10 things you need to host a holiday party

Pulling off a holiday party at home is made easier by having a few basic things on hand to make your soiree stress free.

1. The list

The key to any successful event is to make lists of all the elements that will go into the party. Include all the food and beverages along with glassware, tables and chairs, etc. that need to be purchased, borrowed or brought out of storage.

2. A coat rack

Clear out a space for your guest’s to stash their coats and purses. If you have the room, a temporary coat rack will eliminate having jackets draped over your furniture during your event.

Portable coat rack
Bed, Bath and Beyond

3. All purpose wine glasses

Stemless, dishwasher safe glasses can serve double duty for both wine and cocktails. Keep the boxes and store the clean glasses in a dust free space so they are ready to go for your next party.

Stemless wine glasses
Luminarc

4. Festive paper products

Cocktail parties call for themed paper plates and napkins, making clean up a snap while creating a lovely setting. Use a larger luncheon size for the food table and cocktail napkins at the bar for drinks.

Christmas paper napkins
Caspari

5. An easy menu

Keep the menu simple with a variety of five or six items. Create a festive spread utilizing both store bought items and home made. Stock up on crackers and cookies so that if the food is running low you’ve got back up. Forgo serving anything that needs a fork opting for pick ups, dips, and veggies.

Mini beef wellington bites
Wiliams Sonoma

6. The punch bowl

Turn any type of clean vessel into a serving piece. No punch bowl, no problem since a soup tureen can hold a libation with a matching ladle too. Bonus: Having a batch of cocktails premade will make serving easier than making drinks individually.

White soup tureen
Pottery Barn

7. Serving pieces

Take inventory of your platters and trays, designating what they will hold ahead of time. Don’t forget your cake stands or tiered trays for creating various heights on the table.

White cake stand
Frontgate

8. Holiday decor

You don’t need expensive florist’s arrangement to create a holiday setting. Snip greenery from your yard and intermingle with pine cones, berry stems and flame less candles for an easy table top design.

Christmas decorations

9. Holiday tunes

Never underestimate the power of music. Besides providing background noise, Christmas music elevates everyone’s mood.

10. Trash cans

Make clean up easier on yourself by putting out plenty of trash cans for your guests to dump their used paper plates. Ditto on creating a dirty glass station with a tray near the kitchen.

Decorative serving tray
West Elm

Mr. H says: Tis the season to jingle and mingle-Enjoy!

Real or Faux Christmas Trees-the Facts

The Christmas tree is at the heart of the season’s holiday traditions. But as we become more eco-friendly does it make sense to cut down a living evergreen for such a short-lived pleasure? An artificial tree made of plastic doesn’t feel too “green” either. So it’s time to unpack the facts of both kinds of trees.

The Real

As with most types of farm products, Christmas trees are grown as managed crops. They are not cut down on a large scale in the wilderness. Taking about a decade to grow a six foot tree, farmers generally plant new trees to replace the ones that have been cut down.

Taylor Rooney

As the trees grow, they provide animal habitats, clean the air, and prevent soil erosion. Rolling hills, that are unsuitable for other crops, are where Christmas trees grow best. At the end of the season, real trees can be composted returning them back into the natural environment.

Keep your real Christmas tree looking good through the season by making a fresh cut to the trunk and immediately placing in warm water. Set up your tree away from direct heat sources and be sure to check the water level daily. It is not unusual for a tree to drink 2 gallons of water the first day it is the stand.

The Fake

Most people that opt for an artificial version do so out of convenience. (Disclaimer: Mine is fake!) Since artificial trees are made of metal and plastic they are not biodegradable like real trees. Recycling is nearly impossible since the materials used to fabricate the tree would be need to be separated to do so.

Artificial Christmas tree Balsam Hill
Balsam Hill

The question of eco-friendliness depends largely on how long you keep your artificial tree. The more seasons you reuse it, the more environmentally friendly it becomes.

Artificial Christmas Tree Birch Lane
Birch Lane

Look for artificial Christmas trees made with polyethylene, or PE plastic, instead of PVC. PE plastic is more durable and also tend to look more realistic. Proper storage in the off-season is key to ensuring that you can enjoy your Christmas tree for many seasons.

So now onto the next debate: white or colored lights?

Mr. H says: It’s not what’s under the tree that matters but who’s around it-Enjoy!

8 things an interior designer will notice about your home

As a designer, I know first hand that everyone’s taste is different. When I’m hired to professionally assess a space though, I do notice a number of specifics, both good and bad, about your home. How organized you are, how your children and pets behave, and which space your family uses the most are just a few. Don’t worry though-I’m not judging, but making observations that will help me design the best solutions for your lifestyle. Here’s a list of the top things I notice the moment I walk through the front door.

The Flow

Does the furniture placement in a room promote good traffic flow through the space? When there is too much or awkwardly arranged furniture, a room may not be optimally used. Rearranging pieces to create a natural path in and out of the space may be one of the first things we do.

Good room flow
J. Rhodes Interior Design, Inc.

The Lighting

I’ve talked about this before, how a room is lit is critical to it’s function and ambiance. Applying a layered approach with general illumination, task and accent lighting sources is key to a well lit room.

Layered lighting design
Restoration Hardware

The Little Items

Most interior designers dream of an uncluttered space, where one can appreciated the stunning architecture or thoughtfully arranged furniture. Many times, I enter a room and am besieged by all tchotchke that cover every surface. Just because you own it doesn’t mean it needs to be on display.

Uncluttered table

The Windows

How your windows are treated tells me a lot about how you use a room. Windows that are tightly covered tells me you value your privacy while untreated windows say bring in the sunshine. It’s a topic we will need to address when designing the space.

Window treatment design
Hunter Douglas

The Woodwork

High quality door casing, crown molding, and cabinetry make up the bones of a space. Well proportioned trim creates a layer of interest and the opportunity to accent with color or incorporate lighting.

Pretty ceiling details

The Smell

Pets, cooking odor and strong scented candles can often overwhelm the casual visitor. Most of us have become inured to our homes odors, but an outsider can pick up the scent right away and it can be most unwelcome. Open the windows, use the kitchen and bath exhaust fans religiously or run the HVAC fan clear out stale spaces.

Cooking smells

The Pillows

Two, sad lumpy throw pillows on the sofa does not constitute a welcoming vibe. Adding throws and fresh plump pillows will go a long way to making a space cozy.

Pillows and throws
Surya

The Bathroom

The condition of your bathroom tells me a lot about your lifestyle and the possible solutions I can offer. Unorganized, cluttered countertops and towels on the floor are mostly a symptom of the bath’s design or lack there of.

Uncluttered bathroom

Mr. H says: Good houses take work-Enjoy!

Best flooring for pets

Designing for Pets

We all make accommodations for our pets in our homes. After all they are more than just four legs and a tail, our furry friends play a huge role in our families. Since almost all our clients have pets we are often asked to design around them as well as other members of the household. You don’t have to sacrifice style in order to accommodate your four legged friends.

Pet Friendly Fabrics

Carefully consider the cleanability and durability of your upholstery fabrics for the areas your family and pets will gather most. Denim, canvas, ulstrasuede and synthetics such as Crypton are all good choices. Outdoor fabrics come in numerous colors and textures while resisting most stains, moisture and odors. Leather is a durable choice though it can be punctured and scratched by big claws. Look for top grain, semi-aniline leathers whose hides are dyed through and treated for additional protection.

Sunbrella Pure Collection Fabrics
Sunbrella

Smart Window Treatments

Avoid long drapes that puddle on the floor that will collect pet debris. Consider Roman or roller shades and wood blinds that can be easily raised up so as to not spoil your pets view of the outside world. Keep dangling cords in check with cleats or opt for the cordless models.

Hunter Douglas Provenance window shades
Hunter Douglas

Their Own Space

Cats love to perch and climb and dogs like to retreat to their own “room”. Treat your pets by incorporating those features into the design of your home. Dog beds can fit into a cabinet or under a window seat and cat perches can become an architectural element.

Pet Hays

Dog Bed Decor

Be sure to choose a dog bed that’s large enough to accommodate the size of your pet. There are many stylish options available on sites like Etsy, so find one that complements your décor and is easy to keep clean.

Designer Dog Bed
Lion + Wolf

Pet-Friendly Entry

Create a pet friendly entrance that keeps dirt from being tracked through your entire home. Place an easy clean mat or rug at your pet’s main entry point to catch mud or debris as soon as they enter. Wall hooks reign in leashes and some type of cabinet can hold pet supplies such as collars, bags and treats.

Pet Friendly Entryway
Paper Riot Co.

Easy Clean Floors

Top choices for easy clean, durable flooring include porcelain or stone tiles. Some laminate and vinyl flooring come in second. While beautiful, hardwood floors, are a design statement, they can scratch easily and require diligent cleaning should an accident occur. Harder woods such as oak or mahogany are the best species bets, however avoid highly polished flooring that can pose a slipping hazard. Trim your pet’s claws regularly to keep scratches at bay.

Best flooring for pets
Armstrong

Slip Proof Rugs

While rugs can enhance the look of a room, they can also protect your floors from claws and stains. There are many easy care options to choose from with a multi color pattern being best for hiding dirt and pet hair. Wool rugs are naturally stain resistant and many synthetic rugs can be taken outside and easily hosed clean. Whichever rug style you choose, use a good quality non skid pad beneath to prevent slipping especially in open areas such as hallways.

Slip proof rug pads

Washable Bedding

Admit it, we sometimes snuggle with our pets in bed. Inevitably hair and dirt come with your furry friend. Opt for duvets and shams with removable covers over coverlets and quilts. The covers can be removed and laundered regularly with the rest of your sheets keeping your bed somewhat fur free.

Washable bed linens
SDH Linens

Display Breakables with Care

Keep glassware, porcelains or anything else that can be easily broken out of reach of your pets or better yet behind doors if you have cats. Shards of grandma’s tea set on the floor will not only break your heart but can cause serious damage to your pet’s paws.

Display Cabinet
Wayfair

Mr. H says: Animals share with us the privilege of having a soul-Enjoy!

Open floor plan design

Must have valuable home upgrades

Are you thinking of making some changes to your home to elevate it’s livability and value? Modern amenities that focus on functional luxury are key to making a home more user friendly. How much you spend on these upgrades a determined by the options and choices you make so having a plan and a budget in place before you step into the first showroom is a must.

An Open Floorplan

Even though this lifestyle movement has been around for decades, there is still immense value in an open floor plan. By connecting kitchen and living spaces, open plans create spacious and informal interiors for homeowners of all ages. Taking down a wall or reconfiguring some rooms should be done by a pro since beams or supports may need to be incorporated into your design so that the second floor does not come crashing down.

Open floor plan design

An Updated Kitchen

Every realtor will tell you that this is a home investment worth every penny. The kitchen is the heart of every home and the spot where you will spend a lot time. Give special attention to cabinets and appliances since no kitchen can be overly well equipped. A well designed, organized kitchen is the key to creating a home you love and will interest future buyers. Open layouts, center islands, and pull out pantry storage are must haves in every kitchen.

Luxury-kitchen-design

Spa Baths

With today’s busy lifestyles, we all want a space to relax and unwind in our homes. Large showers, good lighting, storage, and smart toilets are features that homeowners have on their wish list. Adding accessibility features to your bathroom can add a lot of value to your home and can make life easier should you choose to age in place. Upgrades to consider, curbless showers, grab bars and wheelchair height light switches and outlets.

Luxury-spa-home-bathrooms

Easy Tech

Technology dominates every aspect lives. Smart equipment has become more accessible and affordable.  User friendly, tech conveniences such as security systems, temperature settings and lighting controls can make your home more attractive to potential buyers in the future.

Nest-thermostat

Outdoor Spaces

Finished outdoor spaces that feel like an interior room with comfortable seating, thoughtful landscaping and lighting, fire pits and outdoor cooking areas are a worthy home investment. Finished outdoor areas expand the living area of your home and depending on your approach can be utilized year round.

Lloyd-Flanders-Tobago-Chat-Set

Mr. H says: Home should be your happy place-Enjoy!

Uncluttered kitchen

5 things that are making you tired at home

Are you sleep walking through your day without knowing why? Your lifestyle and design choices you’ve made at home may be the culprit. Here’s a checklist of all the things that may be negatively affecting your sleep and making you unproductive.

Bad Lighting

I’ve talked about this before: poorly designed lighting affects the mood of the occupants and can create either a restless or restful feel to a space. Access to natural light is critical as researchers have found that exposure to more natural light actually resulted in a more restful sleep at night. Sunlight first thing is morning has been linked to sounder sleep so be sure to open your shades as soon as you rise.

Electronics

Study after study have found that those blue wavelengths from your cell phone, tablet and TV suppress your brain’s production of a critical sleep hormone-melatonin. Without sufficient amounts of melatonin, not only are you more likely to have a restless night, but melatonin suppression has also been shown to increase the risk of cancer, impair the immune system, and possibly lead to diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Using filters on your screens at night or amber glasses should help with your sleep without having to toss your devices.

Wall Colors

The color blue has been shown to slow down your heart rate, reduce your blood pressure, and make you feel sleepy. While a great in the bedroom, it’s not an ideal color in the active spaces in your home. Colors with yellow undertones, think green and peach, give rooms a mental boost by promoting conversation and social interaction.

Brian Dittmar Design, Inc. photo by David Duncan Livingston

Sitting Too Long

We’re all guilty of being a couch potato while binging on Netflix. Sitting for long periods of time though can deplete your energy and can actually make your body equate that inactivity with going to sleep. Frequent breaks are important so stretch often, get up and walk way from your sofa. Better yet, get outside and enjoy some natural light

Inefficient Overall Design

Dysfunctional kitchens and baths, lots of clutter, and an unorganized environment causes your brain to be overwhelmed and unable to focus increasing your fatigue. Set a goal to clear out and organize at least one area of your home to see how it changes your mood and energy level. Once you see the effects challenge yourself and your family to tackle the rest.

Mr. H says: Tired minds don’t plan well-Enjoy!

Overcoming Design Paralysis

Do you suffer from white wall syndrome? That chronic state of indecision when it comes to choosing a paint color or buying a sofa. Follow these simple rules to help you make quicker, more confident design decisions.

Take Inventory

Make a comprehensive list of the items you need to design your space. Include everything: wall colors, furniture, fabrics, lighting, artwork and accessories.

Stanley Furniture

Set a budget

After you’ve made your list, apply a realistic monetary amount to each item. Do some online research to see what things really cost before you hit the stores. The dollars will add up fast so you may need to prioritize your purchases.

CarrieElle

Review your Pinterest page

Identify your style by examining your shopping and pinning patterns for common denominators. Most likely your gravitating to specific colors, patterns and pieces. Eliminate the “what if” by embracing what inspires you. Have confidence in your design choices and purchase what you love.

Baby Steps

While the thought of designing an entire space or home may feel overwhelming, remember that Rome was not built in a day. Create a step by step timeline for tackling your project. Write each phase down from selecting the wall color to shopping for lamps. Apply a schedule to each step and commit to it so that you don’t spend months picking the “right” curtain fabric.

Eastern Accents

Ask for Help!

An hourly professional design consultation is affordable and could help you save both time and money in the long run. You can get all your questions answered, gain clarity on your project and get ideas that you may never thought of. Make the most of your time with a prepared list of concerns along with images of spaces you admire in order to clearly convey your style.

Schedule an appointment with us today!

Folly Beach Interior Design
J. Rhodes Interior Design

Mr. H says: We shape our homes and our homes shape us-Enjoy!

8 Easy Design Tips for Fall

Bring that Fall feeling inside by adding cozy autumnal touches around your house with these festive and easy decor ideas.

Front porch greetings

Greet family and friends with a Fall themed wreath or porch vignette. Incorporate natural dried materials, gourds, and seasonal flowers into your display for a delightful seasonal welcome.

Fall wreath ideas
Creekside Farms

Faux Fur Pillows

Swapping out lightweight summer throw pillows to more textural ones like faux fur, velvet or chunky knits in darker jewel tones is an easy Fall upgrade.

Faux fur pillows
Grandin Road

Bring the Outside In

Add natural textures to your decor by mixing twigs, hay and gourds with pewter and mercury glass for an elegant Fall theme.

Natural fall decorating ideas
Pottery Barn

Pretty Paisley

A richly colored, set of paisley napkins is an easy way to transform your dinner table for Fall. Add a monogram for a personalized look.

Paisley monogrammed napkins
Donovan Design Linens

Chic Baskets

The warmth of natural woven baskets feels instantly Fall. Pile a basket with fruit in the kitchen or group a few on the coffee table to stash the remotes or hold magazines.

Natural woven baskets
West Elm

Copper Accents

Handcrafted copper items have a rich glow that fits seamlessly into Fall decorating. An occasional polish will keep it looking shiny or allow it to mellow into a verdigris patina.

Copper candles
Akkadian Candles

Tidy Up the Bath

Don’t get caught off guard by holiday guests. Stock the guest bath now with fresh towels, soap and scented candles.

Marrakech towels Matouk
Fine Linens

Cozy Up Outside

Enjoy Fall’s cooler evenings outside with seating arranged around a fire pit. Keep cozy pillows and throws on hand if the weather turns extra chilly.

Mr. H says: Autumn is a second Spring when every leaf is a flower-Enjoy!

Four ways to “Rightsize” your home

The one size fits all assumption that you should downsize as you grow older may not necessarily work with your lifestyle. Adult children may need to move back in to pay off debt, an aging parent may come to live or you may need a space for home healthcare provider, especially if you plan to “age in place”. While many do choose to downsize, another sensible approach is to rightsize your existing home.

Rightsizing is the idea of making better use of your home’s spaces to better fit your changing needs and lifestyle. Here are four rightsize steps that can help you make the right decision.

Analyze your space. The first step in identifying rightsize solutions is to assess your home and identify your priorities. Ask yourself such questions as these:
• Are you using all of the rooms in your house? Or do you use some rooms just on special occasions or for storage only?
• Do you use any rooms just as a walk-through to other parts of the house?
• Do routine activities seem inconvenient in your home’s current layout?
• How often do you have overnight guests?

Think about what your needs are and not what the room was designated as when you moved in. If you seldom use a formal living, consider turning it into a home office, an exercise room or even a meditation space.

Explore options. Research ways to rightsize your home so that it works better for you. Check out design magazines, other homes or design website to spark ideas. That stagnant formal dining room can become the craft room you’ve always dreamed of or an artist’s studio.

Consider future uses. After retirement, is your family depending on you to babysit grandchildren? If so, consider turning that unused dining room a child’s playroom. Think about accommodations for a future live in nurse or even a roommate for companionship and sharing expenses. Consider creating a private sitting area and bath for a non family member that may be living with you down the road.

A functional design. Your home’s rightsize solutions should ultimately accommodate it’s occupants needs. You may need to move into a smaller, one level home if mobility is an issue. However a smaller house may not suit your lifestyle if you anticipate extended family or care providers living with you. A rightsized home is about the quality, not the quantity, of space to meet everyone’s needs.

Mr. H says: Aging is mostly the failure to repair-Enjoy!

10 ways to puppy proof your home

Before you even think about a trip to Pet Helpers to pick out a new puppy, it’s important to make sure your home is safe for your new addition by puppy proofing your home.

Secure your Trash: Trash cans with a secure lid are a must in every room of your home including the kitchen and all bathrooms. Rummaging through the trash is a favorite puppy activity which can lead to ingesting something toxic or swallowing an object that can block the airway or lodge in the gut.

Kitchen trash can

Keep bags out of sight:  Those purses, gym bags and pack packs contain quite a few temptations that can pose a threat to your fur baby. Candy, gum and even hand creams can be toxic to dogs so store those bags in a closet or on a very high hook.

Clear out the house plants: There is an exhaustive list of poisonous plants available on the ASPCA  website. Consumption of any plant material may cause vomiting and gastrointestinal distress in animals so so keep all plants well out of your pet’s reach.

Lock up your chemicals: Household cleaners, glue, yard and automotive chemicals need to be properly secured in puppy proofed cabinet or a very high shelf. Safety caps cannot withstand sharp puppy teeth.

Protect your drugs: Human medications are the most common source of accidental pet poisoning. Be sure to stash your meds in a drawer or a cabinet and that you dispense pills and liquids over a sink in case of spills.

A space of their own: A crate, pen or a designated space in a room is essential for creating a place that your pup can go to or be contained in when left alone.

Contain cords:  Protect your new puppy from accidental shock or strangulation by containing all those electric cords, phone charges and power cables.

Close doors and windows: Don’t give your puppy an escape route or worse a falling hazards. Secure the cords of blinds and shades so that so they won’t get caught around the puppy’s neck.

Store small items out of reach. Jewelry, paper clips, coins and other small items pose a choking hazard to any animal. Ditto for the remote controls, key fobs or any other items containing a battery. A swallowed battery can cause burns to the soft tissue inside your pet’s esophagus on the way down.

Keep the lid down: You really don’t want your puppy drinking out of the toilet, since that tongue will most likely be licking you next. You definitely don’t want him falling in either.

Mr. H says: The best therapist is covered in fur and has four legs-Enjoy!