Shoe storage solutions for an entryway

I just finished a floor plan for a client who’s back door leads from the garage immediately into the family room. There is no closet in this space, nor is there any type of hallway or foyer by the door, so shoes were lined up along walls in the family room and in front of the door. With the granite hearth fireplace, butter walls, french doors leading to the garden and honey colored wood floors, the room lends itself to a relaxed elegance design for fires and tv watching. So what to do with those pesky shoes that I had to work into the design?

I created an entry way using this piece from Pottery Barn:

I placed it horizontally along the arm of the sofa, so it created a right angle with the back door. It helped create a barrier between the sofa and the entryway, and underneath, I threw two large baskets:

(These were also from Pottery Barn but you can pick up baskets anywere). I have a size 10 shoe, so I practiced with my shoes first, and they fit nicely. I got about six pairs of flats in there! They have lids too, so now when they come in the door, they can toss their shoes in a basket and throw on the lid and no one is the wiser.

I liked this solution because it doesn’t look like shoe storage, it helped divide the entry way from the living space,  and it fit the decor of the room. Just throw a little rug in front to complete the space. Winter boots can stay on a boot tray in the garage so no worries there.

Coat Hooks

I’ve been looking for some coat hooks  in my ongoing attempt to stay organized and I’ve found several ones that I like. Even the smallest detail, like a wall hook, can make an impact in a room.


Tembo Ceramic Hook from Nkuku

Eames Hang it All from Room and Board

Knax walnut coat hook from Nest Living

Ceramic Melon Hook from Anthropologie



Fresh Flowers

As I watch the crocuses emerge around my house – yay spring! – I am reminded about how much difference flowers can make to a space. Fresh flowers are such an easy yet impactful decorating tool to create beauty and drama. I purchase flowers every week from our local Trader Joe’s. I see them right as I walk in the door and they cost about $5.00 a bundle, sometimes less. I keep them on my desk, in my living room, and in a little vase next to my kitchen sink. For me, they infuse a space with instant drama. No one can walk into a room and not notice even a simple arrangement of fresh flowers.

Notice how I keep saying fresh flowers? In feng shui, dried flowers are a no no. They have no chi – life force or positive energy. Dried flowers are dead, and in feng shui, you don’t want to place anything in your space that signifies neglect or death. So try to avoid using them, especially in areas that you are trying to enhance – career, wealth, health, etc. If you think fresh flowers are an extravagance, then purchase potted geraniums or other flowering plants. Even a simple jade plant, with its vivid green, will give a space a boost of color and drama.


Is your room like a polar bear against a snowy backdrop? Or is it more like a periwinkle hydrangea set against green leaves? If you feel your room is blah, there may be a quick fix: contrast. Take a look around your space. What color are your walls? How about your sofa? Floors? Are all your surfaces smooth and shiny, like leather sofas and glass tabletops? Or do you have a mix of textures? Is there enough contrast between the elements in your room?

Sometimes having little contrast is a good thing, like blending into your environment to avoid getting eaten. It can also help minimize the appearance of something that you don’t want to call attention to, like a support beam in the middle of a room. But if you want to create more interest and depth, add contrast in the form of color and/or texture. Add some soft, patterned throw pillows to that sofa. Swap out that glass table for distressed wood. Put a potted red geranium in a clay pot on a black side table.  It may take a little bit to play with textures and colors, but have fun! You don’t have to change the big stuff: just add a few accents here and there to create more interest.

Demolition Sales

Sounds like a monster truck event, doesn’t it? They can certainly feel like one if you’ve ever been. A demolition sale is a giant scavenger hunt to a decorator. It’s like an estate sale, but with one big difference: after an estate sale the house is usually left standing. Not so with a demo sale: the building is literally torn down after the sale. So don’t be late.

Demo sales are great resources for decorators and anyone who’s on a budget because you can literally find everything down to the kitchen sink. Currently I am looking for a stair railing/banister for a client. True, I could go to Home Depot and get something utilitarian. But I want something unique, something beautiful, something with character. This client doesn’t have the budget to have someone  custom make one, so we’re looking to repurpose an existing one and then I’ll have my contractor retro fit it for my client’s home.

How do you find demo sales? Simple. Just google “demolition sales” and find ones in your area. Most demo sales require you to pay in cash and take items with you immediately but read the fine print for the demo sale you’re interested in to see what they require.

Dress to get dirty and have fun!

Cool chair for dining or office

I have been on an IKEA kick lately. I found this chair while looking for some pieces for a commercial space I’m working on. It’s super comfortable and sexy and sleek. It comes in two colors – a clear and a smoke grey. It would look great with a round white Knoll table, a knotty wood rectangular table or even with a little writing desk.

Picture Hanging

So you have this picture. And you have this wall. Before you start hammering away at the plaster, read this!

If you’re not sure where to hang the picture, practice first. Cut a piece of paper (use anything: newspaper, used printer paper, etc) roughly the same size as your print. Tape the paper together if you need to make it the same size. Now tape it to the wall and stand back.

If this is the only print going on the wall, first look at the size of the print and the size of the wall. Does the scale match? If the print is too small for the space, it will just look like it’s floating, with no relation to the wall its on. If it’s too big, it will look odd as well. Next, look below. Will the print be hanging above a bureau, sofa, any other item? How does the scale of the print match that piece? Do you want to center it over the piece, or do you want to create a more informal balance, perhaps putting the print a bit off the center line? This is helpful if you have a large item such as a vase or piece of art sitting on top of a tabletop.

Next look at the height of the print. A good rule of thumb is to hang the print at eye level. This of course depends on the size of the print, but if it’s a photograph or framed art piece, you want to make sure it’s not hung too high (a common mistake) on the wall. People will have to strain to see it and it also won’t look balanced on the wall.

Lastly, look at the colors in the print. Do they play off the colors in the room? Does the frame fit the style of the room? Make sure there’s a reason the print is in the room and not just that you had a space to fill.

If you are hanging a grouping together, make sure that the spaces between the frames are smaller than the pieces themselves. If the space is too big, the pieces will look disconnected.

Happy hanging!

Reflections on a cup

I was in Bramble today and I came across these awesome hand painted cups from Nkuku. They are adorable and they come in several different designs and colors. I was actually looking for a nice metal cup to hold some of my work pencils, and these were the perfect size. I also thought about using them in the bathroom too. I see that they are out of stock on the website, but if you’re local, you should buy them at Bramble in Oak Park. Just be careful going in there, because you’ll probably want one of everything else that they have.Mmm, scarves….

Come on in!

I’ve been on the search lately for a new doormat. Doormats sometimes are an afterthought, right? And it’s hard to find ones that are both cute (if I can call a doormat cute) and effective. Below are several I really liked. The “Hi. I’m Mat.” is actually an old favorite of mine. I dragged ours from our last two apartments to our house before I finally had to say goodbye.

IKEA Trampa $14.99

Cost Plus Cherry Blossom $14.99

Bisou Boutique Pied a Terre $29.95

Amazon Hi.I'm Mat.$17.95

Anthropologie Welcome To Nantucket $42.00

Bambe Co Recycled Plastic Branch $35.00

My new favorite find

I went looking for a chaise lounge for a client today and came across Treasure Hunt. This place is amazing. The website doesn’t do it justice: visiting the 10,000 square foot space is a must. I found a fabulous tufted chaise

Isn't this lovely?

and other beautifully kept vintage items, but nothing broke the bank.  Schaumburg isn’t someplace I normally shop because it’s a bit of a haul for me, but at these pieces and at this price, I don’t care. I’ll brave the traffic. That is if I ever get up from this chaise again.