DIY Decorating Ideas for Your Dining Room

That time of wonderful year is almost here when the holidays arrive that inspire the most parties and gatherings. I personally LOVE this time of year for a host of reasons, mainly because it is a time when family and friends come together to simply celebrate what we have and being together. It’s also so much fun to decorate the house for the season and put on my creative hostess hat to plan some fun parties that everyone can enjoy.

To kick off this season, I’ve gathered five easy and beautiful DIY projects for the dining room to set the festive mood as you dine with your nearest and dearest.

Good Housekeeping

Here’s a very simple yet chic way to create your own personalized centerpiece. Just find a plain white, retangular serving dish (these are EVERYWHERE right now — you can get them very inexpensively at places such as Ross or HomeGoods) and place three candles (two medium-height, one tall looks best) in a row in the center of the dish. Next, surround the candles with a candy of your choice that will suit your color scheme. For Christmas, Good Housekeeping cleverly chose red and white peppermints, but you could easily use this same concept for other color schemes and seasonal themes. For Halloween, for instance, you could use candycorns or black licorice. You could also substitute the candy for other items such as seashells, sand, marbles, pebbles, flower petals, etc for everyday decorating.

Life Without Expectations

We’ve all seen those little 12×12 tile sets at home improvements stores such as Lowe’s and Home Depot that are meant for laying tile in bathrooms and kitchens. But have you ever thought of using them as placemats? They’re the perfect size and shape and add a perfect natural touch to a dining room table. Such an inspired and clever idea!

Celebrations At Home

NapaStyle sells this very cool table runner ($24-$38) that looks like a chalkboard and can be used to display your food and the name of each dish to your guests. You can easily make your own, however, by purchasing black chalk cloth at a fabrics store for a fraction of the cost. The blog Celebrations At Home suggests cutting 1 yard in half lengthwise and then laying the 2 pieces end to end to create your runner. This could even be a fun alternative to placemats that your guests can write on beside their plates. It’s especially perfect for a kid’s party! (Though I don’t doubt that adults would have a blast with it, too.)

The Family CEO

Another great and easy centerpiece idea: fill clear, glass vases of varying heights with twigs and water, then place floating candles in them. Such a beautiful effect and so simple to do. Just be sure to use the right kind of candles that are meant to float in water.

Interiors by Kenz

You’ve probably seen these DIY plates circulating Pinterest. Why? Because it’s such a fun and easy idea. All you do is get plain oven-safe dinnerware (which you can find at the dollar store, Walmart or IKEA) and draw your illustration of choice on any size plate, bowl or even a mug. Next, you bake them in the oven at 365 degrees for about 30 minutes and then let them cool and voila — you have your own customized plates, bowls, or mugs! It is recommended that you don’t wash them in the dishwasher because it will make the ink come off, so it’s best to use these as part of just the display on a table or only for food such as pastries that won’t get terribly stuck to the ceramic.

I hope some of these ideas have inspired you. You can check out my Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook for more great ideas like them.

Warm regards,

Bookcase Tips: How to Organize & Decorate Bookshelves

Bookcases are a fantastic choice for many spaces because not only do they serve as a great design element, but they are also extremely functional. Besides the obvious, bookcases can store DVDs, music, photographs, memorabilia, decorative items, files, and more. You can even add doors to some bookcases (like most of the affordable bookcases available from IKEA) to keep some of your stored items hidden. Bookcases don’t have to be reserved for just living rooms or home offices, either ─ they can be a great addition for a kid’s or teen’s room, a bedroom, a kitchen, a bonus room, or even a hallway (given that it is wide enough to accomodate it, of course).

A dilemma that many run into when choosing to decorate with bookcases is exactly how to organize them, because not all of us have enough books to fill an entire piece of furniture. Often there is “dead space” that needs to be filled. I’m going to give you some tips on how to decorate bookcases so that they are visually pleasing and functional!

1) Don’t go overboard on accessorizing! Some people tend to stick every single knick-knack, accessory, and framed photo they own on a bookcase. This makes it look way too cluttered and the eye has no idea where to look. Instead, choose some of your favorite items that compliment each other well (colors, shapes) and space them so that they each stand out. It is much more likely that these items will be appreciated if they aren’t shoved together and dwarfed by all the other stuff surrounding them.

This is an especially important tip if you are staging a home for sale. In that case, thin the bookcase out even more than you would if you were living there, including removing personal photographs. Buyers need to see as much visual openness as possible so the room feels larger. Here is an example of a bookcase we thinned out for a home that was going on the market:

The detail in this beautiful bookcase is now more noticable to buyers.

2)  Use pretty boxes and baskets for storage. To hide items or paperwork you don’t necessarily want to be seen, store them in boxes, baskets or crates that fit nicely onto one or more of the shelves (most bookcases have adjustable shelves if need be). There are a wide range of choices to fill this need, including boxes specifically made for files that come in solid colors or beautiful patterns. For magazines, you can find adorable magazine holders that do the job perfectly.

3) For small stacks of books, stack horizontally and vertically. Use a horizontal stack of books as a bookend to a vertical grouping and place an accessory on top of the horizontal group. Vary this technique throughout the shelves by arranging them in opposite ways.

4) If you have several smaller pieces of a like-minded object (for example: a collection of fish accessories), group them together on one shelf. A collection of small objects has more visual interest than if you were to space them all out on separate shelves. Remember, there’s power in numbers!

5) Don’t forget the top of the bookcases! If there is no special molding at the top of the bookshelf and a fair amount of space between the top of the piece and the ceiling, take advantage of this great spot for larger accessories. You can even showcase pieces of art there by leaning them against the wall. This will draw the eye upwards, which is wonderful if you have high ceilings.

I hope you find these tips helpful when decorating and organizing your a bookcase. They can be a lot of fun to decorate and a great addition to practically any room in your house. Good luck!

Warm regards,

What is “redesign”?

People ask me this all the time: what exactly is “redesign”? It’s actually one of the fastest and most fun ways to give any room in your house a makeover. Redesign is simply taking what you already own and rearranging it in a fresh way. For most of my redesign clients, I never use anything that isn’t already in my client’s home before I get there. I just rearrange things in a more efficient way and use furniture and accessories from other areas of the home. It’s truly amazing just how big a difference redesign can make. Here are some before and afters of some redesigns I’ve worked on recently:

 We swapped out the curtains and chairs for something lighter and cleared out the clutter.
The addition of the right accessories and voila – beautiful new room!

Look at how removing a few things and exchanging some pieces made such a big difference.
Note: EVERYTHING in this redesign was already owned by the client!

So, do you believe in the power of redesign yet? Try it for yourself! You can also hire a professional redesigner if you’d prefer. My company offers redesign services so if you’re in the central Florida area and would like to learn more, please contact me at or call 407-383-4361.

Warm regards,

Home Staging Trick: Book in Bloom

You’ve probably heard this before: Beauty is in the details. This is definitely true in home design and staging. The accessories pull the room together and add those little touches that truly make a house feel like a home. Here’s a cool tip that comes from one of our MHM team members, Heather Isaac:

Open up an old book halfway and fold inward two pages from the right and two pages from the left. You’ll be left with this beautiful (yet very simple and inexpensive!) design element that you can place on a coffee table, next to a bed, or even on an ottoman beside a comfy chair.

What are some of your favorite accessorizing tricks? Let me know in the comments!

Warm regards,

Follow the Red Door

Nothing grabs your attention like the color RED. That’s why (when used smartly) red can be a fantastic design element, even in staging. Yes, it IS best to use neutral color palettes when staging a home for sale, but occasionally that right pop of red is just enough to grab someone’s attention. Examples: A pillow, a piece of art, a basket of apples on the kitchen counter, or even…

A red front door! Really catches your eye, doesn’t it? It’s not for every property, but sometimes it’s that extra something that can really make a home stand out. What is your favorite way to use the color RED? Let me know in the comments!

Warm regards,