Besides owning a color-consulting and design firm in Long Beach, I am also a teacher and fine-artist. However, what I love the most is educating and inspiring others to create environments that enhance the enjoyment of their homes and businesses. So when Neena approached me about writing a column for the Signal, I was thrilled.
Even after 35 years of living in Southern California, I still hear myself say, “This is why I live here,” referring to our temperate climate. We’re able to enjoy our homes year-round. This allows our indoor-outdoor lifestyle to expand our footage without spending a lot of money to remodel and also provides seamless areas to decorate and design.
In Southern California, we have diversity of architectural styles. Our neighborhoods are a checkerboard of different styles, one next to another. Some of these styles include California bungalow and craftsman, Victorian, mid-century and post-modern, single-story ranch, Mediterranean, and Spanish revival. But even when the style is the same, each home is uniquely different. Whether you choose to enhance the architectural elements, or put your own personal stamp on your space, this column will introduce you to new ideas, tools and information regarding the world of color, design, resources, and decorating throughout the year. I’ll also focus on re-purposing, restoring, and creating style-savvy environments that are eco- and wallet-friendly.
Fall into the seasons
Let’s kick things off by talking a little bit about getting ready for the upcoming seasons. I know it’s hard to imagine that fall is actually here, especially with our temperatures being in the 70s and 80s. However, there are ways to get into the season.
It’s a fact that most people spend more time at home during the fall and winter months. Whether inside or outside, you want to create a festive and cozy atmosphere. Where to begin?
Revisit the decorations you already have. Each year I’m able to look at my items with a new perspective. They may only need a new ribbon, or they can be re-purposed into another creation. However, to satiate my desire to decorate, I buy one new item each year. It may be an inexpensive item from the 99 Cent stores, the Dollar Tree, or another local business that have keepsakes I know I’ll have for years to come. Remember– always look for great sales right after a season ends.
You should begin with the practical aspects of the season’s décor. Windows are a source of heat leakage, so heavy drapes should be hung up in anticipation of the cold. Add darker, heavier drapes to keep the drafts out.
Next in line would be the furniture. Be sure to create areas where people can mingle. Start by moving your furniture closer together. To create an area where guests would love to linger, add pillows and throws made of soft fabrics such as flannel, angora, fleece, and velour.
If you have a fireplace, this should also be decorated, since you and your guests will most likely want to spend a lot of time in front of it. Bring in items from nature, such as pinecones, leaves and berries. Add candles with mirrors behind them to create a warm glow and sparkle on the hearth. Of course, have a comfy chair close at hand, to curl up in with a cup of tea and a good book.
A lot of food is prepared and eaten during the holidays, so the dining area might benefit from a change in décor. Go with deep colors for place mats and kitchen linens. You could pull out more attractive linens for any festive celebrations at home. Since this is a time for family and friends, there’s no better opportunity to get out the good china, silver, and stemware. I remember the year we hosted Thanksgiving for all those who needed a place to celebrate the season. For the occasion I pulled out many of the items that were displayed in my curio cabinet. My guests were surprised by the transformation and felt like honored royalty.
The bathrooms could do with a sprucing up too. Mats on the floor so that feet don’t get cold, a decorative heater (to provide that extra bit of warmth) and products that enhance long luxurious baths should be added in during the upcoming months.
With our daylight getting shorter, lighting is paramount to enliven the spirit. Change out a lampshade or add candlelight with or without batteries. Yes, some of these candles are lit by remote control. Be sure to purchase candles that give off a hint of food to come: pumpkin pie and cinnamon. All in all, the entire effect should be that of warmth and belonging.
Shoshanah Siegel provides color consulting as well as space planning, remodeling, upgrading and staging through her firm Your Color Diva. She can be contacted at (562) 427-0440 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.