Tips & Tricks

tips to picking a coffee table

Tips to Selecting a Coffee Table

A coffee table can make or break a room. It can be the statement piece, or it can fade into the design. It is the one accessory a living room must have, in my opinion. Choosing the right coffee table can be an overwhelming experience for some people, though. On the other hand, armed with a few tips and tricks, the process can be down right fun.

How to select a coffee table

Start by knowing what it is you wish to accomplish with your coffee table. Will it be a statement piece, or be more functional? Doe it need to be fancy, or do you want something more simple?  Does the shape or material matter to you, if so how much does it matter?

octagon coffee table


Coffee tables come in all shapes and sizes. The most common seem to be rectangles. By no means are they the only shape to choose from. There are squares, ovals and rounds. Are there children or pets to think of?  If so, a round or oval table would be best. There are no sharp edges to injure oneself on during a fall or a bump into it.  If you opt for a round or oval shape, make sure you have 30 inches between the coffee table and the television console. Of course if the TV is wall mounted, you will still need to have walk way clearance.




What functionality is required? Will it house the remote and kid’s toys or just lay books and magazines on it? Some coffee tables have hidden storage, or built in display cases for artwork. In most cases, the functionality is being able to simply set down a drink or a small plate.



How long is the couch?  Pick a coffee table that is the same scale as the couch. For example, A long narrow couch will look well paired with a long and narrow coffee table. A long narrow table paired with an over-sized couch will look dwarfed in comparison. One rule of thumb is to keep a large scale piece with a large scale piece, provided the room is well suited to large scale furnishings.  Scale is simply the idea that each piece has equal visual weight when compared to each other. You don’t want to pair a delicate love seat with a heavy industrial metal table.

contemporary_glass_coffee table


Then there’s the question of material. Coffee tables come in wood, metal, glass tops and acrylic. The material you opt for will largely depend on your style. Wood is considered traditional, while metal and glass tops fall more into the modern to contemporary style ranges.

Think long and hard about going with a glass top coffee table. Sure they look fabulous and like acrylic coffee tables they visually open up a space. Nate Berkus, though, learned that kids and glass don’t mix well.  His daughter Poppy recently shattered the glass top coffee table in his bedroom causing shards of glass to go everywhere. All she did was innocently slammed a toy down on top.


Alternative Options 

If your style is a bit more eclectic, don’t feel the need to opt for a traditional coffee table. There are wonderful pieces that double nicely as a coffee table in just about any eclectically decorated space. I love the idea of turning an old steamer trunk into a coffee table, as long as it isn’t higher than the couch. Another option is to use a cedar chest, or a small grouping of nesting tables.  An over-sized ottoman offers both a place to leave the remote and a tray of magazines, but also provides additional seating when hosting a party.  In a small space, grouping together several garden stools will give the room a casual feel.

Once the needed functionality, scale and design are understood, shopping for a coffee table becomes easier.  Some of the best places to find coffee tables locally are area thrift stores, consignment shops and antique dealers.

Easy tips to picking paint color

One of the hardest selections to make when decorating a home is paint color. There are a myriad of hues from which to pick and narrowing it down to a set of colors can be intimidating. Thankfully, there are many helpful tips to make the process less stressful and more enjoyable.


benjamin moore paint fan deck

benjamin moore paint fan deck

The first is to begin with what your love. If you have, a scarf or a favorite piece of artwork, pull a color from it and build the color scheme around it. Let’s say you have a beautiful Monet print, full of gorgeous pastels. Pull out the shade that speaks to you most and build the room around that hue.  You can use darker or lighter shade of the color for the walls, and bring in other colors from the painting too.

Another great tip is to consider a room’s intended purpose.  Dark paint colors won’t work well in bedrooms, and can make kitchens feel cluttered.  A small powder room will benefit from a strong hue and make a grand statement.  Keep the lighter colors to the kitchen and bedrooms.

Discover a fabulous color palette right outside your window. Nature offers a wide and vibrant choice of colors, from neutral browns to soft greens and muted yellows to bright blues.  Creating your color scheme from shades found outside lets you bring the outdoors in and blurs the lines a bit.

Draw inspiration from your favorite places to decide your color scheme.  If you enjoy time spent at the lake or the beach, choose a palette of creamy whites, soft blues and sandy beiges.  Use browns, greens and taupe if your favorite place is the mountains.

A trick I have used and love is to find a color in a treasured item and color match it at the paint shop.  You can draw inspiration from a piece of your grandmother’s custom jewelry or maybe an old jacket of your grandfathers. A semi-precious gemstone could inspire your color choice.  Only the imagination limits your options.

Frequently, when one can’t decide on a color white becomes the popular choice. Funny thing is that white comes in hundreds of tones. It can look a little grey, a little blue, or super bright. While trying to find the right white can be a challenge, it lets you play with colors. Accessories can be any myriad of tones and shades. Keeping your walls white also lets you change out your colored accents seasonally, giving you the feeling of an ever changing décor.

Another suggestion would be to look at the color palettes Pantone issues. Each palette is a series of coordinated colors.  Select the palette that you are drawn to the most and let it inspire the palette for the entire home.  Paint each room a shade from that palette and create the feeling of flow throughout the home.

If you find you do not like the colors you choose, you can always paint again. Paint is one of the least expensive tools in the decorating arsenal.

Three must have color matching apps for your smartphone

Smartphones put everything at our fingertips with a wide variety of helpful apps. The apps I tend to gravitate toward are those for home décor, specifically color matching apps. Color matching apps assist in selecting paint colors for a space by simply matching a color in a picture.  Today I’ll share with you my three must have color matching apps.

I am big advocate of selecting paint color from a loved piece of artwork, a rug or textile.  Having the ability to snap a photo and then search a database of colors from the top paint brands takes a little bit of the guesswork out of the color selection process. It’s not exact, but it offers a few solid options from which to operate.


Color Snap by Sherwin Williams was the first color matching app I down loaded about 3 or 4 years ago.  I’ve used it to help select a color palette by snapping a photo of a scarf and selecting colors from it.  The app is free and lets you use an existing photo or snap a photo of a color using the app. You can then tap the color within the picture that you wish to match. The app will bring up a few suggestions for you.  You can personalize each of the suggestions by changing the hue, tint or saturation.  You may want a pink that is a shade or two darker than the roses you color matched.


Color Smart by Behr is another color matching app that I swear by. It lets you explore colors, color match another color, and offers a chance to preview a color in a virtual room. It’s a fun tool to help visualize what a color may look like in your space.  Often people purchase a paint color and aren’t too sure about it, then after they have spent the time and money to paint a space they realize it isn’t working for them. This color match app will help minimize the risk.


Color Capture by Benjamin Moore is another amazing color match app.  Like the other two, you simply take a picture or select one from your phone, and then tap on the colors in the image that you wish to match. Benjamin Moore takes it a step further by offering digital color chips for each of their collections. They have one that is 140 shades of off-white.  Can you imagine that many shades from which to pick? They also have a list of their products and a few tutorials to help you execute the project flawlessly.

Choosing a paint color is a fun process with these color matching apps.  A complete room is more than paint on the walls, though and adding a color coordinated pattern or two makes a room sing.  Sadly, I cannot locate an app that will offer ideas based on a color.  I may need to remedy that, but oh what a task that would be.

The secrets of symmetry

You know a room works when the space has achieved symmetry.  Symmetry is just a fancy word for balanced. Simply put, a symmetrical room features visual weight in appealing manner.  The space is not chaotic, or busy.  Designers place each piece strategically with an overall symmetrical plan in mind. To understand how to achieve balance with your design plan, you first need to know the secrets of symmetry.

formal symmetry

photo via Thibault

Formal Symmetry

Formal symmetry, a hallmark of traditional design, is the easiest to achieve, as it is also the easiest to understand.  A loveseat with two identical tables placed on either side with matching lamps place on top is an example of formal symmetry.  If you were to draw a line down the middle of the loveseat, you would see one side is a mirror image of the other.  Formal symmetry relies on the repetitiveness of furnishings and accessories. You could further enhance the symmetry by adding identical throw pillows, one on each side, to the loveseat.  When using formal symmetry, it is important to find ways to add visual interest to avoid a monotonous look.

informal symmetry

Informal Symmetry

Informal symmetry, also known as asymmetry, is more about shaking things up a little.  If you took the same loveseat and traded out an accent table for a floor lamp, then removed one throw pillow and replaced it with another one in a coordinating fabric you would create an asymmetrical look.  Asymmetry is more taxing but it creates a more robust design in the end. Unlike formal symmetry, asymmetry avoids repetitive elements yet includes the lines, textures and colors with similar visual weight and appeal that a design plan requires. Today’s casual designs use the concept of asymmetry more often than that of formal symmetry.

radial symmetry

Radial Symmetry

Radial symmetry, summed up, is the use of a focal point and other repetitive elements radiating around it. A dining room table, for example, would be the focal point of your dining room with matching chairs flanked around it. Each chair, a duplicate of the one next to it, keeps the form and repetition consistent in the room.  This approach, rarely used in interior design, can work. For a more formal approach in a sitting room, for example, you could center a round ottoman and place matching wingback chairs, equal distances apart, on the perimeter of the ottoman.

Any of these three approaches will work well depending on the space and function of the room. For traditional symmetry, just remember each side of the room is a mirror opposite of the other.  End tables are the same, lamps are the same, and even the accent pillows are a match. For an informal look, remember each side of the room does not match the other. Keeping things within scale and complimentary is more important. Both of these are perfect for family rooms. Radial symmetry, on the other hand, is best reserved for the formal dining room or eat-in kitchen. It relies on the use of a set of matching chairs placed around a matching table.

I hope that the secrets of symmetry have taken the guesswork out of creating your next floor plan. It may seem complicated but really, it isn’t with a little consideration.

Summer to Fall Decor with 5 Easy Changes

As the cooler temperatures start to move it, it is time to think about transitioning your home from summer to fall decor . It does not take much to bring a warm fall look to your home. Some of the best moves are easy, and do not cost much.   I usually use these five steps to transition our home seasonally and update the décor accordingly. Oddly enough, it most often involves changing out your textiles and accessories.



Switching out pillows is the easiest way to take your home from summer to fall.  Pillows are a popular accessory in our home, with them placed everywhere from the bedroom to the living room couch.  I have linen pillows that adorn our couch from April to October.  Once October rolls around, I store the linen in favor of a darker more wintery material.  My current favorites are the cable knit pillow and the imitation fluffy fur.



Window Treatments

I tend to keep our window treatments on the simple side and generally opt for a basic panel style.  Each fall I take down my crisp white linen panels and replace it with a heavier fabric in a pattern with warm tones.  If you have cotton, or linen you can switch them out to a lined silk or a wool blend. Using a lined curtain panel also helps your heating bill by keeping drafts at bay.




Summer time calls for lightweight bedding. Fall on the other hand, welcomes cooler temps and calls for heavier fabrics on the bed.  Who doesn’t want to snuggle under heavy bedding when there is a chill in the air? So, fold and put away you cotton matelassé coverlets and pull out your down comforter and microfiber blankets.



Nothing says fall better than the smell of pumpkins, spice and apples.  During the fall our house is filled with the scents of fall.  Create a vignette of candles in different heights and shades of orange, creams and reds.  On the other hand, place jar candles throughout your home, creating a wafting of warm and comforting scents.  I am fan of the soy candles that Target carries. Priced at $10.00 for a medium jar, they are economical and have a long life.



Seashells are quiet reminders of summer and are fabulous displayed throughout a home in baskets or jars.  When he sun starts to set early, and there is a noticeable chill in the air, it’s time to say good bye to the shells and welcome the pinecones, gourds and acorns.  These make great vase fillers and add that little reminder of fall to the house, especially here in Florida.

These 5 easy décor changes take no time to implement and can usually be done in an afternoon.  Make a weekend of it.  When you decide to store your summer clothes and pull out your sweaters, leggings and boots plan to store your home’s summer cloths too.