Tuesday, October 6, 2009

HUEmor me: decorating with green

There's a lot of talk about green home products and green decorating.

This post, however, is about the color green -- an always fresh color that ranges from pale sage greens to vibrant, lime green.
Look around outside and you'll see every shade of green imaginable. The combination possibilities are unlimited and that's good because I'd hate to see you limit yourself!

The yellow green on the walls of this living room are balanced by the white wood work and furnishings and the beautiful wood floors and rug. Notice that they varied the value (lightness and darkness) of the green in the room by adding darker plants. The pops of orange keep the space interesting. Lovely! (Tuck the rug under the sofa and the room is complete.)

You don't have to paint your walls to bring color into your room. The lamp and accessories on this table are a great way to introduce a little bit of a color. Grouping the green items together provides a greater impact. Yellow, orange and brown pair nicely with the green.

This photo is from a spread from the June '09 issue of
Living magazine (it was also the cover image). It's been sitting on my desk for months just waiting for this green post! I pieced it together on the scanner, hence the seam down the middle. Why the love? The mix of greens against the wood paneled walls and white furnishings is striking. The green on the skateboard and the green view from outside complete the space. Notice the pillows on the sofa? Varying values of green! Large-scaled patterns on the pillows and a smaller-scale pattern on the rug help create a great mix all around—all without paint.

If this soft green kitchen doesn't make you want to cook, what would? The light hued cabinets, the herbs and plants and the green cafe curtains all bring peace and calm to this space. Green doesn't have to be bold to be inviting!

This bold, green bed frame is balanced nicely by the brown bed linens, lamp and rolled towels. The striped bench compliments the green and the bedding pattern. The soft green walls provide high contrast to the room, which adds visual interest. There are two things I would change in this room. I would hang larger art or more smaller art over the bed and add fabric window panels to the windows. These would complete this traditional room with a green twist!

Here's a room you won't soon forget! Like the room or not, the color values are right on and the pop of orange with the green and violet creates a lovely triad color combination. The walls and other details could use some finessing, but we'll focus on the color.

Are you seeing a pattern yet? Green with orange, brown and white/cream are popular with me! This room adds color through paint, but without painting the entire room. The paneling on the lower portion of the walls add architectural interest to the room. The varying wood textures are great and the art is a nice size. My only wish is that they painted the ceiling one shade lighter than the walls. A girl can dream, right?

A few of my favorite green color pairings
(aside from what's shown here)

Green & yellow * Light green & light blue * Green, white & black * Green & red (they are complimentary colors, keep the values similar and it'll look great) * Green & pink and brown

Ballard Designs' Devon lamp
Shiny, happy & green lamp with textured lamp shade

Are you green with envy? Don't be! Add some green to your rooms in a small way (a grouping of accessories, art or a lamp) or, in a big way (paint all walls & ceiling) and sit back and enjoy the view!

What are you favorite green pairings? Leave a comment. It'll make me happy!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Number One Decor Shopping Tip

Do you have a good tip you can pass on to a friend? You know, the one you live by. The one that makes life a bit easier for you. I have one I want to share with you.  My favorite decorating suggestion is quite simple. “Buy only what you love.”

Have you ever been in a store shopping and come across something you instantly fell in love with? I mean, you have to have it? Without hesitation, your mind races and your heart sings reaching for justifications as to why you “need” buy and bring it home. 

When you make your decorating decisions based on this kind of love, automatically, you define your decor style. The aesthetics of your home will reveal your personality.

One of the reasons designers are good at what they do is because they listen. They pay attention to things you say about yourself. They find out what you love. Then they create various ways to implement and display them into your home. 

So, the next time you are shopping and find an item that grabs your attention with strong emotion, make sure you love it before you buy it. 

Simply put, a space that is decorated well comes down to four little letters, L-O-V-E.

Love the color, love the look, and love your style!!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

If You Just Believe



Believe in what your heart is saying
Hear the melody that's playing
There's no time to waste
There's so much to celebrate

Believe in what you feel inside
And give your dreams the wings to fly
You have everything you need
If you just believe

I was flipping through songs on my IPod yesterday and happened to tap on a song titled "Believe". I guess I was thinking Cher but when the song started I realized it was actually Josh Groban's version from the soundtrack to the Christmas classic, The Polar Express. Does anyone else feel like they're breaking an unwritten law by listening to Christmas music outside the season? I do...but for some reason, I let it play. The chorus struck me in a different way than it had during the holidays.  Aside from the sleigh bells in the background, it seemed even more poignant in these uncertain times.

I guess I have always been a believer that when a lesson needs to be learned the teacher presents itself. Perhaps I needed reminding that one of the biggest hurdles we face in life and in business is actually believing in what we want to achieve. I know it's easier to say than do. But believing in yourself and your business is probably the single most important thing you can do to reach your goals and dreams.

For what it's worth, I'm thankful that I ran across this song. It has put me back in a more positive mindset. What messages have you found (or overlooked) in the most unexpected places? If you've had a similar epiphany, I'd love see it in your comments here.



Believe in what your heart is saying
Hear the melody that's playing
There's no time to waste
There's so much to celebrate

Believe in what you feel inside
And give your dreams the wings to fly
You have everything you need
If you just believe

Jeffery Rice, PIR, PRS
Decor Designs, Inc.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

It's all in the details

One of my favorite aspects about Interior Redesign is incorporating my clients prized possessions and belongings into the design rather than just getting rid of them. It is all in the details and gives the room meaning. I often get goosebumps when I find a treasure and the perfect place to put it. I apply the same principles when I am entertaining and throwing a party.

I just had the pleasure of co-hosting a baby shower for my older sister & Brother in Law, Kathy & John, who are expecting their first. I had so much fun decorating for it since she is having a girl! That is a real treat and a big change since I have two boys. I tried to incorporate some fun vintage, organic and personal touches that I wanted to share.

I designed and drew a natural themed invitation with the nursery and party color theme. We included a little note card for each guest to share some "Words of Wisdom" for the expecting couple. I love to add ribbon to my custom invites. It just adds a nice little touch of whimsy.

One of the first things you noticed when you walked into the room was the dollhouse in the corner. It was my sister's when she was young. Our grandfather had made one for each of us. Needless to say it got a lot of use when we were little. It was in need of some TLC after all the years. My mom came up with the idea to repaint it in the same colors as my sister's house. They currently live in a 300+ year old house so the paint is a certain "historic" approved paint color, complete with the red door. My Dad lovingly repainted it and it turned out great! It was very special. Much like redesign, I completed one vignette at a time and worked my way around the room.

As I was recently cleaning and getting my own house ready to sell, I came across an old box with this adorable little ceramic lamb, that was actually my sisters when she was a baby! I thought it would be the perfect decoration for her party. My mom's friend Julie created a beautiful floral arrangement to go in it. I love the retro look and feel!

Another tearjerker was this lap blanket displayed in a little chest on a sofa table. It was the last blanket my late Grandmother (Lou) made. My mom had given it to me but I thought Kathy's precious baby girl-to-be should have a little piece of her much loved and truly wonderful Great Grandmother.

You will quickly learn that I am very nostalgic. I love to decorate with things that are memorable to me. My mom thinks I am a pack rat but if there is a good memory attached to something, I can't part with it. I had received a beautiful bouquet in this Peter Rabbit ceramic watering-can vase when my first son was born. I just couldn't part with it because it was so precious but it didn't really go with my boy's decor. It was the perfect addition to the party decor and will also be placed in the nursery for "Baby-to-Be Named in April." Her nursery is going to be pink, sage and beige with an organic, earthy theme.

I decided to use some of my gifts for decoration instead of wrapping them. One of the gifts for my sister was a pair of gently used shoes that I hand-painted in colors to match the nursery. They can actually be worn or used as decoration. They would make adorable tie backs for fabric curtain panels! (Yes, you can paint anything!)

I created a little vignette with the watering-can vase, shoes and a set of vintage blocks that I purchased from a thrift shop. I thought they were too cute and would be a unique element for the nursery instead of something bought from a big box store.

I also created some nursery wall art that coordinates with the invitation. It is hand drawn on the computer and printed on textured 12x12 scrapbook paper. I will add a third once the baby is born that includes her birth announcement information.

Thankfully, my mom also loves to throw a good party and always goes all out. She ordered a delicious cake and festive cupcakes for the young girls from a local Italian bakery. Of course it was covered in pink frosting! It is not only yummy to eat, but it makes for a great addition to our tablescape.

Speaking of tablescape, Julie, my mom's friend, also made the floral centerpiece. Isn't it beautiful? We placed it on a mirror and I added the pearls and adorable little baby charms which I bought at the craft store.

Another gift for the baby and nursery are these whimsical letters that I found at a thrift shop. I thought that would look great on display in the window. It says "Sweet Dreams!" It is hard to read because there is so much snow in the background outside the window!! (We are in Boston and they just got dumped on!)

I should have taken a picture of the food spread but I was so hungry by that point that all I could do was think about getting the food in my mouth! There you have it. A beautiful day shared with friends and family to celebrate the upcoming arrival of Baby-to-Be Named in April!

Thanks for letting me share our special day with you.

All my best,

aka, Auntie-t0-Be
Bringing new life to your decor and more.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Design Inspiration for Bookshelves

Home Decorating ideas and inspiration are at our fingertips. How lucky we are to have the internet.
Bookshelves have come a long way. Working for a client in need of a new look for his tired office I came upon some amazing designs and I wanted to share them.These are definitely “out-of-the-box”. I LOVE the creativity and great use of space.
A Home Decorating site I often visit is they have designs from all over the world and have a search box.

This one is from designer Zhdanova Irina.

Her design also comes with a set of sofas that can be stored as a matching ring:
- via and

This next one is a bit Whimsical but I could definitely see this in the right room.

This next one is my favorite. It can be placed on the floor or hung on a wall.

I could also see a smaller version of this in a Bath with Towels, Soaps & Slippers.

I enjoy seeing the creativity of others. I would love to hear from others as to their favorite sites. I try to "Surf" the web as often as possible.

My Best,
DesAnn Collins

Friday, March 6, 2009

Country Home Magazine

Last Issue

There has been a lot of buzz among decorators lately lamenting the closure of Domino magazine, and now sadly this month we have the announcement from Country Home that they too are calling it quits. The April 2009 issue is the last edition, according to editor in chief LuAnn Brandsen. The welcome page in this final edition really cites no reason for the closure, just a warm thank you from the editor thanking the many devoted readers.

I am seeing a disturbing trend here. Just a few weeks ago, I received a notice from the editors of Oprah at Home magazine announcing that they were sending their final edition of the magazine, and offering subscribers the O magazine as a replacement.

With the sudden closure of three popular home magazines, we as readers can only reason that the economy has also affected the publishing business, and that makes us sad indeed.

Personally I will miss Country Home because although "country" isn't my first choice in decorating, this magazine does a great job of portraying a variety of "country". In any given issue, you might see primitive, vintage, traditional, cottage, or folksy, but the photography is always pleasing to the eye and the accessorizing , top notch. The feel is always light and airy, not dark and dreary like sometimes seen in the "country" style. I like the "before" and "after" photos of kitchens and bedrooms. I like the colorful "quick tips" and "great idea" boxes punctuating the beautiful photos. I like perusing the lush flower gardens and trim boxwoods that I don't have the time to nurture now but imagine that maybe someday I will.

And aside from all that, what I like most about receiving a magazine such as Country Home in my mailbox is that it represents the idea of maybe finding a half hour this weekend to escape to my living room where no one else goes and where no one will notice me, so that I can study the pages in my own time. A beautifully done, beautifully photographed picture of a room is a powerful thing.

Another thing I will miss, and it may sound silly, but the cover of this edition makes me feel hopeful that Spring truly is coming. The soft greens and pinks and the sun-filtered trees behind this porch make me believe that even though its early March, it's acceptable to go down to my crawlspace today and hunt for some Easter bunnies to put out. On second thought, I guess that's not so silly....because don't you imagine that "instilling hope" is the intent of every good decorating magazine? This entices a shopper to slip the issue in their cart at the checkout line.

Last week I wrote about how the concept of redesign is eeking into every aspect of our lives from decorating to fashion to cooking and beyond. I couldn't help but notice how in bold black lettering on this, the final cover of Country Home, it reads "76 ways to refresh what you have". I guess that is a relevant and timely message to go out on, however sad.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

One a Day Marketing - Gimme some Passion!

Today's Motivation-A Passion for Profit

I started a business without even realizing I was starting a business. I was a young, thin, (oh, I miss those days) with my whole life ahead of me. All I knew was I loved houses and would do anything to get into them. Hmm-mm, how could I do it, how could I do it? Lightbulb moment, I would get my real estate license, and then I could get the keys to any house I wanted to see...without breaking and entering. Now combine that with my wallpapering and painting business, life was great. I didn't do it for money, I did it because I was addicted to decorating. But my passion helped me to make money without even realizing what I was doing. I was selling real estate when interest rates were 16% and was a top producer in my office. I didn't understand that was an unusually high rate, I just knew I loved, loved, loved houses. Each listing that I received was a part of my continued joy as I made suggestions and tweaks that improved the showability of a house. Many of those original clients are still now, decorating clients 30+ years later. Now Staging wasn't even on the radar yet but I knew showing a house was like going on a blind date, appearance was critical and my talents helped to increase the opportunities to sell the house. Suddenly, due to my passions, I was in business. I was working hard, but not consistently. I lost money more than made money because I wasn't a good business person. I didn't market myself, I didn't even know that was part of it. I listed a house if someone called me, I sold a house if I had a client, I had a field of dreams approach to business. After all, I had a business card, so they would come. But boy, I was passionate, every day.

As time went on, my life changed, I became a single Mom with 3 kids, and my passion had to be replaced with a need for consistent profits. I was now driven with the need to pay the eclectic bill, but I knew that whatever I did, I had to work hard and put profits first to pay the bills. I did the expected and got a J-O-B. And I hated every moment of it, it wasn't in my field of choice, but I got a paycheck each week. As time went on, I realized that I needed profits but I also needed passion. (in more ways than one) Time to look at becoming an entrepreneur again, but I needed to be an informed entrepreneur. My passion for the process would make me money, but I needed to be as good at marketing as I was at creating beautiful spaces. I needed to ensure I knew how to get people to buy what I had to sell, and focus on the areas of my business that were more lucrative. I also learned what make me passionate might evolve over time as I grew older, and no matter how old you are, you deserve to feel passionate.

Today's Dare-Get Passionate

What are you doing right now to get a paycheck? Do you love it or do you hate every moment of what you do? You are allowed and deserve to be passionate about what you do. Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? Maybe it isn't what you are doing right now, so start the ball rolling.
Start to put some passion back in your life. Do what you need to do to make it happen. Start taking classes, either live or virtually. In the last few years, we at One Day Decorating and The Decorating Academy have embraced the power of webinars, to learn and teach. So there are many ways for you to learn without interrupting your current life. Life is short, make it sweet and do what you want to do.
But do it right, start a business plan, map out a marketing strategy, surround yourself with other passionate people. Now go get passionate. I know I am!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

inspiration in a box

You are really going to think I've lost my mind this time.

I just scanned a tissue box. Yep, put it right on the scanner so I could share its design with you. Aren't I sweet?

Last week, in the midst of a bad cold I ran out to get some tissues with lotion (ah....) and the only boxes at our Rite Aid were these beautifully designed little brown boxes of comfort.

(Puffs plus tissue box, well, one side of the box)

I emptied both boxes and saved one to share with you because I love the design of the box and thought it might inspire you in your home?!

The colors didn't transfer as well as I'd hoped. The actual box has more blue in the flower and in the brown color, but you get the idea. The real point is you can be inspired by anything if you keep your eyes open!

Thank you Puffs!

I have one small request of you. Can you please click on 'comment' and tell me what odd thing (or not so odd) has inspired you in your home decor? Just one little note so I know I'm not out here all alone with my tissue box. C'mon, you can do it!


Monday, March 2, 2009

One a Day Marketing-The Strangest Story You have Ever Heard

TODAY'S MOTIVATION-Is there a Stranger in your Life?

My baby sister, Stephanie Vollentine, turned 50 this weekend and it prompted a fun gathering and a rarity, all five of the Lenart Clan together. I love spending time with my siblings and it doesn't happen often. My brother Tim Lenart, flew in from Florida, and along with my other brother, Joe Lenart, (named after my Dad) and my sister, Linda Rozanski, we all gathered Friday evening to raise a glass to our Dad,(who we all miss dearly) and wish Stephie a Happy Birthday! There was much hugging, laughing and yes, even a bit of crying as we shared stories that only family can relate to.

About midnight, I cooked breakfast and then everyone left for the night. Tom (my DH) and I went to sleep...after locking all the doors. About 6:30 AM, we got up for coffee and Tom mentioned someone was sleeping in the family room. Thinking my nephew had decided to spend the night at our house, he headed to make coffee, while I continued to the family room. He was right, someone was sleeping in the room, the only problem was it was someone I had never seen before. A Stranger was sleeping in my family room.

Needless to say, I was a bit taken by surprise. First of all, I am a light sleeper, or so I thought and I had never heard any noise doing the night. Second of all, I had locked the door but evidently because of the extreme cold recently, the door hadn't latched tightly. So here we are, a sleeping stranger in our house, and Tom trying to wake him.

I couldn't help but think how lucky this person was that Tom and I are fairly calm people, someone else could have shot him as an intruder. It took over an hour to get him to wake and be coherent. He was a young man who had been socializing way too long and thought he was sitting in the lobby of a hotel waiting for his room. We asked his name, fed him coffee, and eventually sent him on his way. He meant us no harm but how frightening to think he had wandered into a stranger's home not even knowing where he was. He finally had a moment of realization right before we escorted him out of our home and apologized. It also terrified me to think of what harm he could have done to someone else in his condition.

The story spread threw our little town like wild fire, and the guy called that afternoon to apologize. Even though we didn't know him, he knew who we were and knew an apology was in order. So why do I share this with you? Well, you have to admit, it is a strange story, but it also made me think how many things do we "sleep" through? How many strangers have entered your life or business without you knowing? Strangers like Apathy and Fear. Do you "sleep" through the messages your significant other is sending you or maybe the stories your children are trying to share with you? Does the Stranger Apathy cause you to approach your life and business with a no passion or joy? Or maybe, it is Stranger Poor Me! Wake Up, there may be a stranger in your house or your business that may not be as harmless as my stranger was.

TODAY'S DARE-Banish the Strangers

Are you reading this series with the stranger Apathy at your side? Do you think, "yeah, some good ideas, but I have been there and done that." Or perhaps, you think you will start tomorrow trying to remember what you love about what you do. Today, take a few moments and banish the strangers from your world that are causing you to not reach your dreams and potential. It is tough out there and Poor Me can suck you right into a funk that is hard to escape. But before you can banish the strangers, you need to wake up and see that they are there. So look around you and get ready of the Strangers tha are sucking the joy out of your life and business.

See you tomorrow, JoAnne

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Great Websites - Share the love!

The world Wide Web is an amazing place where you can find kindred spirits who have common interests. I love that people share their knowledge and expertise. I try to do the same and get so much out of it on my blog and on communities like . (Look for entries from "Down Home DIY"...that's me!) When you give and share yourself, you get so much more in return.

Today I got an email from Scott who runs a fantastic website with DIY tips called . It is very user friendly and has great info. on topics such as using everything from paint & wallpaper stripper to gardening tips, and so much more. So, surf on over and save it in your favorites for quick reference, you'll be glad you did!

Thanks for reaching out Scott and sharing such a great website!

Happy DIYing,

Bringing new life to your decor and more.

Final tips for taking great interior pictures

Wrapping up my "interview" with professional photographer Heather Keating, owner of , we're going to learn what we need to know about hiring a professional photographer. (All photos shown here are Heather's work.)

5. When we decide to hire a professional photographer what questions should we ask when interviewing and once we’ve hired someone, what can we do the day of the shoot to make things go smoothly?

  • Ask to see some of their interior room work. If you see photos that you would like to have represent you, than you will probably be in good hands.

  • Make sure you can use the photos for your promotional use and they are not putting the images up on stock-photography sites. (The whole point of bringing in a photographer is so you don't have to use stock photography so make sure your rooms don't end up on someone else's website!)

  • On the day of the shoot make sure the room is clean and clutter free. Also, since you will probably be in someone else's home or office make sure the photographer has good directions and exchange cell numbers for emergency contact.

6. What are the average hourly rates for a professional photographer and what should we expect to get for that investment (access to all shots? high resolution electronic images on a website? CD?)? What should we be sure to ask for?

  • Prices will vary from as little as $50 up to several hundred dollars (I charge around $100 per hour). This means 1 hour of time on site plus whatever editing and delivery time I put into the photos afterward. Travel time may also be a factor for some photographers.

  • Remember that you are paying for experience and equipment. For a job that you are very proud of you should consider bringing in a professional photographer. While your camera and photos may be working for you now it is good to see what a professional can do with the space. It may make a world of difference in your clients willingness to pay for your services.

  • Most photographers will do basic editing (getting rid of images that are very similar) and give you plenty of photos to choose from. I always recommend getting a CD or DVD of all the images whether or not they put them online. The high-res files will be very large so see if they will give you a high res (for prints) and a low res version (for the web).

7. Moving away from interiors and onto personal pictures, what tips do you have for taking head shots of ourselves to use for publicity?

(Didn't Heather make me look great?)
  • Get a photographer that you feel comfortable with.

  • Real smiles are always going to be better that forced.

  • Talk to your photographer about the look you want to present. Is it conservative? Or more relaxed? Fun? Serious? Do you want black & white or color?

  • Make sure your head shot represents you as a professional and what you want your business to reflect.
I hope these tips will help you take better pictures on your own, or assist you in hiring a great professional photographer. Thank you Heather!

Do you have an experience (good or bad) with a professional photographer that you'd like to share with us? Click on "comment" to tell us all about it.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

More! taking great interior shots

Welcome back. This is part 2 of 3 of my "interview" with professional photographer, Heather Keating, owner of . (See 2/24 posting for part 1.) Today she's sharing tips on selecting a digital camera and other helpful photography tools.

More wisdom from Heather:

3. If someone is in the market for a new camera for taking interior shots what do you recommend he/she look for?

  • You don't necessarily need to spend a ton of money to get a decent camera. Figure out what your budget is and then go from there.

  • If you are looking at a point and shoot digital camera look for one that do well in low light situations. These cameras will do better without the flash (see part 1 of this interview for more on lighting).

  • Also because you are photographing interiors you need to get a camera that has the widest angle lens.

  • Visit your local camera store and test a few out. Compare which camera allows you to see the most. Or ask the people at the store. You can pick their brains and then head back to your computer for pricing research.

4. In addition to a camera, are there any other tools you recommend we buy to take better pictures (such as flashes/tripods)?
  • I definitely recommend getting a tripod. If you can't afford a standard tripod get a mini one!

  • There are a few brands out there that allow you to sit on a table or even wrap around a light stand. I've seen the "Guerilla-Pod" in action and it works great. Just make sure it can support the weight of your camera if you have more that a small point and shoot.

  • If you are ready to take your photography to the next level and have a digital SLR camera you can invest in an on-camera strobe. This attaches to the top of your camera and is an additional flash. Get one that can bounce the light off the ceiling or a wall.

  • These can be expensive so unless you plan on using this all the time it may be more cost effective to have a professional come in.

How much does a professional photographer cost and what do you need to know before hiring one? Stay tuned for part 3 of this informative (and riveting) interview! Do you have tips for taking better pictures? Click on "comment" and share them with us.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Taking great interior pictures

We all want and need great pictures of our work. We also know that hiring a professional is the best way to go, but we can't afford to do that on every job. I want to learn to take better pictures of my jobs, so I went to professional photographer and graphic designer, Heather Keating, owner of , to see what tips she had to offer an amateur like me! Not only is Heather very talented, she's also pretty cool. (The photos shown here were all taken by Heather.)

I hired her to take my head shots and some interior detail shots for my website (she also designed my website) and I plan on hiring her next month to photograph a beautiful living and dining room project that is wrapping up soon.

This is part 1 of 3 of my "interview" with Heather (I know, you are on the edge of your seat for part 2 already!)

1. What tips do you have for amateur photographers who are taking their own interior pix with a basic digital camera?

  • The most important is to avoid using the direct flash on your camera. Natural light (or bounced light) will always look the best. (All digital cameras have the option to turn off the flash - check your manual if you aren't sure how.)

  • Try to take your pictures during the day and open the shades to let as much light into the room as possible. You can turn on room lights as well.

  • Use a tripod if you have one, or set your camera on a table in the corner to avoid blurry photos. Try focusing the camera on the darkest point of the room—the camera will adjust the amount of light in the photo.

  • Experiment with your camera. The default setting will not always be the best. Avoid the macro (close up) setting though since less of your photo will be in focus. If you feel comfortable trying the manual setting on your camera - go for it!
2. Do you have any lighting tips for setting up inside pictures?

  • Again - try to avoid the direct flash.

  • If you can, take a look at the room at different points in the day to find the best time to take pictures. While natural light is the best you also want to avoid harsh shadows.

  • If there is bright sunlight streaming through the windows you may want to try a different time of day. Bright sunlight will create too much contrast in your photos and it will be hard to see what is going on in the room.

  • Take lots of pictures with several set-ups (it's digital - you can always delete it!). Until you get the hang of it try lots of different scenarios. Shades open and closed, interior lights on and off. I have found that turning on any table lamps is helpful and can show off more of the details of the room.
Stay tuned for more Q&A with Heather, including how to select a digital camera, helpful tools and information on how to hire a professional photographer. Heather's business is in MD and you can contact her at caseinpoint@gmail.com.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

One A Day Marketing Dare- She Works Hard for the Money

TODAY'S MOTIVATION-She Works Hard for the Money!

Today is my Dad’s Birthday, God Rest his soul. My Dad, Joe Lenart, was a hard working self-employed carpenter. He was very good at what he did, but he also knew his limitations. Although my Daddy is gone, he would be proud to see that he and Mom, Joanne Lenart, raised 5 hard working kids. This strong work ethic has carried me all my life, when things have been good and bad and helped to achieve success as an entrepreneur. When I teach my classes, I can generally tell by end of day two, who is going to make it and who is not. And my hunches have been pretty right on, in fact, a strong work ethic, wins out over talent, each and every time. This growing a successful business is hard work. I have found that one’s chances of success increase when you surround yourself with other people with a strong work ethic as well. (a sense of humor doesn’t hurt either)

Although I love new challenges, I have discovered it makes sense to understand what I really like to do and where I excel. When I first began my business, I tried to do and be everything to everyone. But you know what; I am a great visionary, but not necessarily as competent at some of the hands-on elements of creating a beautiful room. Don’t get me wrong, I can wield a drill and hammer (in fact, I carry my Dad’s hammer in my tool box) with the best of them, but you know what, I don’t have to. My time is better spent moving my business forward by sharing my talents and expertise. I need to spend less time trying to do everything myself. It is important to challenge yourself and learn new skills, but only if they make your business more profitable or give you great joy when you do them.

So Happy Birthday today, Dad, we miss you more than you can comprehend but thank you for teaching us that hard work and surrounding yourself with people who make you look better, are important elements of success.

TODAY’S DARE-Work it Girl! (or guy)

Make a vow to work harder to grow your business. Remember, you need to determine what you are trying to accomplish so you know what your hard work is trying to achieve. Also, write a list of the things that can help you generate revenue and yet you don’t really want to do. Are you a stager who frequently sees the need for cleaning services or a decorator who could use the help of a great painter? Perhaps you are a Realtor, who is intimidated by the short sale process. Whatever it is, find people you can rely on who share your work ethic and drive to provide good customer service. These people can help you to appear more professional and reach your success goal.
Depending on your business, you might even be able to work out a referral fee they would pay you if you send business their way. Bottom line, you will still have helped your client and came out looking like the hero. But you didn’t try to do something outside of your field of expertise or equally important, something you simply don’t like doing. This sharing of expertise will help you in a couple of ways, solving your client’s problem as we discussed, but also building a new group of people who may begin to refer business back to you.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Well no need to call the fire department or paramedics.   The bamboo flooring is installed and here are the BEFORE & AFTER as proof.

The project began around 9 a.m. on Friday with clearing the room and ripping up the carpet and pad.  And it ended on Sunday night at 8:30 when the last planks were nailed in place and cleanup was over.

Needless to say I am not nailed to the floor nor have we killed one another.  As with all home improvement projects, we had our share of challenges...late UPS delivery, two jammed pneumatic nailers and multiple trips to the hardware store among others.  But we survived and now are the proud owners of flooring that is not only beautiful but eco-friendly too.

Anyone looking to install hardwood flooring should definitely give bamboo serious consideration.  It is a decidedly "green" alternative to traditional hardwoods.  And while I won't be adding hardwood floor installation to my repertoire of services, I certainly have a better appreciation for the effort involved.

Happy GREEN Decorating!

Jeffery Rice, PIR, PRS
Decor Designs, Inc.

Fresh Home, new DIY decor magazine

While I'm still mourning the loss of Domino magazine, which is made harder by the fact that I just read cover to cover what I believe is the last issue, I must move on. We all must move on.

Move in Fresh Home magazine. Here's the skinny, as described by :

"Fresh Home, a new home improvement magazine from Reader's Digest Association's Home & Garden Group, officially launches on newsstands on February 27th. Fresh Home, a bright, energetic lifestyle magazine that approaches do-it-yourself with equal measures of fun and practical value, will be the first magazine with hundreds of easy, affordable decorating and designing ideas and tips for the millions of Americans interested in making DIY improvements to their home."

It's quarterly and won't come close to replacing
Domino, but it might be a new addition to your decorating magazine shelf—if you are into DIY projects and ideas. You can find it at Home Depot, Lowes, Borders & B&N. Let me know what you think when you read the first issue.

Monday, February 16, 2009

DAY TEN-One a Day Marketing-Who wants to Buy, what I have to Offer?

Weekend is over, time to get back to the process of growing a business filled with Success. I hope you have taken the time to read the other days and dares. My goal is to give you a challenge or dare every business day, which hopefully will keep you mindful of giving your business a bit of attention, every day! Even 15-30 minutes can make a huge difference. I know you say, I am already working all day. This is different, this is a few minutes not about the day to day of running your business, but the things that will ensure you have a business that grows and flourishes. Today let's talk about your target market.

Whatever your career path is, you need people to acquire success. Marketing your business, according to Webster, is the effort involved in transferring a service or product. In other words, if you are marketing, but no one is buying, then you aren't marketing very effectively. A transfer must take place to show the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. But you need to determine who is interested in what you have to "transfer" and how to touch them.
If you are selling a service or a product, you need people to sell it to. So how do you find these people?

I live in a tiny town and when I began marketing my training and coaching business, I knew my tiny town of Waterford, PA was not going to provide me with much of a market. So how could I find people interested in what I had to sell and establish my target market. I began with research and creating my own focus groups at online forums and using my existing data base. What about these people was the same and what was different.
After much pondering, research and focus groups, I established my target market was primarily women, 45-65, ready for a second career. This helped me to know what areas of the Internet I needed to focus on. The Internet was in its infancy and I had no idea what I was doing with the computer, but I had to learn. I began searching everywhere for people who were interested in decorating on the Internet, after all, they were my target market. I began with AOL and About.com and started posting on the forums and answering people's decorating questions. In time, someone from AOL asked me to do monthly online decorating chats. Did I know what I was doing? Not a clue...but I needed to create a market for my business. I also knew I had to "swim with the dolphins" and not let my fear of the unknown stop me. I put up my first website, so people could find me. I also connected with other decorating associations that had websites so I could broaden my exposure. A few months later, my target market started contacting me and my business was launched.

TODAY'S DARE: Establish your Target Market

Do you know who would be interested in a "transfer" of your products or services? Do you know who you want to work with as you grow your business? There are lots of people out there and obviously you can't reach them all. Many of you may be trying to be all things which dilutes your power and effectiveness. Narrow the focus to the people who will be most interested in what you have to offer and your sales will increase as your message is clear.

Begin with former clients. Send a survey using a tool like surveymonkey.com or Constant Contact's survey tool and try to discover what were the common traits of these clients. Ask these people to select 3 words to describe the traits they were looking for when they found you. Perhaps the comments come back as "technically savvy, caring, and available" is that what you want to be known for and do your marketing materials send this message.

As an entrepreneur, what is your area of expertise or your perceived area of expertise? You may have a totally different idea of the message you are sending. Describe your business like a person, what would it wear, drive, vacation at? Are the people you are trying to target, in that same mindset?

The key is focused not scattered marketing. Spend your time and money wisely and create a market that wants you and your product. Selling is not about bullying or wearing down someone to buy your service or product, it is about creating a desire for what you bring to the table to the people who are in a position to accept the "transfer" of goods or services.
See you tomorrow,
JoAnne Lenart-Weary

Saturday, February 14, 2009

2009 Home & Garden Show New Products & Ideas

I have been so fortunate to be at the National Home & Garden Show. We have had great attendance and I have met some fascinating folks along the way.

I have several pictures to share. These are the before & after of the room I did.

My Artist and friend Rikk Mayr did a fabulous job on the Birch Trees. Not only did Rikk capture the realism he did not alter my "vision". We have already been asked back for next years show but with TWO rooms for them. We made the front page of Rikk and I work well together and are looking forward to a fruitful relationship.

Remember that floral chair? Well here is the before & after. I reupholstered it in Men's suit fabric, Glenn Plaid. Notice the leather strap with Chrome buckle. I paid $1.00 for a purse and cut the straps off so I could use it as trim. Green design at it's finest.

I have been speaking on The Plain Dealer's Inside & Out stage for two subjects. Addicted To Decorating and Staging to Sell. Altogether it is eight presentations. I have already handed out over one thousand brochures. I have bookings from eight new clients just from the show. The folks are eager to learn cost saving decorating ideas and Home Staging ideas.

As I was getting ready to leave today for the show, two presentations today, I couldn't help but think of Mikhail Baryshnikov. I am definitely NOT a Ballet dancer, but I am dedicated to promoting my business. I had to bandage my feet. Many blisters from all the walking & standing in my nice shoes & boots. Guess I'm not the 23 year old I used to be! Mikhail had said in an interview that he was so dedicated to his craft that he had to bandage his feet to practice & perform.

I also wanted to share this great new product I found. It is a composite that can be applied over existing counter tops. For as little as $5.00 per sq. foot. It looks just like Granite. They have several testimonials from satisfied clients. Happy day.....the look of Granite for all my Design clients and especially for my Staging clients, this is fabulous!

I will be sharing more photos in my next post of ideas from the talented Designers & Decorators.

I need to get to the show......bandages and all.

Happy decorating and Staging!

DesAnn Collins of Ohio

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A rose, is a rose, is a rose. Or is it?

The biggest retail sales day for roses is upon us. Whether you are sending or receiving a bouquet of this fine flower, here is a fun little guide as to what the color actually means.

Red is the symbol of love and passion and is known as the lover's rose. No surprises there, right?

White is known as the bridal rose. It represents humility, purity and innocence. It symbolizes truth and sends a message of loyalty.

And the Yellow Rose of Texas represents friendship, joy and caring. It conveys warmth, gladness and affection.

Pink symbolizes gentility (I didn't even know that was a word, did you?), femininity, elegance and refinement. But the meaning can vary depending on the hue. A pale shade signifies grace and gentleness, admiration and happiness, while a deep pink conveys gratitude and appreciation.

Orange symbolizes enthusiasm and desire. Orange roses are a great way to express admiration and attraction - with an underlying message of passion and excitement. Oooh, how mysterious. Forget the red roses, Show Me the Orange Roses! They sound so much more fun and exciting.

Lilac and Purple roses are a great Valentine flower as they send a message of love at first sight. They symbolize enchantment, desire and even proceeding cautiously. I think this is where we are supposed to break out the violins.

So, there you have it. And, if you are really feeling frisky or adventurous, you can even mix the colors up a bit to send a mixed message. And yes, this is one time where sending mixed messages is actually OK!

For even more information on the meaning of roses, please check out

Happy Valentines Day!

Bringing new life to your decor and more

DAY NINE-One a Day Marketing-Sex Sells


Okay, we aren’t really talking about sex today, but I bet you started reading this one quickly. In fact, many of you reading this blog for the first time may have skimmed the topics and read this one first. So what is my point? My point is to do something that grabs people’s attention. This kind of connects to yesterday when we discussed getting out of your comfort zone. What can you do to promote, market, or build your business that is a bit outrageous and attention grabbing? I don’t care who you are or what you do…someone else is doing it too. So why should I (a potential customer) select you? More importantly, how do I even get to know about you and the fact that my life would be ever so much better if I became your customer?

One of the services I offer and teach to others is real estate staging. When I first began offering it in my area, it was a brand new concept to many. I contacted many offices asking if they would be interested in my staging services, with no luck. Finally, I thought it was time for some outrageous behavior. I convinced a local Realtor to allow me to come in and speak to their office about the merits of staging. On my way there, I called and said I was held up by traffic, (which doesn’t really happen in Erie, PA) to please start the meeting without me and I would be right there. I walked in the door with curlers in my hair, a long ratty robe with things pinned to it, like magazines, stuffed toys, cereal boxes, clothes, and a long cigarette holder with a fake cigarette that actually glowed and puffed smoke. As they all looked at me with a stunned look on their faces, I grinned and said, “How many of you are trying to sell a house that looks like this?” Outrageous, YES Memorable, YES, I ended up with a relationship with some of the top Realtors in my community. Yes, SEX SELLS, but face it, I am a middle aged overweight white chick, selling with sex isn’t my forte, but outrageous, that I can do!

Today’s Dare-Be Outrageous

Do something today to grab some attention. Are you speaking somewhere? Then take off that safe blue suit and wear something that makes you memorable. Try a costume. Yeah, yeah, I hear you; you just aren’t that kind of person. You aren’t bold, daring, and outrageous. Well, if you want to achieve success, it is time to be that kind of person. You don’t have to be as outrageous as I might be…you just have to be more than you are. Be an actor for the event. Throw caution to the wind…come on, just for today! Win an OSCAR or a new customer or two with your performance.

See you tomorrow,