Simple white towels made this monochrome master bath seem even more fancy! I brought in favorite collections/accessories, that you might not normally find in a bathroom, and they worked. High end look, for a low end price: I filled assorted clear glass jars with Epson salt for an instant sophisticated collection.

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Guess what? This marble bath isn’t marble at all! It’s porcelain tile…a fraction of the cost. I went with the biggest tiles we could use 24″ by 24.” Big tiles are a big trend. Use ‘em even in a small space for a big impact. Love!




This is the cutest idea that I got from my friend Liz Bushong. Check out her blog at www.serveitupsassy.com. Brenna and I fell in love with Liz’s Valentine’s Day Love Letter made of pie crust and cherry pie filling. We set to work making it for my Mom. Our goal was to deliver it warm.

It was super easy. You need an envelope (think square), parchment paper, pie crust, cherry pie filling, butter and white sugar sprinkles.

Open your envelope all the way up. Trace the opened envelope onto the parchment paper and then cut it out. Place flattened pie crust on top of parchment paper. Cut your crust according to the parchment paper diameters.

Place pie envelope form on baking sheet. Spoon your cherry pie filling onto the center of the envelope, making sure to put some at the top of the envelope flap. Note: less is more! The cherry pie filling will expand.

Pinch the flaps of the envelopes back into place, leaving the top flap open. (And cherry filling on top of that part). I free handed a heart to cover the seems. We coated it with butter, and sprinkled on some white sugar.

We put it in at 350 for ten minutes, and kept watching it. I think we pulled it out at twelve minutes, but I’m not sure because we were was so excited about its cuteness! Be careful, the size of the envelope will expand and it will finish much bigger than when you started. This lead us to make a round of tiny envelopes, which I wish I could show you. But I can’t. They were so cute, they ate them before I could snap a pic.

P.S. We did deliver this hot! (It helps my Mom lives three minutes away). It was a total Valentine’s success! xo


No one wants to take a tree down less then me (First, I love them. Second, ugh, the price.) But when we had no other choice last week, you know what I was thinking. New design at our front door! Then, it snowed, making the whole display even prettier. Clearly a sign from the universe I did the right thing.


Because of the weight of the tree pieces, be prepared to make fast design decisions if you take on this project. Use different sizes, different shapes, and remember less can be more.


Ribbon is like jewelry. If you wrap, but don’t add the ribbon, it’s like putting together an outfit with no accessories. Don’t do it! I know it’s exhausting. I know you are so over the holidays. Trust me. Push yourself. You will never regret the effort of putting a bow on it.

It doesn’t need to even be a bow. It can be a knot. It can be a twist. It can just be the flat ribbon. But add it. My Grandmom said to never wrap unless you use tissue paper. (tissue paper = love). My addition to that mantra: ribbon = love.

This year, I’m loving using two ribbons together. Not on every package, but here and there. Just enough to keep it fun. Tip: If you are only using one ribbon, make sure it’s wired. If you are using two ribbons, the second doesn’t need wire.


And pick your ribbon up as you go. This stuff can be $$$$. I grab it at yard sales, with coupons, and yup, I also pay full price. If your not in love with ribbon yet, trust me and try it. You will be.


Yay Fall!  In almost no time, I made these awesome pumpkin/succulent centerpieces & you can too.


Hallow out your pumpkins, and simply place your tiny succulents in them, like you would any planter. Have some extra potting soil on hand.  Go for unusual colors, like this white, for a new and different look.  For bigger pumpkins, group different succulents together.  Give them a good watering as you plant, and they’ll require almost no upkeep.  Stack pumpkins and gourds for height.  Happy Fall-ing!



This craftsman kitchen was so much fun to design! My favorite things are the black “leather” counter tops on the outlying cabinets vs. the white marble of the island. (Note: no island seam! I did it! I found a 12 foot slab of the exact marble we needed!) Be sure to check out my interpretation of a modern “butler’s pantry.” It’s the shelving that leads to the pantry. I added a swinging door to keep it super fun and interesting. And, I know you won’t believe it, but I trash picked the table and chairs! Check back later for the video showing how I saved the table, and of course, the chairs have a secret too.






I love working with teens because they know what they want and they aren’t afraid to break rules. How much fun would it be to hang out here? The best part of this room is we ditched the headboard in favor of a colorful map tapestry.


I call this “elevated college dorm.” It has all the freedom of a room you decorated all on your own, but is pulled together using color and collections. And yes, a collection can be as simple as the green Perrier bottles on the sofa table, which for our purposes has been converted into a desk.


Don’t be afraid to have fun with design!


And find a way to display what your client loves…it makes a house a home!



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Yard Sale Baby! The couch and pillows were store purchased, but everything else in this room was a yard sale buy. So much fun!

Be sure to check out the “sweater” pillows on the couch. Soft and textured like your favorite sweater, this hot trend is the inexpensive must have for fall. Get ‘em while you can.




Powder rooms are small spaces, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a big design impact. Here, our super modern vanity steals the show with it’s clean, sleek look. I accessorized with a silver fruit collection, a fun take on the old fruit bowl.

Still deciding what to do with the walls. Until then, I’m happy!


It’s Christmas in July! Check out my latest appearance on Hallmark’s Home & Family. (video link above).


July is the perfect time to craft for Christmas! There’s no stress, you can actually give some thought to your Christmas decor and you can enjoy the crafting. (It’s also a great time to sort through your Christmas clutter….but that’s the subject of another post.)

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Here I made gumball trees that Mrs. Obama displayed in the State Dining Room last December. I also showed Barbara Bush’s ballet slipper ornaments. But maybe the craft I’m most excited about are these chic, modern gold nutcrackers! They were featured in the Red Room in 2013.

Home and Family 4214 Final Photo Assets

Watch the clip for all the how too’s and DIY steps. Merry! Merry!


Following my party rule of “three special touches,” I came up with the idea of these adorable graduation caps. I made one for our dog door stop and one for our budda and baby statue. They were super easy. I put the dog by the front door, and called it a graduation party.


I used: a stiff piece of paper stock (I just had this glittered one in my stash), hot glue, paper clips, scissors and yarn. You don’t even need the paper clips, but they were a cheat in this instance. So, if your short on time, have some on hand.

The top of your cap is a simple square. The square needs to be bigger than the head you are putting the cap on. Hold the paper above the head, eyeball it, and cut yourself a square. Very scientific. Next, cut a strip of paper, about an inch wide, long enough to go around the entire head. Hot glue the ends of this strip to each other so you have a circle. (This is where you can also use the paper clip to hold the ends together). Now, glue the square to the top of your circular strip. Cap is done. Now, take your yarn. This makes the tassel. Eyeball what you want the drop of the yarn to be. Cut several pieces of yarn this same length, bundle, and hot glue onto the top of the cap. You could have made three in the time it took me to type that.


Maeve’s graduating. What? Who let her turn 18? Here’s a few ideas from her grad party that you are free to steal.

I love creating vignettes at a party. Here’s my rule: you need at least three vignettes scattered about your party. If you do it right, they tell the story of the party and let your guests know just why the occasion is special. If you do it wrong, your friends might accuse you of creating a shrine to the guest of honor. (As once happened to me) Try not to create a shrine. It’s a balancing act people.


When decorating for a party, especially graduations, throw back school photos are great. Make use of cake stands and plate stands, to give your display items different visual height. My Mom taught me that framing the party menu is always a nice touch. Candle wax is your best friend. Keep it on you at all times. In a flash, I attached the gold star garland and a third grade pic of the graduate to my menu frame.

Throw back photos are great, but you need to throw in some throw back memorabilia as well. This is why you are saving all that stuff! In this shot, you see the apple Maeve made in school. Yup, this is the finish line. First grade to Senior Year. It’s now or never. Bring some of that stuff out.

And, collect up some items on theme. The Graduation Doll is super sweet. And if you are lucky enough to have a friend who loves to bake cookies in the shape of a graduation cap, display those prominently. She even sprinkled them in the school colors. It takes a village to have a great party. xo


Since we are one nation obsessed with Mason Jars, it only seemed right we pull out the acrylic and paint with red, white and blue. Except we didn’t have white.


So we made do. They turned out so cute, we didn’t even miss the white paint. But if we did, we could have easily filled the jars with white rice, or cotton balls. To get the star effect, we cut star shapes out of duct tape and stuck to the jar. We painted right over them, and when the paint was dry, we peeled them off. TIP: Expect your star edges to be messy. You can clean them up and create sharp lines with a toothpick.


And if you don’t have bunting, but want that patriotic feeling, here’s a fast and cheap way to get the look. We bought a red, a white and a blue plastic table cloth at a dollar store. We used rubber bands to bundle the ends, and string to tie in the middle and at each end.


Done! Took less than five minutes and we don’t have to worry about it getting wet. For fun, we added white paper stars.  Cheap & easy!


This one from pinterest always got me, and I always wanted to try to put my own spin on it. Finally, it came to me — the ric rac firecracker sunburst. You see it there in the middle?  It’s a supporting player, but adorable nonetheless. Sure, some people invent the internet or electricity. I’ve got the ric rac firecracker sunburst. And you know what? It makes me happy.

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But here’s the thing, I didn’t come up with the ric rac firecracker until we were well into this project, which was inspired by someone else’s idea. But, I think that’s ok. Even if the ric rac firecracker never crossed my mind, we had fun doing this project. Here’s what we did:


Quick ran around the house and found four empty toilet paper tubes. Not hard. No one in the place ever changes them out. The only thing we bought were the red, white and blue patterned fabric squares. We had the skewers, paper, small styrofoam balls, tissue paper, ric rac, glitter and rice. Because those things are staples, people.

The trick to the project is to glue the fabric to the tube, and then hot glue (on low) a styrofoam ball inside the toilet paper tube at the top. This gives your skewer something to attach too, as well as provide a foundation for the “hat,” or top of the firecracker. For the hat, trace a circle on colored paper, cutting one slit towards the center of the circle. Then make a cone with the paper circle and glue on top of firecracker.

To make the genius ric rac firecracker, repeatedly loop your ric rac. When you get about 15 loops on either side, tie in the middle with a knot. Cut all the loops. Hot glue to your skewer.

Now, we went over board and made a red, white and blue base of rice. If you lose your mind like us and want to do this, it’s one cup of dry rice, one teaspoon of vinegar and then add food coloring until you reach the color you like.  Let dry before you use.


I’m a big fan of porches. Who isn’t? What I love about this one is it’s simple charm.


Nothing here is super expensive, and that’s part of the beauty. I’m sure you’d love to spend some time here.


The blue pot and yellow wreath are the perfect touch of color. And the pot just leaves you dreaming of shucking summer corn. Or better yet, the kids shucking corn.


You get the impression this family has everything it needs: a porch for dreaming, a pot for cooking, wood for warm fires.


And who doesn’t love a milk box. This porch is more than design. It’s a call to a lifestyle. Love!


Okay, when I made the Birthday Chalk Board for the front door, I mistakenly thought it was reusable. Not so. Apparently, the girls got it in their minds they each would have their own birthday front door. (What have I created?)

What to do for a 17 year old? Wasn’t sure at first. Didn’t want frilly, or childish. Happy to report I got this one right! And, for virtually no money. I had a one dollar frame from a yard sale, bought the M and the 17 at a craft store, painted them with the leftover chalkboard paint from Brenna’s birthday, and through up some paper flowers. I had hoped to up my paper flower game, but ran out of time and went with the old pattern I always use. Happy to report the teenager almost smiled.

I’m loving the new square and rectangle looks on my front door. Let’s see what comes next….


Kids’ tables are practical, but they can be stylish too. (At which point, they’re really for the moms!) Here my friend Kimberley and I challenged ourselves to a kids’ green table. We used recycled brown bags as place mats, with crayons for coloring, and put flowers and herbs in containers kids can chalk on. Best of all, we found another reason to use small milk bottles. So much fun, we’d even sit there!


Red, white and blue always leaves me patriotic, even when it’s gumballs. This one is super simple — colored gumballs in mason jars. I took it a step further by making the pinwheels. You can find the instructions here: bit.ly/1FFSGxZ

Remember to thank a Veteran!


Spring is high birthday season at our house. In full disclosure, I did own a birthday wreath that I made and would hang each year for the girls. But that went the way of the burst pipe, with the rest of our belongings. I never really loved it and I just couldn’t bring myself to make a replacement. Enter the Birthday Board. What bored me with the wreath was it’s shape. I wanted something to fill most of the door and be a little different.


I bought this long rectangular poster frame that I knew was the right size/shape for my door.
Short on time, I painted the card board backing with chalk board paint. When it was just dry enough, I wrote a birthday message and added the burlap bow. Even if I had more time, not certain what I would have done different.

Bonus, the guests all left the birthday girl a message!

#birthdaydiy #birthdaygirl #partydiy


Found a cute store called Vintage Funk that was featuring 70’s green and brown. Loved it! Even though I would traditionally do green and brown in the fall, this works for spring. The white off sets it and makes it feel lighter.

I love the 70’s! By pairing this leaf shaped 70’s plate with more traditional items a room immediately takes on funky, modern feel. Try it. You’ll love it. Promise. Thanks Vintage Funk for the inspiration!


I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with florals. After the Lilly Pulitzer free for all on Pink Sunday, I guess I’m more in the love phase. Those crazed preppy girls scared it into me. I thought this vintage floral lamp hit the sweet spot. Lilly would be proud. And no pushing or shoving. Lilly would be proud.

#lillypulitzer #pinksunday

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My pics from the Philadelphia Flower Show prove there’s an outside trend in the making: Organic Garden Walls. I loved this one made from fresh cut logs, and filled in with various garden plants. (By that, I mean, I have no idea what the varieties are called!) And anyone who knows me, knows I love to decorate with sticks (seriously). This just takes it to a different level.


Here’s a second option with thick vertical branches. Also, awesome.


Finally, copper is not only the color of the moment for interior decorating, it’s amazing outside as well. Love the shine the copper sheets bring to the garden.

Even though my bracket is busted (Villa-no where!), I still love this post from last year. I got grief because I didn’t use actual college basketballs, but in a pinch, I still think this is fab! Enjoy the throwback:


I love decorating for sports themed parties with actual sports equipment. Here, I made an easy centerpiece with a basketball and a glass pedestal vase. It’s always stunning to mix materials that you don’t normally put together. I filled the vase with curled ribbon in our team colors, added a few green leaves, and placed my basketball on top. That fast I was done, and the basketball centerpieces looked great. (Of course!)


My wonderful friend found love love again, and I am thrilled for her, but I might be even happier that she found Fishtail on the Upper East Side! It’s my new favorite spot for anything. Plus, it’s Celebrity Chef David Burke’s place. No, I’m not related. (But in my mind, all things are possible. Perhaps, my in-laws just haven’t introduced me to him yet? It’s plausible, they’re a quiet bunch and I’ve only been in the family 18 years).


As I mentioned, Fishtail would be awesome for anything. In this case it was a bridal luncheon, and it was divine.


Then again, they had me at the light fixtures. Can you say work of art?


The pieces in me was very, very happy.


With all the talk of flowers on this blog, it’s only fitting that I went to The Philadelphia Flower Show, which is the biggest flower show in the country. I’d go to a little flower show, so how could I pass up the biggest? But with all the flowers, what I fell in love with was this outdoor bedroom.


Who wouldn’t want to sleep in a bed like this, even just once? I’d even sleep in it in the middle of the Convention Center. It’s romantic. It’s exotic. It’s fabulous.


Adored everything about this outdoor room! Getting to the flower show was not easy. I asked seven different people to go. It looked liked I’d have to go it alone. There was just one last person to ask, and she was a long shot.



So, the vase obsession, or lack of vases, continues. A year with no flowers, and now, we’re rotting with them. We’re getting tired of looking at our improvised glass milk jar vases. Enter burlap. I’m still not over the burlap/twine trend.


So while we have no vases, we do have burlap. This time, I wrapped it around a empty can. You can either hot glue or pin it, whichever is easier. Viola! Vase crisis averted.



Poor President’s Day – it’s the little holiday no one cares about. Well, I care about President’s Day. I care so much I’m going to celebrate all week! And, I love this funky, history inspired decor that the Hotel Monaco has going. I grew up in an historic area — and I thought I’d seen every version of George Washington out there. But I was wrong and this is my new favorite.


It’s so over the top, you forget it’s conservative. Decorating with George and Abe is hip? You bet. This wall paper is so amazing it’s revolutionary. Sorry, got carried away with the President’s Day motif. This look is great though. And it has edge.

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We are still in the Hotel House (our name for the rental we’ve been living in since our house was destroyed). The rental house is bare bones, just what you need. We’ve been here almost a year — and we just realized we don’t have a vase! What? This can’t be my life. But it is. No need for fresh flowers in almost a year??? Talk about a crime, but we’ll have to get to that another time. The point is, when Brenna got flowers after the school play, we had no vase. I didn’t think twice, and put them in this water bottle. The Hotel House was brought out the pioneer in me, or as I like to think, the college girl. (She seems more fun than a pioneer, right?)

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Thank goodness my Mom knows better, and showed up the next day with some mason jars. We put Brenna to work, and the presentation was so much better! College girl be gone! We’re adults now, Hotel House or not.


And you know what? If I had a vase, I would have put them in water myself. Having no vase led to a great afternoon. I got to teach Brenna about cutting, preserving and arranging store bought flowers. And she had fun!!!!


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I love when decorations transition from one season to another. These snowflakes were actually the December decorations at my new favorite place, Hotel Monaco, in Washington, DC. But they work for January too. I secretly hope they don’t take them down!


And just because they were so fabulous, here’s a few more pics!


cherry blossoms

If the nasty weather has you down, how about some cherry blossom nails? Brenna’s doing a 31 day nail design challenge and the whole house smells like nail polish remover. Still, we’re thinking spring…

cherry blossoms


So, because you asked (ok, you know you wanted too), here’s my take on two wreaths done right. Both of these are the right drop from the top of the door, and the right thickness. Send me your pics of wreaths done right @bycoleen. No wreaths gone wrong. No need for public shaming!



Okay, I’ve become attached to the Crazy Garage Wreath, which I rescued from the trash. I just had to see it up close. And when I saw it up close, I kind of fell in love with it. And when I dropped over it over our Buddha Baby, I felt like it had found the perfect home.

So for the time being (until I regain my sanity), the Crazy Garage Wreath makes me smile every time I open the door.


So here’s one of the reasons we got to come to LA — to stop by Hallmark’s Home & Family. Cristina Ferrare & Mark Steines are so much fun! We talked about White House Christmas decorating and how you can get the White House look in your own home.

Home and Family 3066 Final Photo Assets

We made these adorable 3D book ornaments. As you can see, I was very happy!

Home and Family 3066 Final Photo Assets

As Cristina says, “so stinkin’ cute.” My friend Jen Lange, an incredible artist, designed the template of the children holiding hands.

Home and Family [Episode #] Final Photo Assets

And, I even got my own dressing room! Notice, no name. No star. But, it’s a start.



Came across these great ways to use books in holiday decorating at the Junior League Show House in Princeton, NJ. Above, paper books are opened and tied with twine. Below, pages are torn from a book, and cascade down from the Christmas village. A library geek at heart, of course, I think this is genius. Merry! Merry!



At the National Archives, Tim Gunn told a really funny story about when he used fake, plastic apples on the White House Christmas Tree when he decorated for First Lady Rosalynn Carter. He bought them at Sears! He cringed, but said they looked great on the Blue Room tree. A few days later, looking through the holiday windows at Saks, what do I see? Red plastic apples. That Tim Gunn…always ahead of the trend. #lovehim

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The library geek in me almost died when the National Archives asked me to be on their panel “Deck the Halls: Holidays at the White House.” I didn’t even know it was on my bucket list!

Here’s the link if you want to check it out:



Rounding out the panel: Tim Gunn (love him even more now that I met him in person), Lynda Johnson Robb (President Johnson’s daughter who I had so many questions for), Gary Waters (former White House Cheif Usher who knows all, and I mean all, the secrets) and HGTV’s Genevieve Groder (ok, love her even though she’s a even more of a statuesque goddess in real life).

And thank you to everyone who stayed for the book signing!



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Ok…Adventures in Decorating is an understatement. MSNBC got me involved in some serious speed decorating! I loved it! I felt like I was on a reality show– decorate this beautiful NYC apartment in a hot second, with no ladder, no water! (that water part is a lie). It was like Survivor meets MSNBC’s The Cycle. Thank goodness anchor Abby Huntsman is so laid back, and so much fun!


It didn’t turn out all bad. This a sneak peek at Abby’s coffee table. Complete with natural wood elements (think Mrs. Carter, Mrs. Obama) and adorable Santa pics we had reprinted from when Abby and her husband were little kids. (think Peg Christian, my Mom. Stole this idea from her). Abby had never seen her husband’s pic with Santa, and her reaction was super sweet. But we are getting ahead of ourselves.


The whole crew came together to try get this done. Below, is a pic of the saddest Christmas pole. Proof you definitely need the right tools to decorate. In this case, a ladder!


Looking back, speed decorating is a great way to start. You bang out all your ground work, but then you need time to go back an finese. Some things you can throw together fast, like this center piece using silver ornaments, glass bowls and battery operated lights. Some things you can’t throw together in less than an hour. Lesson learned. Note: we all laughed till we cried over that pole! It still makes me crack up.


Here’s the link:

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White feather boas have been a staple on my tree since Maeve was a baby…that’s about 15 years! I guess if I love something, I really love it. Feather boas are super luxe and super fun at the same time. They are my favorite way to create snow on a Christmas tree. Next year I’m going bold — white feather boas and orange bubble ornaments!

boa 2


The most amazing thing I spotted at the Princeton Junior League Show House was this beautiful succulent banister. Most times, succulents give me a bohemian 70’s vibe I just love. But this banister banished that vibe. It was pure, high scale elegance.


I loved everything about it — it’s originality, it’s creativity, and it’s Southern magnolia leaves. Holiday heaven!




I have the privilege of working with DK Interior Concepts in my hometown to decorate a fabulous restaurant called The Yardley Inn for Christmas. I was on mantle duty. The Yardley Inn has amazing charm and we wanted to pair that with a very sleek look. We started by hanging three mirrors and accessorizing with high impact silver vases.


Here’s my mantel tip: whatever is on your mantel year round, take it down for the holidays. (Mantels aren’t terribly large, so your not packing up a ton of stuff.) In this case, we removed the year round painting. By starting fresh, we created an entirely new, fun look. And sometimes change is easier when you think it’s only temporary! (I can see management falling in love with these mirrors, and trying to figure out on Jan. 2 if they really, really want that painting back!)


The reflection between the new mirrors and the vases is amazing. Big red ornaments and pine cones finish the look. Now I just have to go back and get pics when the fire is blazing! Tweet me if you have have dinner/drinks by the mantel, I’d love to see your pics. @bycoleen.


I’m not as Black Friday crazy as some of my friends, but these adorable doors just make me want to go inside and get something. I mean, if their taste in doors is this good, there has to be something in there for me! The store is Charming Charlie and it’s worth a trip just to go through the door!


Ziploc prep like to pros

Ziploc prep like the pros

I was delighted when Ziploc included me in their holiday round up of experts. Oh, dear Ziploc you do not know how I honor you daily as I pack those never ending lunches. Thank you for keeping their fritos safe and dry, their chips from spilling all over their backpacks, and jelly from a squished sandwich contained. You may have just found me, but I have loved you forever.

Check out the Ziploc post:

Thanksgiving Prep Like The Pros


Coleen Christian Burke is a holiday decorator for the White House. She recommends taking the family on an autumn hike to pick up seasonal treasures for your Thanksgiving display. “You can collect whatever catches your eye: twigs, berries, pinecones, etc.” she explains. “You can’t help but feel thankful when you bring nature into your home at Thanksgiving.”



Outdoor Thanksgiving displays are simply pared down Halloween displays. Get rid of the the scary and keep the orange. I love this rusty, metal flower pot holder that I trash picked. (If I was being fancy, that would be “rustic” instead of “rusty.” But trust me, it’s rusty.)


I found some Daisy Squash at my local farmers, for .50 a piece. So for $3.00,and a strand of fake leaves I’ve had forever, I was done. Bonus: my farmer tells me when I’m bored of the display, I can cook the Daisy Squash with butter and brown sugar at 350 degrees for an hour. He swears it’s delicious. I’ll get back to you on that.


P.S. this is what it looked like when I found it on the curb. Who could have thrown it away???!


I always smile when these turkeys come to town! Before the ice storm last year, I was rotting with turkeys. I didn’t have the space to display them all. So I’m extra thankful for these turkeys that survived. To make the display, I use tall glass vases and some white candle stick holders.


If you have a lot of turkeys, use different size vases to create different levels. Turkeys can be tricky– some stick with tape, others require sticky candle wax. (My go to magic adhesive for every occasion). Your kids will love seeing their artwork,


and you will love seeing what their little minds were thankful for!


It’s that time of year again when I start talking about the design style of the First Ladies and won’t stop! I was psyched when The Acorn Club, located in Philadelphia, invited me to speak. The Acorn Club is the oldest women’s club in America. A group of women formed it when they got ticked they weren’t allowed in the old boys club. Good for them! I love that spirit and it’s still going strong today. It was originally a walking club, which I love!


On the table, are some of my recreations of the First Ladys’ holiday style. How cute are Jackie Kennedy’s miniature present ornaments?

What’s a girl to do when she spies a jar of popcorn kernels and she’s not quite sure how long they’ve been in the cabinet? Decorate with them of course.


Glassware is the quickest and fanciest way to decorate. I grabbed two wine glasses, poured the kernels in and dropped in a tea candle. Presto! I’m in the Thanksgiving state of mind.


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Square lamp shades continue to be my obsession. And a hot design trend. You can find them for table tops
and even wall scones.

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These are from the super high end luxury lighting source Currey & Company. Something to dream about. Until then,
I’m happy to hunt for the knock off versions in my favorite bargain stores!

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What’s Halloween without some black spray paint? I sprayed my pumpkin with black gloss paint, mixed it in with some fun white gourds, threw in some pipe cleaner spiders, and called it a done display. The slightly dying plant even fit right in! Loving the black & white this year!



One of my favorite things to do (ok, everything’s my favorite), is to mix things up. So of course, I dropped a big pipe cleaner spider (you can never have too many) right on top of these elegant flowers. Unexpected, and loved by everyone who saw them! (except for the guys who were like, “oh, somebody put a spider on some flowers.”)


I also adore draping drug store webbing all over elegant furniture and homes. These pics are behind the scenes of a new web show I’m hosting called Holiday Insider.


Give you more info when I have it!



The best thing about the hotel house (for those of you new to the blog, this is what I loving call the rental home we are living in while we try to figure out if we can ever rebuild our home), is that it’s pared way down. Only the stuff you need. All my decorating traditions have to be re-invented (again), and these curtain ghosts just make me smile. It was crafting at first site. The moment I saw the windows last March, I knew this was going to happen if we were still here at Halloween.


So cute, and done in under seven minutes. I know because I looked at the clock in horror. I wanted to have these done to surprise Brenna when she woke up for school. Too much GMA, and I was under the gun. No worries. I only needed black felt, tape and scissors. I free hand cut the circles, taped them to the curtains, and waited for the giggles. Overall, a great morning. And by the way, this was how it all started.



The last time we saw our pumpkins, they were on top of a pile of pumpkins that had been carved for a candlelit walk called Canal-o-ween.


When it got dark, we headed out to Canal-o-ween to see how the whole thing turned out.




We weren’t disappointed. Going back next year, with or without teenagers!


Canaloween is an amazing idea! I heard about after it was over last year, and promised myself we’d go this year. Easier said than done, with two reluctant teenagers. At least my eleven year old wanted to go. You read it hear first, I am officially not dragging anyone to anything else. Those days where we could just go and do fun, campy things are over, and I begrudgingly accept it. That said, WE HAD A REALLY GREAT TIME! (that’s not denial, we did!)


So here’s the gist. We live in a place that has a beautiful canal that leads to the river. Some genius (I mean that in the nicest way, I wish it was my idea), decided it would be beautiful to come together as a community, carve jack-o-lanterns, line the canal path with them and take a candle lit stroll.


Local businesses sponsor the event, so its no cost to the families. They even provide all the tools. In the end, everyone had fun (one teenager even admitted it). And we can’t wait to come back tonight to see how it looks!



Halloween is a really fun time to help your community. The Moonlight Trail in Montclair, NJ is one great example. It’s run by Van Dyke Health Care. It’s a moonlit walk through over a thousand carved jack-o-lanterns. Some spooky, some sweet, all for a really good cause. And it’s a great place to take a shameless selfie.


The Moonligtht Trail raises money for the local food pantry. You can see by the set-up, how much fun it is…and how much work goes into getting it done.


All those pumpkins need to get carved, set-up and lit. Volunteers are always welcomed. Last year they raised almost $2,500. So get in on the fun. Find out what’s going on in your town. It’s a chance to be spooktacular. (sorry, couldn’t resist).


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So this year’s Halloween decor started off with a box of cast of stuff from my Mom. In the box were a handful of black ornaments. Now, one the commandments that I usually follow is that ornaments are only for Christmas. But beggars can’t be choosy. I threw these up on the brass chandelier that I have always hated in the hotel house, and suddenly, I liked it, I really liked it. I would never have done this at my old house (or any place I have lived really). And now I wonder why I was being such a snob. It’s really cute, and even sometimes feels chic.

Who knew? Have the courage to break your traditions!


Okay, this family gets lots of points for this guy. I loved his height, his burlap-like garb– basically everything about him. Just wouldn’t want to see him alone at night.

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Somethings in life are just worth paying for. An Olillo handbag is one of those things. If you haven’t heard of Olillo yet, you will. They just launched this week with seven amazing styles, designed by seven amazing women. Proceeds from each sale go to support the charitable causes of each woman. Can you say “handbag charity?” Heaven!


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Each of the women behind the bags has an incredible story and a noble cause. Simply put, Olillo is luxury with soul. How great is that?

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Any woman whose ever carried a bag, knows it’s more than just a bag. The genius design team at Olillo figured that out, and upped the soul factor. Each bag is more fantastic than the one before, and the stories behind them are even more amazing. Worth saving your pennies for! Curious? Check them out at www.Olillo.com.

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But they’re not cheap. If you are going to splurge on one luxury item this lifetime, it should be on Olillo. Buy an Olillo handbag and help change the world!


Along our October theme of having no time, we made this super easy ghost. (By we, I mean Brenna, age 11). Do I have to say it? Ok, I love him. Materials list: large styroam head, two packages of cheese cloth, and black paint. Bonus, I used a fifty percent off coupon on the styrofoam head. The cheese cloth is less than three bucks and we had the paint.


We draped the cheese cloth over the ball. Brenna finger painted the face. We could have ended it there, but Brenna used scissors to shred the cheese cloth at the bottom. We used a low heat glue gun (hot would have melted the styrofoam) to secure our nail on the top of his head. Hung on tree. Done.

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I love fall decorating! All of my fall decorating was down to science. I could get it done in record time, with time left to free-lance and be creative. Oh, how I loved my decorations and the system I had worked out. Then, we moved. Then, our new house flooded and was unlivable. (sorry dear readers who are sick of this old story). At this point all my decorating traditions are wiped out. So I’m starting over. Fall Decorating Phase One is all sweet and nice. Pumpkins, gourds, and happy scarecrows.

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It’s as simple as grouping a bunch of pumpkins together. Done. Now Phase Two Fall Decorating will be more of a challenge. Phase Two: Scary. Check back if you dare.


Life Rule #11 (ok, I just made that eleven number up. But, I feel like I should at least have eleven rules to live by at this point, right?). So back to #11: you must have art in your life. To do this, you must make friends with artists, if you are not lucky enough to be one yourself. The artist in this instance is my fabulous cousin Courtney. Maybe making friends with artists is too ambitious. Just go for one. Your life will be better. Check out Courtney’s art at #WatercolorWednesday.

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You know I love art that comes home from school more than anything! So I was crazy about what my friend Karen did in her daughter Gracie’s room.

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Karen stole the idea from…herself! She used to be a teacher and this is how she decorated her classroom with her students’ work. She simply hung yarn securely, and used clothespins to hang whatever came home from school.

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The best part is the art changes all the time. Eventually Gracie will decide what goes up and down….and art will probably be replaced by One Direction!

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My favorite new thing this fall is my brother Dave’s wishing well fountain. Of course, he made it himself. (See Garden Gift Bags for more on him). I love that it is so rustic and fun, and nothing like the style of everyone else in our family.

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He made it from an old water pump my Grandfather had, and I’m guessing, some type of new electric water pump from Home Depot or Lowe’s. I didn’t ask because I knew I wasn’t taking these project on anytime soon. (Why would I, if I could just get Dave to make it?) Or, maybe he made the pump too. It’s possible.

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Wishing wells remind me of those days as a kid when you could toss a penny and a dream could come true…

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I guess we’ve both grown up…look what Dave is wishing for these days!


One of the hottest decorating trends Fall 2014 is metal. Don’t be afraid! You don’t have to be super modern to get in on the trend. If fact, I went a little old school eclectic when I decorated my bedroom dresser. I mixed a couple metal purses I’ve had forever, with some of those rocks that I drug home from vacation. (For new readers, I am not talking about my rings. I did bring white ocean rocks home from vacation). Remember, I told you I’d use them for something!


The mix of mediums is a great surprise. I love the look every time I come in my room! Later this week: How to Mix Metals in Your Decor.

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What’s better on a sleepy summer Saturday than a Farmers’ Market? I was so lucky to get there when the little flower ladies were setting up (actually they got lost and I gave them directions!), because I’m sure their beautiful flowers sold out! $5.00 a bunch, they were the deal of the weekend.

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Life is funny! When we lived close to New York City, we had a huge farmers’ market practically in our back yard. Ironically, when we moved to the “country” we had none. So I was super excited when some awesome volunteers got together to open one right around the corner from us.

If you can believe it, the flowers were more amazing in person!

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Take an American favorite, the ice cream cone, and bring it to a whole new level. All you need are ice cream cones, vanilla icing, and red, white & blue sprinkles. Spread icing on the end of your cone, and roll in sprinkles. That easy you have a fun & fancy desert guaranteed to make everyone smile.

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There are a few things I can’t resist ( ok, there are a lot of things I can’t resist), and a sign like this is one of them!

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Lured in by the fresh produce sign, I found these gorgeous flower slings, filled with impatiens flowers. The vertical shape is fantastic for any backyard.

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My friend Liz is an amazing hostess. She always has the prefect touch to any occasion. Not so long ago, Brenna and I were lucky enough to sleep over, and found these little chocolates on our fresh towels! Of course, I also loved the wire ribbon tied around the towels — better than any Five Star hotel! Everybody should be so lucky to be invited to Liz’s.

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My sixteen year old lives for Urban Outfitters. I could use a little more fabric on their shorts, but have no problems with their design inspiration. I love the oversize funky fitting room door they created by combining two vintage doors. If that’s too over the top for your style, how about this towel bar they created using reclaimed wood? Fabulous!

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Random things I found on vacation, that I loved, and that convinced me I need to go on vacation even more!

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And yes, my friends were horrified, that I gathered up about thirty pounds of these beautiful white ocean rocks, and packed them in my suitcase. I tried to convince them I knew just what I was going to do with them. Check back to see how it works out.

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Bar carts are all the rage this year, but you can still set up for cocktails if you don’t have one. I found these vintage glasses at a yard sale, and they were just too cute to keep in the cabinet. I simply set them up as part of my Christmas décor. I found a spot on my counter, and added my old standby– glass beads. That easy, I was in the Christmas spirit and ready for drinks if friends stopped by. (okay, they didn’t –but I was ready!)

Check out my ehow appearance if you want more details!

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If you’re like me, you hate to see the Christmas tree go! So, I’ve come up with a little tradition to make the transition back to everyday life a little bit easier. Before our tree goes out the door, I always clip a few branches to use in a greens arrangement.

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This year, I used three 1950’s beer glasses to make my display. After the fussiness of the Christmas season, I love the simple lines of this look. Plus, we get to enjoy the fresh pine smell a little bit longer.

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Easing myself back into reality!

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The last two Christmas’ I have had the honor of helping to decorate the Pennsylvania’s Governor’s Mansion. This year I was on flower duty! 33 original arrangements for the gala that kicked off the Christmas season.

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The First Lady of Pennsylvania, Susan Corbett, chose some amazing peonies she wanted to be the star of the arrangements. After I gave each one a fresh cut, I took the end of my cutters and gently pushed down on the end of the stem, essentially breaking it. HOT TIP: Breaking the bottom of the stem gets water to the flower faster and helps it to live longer. Then, the flowers went back in their buckets until I was ready for them.

The best thing about the PA Governor’s Mansion are the beautiful gardens. Even in December, they have all sorts of greens to clip. A short trip to the garden and I had all the greens I needed. HOT TIP: For winter arrangements chose several different varieties of greens to make your arrangements more visually interesting.

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When making more than one arrangement to be used at the same event, let your creativity go when making the first one. Then when you have a look you like, re-create. Somtimes this is not so easy! If your arrangement is not looking right from the start, or goes astray, start over. Trust me, it’s easier and faster in the long run. HOT TIP: Don’t fight your flowers and greens. If it doesn’t feel right, it’s faster to pull it all out and start over. Trust me, you’ll end up doing it anyway. Cut your losses, and you’ll be surprised how fast it all comes together.

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