Interior Design Chat (#IDzinechat): Thursday on Twitter

Have you begun to explore the fun and excitement of Twitter?  Or does the world of Twitter still seem out of the realm of relevant for you?
Incredible friendships, connections, business ventures and support systems are formed everyday on Twitter:   some fun, some personal, and some professional. I've been using it for business and love it.  I'll admit, it is a bit awkward to get started but once you begin exploring and reaching out, you just may surprise yourself and find that there is some real value and benefit. On Thursday the Twitter Interior Design Community is going to be providing some "real value": providing expertise, ideas and design tips without reservation, free-of-charge, no-strings-attached!  It is a first time event, conceptualized and encouraged by the motivating Leslie Carothers (@tkpleslie, who I look to as the "good-will Twitter watchdog", always working to promote others), and coordinated by the amazingly talented Wanda S. Horton (@wandashorton).

So to consumers, interior designers and decorators alike: Please come online, submit your questions and enjoy a FREE hour chatting about design.

What:   #IDzinechat
When:   February 25th @ 8pm EST

There are no restrictions to questions or number of questions you can ask.  There will be a wealth of informative experts on hand to respond, so please, BRING IT ON!
Still confused as to how it will work?  Just jump on to Twitter and search for #IDzine or #IDzinechat.  Once the clock strikes 8pm Thursday night, you will begin to see an abundance of chatter on the topic!

Looking forward to the conversation, questions and chat! Hope you can make it.

Too Many Toys? Tips for Getting Your Child's Play Space Under Control

Children's playrooms can be one of the most difficult places to maintain and decorate in the home.  Clutter, disorganization, and mess thrive in piles of toys, games, and craft supplies. The first step in getting your child's play space under control is to pare down their toys and donate those toys that you no longer need.  Once you have a sense of what actually belongs in the room, it is time to take a look at organization and storage using the tips and tricks that we have compiled below.
1. Get creative with finding storage space. Storage can be incorporated almost anywhere.
  • Under the bed is an obvious option and its potential should not be underestimated. Low lying clear plastic storage bins are the perfect solution for hiding board games and craft supplies.
  • Use the lower shelves of bookcases for storing items that do not easily fit in bins or other storage options. Hide the cluttered look that may result by hanging cute curtains in front of the shelves with tension rods. You can even add fun ribbon ties to keep the curtains shut tightly.
  • Toy boxes are great multi-tasking pieces if used correctly. They can provide both seating and storage space for stuffed animals, blankets, or off-season clothing. Do not attempt to house small items or toys used most often in a toy box. This usually ends in a mess of forgotten toys and missing pieces.
  • Use outgrown furniture pieces for toy storage and display. Cradles, small cribs, and little chairs can house a collection of dolls in a way that is functional and attractive.
  • Search for ottomans or small step ladders that incorporate storage space within. Every little bit counts and kids love little cubbyholes and drawers to stash things during play.
2. Purchase coordinating storage bins.  You'll be surprised at what an impact matching bins can have in creating a sense of order among the chaos of toys, games, etc.  By throwing everything in the bins you'll have a room that looks organized and together, even if the contents are a jumble!
  • Wicker bins can be purchased inexpensively and dressed up with ribbon.  A can of spray paint and a pink gingham ribbon creates a pretty girly look, while natural color wicker with navy blue grosgrain is perfect for a little boy's room.  Bright wood or plastic bins are also a fresh, kid-friendly look.  Stylish laundry baskets can also make a perfect storage spot for stuffed animals.
  • Take this a step further by creating an organization system that can be used for clean up time at the end of the day.  Often bins will come with spaces for labels which will allow you to denote one for action figures, one for doll clothes, one for legos, etc.  If your child is not yet reading, use pictures instead of words to illustrate what lives in that space (this is also just a cute idea!) 
When their play space looks fun and pretty, children may be more inclined to put their things away and take care of their room.

3. Make children's belongings harder to get out than they are to put away. 
  • Try storing books similar to how you would store files.  When a child has to pull a book up and out, he or she is less likely to pull 20 books out at once than if the books are easily accessible on an open bookshelf. 
  • Keep toys that are more often played with and less complicated on the lower shelves, while storing the toys with lots of bits and pieces on higher shelves that are not as easily reached.
Once you have the children's play space in order under control, try to make clean up a part of their daily routine.  With such a beautifully organized space, children will be more inspired to put their belongings away, keep their room looking clean, and make even the most cluttered space in your house a more harmonious place to be. (That is the hope anyway!)

Photos: Mark Cutler Design, Coastal Living, Real Simple, House Beautiful, Ruby Beets, House to Home

Six Ways to Feng Shui in the Kitchen

Continuing on my Feng Shui theme, I thought we would move right along in to the kitchen.  The source of food, and therefore health, the kitchen represents nourishment, health in body and relationships, and prosperity.
Photo: House Beautiful
#1: Kitchen Placement
A kitchen should be placed towards the back of the house to encourage the heat and the prosperity that comes from cooking to remain within the house.  The kitchen should not be placed towards or in line with the front door.  You want your guests, and positive energy, to come in and stay a while.  An eating area that has a direct line to the door is believed to create an opportunity for illness and loss of wealth, while also causing a rushed sense, discontent, and desire to leave quickly.

While thinking about fabulous kitchen designs to showcase here, the work of Olga Adler immediately came to mind.  An incredibly talented designer who works both nationally and abroad, Olga combines delicious aesthetic and natural adherence to Feng Shui principles.  Who wouldn't love to begin and end their day in this kitchen? Her design offers great flow, energy and light.  I feel an energy surge just in admiring the pictures; having this kitchen in the back of my house would be a dream! 
Photo: Olga Adler Interiors
#2: Stove Placement
The stove placement is critical in making your kitchen work with Feng Shui principles.  Ideally, the cook should be in the most commanding position in the kitchen; he or she should be able to see the doorway while preparing meals.  In most homes, this would mean putting the stove at an island in the center of the kitchen, although that is not always possible.  For this reason, islands or prep areas that give the cook a view of the whole room, and allow the cook to converse with family and/or guests while working, are so commonly recommended.  If your stove faces a wall, placing a mirror on the wall above the stove provides a view of the rest of the room, as well as the benefit of the reflected energy.  I can't really see putting a mirror there myself, so if you are with me in that thought, I would consider and recommend tile with a high glaze sheen instead.

#3 Feng Shui Elements
Fire elements, such as the stove and microwave, should be kept separate from water elements, mainly the refrigerator and sink.  When this is not possible, neutralize the fire-water interaction by placing a green element, a plant or green rug, between these conflicting appliances.
Photo: Elle Decor
#4: Color and Light
Color is always an important aspect of Feng Shui design.  Choose colors that encourage heat and prosperity.  Yellows, reds, pinks, and oranges are great kitchen color choices.  If possible, choose a light color, such as white or pale yellow, for your cupboards.  Because they are such a large part of your kitchen, you do not want them to look heavy while hanging overhead.
Use different levels of lighting to create a sense of energy throughout the kitchen.  Do not limit yourself to one bright overhead light.  Use smaller task lights and counter lighting as well.

#5 Accessories and Dinnerware
Mirrors are always a positive element to bring into a room as they reflect and increase the energy and prosperity produced in the kitchen.
Display fresh fruit or small potted herbs to encourage the nourishment and uplifting energy that comes from the kitchen.

Feng Shui can even help you select the dishes in your kitchen.  Round dishes create a harmonious flow of energy, while square dishes slow down your eating.  Blue is good for dieters, while orange and red stimulate the appetite. (Actually on the fence with this one; I may go and intentionally buy some square blue plates!)
Photo: Coastal Living
#6: The "Don'ts"
There are also several Feng Shui "don'ts" to keep in mind.
  • Do not display sharp elements such as knives or scissors.  This creates conflict and anxiety.
  • Do not display large pots and pans overhead.  This creates an overwhelming, heavy feeling for those in the kitchen.
  • Do not live with chaos. As with all rooms, keep the kitchen as clutter free as possible.  Discard of broken appliances and dishes immediately. Keep cabinets and drawers organized.  When possible, keep like items together.
Photo: Sunset Magazine
Using Feng Shui in your kitchen will create a prosperous, energy filled beginning to your day and will bring your family together over meals shared in a kitchen filled with nourishment for both body and soul.
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