Prepping for a Window Wonderland – Tips to Get Your Home Ready for the Holidays

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We’re making a list and checking it twice to make sure your home is holiday nice!  Before the stockings are hung by the chimney with care, here are some seasonal safety and cleaning tips for getting your house spruced up in time for the upcoming festivities.

Santa’s Safety Tips

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  • Testing 1, 2, 3. Test/replace electrical outlets, and by extension, extension cords, to make sure you don’t overload outlets with all those lights. Test and replace batteries in fire alarms, too.
  • Take a different tack. Check carpeting and floor coverings for loose or frayed edges. Reduce risk of falls by placing non-slip pads under area rugs.
  • Can we vent? When you turn your heater on for the first time, you may smell an odor of smoke or burning, but no need to pull the fire alarm. It’s only dust burning off your heater coils. Clean dusty air vents and replace greasy oven hood screens. To be on the safe side and to keep your heater running at optimum efficiency, change your air filters every 30 days, even during the winter months.
  • Get cooking. Check all kitchen appliances, including your garbage disposal, dish washer, stove and oven to ensure they’re working properly and ready for holiday cooking and clean up.

Prep the Walls before Decking the Halls

  • Clean up your curb appeal. Scrub your walkway. Wipe down your front door inside and out. Shake out and sweep off the welcome mat.
  • Wash your windows. DIY with a mixture of vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Wipe to a no-streak shine with a microfiber cloth. Don’t forget to dust off your window blinds and shades.

Holiday Decorating Tip: Make your windows a winter wonderland with some of these seriously creative ideas.

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  • Freshen up the microwave. Clean and freshen smelly microwaves by cutting a lemon in half and boiling it for 1-2 minutes in 1/2C of water, then using the lemon water to scrub away stubborn spots inside and out.
  • Scrub the toilet. Everyone’s favorite job, I know, but somebody’s gotta do it. Here’s how. And to keep the bathroom smelling fresh after use, invest in a seasonal scented toilet freshener to have on hand for visitors. (Your guests will thank you. 😉 )
  • Clean ceiling fans. Be sure your ceiling fans aren’t trimmed with dust and dirt. Wipe them down with a clean dryer sheet or damp cloth. Wash light fixtures so overnight guests have visions of sugar plums, not shadows of dead bugs, when they lay down for that long winter’s nap.
  • Overhaul the hearth. Nothing says home for the holidays like a roaring fire. To get the chimney and fireplace ready for St. Nick’s big reveal, make sure the flue is open and clean (may require hiring a pro chimney sweep). Use a stiff brush to scrub off soot stains with a mixture of warm water and baking soda. Clean out the grate and sweep off the hearth. Check doors and screens to make sure they’re operating properly. And don’t forget to dust off the mantle before hanging those stockings.

DIY Design Tip: Update your fireplace with a trendy fire glass kit and never have to clean your fireplace again!

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  • Get your mind – and leaves – out of the gutters. Get the gunk out so rain and melting snow can flow freely — without overflowing onto arriving guests and outdoor decorations.
  • Make a good first impression. Bust any dust bunnies and dirt that have collected on floors and furniture legs. These are the first things guests will see when they arrive, so keep the Swiffer handy to keep them clean through the holidays.

Do you have any time-saving tips to get your home holiday ready? Leave a comment to share!

Inspiring Decorator — Darcy Kempton, Simply Stunning Spaces

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Darcy Kempton at her showroom in San Diego, CA. Shot by Samantha Kaplan

The name of her interior design firm says it all — Simply Stunning Spaces. That’s what San Diego interior designer Darcy Kempton creates for her clients. She’s spent more than 10 years designing homes, offices, restaurants, bars and boutique hotels (including Petco’s Pooch Hotels) for celebrities, Fortune 500 corporations and hundreds of homeowners, working with blank-check budgets, to design on a dime.

“I live for the ‘WOW!’ moments that I get from my clients when they see their newly designed home for the first time,” she says. “Although I can’t deny that large design budgets are fun to work with, I personally enjoy the challenge of creating designer-looks-for-less and coaching people through the process of transforming their houses into homes. My goal is to give every client that jaw-dropping moment you see on design show reveals.” (She reveals how she creates those moments — and how you can, too — in her book Instant Dream Home, A Paint-by-Numbers Interior Design Guide. Read our review here.)

Darcy is different than most established interior designers who won’t take on small projects with small budgets.

“The truth is,” she explains, “[designers are] accustomed to making their profit from the sale of goods that go into your home. If you don’t have a lot of remodeling or furnishing to do, then there’s no incentive for a designer to want to work for you.”

But Darcy’s philosophy is everyone should live in a home that looks and feels like the place they just can’t wait to come home to. That’s why she wrote her book, and why we think she is a true inspiration. Keep reading, and we’re sure you’ll agree.

1.  What inspired you to become a designer? What has your journey been like? 

The unlikely idea of becoming an interior designer was first brought to my attention during a high school art class. I had always been interested in all things creative, including, painting, drawing, sewing, photography and really just about anything else I could get my hands on. I loved to make things, create things and learn new ways to express my creativity. I was really convinced that pursuing a career in the arts was destined to lead to financial hardship, and so I chose biology as my major in college (despite my persistent art teacher’s biased recommendations against the contrary). It wasn’t but one hour into college orientation when I had a strong epiphany that I had to do something creative! I remember my art teacher inviting an interior design college student to our high school class and that suddenly sounded like the perfect career path! I dragged my mom around campus to change my major and with her blessing, I never looked back.

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Darcy helped this client create a chic, modern coastal look for her beachfront condo.

2.  How would you describe your design aesthetic?

My personal design aesthetic is one that has a clean, modern foundation layered with contrast, texture, pops of color and carefully selected objects of interest that merge style, sophistication and charm to create a warm, inviting and personalized space that not only looks good, but feels good, too.

"The Bachelor" Pad Makeover | Living Room | Encinitas

A comfortable, modern home to return to is essential for a busy, active, professional and philanthropic bachelor like Kiptyn Locke, a former suitor on ABC’s “The Bachelorette.”

3.  What was your favorite project(s)? Why?

My most recent favorite project has to be that of our new showroom in San Diego.  I’ve spent so much time over the years designing for other people and helping them come to decisions that make the most use of their design dollars and really reflect their individual style. It’s a process I go through with each client. However, when it came to making decisions for myself, it’s almost as if I needed to hire a designer of my own! Luckily, I have an incredible staff who helped push me over my own edge and into a space we’re all very proud of. I’m so grateful we didn’t skimp and that we splurged in all the right places!

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Second to that, I’ll never forget designing Pooch Hotels for Petco. (Six foot fire hydrants will probably never come across my desk again.) And Bruce Buffer of the UFC holds a special place in my heart as he instilled in me a permanent reminder that the most precious parts of our home are those items which remind us of a special time and place in our hearts. [Watch this special video Bruce and Darcy filmed for celebritybachelorpads.com.]

4.  What’s your favorite trend right now?

My favorite trend right now has to be the use of antique brass as a finish on plumbing fixtures, lighting and furniture. I know it’s trendy and I typically like to keep my interiors timeless, but I can’t help it on this one!

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Need some more inspiration? Follow Darcy on Facebook and Darcy K. on Instagram @simply.stunning.spaces.

Tracy T. Is a Happy SelectBlinds.com Customer!

Boy, it’s quite a compliment when someone who was literally raised among the stylish literati and fashion elite during Hollywood’s heyday is so happy with your blinds! In her book Wear and Tear: The Threads of My Life, costume designer (her credits include The Big Easy, Blind Date, Great Balls of Fire and Tuesdays with Morrie) and author Tracy Tynan writes that while growing up among the likes of  family friends Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, Orson Welles and Katharine Hepburn (her godmother), “style was essential” and shopping was an art passed down through the family. We’re thrilled that she now applies that art online, recently shopping with us here at Selectblinds.com for these stylish, cordless Designer Series Blackout Roller Shades in Cafe Au Lait for her beautiful L.A. home.

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Instant Dream Home — A Paint-by-Numbers Interior Design Guide

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Imagine the possibilities …

That’s what interior designer, design coach and mentor, and author Darcy Kempton encourages her readers to do in her easy-to-follow book, Instant Dream Home — A Paint-by-Numbers Interior Design Guide. But painting by numbers doesn’t necessarily mean staying within the lines when designing your dream home.

“If you can dream it, then it’s possible,” writes Darcy, who admits to making just about every decorating mistake in the book. That’s why her guide is so great; she’s made the mistakes and missteps, so you don’t have to. In this hands-on, interactive workbook, she steers you along the same roadmap she uses for every project she undertakes in her own highly successful interior design business to help you avoid the detours and often costly consequences of a design disaster.

In her own engaging, conversational style, Darcy emboldens readers with encouragement to create a home you, your family and guests will love. Packed with inspirational before and afters, name- (and jaw) dropping client case studies, expert tips on where to splurge and how to save, and other pro “secrets,” she walks you through a simple, three-step process to interior decorating success, giving you all the tools you need along the way to implement the design of your dreams, whatever your budget.

Darcy’s in the houzz

Step 1: Define your style. Darcy gets you started with a 10-question evaluation form, priming the process with questions like, how would you describe your home as it is today? What drives you crazy about your house now? How long do you plan to be in your home? Then it’s on to the fun part — finding inspiration to develop your style. As she does with clients, Darcy starts by referring readers to peruse houzz.com, with questions and photographs to guide them through the site and help them zero in on what they like. Ground zero for any design, she says, is finding that “Almighty Inspiration Piece” (she even leaves a space on the page where you can paste a picture of it).

Step 2: Translating your inspiration into a well-defined design plan. Here Darcy breaks down the seemingly daunting design planning process into a few key elements: a sensible floorplan, a cohesive design scheme and a smart budget. She gives easy to read expert guidance on deciding what to keep, scaling design elements to fit and focusing on a focal point, as well as her Top 10 “Must Haves” to help you build a room design from the ground up. This chapter also includes hands-on tools like an inventory list and grids for sketching out furniture placement, places to paste your color palette, and a sample budget work sheet.

Step 3: Take action! In this chapter, Darcy helps you take your plans on paper to reality by learning to embrace your strengths and hire your weaknesses. (Great advice!) She includes a simple DIY assessment survey to decide what you can tackle on your own and where you might want to hire a pro.

Inspired to create a simply stunning space of your own? Get your copy of Instant Dream Home here, or get to know Darcy better at www.simplystunningspaces.com.  

It’s a Design Free-fall into the Change of Seasons

For those of us still suffering daily temps in the 90s and with no changes in the color of surrounding cacti as a clue, it’s kind of hard to fall into step with everyone who actually lives in an area where you have a change of seasons (other than hot, hotter and hottest). Fortunately, we have connections with some incredible interior decorators and designers around the country. So we reached out to see what they were seeing and doing design-wise to make the transition to fall. Here’s what we learned.

One common thread was a trend away from the use of more traditional colors associated with fall, such as oranges, reds, browns and black, to neutrals like Kirsten Yanasak of the brightyellowdoor in Washington state uses.

“I just love the changing seasons, and fall is absolutely, without a doubt my most favorite season of all. I love the changing of the leaves, the excitement of the crisp mornings. I love seeing all the Halloween costumes show up in the stores, and I have to admit, I absolutely adore pumpkin spice lattes! What I don’t love, though, is chaos. And I don’t love messes and feeling boxed in. What bright oranges and lots of yellows and too many black and white checkers patterns do to me in decorating is make me feel stressed, boxed in and itching to pack up my fall decor weeks too early. That’s why my solution has been to decorate with calming, soothing, simple neutrals.  I find when I do not decorate with overly bright colors I am happy with my fall decor right up until Christmas time. And I find I can add a lot of it, like A LOT of it!”

Another trend is pumpkins. Lots of pumpkins. Besides buying pumpkin spice creamer for her coffee, Andrea Francavilla of Pineandprospecthome in Michigan shared her super simple way to get ready for fall.

“I’ve always loved the look of fabric pumpkins, and last year I actually attempted to make some, but I didn’t like the way they turned out,” admits Andrea. “When it was time to throw out all of the mini (real) pumpkins I purchased last fall, I decided to save all of the stems for another attempt at cloth pumpkins this year. I don’t know if the real stems made all the difference for me, but I just love the way that these pumpkins turned out this year! Plus they were so easy and fun to make!”

Our neighbor down in Tucson, Natalie Kolter at myvintageporch, shares our pain about it still being “blazing hot” here in Arizona, but she also shared how she was using one of the coolest trends in home decor, hand-made wooden signs, to bring a feeling of fall inside. “I’m not much of one for measuring, so I eyeball where the lettering should be,” she said [a woman after my own heart :-)]. “Sometimes I use my finger for measuring or my pencil to measure the area. I know, I’m real professional.”

 

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Maybe not, Nat, but the result sure looks professional. Here’s how she did it.

 

Cooler fall temperatures in Texas inspired Southern Farmhouse DesignsAshley Moore to create a simple yet classic fall table. Her secret to creating this stunning masterpiece? 

 

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“Don’t over think it.  There is no need for fancy, or extravagant spending.  Keep it simple and classic, but most important, don’t stress,” she advises. “Less is more in my opinion, and the less time it takes to put together the better.  The most important thing with any dinner table is to enjoy time with the people around it. Putting forth a little effort to make it look nice is just one way to make your guests feel welcome and loved.”

 

Of course, the best thing about the change of seasons is ushering in the holiday season. To kick things off, citygirlmeetsfarmboy Kelly Ballard, showed us some of her creepily creative Halloween decor.

 

“Ribbon – I love it! You can do so much with fall decor by adding small strips of ribbon to your pieces. Try tying them in little knots for a rougher look, or bows for a more dressed up feel. I love to shop my local dollar store to find some simple steals that aren’t very expensive. Adding a few plastic rats or creeping cloth can totally add a new element to your Halloween and fall decor.”

 

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed these ideas as much as I have. (Makes me miss fall even more now.) Many thanks to our Inspiring Decorators for sharing. How have you decorated for fall? Leave us a comment with some of your tips!