Monday, February 10, 2014

A Romantic Home 365 Days A Year

February triggers an expectation of romance, but the focus is often on temporary romance - roses, candles, bubble baths and champagne.  While those things are lovely, why not set up a home that encourages long-term romance, the kind that can last a lifetime? What are the key ingredients in a romantic home, and how can you bring them into your space and relationship?

1. Create adult-focused areas

We all hear about kid-friendly rooms, but these days it seems the whole home is not only kid-friendly, but kid dominated. How romantic is it to cuddle when surrounded by Barney dinosaurs and stepping on stale cheerios? While it is important to have an inclusive, loving family, it is also important not only to have spaces where you can be grown ups and individuals, but also to teach the kids that there are times and places for different things, and that it is not, in fact, all about them. They will grow up to be better balanced, more empathetic adults.

2. Balance masculine and feminine energy

"Romantic" often brings to mind classically feminine associations - pink, ruffled, layered, soft, light, etc - but masculine energy is every bit as important as feminine in creating romance 365 days a year. For long-lasting romance, try to keep a balance in each room. Pair soft curves in a crystal lamp with strong lines on a deep wood end table. Pair a fluffy white duvet on the bed with a rich, clean-lined frame and headboard. Install rustic, reclaimed hardwood floors and top with an inviting white velvet armchair. A full life honors both sides of our male-female energies, and a balance, romantic home does the same. 

3. Control the lighting

Always give thought to the lighting in your home, especially in the bedroom, but also in the living room, dining room, and bathroom. Have layers of light (ceiling light for overall light, table and floor lamps for mood and task lighting) and put as many of them on dimmers as you can. Dim lighting can mask clutter, create a flattering glow, invite a desire to linger, and set a mood for slowing down and spending much-needed time together.

Bedroom Before & After:  A Romantic Makeover

Embrace Romance

Romance can be part of your life 365 days a year. That feeling of being present, being aware, lingering, can be created whether you are enjoying a cup of coffee on your own by a fire, or snuggling with a partner on a lazy morning in bed. Take time this month to eliminate things in your home that hinder romance (clutter, sheets leftover from an old relationship) and bring in what you need to feel at home (soft lighting, fresh bedding, a kid-free zone). Then lower the lights, pour a glass of wine, and love being home.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Beat the winter blahs with bright bedroom colors

For those of you who know me personally, you know I regularly wear a bright red rain coat, a peacock teal fedora, and sometimes a mustard yellow scarf.  I get compliments all the time on all the colors, and I usually respond by saying that this is how I counteract the winter-gray weather we have in Seattle from November to, well, June.  It's like carrying around my own little bouquet of bright red tulips!

If you suffer from the blahs in this winter season, you can use the same trick in your home to chase away the gray and bring in some sunny weather.  Check out this mustard yellow duvet set I found not long ago at West Elm.  Just that splash of sunny gold takes the black and grey bed to a warm and happy place! 

What is so great about this way of splashing in color is that it isn't a big commitment.  Unlike tile or counters, or even a whole sofa, a bedding set can be swapped out by the season to change up the look and feel of your room.  It can let you play and experiment with otherwise over-the-top colors. Try a rich plummy purple, or an electric blue, or a juicy apply green!

Have some fun with color as the holidays come to an end, twinkly lights are packed away, and we settle into 2014.  Create your own sunshine and welcome the new year with a smile on your face!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Self-Sabotage: Stop Eating in Front of the TV

If you are like millions of other Americans you snack and eat in front of the TV. If you are trying to eat more healthily and reach weight goals, you are seriously sabotaging yourself by doing it! Why is it bad, and how can you stop?

1. Why it’s bad:  TV wants you to eat!

I was watching The Voice with my husband the other night and suddenly I found myself craving Oreos.  Strange?  Well, not really considering the colorful ad that came across the screen encouraging me to indulge in Oreo-deliciousness.  Luckily, there were no Oreos in the house. 

That is how TV sabotages you: delicious-looking food items come across your screen so one moment your belly is blissfully content, the next, you’re craving salty-sweet foods.  One study shows that 1 out of every 5 ads is for food, and 70% of those food ads were for items high in sugar or fat. More than a quarter of the food ads were for fast-food restaurants.

So, simply by sitting in front of the TV you are subconsciously encouraged to go sneak a peek in the pantry.

TV wants you to eat MORE!
When we eat while we watch TV we are not thinking about what we are eating.  A compilation of 24 British studies showed that mindless eating on average leads to an extra 10% calories consumed at the time, and an extra 25% more calories at a future meal. Need I say more?

2. How to stop:  Create a space for mindful eating

CLEAR CLUTTER: If your dining table is covered in junk mail, office work, and take-out boxes, it’s time to clear it all out.  Create a space that makes it *easy* to eat at the table and, just as importantly, makes you *want* to eat at the table. 

CREATE BEAUTY: Your dining area should be inviting and beautiful, fun and friendly. Think of the mood at your favorite restaurant, and then bring that into your dining area. Paint can transform a room, and colors like pumpkin orange, apple red, and corn yellow all set a delicious food friendly mood.

ESTABLISH A RULE: Once you have created an easy-to-use, pleasant space to eat, make a rule that all eating must happen while sitting at the table, for one month. Any cheats extend the timeline for a week.

CREATE A REWARD: Once the month is up and a new habit is formed, set a reward movie on the calendar - maybe every other Friday is popcorn-in-front-of-the-tv night.  Make it a special occasion, not the regular rule.

If you create a place in your home that is not in front of the TV, a place where you enjoy eating, you’ll likely eat less junk food, eat fewer calories, eat higher quality food, and reconnect with yourself and your family in a meaningful way. So, stop eating in front of the TV, and think about repainting the living room.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The right paint color can help you move on from divorce

So you are divorced, and you are sitting in the living room looking around at the house you once shared with your ex. All the memories of your past are staring you in the face. Everything in that room echoes with memories.

Being surrounded by your past is not a good way to move forward, but you're not in a position to move. What can you do?

When that happened to me I got out the paint. I painted every surface a new color, and moved the furniture around so that I literally had a new perspective - on the room and on life. By making these simple changes inside my home it made me feel like a fresh start was possible, and gave me the courage to make bigger changes (like starting Rivalee Design).

In the last five years I've helped my clients do the same thing. One lovely lady had spent four years staring the stuff her ex left behind, until she hired me to come and help clear out the baggage.  With every box that went to goodwill I watched her physically lighten, and she began to smile more easily.  Another energetic gal had moved into a new condo of her own after divorce, but was feeling sad and blue because the space felt so impersonal and beige. We brightened her space with pumpkin colored paint and a zebra rug, and helped her create a space that felt just like the new 'her.'

Making over a room make not feel like the obvious answer to how to move on from your divorce, but it's a small, safe way to create change in a life that needs some new answers, and give you the courage to move forward in bigger ways, too.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Opening a door to a new life...

For just a minute the other day I thought about changing my company name to Open Door Design. I was thinking about how it feels to open the door after a home or room makeover... it's like stepping into a whole new life that is in perfect alignment with who you are and who you want to be.

One of the essential, core values of our company is that the home should support the people who live their.  *Support* their goals and good habits and challenge them to live the life the yearn to live.  Never *sabotage* those goals, keeping people stuck in past failures and heavy histories.

Now, the name Rivalee Design came from my grandmother's name and I have no plans to change it, but it can be fun and illuminating to play with our identities and try things on. Just like when we tried our first names with our grade-school boyfriend's last names, we may not actually make a name change but the exercise helps us imagine what could be, and how it might feel.  We clarify who we are, and that clarity helps make sure we are on track with our goals and in alignment with our purpose.

That happened for me not only when I was naming Rivalee Design, but also when I chose my last name "West" after my divorce.  I wanted a name that really felt like "me" and that would help me get a fresh start, like a fresh coat of paint on my whole life.  I chose West because to me it represented the spirit of the pioneer, taking on new adventures, going West.  By wrapping myself in the name West, I felt dressed and ready to take on a new life, and shed the old one.

A new name, a made-over bedroom, a new wardrobe that suits your new lifestyle and ambitions, these all may be just the dressing to our life, but it sets the stage for your daily routine and helps you get to your goals. If you are feeling stuck in your life the easiest way to get unstuck might be by changing the dressing on your life.  Get rid of things in your closet you no longer wear.  Give away the bed you shared with your ex.  Repaint the living room.  Plant colorful flowers in your front yard.  Tiny visual changes can be the key that opens the door to your next chapter.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sex Sells, even in interior design

You will be forgiven if you're not quite sure what they're selling in this ad.  And yet you can't quite look away, right?  In case you are wondering, it is a light fixture, the one he's holding front of his, um, nether-regions.

Even in interior design, sex sells.  It wouldn't be needed if the things we bought for our homes were strictly necessary, but rarely are the things we purchase a true "need."  Really, we buy lifestyles, dreams, and wishes.  That is one of the reasons so many projects go over budget.  It's not that we needed to spend an extra $5,000 (or $50,000) in order to get a functional kitchen, but that fireclay farmhouse sink was just "so perfect" and just sets the scene for our own white-picket-fence-perfect family gatherings.  Much like a wedding, a remodel becomes more about our fantasies than our realities, and many retailers (and designers) are ready to encourage that.

How can you avoid getting caught up in budget-blowing fantasies? One trick is to enjoy your next edition of Elle Decor a little differently.  Really pay attention to the ads, look at what they are selling. By becoming aware of the subconscious (though not really that subtle) messages of the life you could have if only you bought these sheets, that light, this sofa, it will make you a more educated buyer and ready to make decisions that are right for you, and for your budget. 

Mood changing colors: Benjamin Moore's Soleil

The sun has come out this week in Seattle, and you can feel it in the brightness of people smiles.  It brings out the sundresses, the convertibles, and the iced lattes, and everyone is just a little friendlier than usual.  Just like the sun is able to brighten a person's mood, color can, too.  One of the most obvious happy-colors is, of course, yellow.

Yellow is the color of optimism, brightness, cheery attitude and mental clarity.  It can promote creative, clear, upbeat thinking and decision making, ease depression, and encourage laughter.  It's not for everyone, of course, and the wrong yellow, or yellow for the wrong person, can increase irritability and hyperactivity.  But as with any color, used well, it's lovely.

Benjamin Moore's Soleil lifts the mood atop of grey Sparrow and creates sunny harmony in this dining room.
One of my favorite yellows is Benjamin Moore's Soleil.  When a client tells me they want a yellow room, it is one of the first places I look and so often, it is perfect. I have used it to create a warm and happy dining room, a sophisticated and joyful bedroom, and an inviting and warm home office.

Now, don't get me wrong, it's quite yellow.  When you put it on all four walls you are not going to wonder if you ended up with a yellow.  But unlike the many (too many) yellow paint colors out there, this one won't scream CAUTION at you.  It won't get bitter or sharp.  It won't get babyish.  It's just... right.  Give it a try, or write to me for a couple of my other favorites.

Have fun, and don't fear color.  It's just paint!