Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

How much are good pictures worth to you and your business? I would venture to say a lot! We use them in our online gallery, marketing materials, portfolio, etc. So, we better make them good.

I was in search of an affordable wide angle lens camera. After much research, I found this one. The . It was in my price range, under $400, has the capacity to attach an external flash for poor indoor lighting, of course has the wide angle lens and it has a mega zoom to boot. (I got mine on sale for $379 - do a search for best pricing). I wanted something easy to use and didn't want to have to deal with changing lenses all the time. This fit all of my criteria and got great reviews.

I am totally in love with this camera. I give it 5 stars. I went on a recent family vacation and the details captured were amazing. My kids were jumping in the lake and you could see the tiny droplets of water frozen in the air. The focus on action shots was amazing, no blur. That is a great victory when trying to capture an active 3 and 5 year old on film!

I have also noticed a huge improvement when photographing my room redesigns. I can capture so much more of the room when I use the wide angle setting. Huge bonus! I have not purchased an external flash, but I think I may down the road.

So, my friends. What are your photos saying about you? If you are in search of a better camera, this is worth the small investment. Your business and portfolio will thank you!

Feel free to comment or ask questions. And no, I don't get paid to endorse this product.

Happy photographing,

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

It couldn’t be easier to hang a picture.

The advertisement says it all...

Twist, push, turn. A picture hook that is easy to install. I don’t know about you, but I am cautious when it comes to infomercials. This time, I had to over ride my thoughts when I used the and they installed and worked like a charm.

It’s true, twist, push and turn is all it takes for these beauties to work. All that is remains to be seen is your piece of art when you hang it on the wall.

You have to hook yourself up with a pack of these for your toolbox. (Sorry, that was a bad pun). Either way, you will like these picture hangers.

Catharine Gaither -Freedom by Design

Sunday, June 21, 2009


You know.... working with a mostly female clientele for over 10 years in various media, I think I have a pretty good grasp on what women want when they decorate their homes. And being a man in this predominantly female business, I know I offer a unique perspective in decorating, one that tends to be overlooked.... the man's!

During a consult, if I'm lucking enough to get the man of the house for a second or two and ask what he likes or thinks about whatever project we're working on, I can't tell you how often I get " long as SHE's happy". How pathetic is that? I'm not sure if it's societal thing that keeps him from expressing an opinion or perhaps he just really doesn't care.
None the less, I also have yet to meet a woman that doesn't adore a husband who understands the truly delicate balance of power in a home... i.e. when she's happy, HE'S HAPPY!
So I thought, on Father's Day, it might be nice to share a few tips from that ever elusive man's point of view. You might just find that incorporating a few of these into your design plans won't screw things up as badly as you think. You might even do it already without much thought. But, solid design practice, just like the principals of feng shui, always seeks balance between feminine and masculine elements. So here goes:

  • Black is the definitive masculine color (or lack of color). No matter the color scheme, always include something black in a room. It introduces male energy in even the most feminine of rooms, helps anchor the space and gives you a visual point of reference for other colors.... try a black picture frame, box, candlestick, or even window hardware.

  • Selective use of textures and materials can go a long way when adding masculine energy in a room. Uneven, rough surfaces and natural raw materials ground a space by bringing in nature and the outdoors (typically associated with male energy). Stone elements are quintessentially masculine.

  • Leather is a no-brainer element that introduces masculine energy in a room. Leather evokes all kinds of masculine associations from cowboys to biker dudes. The musky smell of leather brings another layer of masculinity to a room that isn't even visible.

  • Masculine energy is conveyed by shapes that have squared corners or sharp edges. Curvy or round objects evoke more feminine energy. Try and incorporate both in the space if you can.... For example, square coffee and side tables should have round decorative elements on them like lamps with curved bases & round shades or decorative round bowls.

  • Metal is unequivocally masculine. Furniture, art and accessories with metal elements always trend masculine. The fact that these items tend to come in square or rectangular shapes further enhances the male energy. Consider adding free-form, sculpted metal art or accessories in a space. They are a nice blend of masculine and feminine energy and offer a compromise.

So, as you tackle your next design project, give a nod to the man in your life. With thoughtful consideration and by adding some of the elements I've mentioned, you'll create a dynamic and inviting space that you love. And at the same time, you'll be stroking his fur without him probably even knowing it. Not only will he be happier as a result thinking he's given in to your decorating prowess... But you'll feel good knowing that he's more at ease with his surroundings because you took the time to consider him in your design plans.

Jeffery RiceDecor Designs, Inc.
Crystal Lake, IL

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Home Decorating Ideas for Summer

Tidbits and ideas found in unusual places

I was working out in my worshop when I walked by some old wooden shutters, they gave me the idea to bring them in my home for a "Summer" mantle display.

I also love watching the birds in my yard and was feeling "Tropical". I started gathering items around my house that gave me the feeling of the South Seas.

As I was "shopping" my house I walked through our kitchen and their on the counter was my "focal point" for the design.......a beautiful Pineapple!

I love seeing the reflection of candles in the very old and distorted mirror above the mantle.

As you can see Bird Seed acts as a great stabilizer for Tapered candles. I used clear glass holders so you could see the bird seed. It ties in the bird print.

To add elevation changes I used my Bird books. The Pineapple is resting on a Stemded glass upsidedown.

I know that a mirror over a mantle is a decorating no-no unless of course you can see a masterpiece painted on the ceiling. This mirror is original to our home and is a circle and I didn't want to remove it. I also added an old empty wooden picture frame to help camoflage the mirror. I used fishing line and suspended the bird print from the frame to give the appearance of "floating".

I did remove the freash pineapple after a few days and we thoroughly enjoyed it at dinner. Not only was is wonderful to eat but it was wonderful to see! I have been inspired by many items in my home and enjoy changing, playing, with my mantle.

Inspired by my Silver Tea pot collection:

I also enjoy Accessorising my chandeleir for the season's. Here I added butterflies.

Show us your summer ideas for home.

From my home today to yours~~

My best,
Design By DesAnn of Ohio
The Certified Home Staging Academy

Monday, June 8, 2009

Floral design tips for on-the-spot decorating

First off, sorry I haven't posted in a while. If the economy is in recession, you wouldn't know it from how busy I've been. Now if I can just bottle whatever "mo-jo" this is and keep it going.

So I was wondering who thinks arranging flowers is intimidating if not impossible? I admit that I've felt that way before. But I'm actually having quite a lot of fun now that I've taken the time to learn a few of the basics of good floral design. And just like any other decorating discipline, a good eye (...we all have that), patience (...not so much) and the right tools (...duh!) make any job easier.

The group recently attended an open house style luncheon and seminar with one of our area's floral wholesalers, in Carol Stream, IL. Owner Dana Plazyk was nice enough to show us her simple tips for making quick, easy, on-the-spot arrangements that can work well in both staging and design applications.

I thought I'd paraphrase her expert advice here in hopes it inspires you to rework an old arrangement or start from scratch to create a new masterpiece for your home or a client's.

Today's faux florals aren't your "grandmother's plastic flowers". Don't be afraid to touch to see the advancements in PVC florals. It's amazing how real they not only look but feel.

  • Make your arrangement base by hot gluing floral foam block to an inexpensive ceramic tile, shiny side down. Cover the foam with sheet moss or spanish moss attaching with floral pins.
  • Start from the base and build in layers. Always cut floral stems at an angle for easier insertion into foam remembering to add a small amount of low heat glue to the cut tip to hold it in place when inserted. For the more expensive stems, cutting a little longer than necessary gives you some wiggle room if you need to adjust the length.
  • Depending on the desired look, take bushes of greenery with broader leaves. Snip off the individual tendrils and "fluff" by bending them into "S" shapes for a more natural appearance. Insert longer pieces around bottom of base leaving shorter pieces to randomly cover the top and sides. Repeat with another "bush" of different, contrasting leaves (different color or texture or both).
  • Add in twigs or sticks with berries for another texture and dimension. Sparingly use willow or other flowing twigs to add motion and height to the arrangement.
  • If you like the greens-only look, just make sure all areas of the base are covered and set your arrangement on a bookshelf or cabinets. Simply insert the base into an appropriate container filled with more foam as needed for the sides to cascade and you have a centerpiece.
  • If you decide to go further, add flower stems in the same fashion. Be careful not to be too symmetrical. Nothing in nature grows perfectly symmetrical. Imagine flowers or vines growing toward the light and you'll get the idea. Mix flower sizes, textures and shapes as you did with the greens to add dimension and visual interest. Generally, larger flowers trending toward the bottom of the arrangement and smaller more whimsical flowers toward the top will help avoid a design that is too "top heavy".
  • Always remember the "negative" space in your arrangement just as with your interior design projects. Not every area of the arrangement has to be filled. In fact, negative space allows you to see the movement and visual interest in the finished product.
  • Working on a plastic drop cloth or oversized garbage bag helps with clean up at the end. Simply fold up at the edges and throw away all clippings and mess from your work.
  • Don't skimp on tools. A good glue gun, heavy duty snips, floral wire and plastic zip ties are the basic necessities for any floral designer. The plastic zip ties help you bundle elements together in mini bouquet arrangements prior to inserting them into foam or attaching them to another base such as a wreath.

That's about it in a nutshell. With these awesome tips courtesy of Flowers By Design you should be on your way to creating arrangements for all your decorating needs at a fraction of the cost you'd pay in floral boutiques.
Happy Decorating
Jeffery Rice
Decor Designs, Inc.
Crystal Lake, IL

Monday, May 18, 2009



This is the final phase of the rooms I have committed to for the Women’s Shelter. The photo’s are showing the entry wall to come in from the stairwell, a little section to the right showing burgundy curtains, a ladder and a plant, then a half wall where you enter the eating area, and lastly the eating area itself where they feed on average 65 people per meal.

This area has not been a very cohesive area in the past. We are looking to place all new tables and chairs in the eating area, the metal on the chairs is rusty and the wood is splintering - that in itself is not a very welcoming place to eat. The wish list will have 5 large round tables seating 8-10 chairs per table.

I am a little perplexed about the area to the right with the burgundy curtain, it is small and unused except for a ladder and plant, and how inviting is that. Give me your thoughts on this area. I was considering this area be a place for posting all the info that is posted all over the entry walls - keep it in one place.

The eating area also needs a place for pictures that those who stay there put up of family and friends - how about some ideas with that as well.

Looking forward to some input on these things as well as some thoughts on a color palette. This is your opportunity to make selections and work those design skills on a project you don’t even have to get your hands dirty on. Thanks for sharing - you are all great designers!!

Posted Courtesy of:
Linda Sluiter
Interior Artistry
Greater Chicagoland Decorators Coalition

Friday, May 15, 2009




The pictures of the “boys room” may not look like it is such an awful space. The reason we have decided to work on this room is the director of the shelter has such a place in her heart for these boys. Can you imagine being 16 years old and living in a shelter-maybe some of you can. The main problem with the space is lack of color, window treatments - the boys pull the drapes shut to keep the street light out and now the $1 rod is bent-imagine that. They also have no storage at all and no place to hang anything on the walls that they may enjoy.

Looking for color input and great storage ideas for their room - get creative for these young guys - let’s show them how to rock!

Posted Courtesy of:
Linda Sluiter
Interior Artistry
Greater Chicagoland Decorators Coalition

Thursday, May 14, 2009



This summer I will be working on a womens shelter in great need of help. The goal is to make their entry, eating and living space a more cohesive environment. The space houses on average 45-85 women and children. It is a “well loved” space - meaning it needs to be able to stand up to a lot. I would love it if you would share your thoughts on how to make as per design, color and any ideas you can share.

This shelter has been on my heart for some time - we serve hot breakfast for them on Sunday mornings before church. They deserve to be made to feel special and with the helping hands of many we can make that happen for them.

The first portion I will be sharing is the entryway to come into the shelter. Not welcoming for sure. This will need some major paint and a bit of creative design to give it what it needs. So first things first - the door to go in is corrugated steel - any thoughts on what we can do to that would be a sure welcome.

Looking forward to your design ideas - have a great day and my thanks in advance for sharing.

Posted Courtesy of:
Linda Sluiter
Interior Artistry
Greater Chicagoland Decorators Coalition

Home Decorating Easy Makeovers

Often I want a "quick" fix for my creative addiction. Here are two examples of quick & easy makeovers.

I was on my way to put this old Ficus tree on the curb to be picked up by our cities crew. While I was in the garage I was thinking about adding some Palms to my space. The day before I had seen some at my Michaels store. They are pretty pricey though.

As I was gathering up some other "trash" I made the decision to Re-design the old tree. I could always pitch it if it turned out bad.

I have always re-designed with ABANDON! Why not....who is going to come and get you? The Decorating police?!

I purchased for under $20 some long Palm fronds. I gathered some brown paper lunch bags, Elmers glue, my bag of leftover Raffia and of course my trusty old Glue Gun.

You will need to tear the bags in long jagged strips about 3-4 inches wide. I NEVER could draw but I can work with my hands and I would have to say that my abandon and bravery are some of my best assets. Anyway....Strip your tree of it's leaves. Use florist wire and glue to secure
your purchased fronds to trunk. Next start at the bottom and crunch your strips of brown paper and start one-at-a-time to wrap around your trunk. Make a special effort to overlap your layers and leave each jagged edge at top rolled out. If you look closely at a Palm Tree the trunk grows in large circles with each new circle looking jagged. Use the Elmers to secure bags to trunk. I then added randomly tied pieces of Raffia.

This Ottoman was purchased at a Garage sale for $5. I was looking through my piles of treasure fabrics when I came across some Table Runners I purchased after Christmas for $1. I heldout the runner and wondered if it would go around the Ottoman. Well it did, actually a perfict fit! I went right for some of my Zebra remnants and grabbed some Black fringe. I thought that the fringe of the runner actually resembled a Zebra tail. With a few shots of the Staple Gun and my glue gun to secure the Black fringe one of my FAVORITE pieces was born.

Go with ABANDON who is going to get you if it is wrong? Yes, not all works out but the vast majority does and I like to have been brave and at least TRY!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Frugal Decorating

How many frugal decorating ideas can we come up with?

Here are 4 ideas to get us started.

  1. Long skinny twigs from my own backyard placed in a vases filled with beans. I especially love black beans if the vase is clear.
  2. Use a pretty plate or plain white corelle plate from Wal-Mart, plate stand, use black dry erase marker to write tonight's dinner and place the plate on plate stand near the stove. When asked, "What's for dinner?"... it's on the plate.
  3. Laminated pretty fall leaves. Then tucked all over the house for fall decorating. Imagine the look on the guys face at Kinko's when I asked for help to laminate a bucket of leaves. Oh, this gives me ideas for a tablescape challenge.
  4. A clever client used a stainless steel bowl from IKEA and a vase to make a pennant light.

I can't wait to see your clever ideas.


Monday, March 9, 2009

One a Day Marketing-"NORM!"

Today's Motivation-"Where Everybody knows your Name"

Many of you may have watched the show, “Cheers” years ago. The show took place in a bar in Boston, where everyone knows your name. The regulars at Cheers shared life’s ups and downs and became an extended circle of people who impacted their lives. One of the regulars was always greeted with a loud shout of his name, “Norm,” whenever he entered the bar. The supposed bar thrived because they focused on customer service and making people feel important. After all, don’t we all want to matter?

Personal Service has played different roles over the years in the process of doing business. At one point, it was the cornerstone of a business relationship, and then as time went on, pricing became more important than customer service. Now the world is turning, and customer service and being valued is as important as a fair pricing. After all, how does your business grow? It grows mostly by referrals, if you are a sales oriented business. And face it, I don’t care what you do…you are in sales! No, maybe you don’t sell widgets door to door, but whatever you do, you probably sell concepts, service, talent, products, and mostly YOURSELF…if you are smart. Relationship Marketing never goes out of Business. So let’s build a Relationship, next time you see me, lift your glass and yell loudly, “JoAnne.”

Today’s Dare-“Everybody knows your Name”

How many people do you meet during the course of a month in your business? How do you stay connected? How do you foster relationships? Well, today, think of 5 new acquaintances, who might be great business connections or maybe just someone you want to get to know better. Reach out to them and make sure they know your name. Send a card (I use sendoutcards) or an email telling them what a pleasure it was to meet them, or suggest you meet for a happy hour cocktail and share ways you might mutually benefit one another. Relationships and businesses begin when one person makes the first move; let it be “YOU!”

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

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 5, 2009

Ask The Decorators...

by the decorating voice

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  • Are you having trouble choosing a paint color?
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