Getting Things Done - a PSA

Every week when I think about a potential blog post there are so many ideas that come to mind sometimes it's hard to choose. One of those recurring thoughts is to share a very valuable "life resource" with you. I follow many blogs & podcasts and a few months ago through the "Beyond the To Do List" podcast I learned about a little book called "Getting Things Done" by David Allen.  Actually, I kept hearing the reference "GTD" and the "GTD system" that finally I just HAD to look it up.

This book isan extremely valuable resource not just for getting things done, but for streamlining your work process and get things off your mind. I figured getting back to work after having our first baby would be the perfect time for me to learn more about it. So I went to the library and devoured it within a few weeks. (I only had to renew it once - c'mon I had a 4 month old at the time!) I kept laughing at the irony of me reading about "getting things done" instead of actually just getting things done... but I knew this would transform my habits and so I wanted to learn about it before getting back into the swing of things. 

The tips & methods he details for processing information have been insanely helpful. One of the things I often felt when things got busy was that there were so many "moving parts" it was hard to keep track of the loose ends. His tips for "closing the loops" in our minds have been so valuable I've really felt inspired to adopt this system for both my design projects and my personal life. So now I feel that I should return the favor and tell everyone about it! How did I not know about this sooner?!?

So here is a link to the book and website, and below are a few of my favorite parts of the GTD system. 


1- Email processing


I love his tips for creating @Action, @WaitingFor, Read/Review and Reference folders. They really help keep things organized and make sure I am not forgetting anything. I am still working towards an empty inbox but I've enjoyed processing my emails with his tips. And since I use Gmail for work, it's easy for me to tag emails directly from my sent mail so I don't forget to follow up with people I've contacted! 


2- Master Project List


Here's where my "too many moving parts" problem was solved. I don't know if working from home made this worse but I had this perpetual thought pattern every time I walked through the house of all the things we needed to get done. Then I'd look at my emails, open design projects and always try to assess what needed to get done next. It was becoming a perpetual mess! By having a master project list I am able to keep an inventory of every single aspect of my life, both work and personal so I can assess the use of my time holistically. If we're planning an event at home, it takes actual time from my life and I need to take actionable steps to achieve it just like a would I client project. Which leads me to the next favorite...


3- Action Items


Splitting up a task or job by actionable items might sound like a no brainer, or maybe even a waste of time for those smaller tasks, but his idea of breaking things up by Action (emails, calls, errands, agendas, etc) has been a really helpful way for me to manage my to-do's. I'm still slowly adapting to this because I used to always organize my lists by job and it feels weird to separate them. But ultimately I do agree this makes a lot of sense and will be beneficial to view all my to-do's holistically. 


So what do you think?

Have you already heard about GTD? Have you been using the system, or like me wish you had discovered it sooner? I'd love to hear your thoughts! I hope you found this post helpful. 



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Transform a Room with Color & Simple Styling

Well hello there! I have returned from maternity leave and it's so good to be back! I started back gradually over the summer and now that it's September I am back up to speed again. This is the first post on my blog since returning and I am excited to keep up with my social media again. 

So what is my first post going to be about? Well, I have been working on a few projects involving window treatments and have become really excited with Smith & Noble's before & afters. I first discovered them on my ipad over the summer and was totally mesmerized with sliding the bar back and forth to see the transformation. I should say that I had a few "extra minutes" to look through all of them because I was holding my little babe for long stretches of time ;) 

What I really like about these is that they not only show window treatments but also pillows and throws. The furniture remains exactly the same but it shows how powerful color & accessories are in transforming a room. i would love to show you a few of my favorites and what I like about each one. So let's get on with it shall we?

Bedroom Transformation

You can see how the blue livens up this simple bedroom and the mix of solids and pattern also adds interest. They added a table lamp next to the bed. All of this is very simple but adds so much sensory experience to the room.


Family Room Transformation

This large window and sliding door combination looks great with a dual layer window treatment. In addition they've replaced some of the green accessories with a simple white orchid and throw pillow. Same furniture but wow - look at the difference! 


Living Room Transformation

Another dual layer window treatment - blinds with patterned panels on each side. The addition of sunflowers in a vase and throw pillows really pull the room together.  Please also note that the curtain rod is hung as high as possible and the curtains are brushing the floor. Full length curtains really keep the windows looking tall! 

Living Room 2

Talk about framing a view! The curtains really draw attention to the windows, and the throw pillows and blanket repeat the colors and introduce new pattern.  This is also a great example of how a neutral couch and wall color isn't a recipe for boring! Accessories are an easy way to upgrade and change a space.


Again here is a simple upgrade with a valance, and the color is repeated in the flowers and bowl of fruit. Also note how this curtain makes the window seem taller? If you look at the original window and notice how low it is, then notice that the top of the valance is lined up with the top of the cabinets. Viola! Tall window magic.

Dining Room

Bay windows can be tricky, and while I'd say about 90% of the time in general it's best to let as much light in as possible. But sometimes it's good to break that rule and go for cozy drama and have fun! Curtains carve out space in an otherwise large room, especially if there is a lot of other natural light available. This looks fabulous, plus all the accessories on the table really pull it all together. 

Contemporary Loft Space

Even in really contemporary loft spaces (maybe especially in these spaces) curtains can really add a soft touch without taking away from the space. The sheer curtains shown below emphasize the height of the room, let light filter in, and soften the hard edges in this space.


So what do you think of these transformations? Do you see the potential for a color & accessory makeover in your home?? This is the fun part that really adds a lot of personality to a home, is easy to update, and makes a room feel complete. 

Thanks for reading! As I mentioned earlier all Before & Afters are compliments of Smith & Noble! You can take a look at all of the transformations and play with the slider from the link below.



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Useful or Beautiful - Part 3

Now that you've read how to purge & declutter, and how to smartly reduce what you bring home, I would like to share a few design tips on creating a beautiful space using what you already have.

1- Create a plan!

This is the most important step, and the first I do when I meet with a new client. Brainstorming all our ideas and coming up with an organized master plan for the room will keep your goals on track. It's important to understand how you currently use the room, and how you want to use it going forward.This information will guide any decisions you make going forward.


2- Inspire Yourself

Sometimes it's hard to see new potential for the same old pieces in the same old room. That's one of the biggest benefits a decorator can bring to your job is a fresh new perspective! To start getting some ideas you can look on Pinterest or Houzz for other rooms that inspire you. Then look for a common theme in them, are you drawn to neutral colored rooms? Bold colored accents? Mid century style?


3- Try something new

After the purge, some inspiration, and a plan you will start to see your things in an all new way. Try new things with your existing pieces. It could be as simple as rearranging the furniture to create a better seating area. Or maybe you found an easy DIY idea that will help you repurpose that old side table, chair, or accessory.


4- Fill in the gaps

Once you're set up the foundation for the room using what you already had, you'll have a better sense of what you need. Check back with your plan to see what your other goals were. How many were accomplished with what you already had? And how many need to be filled in with new purchases? If you head out shopping bring your design plan with you to keep you on track.


5- Rotate accessories

If you have a lot of accessories you want to keep but they aren't working together, I would recommend rotating them seasonally. Keep out lightweight linens and fresh bright colors for the spring, and store your heavy blankets, curtains, pillows, carpet, and darker colored accessories for the winter.


6- Enjoy!

Show yourself and your new space some gratitude. It may not be magazine perfect, but nothing really is. Enjoy the change you've made in your home, the new freedom from clutter, and the well planned decor you have in your home. Maybe you can even celebrate by hosting a party to show it off!



I hope this mini series has helped inspire you to redecorate a room in you home.


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Useful or Beautiful - Part 2

Last week I shared a few tips on how to declutter your home by purging things you don't need or love. (click here for article). This week I will share some of my tips on how to avoid accumulating too much in the first place.

Step 2: avoid buying too much stuff!

Now this is tricky because shopping feeds into our desire for instant gratification. We are constantly overwhelmed with lifestyle ads & coupons that say "buy this and you will be happier." But the truth is that happiness may be short lived - then you're just left with "stuff". So here are my tips & strategies to help resist the temptation.


Yes, you can do it. Someone is always curating an enticing list of "must haves", and you surely can find some exciting deals on there. But the devil in these sites is that there is only a limited quantity and it's gone. It bullies you to buy now or forever hold your peace. So my advice is if you're not actively looking for something - don't open that email! Or better yet - unsubscribe from such emails and only log in when you are looking for something. Seriously - you will thank me!

2- Make a list

Impulse shopping is also the devil so I suggest making a list and sticking with it. At the beginning of every room redesign I work on we create goals for the room, and then define what it we need to fulfill those goals. I write up a design plan with all the details and items to buy for each client. Then I suggest to put the list on your phone, tablet, or in a program like Evernote that syncs with everything. Or just keep the design plan in your wallet.  This will keep you on task when you're shopping around and resist unnecessary purchases.


3- Sleep on it

If you have a few items you want or need, create a list then sleep on it. This gives yourself time to sort through your decision and prioritize your purchases.  Keeping an ongoing list of "wishes" will help you stay organized and avoid spending extra money on things you don't need. Plus it gives you the chance to change your mind without spending too much time or money.



3- Walk with it

So now you're in the store and you can't resist an item. It grabs your attention and you want it! Go ahead and put it in your basket. Walk the rest of the store with it and re-evaluate the object at the end of loop through the store. Does it meet the criteria you established for your goals? (color, category, texture, etc) If it's not perfect then put it back. Usually a walk through the store will help you sort through other options and may provide the right perspective.


4- Photograph (or Pin) it

Another strategy to postpone a purchase is to photograph it (in person) or Pin it (if online). This way you won't loose track of it and can go back to make the purchase later. If you collect enough images then you can even create a moodboard and see how all the items will look together. This will make sure you're staying on track with your goals.


5- Reduce time spent shopping

Many people find shopping a pleasurable experience, but perhaps it provides too much temptation to make an unnecessary purchase. In this case when you feel the urge to shop, make a list of what you want to get it off your mind, then find something else entirely different to do. Think of other hobbies that you enjoy such as reading, watching a movie, going out to eat with friends, working out, etc. There are plenty of other hobbies to distract yourself from the urge to buy!



I hope these tips & strategies provide you with some ways to manage your purchases. What ways do you find helpful to reduce accidental shopping, and to ensure you make the right purchases for your home?


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Useful or Beautiful - Part 1

I'm sure you may be familiar with this quote from the well known textile designer William Morris:

"Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."

(photo credit Morris & Co)

Ahh... doesn't that sound so simple? When we think about our homes it's easy to get caught up in our consumer culture, or the latest trend and before we know it we have accumulated a mass quantity of things we don't use, or don't even like that much but hold onto anyway. Since spring officially starts tomorrow now is a great time for a little spring cleaning & a good declutter.

The ultimate goal is to pull a room together and make a few really special pieces stand out. In order to do that we need to reduce the excess clutter and simplify the surroundings! Here are a few tricks I find helpful to make the purge, and strategies to stay on top of it.

step 1: the purge


Define what it is that you like, don't like, or don't use. What are your goals for the room - Do you need a cohesive color scheme? Large scale artwork to offset smaller items?  Updated furniture?  Then decide what you have that doesn't work towards your main goal and put it aside. 



Start with one room at a time to avoid being overwhelmed. Pare things down to what you need and like (useful or beautiful) and see if you can repurpose an item in another room. Eventually work your way through the entire house until you have a clean slate.



Ideally you'll look to purge all the time. Whenever you look at something and think it should be replaced, updated, don't like it anymore etc - put it aside. Our tastes change and evolve every few years, so it's good to keep updating frequently so our home evolve with our tastes, instead of putting things off until it feels overwhelming. Doing it often and in small doses won't feel so emotionally & physically draining either. Consider purging with each change of the season - did you use all winter decor this past season or can you purge some of it?



Pick a method below or try a combo to see what works best for you. A big part of purging is how you feel about the stuff you're getting rid of. If you can rationalize letting things go you'll be much better at staying on top of purging!

1- Keep an ongoing donation box in your home. (my favorite)

Designate a basket or box in a small corner of your home. As soon as you grab something from your closet that doesn't fit well, or you just don't love anymore put it in there!! Same with any serving dishes in your kitchen, decorations, surplus office supplies, technology, toys, etc. The goal of this is to "temporarily" get rid of it. For many this is a much easier decision to make because it's not final. If you need to just "grab that shirt" in a pinch you can since it's still in your house. But most likely you will gradually keep adding to that donation box and then forget what you've even put in there. Then in a few months it's one step closer to the door and it's time to make a donation!

2- Donate while it's still good!

Nobody gets excited about buying anything second hand that is damaged. The trick to making a great donation is to get rid of things BEFORE they are destroyed. As you start loosing interest in an item don't feel bad about getting rid of it - someone else will appreciate it that much more!

3- Sell or consign

So you spent quite a bit on that side chair and kind of regret it? Try selling it on your own through a resource like Craigslist or Ebay. Or try finding a consignment store in the area to help you do it and share a bit of profit. This is a win-win because people love to buy nice items for a fraction of the price and the seller gets to recoup some of the cost! When I sell an item on Craigslist for example I try to research what a "new" similar item would sell for, then offer mine for about half price.

4- If you're sentimental

Take a photo of your beloved object so you can always remember it. Most times it's just the memory of who gifted the item, rather than the actual item itself that brings you joy. So snap that photo of how you used it in your home, archive it on your computer, then share with joy with someone else!

If you're looking for a creative way to document some of your items check out this website:



I hope you found this post to be helpful! This is Part 1 of 3 so check back soon for more tips on keeping your objects from owning you! Also if you're interested in some local resources drop me a line - I'd be happy to share what I found helpful in the area!




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Recession Renovations

On average an interior design trend has a lifespan of about 10 years before people get bored and are ready for change. There are the early adapters, those that act on it mid-wave, and then those who catch the tail end. Trends also tend to begin on the coasts and then filter inland, which means that there may be a few year delay on a trend catching on or ending nationally.

With that being said... who doesn't love gray? It's everywhere right now and has been for the past 6+ years.  It's so easy to match, is modern, and can be used with warm or cool toned interiors.  Anyone who has done a recent kitchen or bath renovation has most likely installed gray and white toned vanity, counters, backsplash, etc. And gray matched with white subway tiles is a classic look that can go either industrial chic or Scandinavian minimal.  Gray used in a living space is modern and can create a soothing monochromatic color palette. Below are three examples I pulled from the front page of Pinterest today.




But I've often wondered what all this grayness will look like in a few years and I've dubbed it  "recession renovations". Yes, the fact that we've been slowly digging ourselves out of the worst economy some of us have ever seen had taken it's toll and left home buyers to either put projects on hold, or make super "safe" decorating decisions. I don't think it's any coincidence that people find using gray a safe, yet trendy choice. 

As the economy is improving though, people are feeling more optimistic and are willing to embrace change and even a little more risk. Optimism is often expressed through color and it seems designers and homeowners alike are getting ready to embrace color again this year! No more drab outlook, no more drab interiors.

"Oh great" you say?  You just installed a gray "whatever"....  Hey, it's no problem at all! Gray is a great neutral base and will help transition your home into the next phase with color. You can start adding layers of color to bring the room to life with accessories that are always easy to change out. If you're about to embark on a renovation or new purchase and have always loved color - now is your free pass to indulge!


Like this kitchen above - POP! Look at how cheery that orange is against a gray & white background.


This gray couch provides a great base for jewel toned accessories like rug, pillow, & lighting.

Click to read more ...


A Timeless Pattern for 2015

Herringbone is definitely making a statement in the design scene lately. This classic & timeless pattern has slowly been gathering speed over the years and is showing up in places everywhere from the bathroom to bedroom! While this pattern is making it's statement, another familiar is fading into the background: Chevron.

Chevron has been the hyper trend of the past few years and has been applied to everything from curtains to mugs. It has been used so much that many designers are steering away from Chevron patterns going forward. If you're about to make a purchase you might want to keep that in mind!

When you compare Herringbone to Chevron they book look zig-zaggy so you may be wondering what's the big difference? Chevron is typically being used as a high contrast simple zig zag pattern where the individual pieces meet at an angle. Herringbone has a more intentional pattern repeat and creates a broken zig zag. The pattern looks well defined and geometric, and when translated from a weave to a dimensional object each piece intersects at 90 degree angles, as shown below. (image source)

The herringbone pattern originates from a type of fabric weave used in traditional men's blazers and suits. (image source)

Below you can see a close up of the pattern, which is nicely described as the following:

Herringbone describes a distinctive V-shaped weaving pattern . It is distinguished from a plain chevron by the break at reversal, which makes it resemble a broken zigzag. The pattern is called herringbone because it resembles the skeleton of a herring fish

(image & quote source)


Here are a few ways that herringbone is making a classic and beautiful comeback in interiors.





Click to read more ...


Navy Blue Rooms

I've always loved the color blue, and have found navy blue in particular to be a versatile chameleon. I don't think there is a color that doesn't go with navy! There are times when I've even thought "navy is the new black" but have refrained from making such statements. Navy has been hot for a few years now and it looks classic mixed with white, like all those ginger jars we see in decor magazines today.

Then I read an article from the Wall Street Journal (Top 5 Interior Design Trends for 2015) discussing how moody blues are on trend, and so I thought it would be fun to show a few combinations of navy with other colors for some inspiration. I focused mostly on painted navy rooms, although adding navy accents through furniture and accessories is another great way to infuse a smaller dose of this blue. So without further adieu let's see some pictures!

Navy with Neutrals (moody blues)


Navy & White (classic & crisp)



Navy & Hot Pink (hot hot!)


Navy & Green/Yellow (crisp & clean)


Click to read more ...