interest to a plain, boxy space. Expect to spend about $4.00 for one 18×27” sheet that comes in a variety of colors. My favorites are the orange and glossy white. Find them at papermojo.com.
The embossed “croc” papers add a touch of glamour lining the tops of ho-hum trays and tabletops. A little double-sided tape under the paper will keep it from shifting and removable. The moc-croc paper also looks sleek as book covers for those resource books that have to be accessible and out on a desk.
Look, There’s More
Old, tired lamp shades look fresh and modern wrapped in glossy white mock croc paper sheets. Plain Jane bookcases look designer with backs lined with white croc. And, dress up an ugly wastebasket in fabulous faux croc. No need to hide it under a desk. Enjoy!
White is Not Always Right
Most people ask me how to introduce color into their small space. When you live in a limited floorpan, the popular belief is that white is the most expansive color to use. I beg to differ.
White Hallway Before
This formerly all-white, 400-square foot studio in NYC needed a foyer that commanded attention to prevent what I call shoebox syndrome. Character and depth trumps white and boxy any day of the week.
Faux Chair Railing and Molding
Add splashes of a bold color by painting only parts of the wall. My design approach is to tape off and paint a 36-tall border, a little less than midpoint up the wall. I think of it as my “faux” chair rail molding and in this tiny hallway, it provides just the right amount of verdant green without overpowering the tiny niche.
Don’t forget doorways. I carried the painted border over the kitchen entryway and onto the top and bottom of the front door, giving the foyer a grander opening.
A Timeless Storage Solution
Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best, and tired-and-true pegboards really earn their keep in a cramped kitchen. I now understand why Julia Child’s pots and pans pegboard is preserved at the Smithsonian. It’s a timeless storage solution that I have adopted in the kitchen and as a tool organizer in the guest-craft room.
In my friend’s tiny NYC kitchen, there was an old, faded pegboard left behind by a previous tenant. It was so handy that I did’t want to throw it away. All it needed was a fresh coat of paint in a bold color. Sherwin Williams Verdant Green, left over from a previous project, gave the kitchen a modern retro feel I was going for.
White Ikea Asker containers hang perfectly on the peg holes and they hold take-out menus, utensils and kitchen knick-knacks.
For a personal touch, decoupage large cardboard letters a local craft store with decorative wrapping paper. Make sure and protect your letters with acrylic sealant to keep them moisture proof.
Courtesy of BHG.com
Custom Color Palette for BHG.com
A few weeks ago Better Homes and Gardens asked me to suggest a fresh color palette and create a design board complete with accessories that would help make a room pop for spring. Citron yellow and a gray-pink were my inspiration. Check out the full list of resources and tips from bhg.com.
Primary vs. Accent Colors
Better Homes and Gardens offers a simple way to balance the amount of the primary color used in a room as well as accent colors. Here’s what they suggest:
“Choose one main color to serve as 40-60 percent of your color palette, then one to two supporting colors to comprise 30-40 percent of your color palette, and fill the remainder with one to two accents.”
This is a truly useful guide, but I never subscribe strictly to decorating rules. As you gain more confidence in your design sense, feel free to play around with these color ratios.
If you are afraid of intense colors, try using a wall stencil, which lets you accent the wall with color without overwhelming the room.
See Everything You Have At a Glance
Keeping a small closet organized is no easy feat. The key to organizing success is to be able to see everything you have at a glance to get dressed quickly without a meltdown. In the past I stacked closed boxes and baskets on closet shelves, which looked neat and tidy from afar until I had to find something quickly.
I needed an inexpensive organizing solution for my growing collection of clutch purses, wallets and sunglass holders. Wooden magazine and file holders from Ikea were the perfect solution. They keep my purses upright, easy to view and ready to grab on the go They take up very little space on a closet shelf, and you can organize by color.
Clear acrylic magazine file holders from the Container Store are also a super chic way to organize your purses if the budget allows.
Gold metal magazine file holders from Target look fresh and can hold up under heavy use, unlike plain cardboard versions.
Paint the inside of the wooden magazine file holders a bright pop of color. A colorful backdrop makes it easier to pick out a particular purse in a crowd of purses, especially if they are all black.
Designer Melamine Plate Bonanza
With a growing collection of affordable designer melamine plates on the market, it’s the perfect time to take full style advantage. They come in a variety of modern colors and patterns, and they are lightweight enough to safely attach to a wall with removable adhesive strips.
Mix and Match
For this plate collage, I mixed and matched patterns like these plaid plates from French Bull with Thomas Paul’s faux bois coasters and dessert plates. Play with a variety of plate sizes.
French Bull Plaid Melamine Plates
Thomas Paul Faux Bois Melamine Coasters
Round off the plate collage with black portrait silhouettes and monogram lettering printed onto Clear Avery adhesive sheets. Easy as 1-2-3.
Command Brand picture-hanging strips keep plates secure and portable without any harm to the wall. I am always editing my design projects, and these strips keep the ideas fluid. Give it a whirl!
Shop Your Own House For Table Decor
This year I am hosting Thanksgiving dinner at my home. I don’t know about you, but hands down this is my favorite holiday. Happily, my brother-in-law will be bringing the turkey, and I’ll be cooking up some of my favorite side dishes. I shopped my own house and am using my own dishes and stemware. I decided to repurpose a fitted sheet for the tablecloth. A queen sheet fits a 6-foot table perfectly—just cinch the sides with a safety pin to create a swag effect.
For the rest of the table décor, I set up a personal challenge. The Dollar Tree store and my garden were the only two design resources I would tap into. I managed to decorate the table for under $40! Here are some of my tips and tricks:
Holiday Tabletop Tips and Tricks
• Mix high and low. Dollar Tree plastic charger plates in gold give my elegant dishware extra style points, and I can use them again for Christmas. Love these!
• Vary the heights of your table décor. Candlelight is your best friend at any party, and I like to create different levels of light and “glow.” Glue glass candlesticks to vases for dramatic candleholders in various sizes and shapes.
• Layer your table top with different textures and patterns. A scrap piece of burlap serves as my table runner base along with adhesive shelf paper in a gray floral pattern. The shelf paper is water-resistant, which makes spills easier to wipe up.
• Add personal touches. Place cards welcome all of your guests to the table. I was thrilled to find these mini-beveled mirrors for $1 to use as my coaster/place cards. Use a gold Sharpie pen and write everyone’s name on the glass. Nail polish remover erases any mistakes and cleans them up after the party is over. These are definite keepers for the party prop closet.
• Create a dramatic centerpiece. This year my parent’s mini-pomegranate tree was so bountiful I knew I would be using the branches for the centerpiece. I wanted to make a gratitude tree where guests would write what they are most thankful for on paper tags and tie them on the tree. The lovely birds were courtesy of the Dollar Tree. The gratitude tree will be a great conversation starter during dinner and will keep us focused on what the holiday is all about.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!!
Mason Jar Love
Oh, the ubiquitous Mason jar, how I adore you. Scan Pinterest for mason jar projects, and you will be scrolling and pinning for hours.
Recently, I was asked to appear on a local morning show in my hometown of San Diego, and I created these Mason jar lights for a New Year’s party segment. They would be perfect lighting up any special occasion.
• Buy Mason Ball jars in the quart and pint sizes. Walmart has really good prices on the glass jars in boxes of six and twelve.
• Attach puffy stickers (from American Crafts Thickers line) in a cursive script to mimic the look of the raised Ball logo. Spell out clever phrases that play with up the word ball: “Have a Ball,” “Belle of the Ball,” or “2013 Ball.”
• Add round office file stickers in a random pattern along the bottom third of the jar. Once painted and peeled off, these round stickers will give the votive jars plenty of open “spots” for light reflection.
• Screw the lids onto each jar. Spray the glass jars one layer of gold spray paint and let dry. Unscrew the top and store away the removable round metal lid. Re-attach the round band onto the jar. The open mouth will allow for more light to radiate.
• Once dry, carefully peel off round office file stickers.
• For a candlelight glow that can last up to 48 hours, use inexpensive battery-operated LED tea lights from the Dollar Tree. Use two or more for extra glow in each jar.
Look, There’s More
Check out more creative uses for battery-operated candles.