Friday, November 4, 2011

I'm Back!

It has been quite some time since I last posted on my blog but the holidays always inspire me! I had a wonderful Halloween and now I am so eager to begin my holiday decorating. Yesterday I spent the day organizing and packing up all of my Halloween decorations but not before checking many of the "day after" sales to make sure I have some great new additions to my Halloween decorating for next year.

This year I used many of my existing Willow House pieces as well as other pieces I have acquired over the years, and believe it or not, I found great inexpensive decorations at the local dollar store to create spooky, yet tasteful Halloween decor. You CAN have beautiful decor, especially when decorating with a theme such as Halloween, without spending a ton of money. You just need to think outside of the box and get creative!

In the picture above, I simply took a glass hurricane, placed candy corn in the bottom, then placed ghost peeps all around the class in a circle, and then filled it with blue corn chips. I had a wonderful, spooky Mexican dip to go with the chips. Now, next to the hurricane, I simply had a small candle, and two small decorations that I picked up at the dollar store! This was such an easy display but it was such a crowd pleaser!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Sick Day with HGTV

Luckily, I have escaped most of the various flu bugs and viruses this year but this weekend I did have a slight sinus infection. My cure? No antibiotics for me...just resting on the couch all day and watching HGTV! It is truly amazing what you can learn from watching amazing designers give their tips on everything from color choice to trim and molding. A few designers that I highly recommend watching are my personal favorites, Candace Olsen and Sarah Richardson. Candace Olsen is truly a design GOD. The above picture is an example of her work and I can honesly say that I am always stunned at her room reveals. She is known for her unbelievable lighting plans and I have to say the way she incorporates light into her designs is what really makes her rooms stand out. I am realizing now how critical it is that we get our lighting just right in my house. We have a long way to go!

I also love Sarah Richardson. Her show, Sarah's House is fantastic. Basically she goes in and buys a house and completely transforms the house room by room, showing the viewer exactly how she made each and every design choice. It all seems so overwhelming to me but what I am starting to realize is that basically, if a look you choose doesn't work, try try again! All of the designers that I watched yesterday made critical changes once they were into the meat of the project. I get very stressed out when something doesn't work but now I realize that it is just part of the process and it takes time to get it just right!

I also spent a great deal of time on Willow House's new website. It is called It is a WONDERFUL place to get great tips and design ideas. It is like a you tube for designers! Check it out! You might see me on there in the near future!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Cure for the Winter Blues... Flowers!

Royal Street Urn
Petite White Vase

Parkside Hurricane

It's official! I am done with winter. Unfortunately, it is only February 10th but there is hope on the horizon. We have no snow in the forecast for the next week and it is going to feel downright tropical this weekend with a 50 degree day on Sunday! One way I try to conquer the winter blues is to always have fresh flowers in my house. I am not much of a morning person, but when I come down to my kitchen and see a vase of fresh cut tulips, I cannot help but smile. Even a Gerber daisy in a small vase on my bathroom counter in the morning can brighten up my day. Ever since I met my husband, he has known that there has to be a flower expense in the budget! It really is a form of therapy for me, especially during these cold winter months.

As a consultant for Willow House, I have learned of so many different ways that you can incorporate flowers into your home decor and there are any number of ways that you can use unique containers as vases for your flowers. I often use a pitcher for my tulips, or even just a mason jar filled with wildflowers on my my kitchen window sill.

Shameless Plug:
Right now on my outlet, we are selling these adorable petite white vases for only $4.96! They would look perfect next to your bed, in your bathroom, or any place that you want to liven up with a fresh pop of color!

It really doesn't matter what vase you choose, just go out today and get some flowers! It can transform you living space and transform you!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Making the Groundhog's Prediction Come True...

Today we had a beautiful, sunny day here in the Northeast and I starting dreaming of those lazy days on the beach! (It was only one degree above freezing, but I will take anything at this point!) Just thinking about lying on a beach soaking up the sun, instantly put me in a better mood. So, I started wondering how I could change some decor around my own home to reflect my desire for warmer weather. Just filling a vase with shells that my children and I had collected last year and then putting fresh flowers in it, instantly could lift my spirits. Something as simple as replacing the scented candles in my house from evergreen and spiced pumpkin, to fresh linen or a tropical scent might be just what I need. Even just changing out items in my bookshelf to lighter colors, like these candle stands from Willow House, can change the feel of a room. Since the groundhog did say we would get an early spring, it's time to make that least inside my home!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What to do When Cabin Fever Strikes....

Here in the Northeast, we have been bombarded with relentless snow and ice storms. I have always loved the snow, but this winter has really gotten to me mentally. (How much more snow could we possibly get?) As I sit here typing, we are under an Ice Storm warning and I am thinking about how I will entertain my two children yet again tomorrow when school is canceled. I've decided that we are going to have one big clean and organize day! This means we are going to tackle each of their rooms and organize toys and make donation piles. I am not sure how excited they are about this, but I really feel the need to turn this cabin fever into something positive. In anticipation of this latest storm, I bought several cute storage bins and I feel I am ready to tackle some of the toughest organization challenges in my house. I purchased some of my bins from Walmart for a steal and I also purchased several from Willow House so that my home office is functional and organized while also being stylish! I will keep you posted on this ongoing project. I think I will have plenty of time given that they are calling for snow again on Saturday!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The "Picture" Tree...

One of the great things about being a design consultant for Willow House is that I get to visit some beautiful homes. Last night was no exception! The home of my hostess was absolutely stunning. From the moment I walked in the door, I could tell that my hostess put so much thought and care into every design choice that she made, from paint color and texture, to fantastic window treatments. It was such a pleasure for me to just walk through her house and ask her about some of the choices that she made. It was clear that she wanted a space that felt warm and lived in and one that was a reflection of her family. My absolutely favorite piece in her home was this "picture" tree. She created this by placing long branches in this black urn and attaching pictures of her family using tiny clothespins. I fell in love with this idea instantly. What a whimsical, yet classy way to display family photos!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Putting my husband to work...again!

My head is constantly filled with new ideas about ways we can upgrade our 1970's colonial style home and I am always enlisting my husband to do the project. Luckily for me, he is the son of general contrator and VERY handy! Recently I was at a friends party and they had just finished a renovation of their kitchen and their family room. It was a beautiful upgrade but the thing that really caught my eye was that they had installed a french door leading to their basement. Their home is similar to ours and this little change really opened up their space. I came right home and convinced my husband that this was such a little fix that could make a big impact. So, we were off to Home Depot where we got a great deal on an unfinished french door. My husband, being quite the handyman, installed the door knob and of course we realized we needed to upgrade our other door knobs as well. One thing always turns into something else! But, I think this project is going to turn out perfect!

Tracy's Tip: Upgrading door knobs and hardware in your house is also an inexpensive way to change the overall look of your rooms. It can really make a big impact without spending much money or time on the project!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Valentine's Day Idea

Okay, so I know I said this blog wouldn't just be about Willow House products, but I have to share this idea with you! I recently bought from the outlet these red teacups. You get four teacups for $9.96. Well, I was quite happy when I received these today because they will make a perfect gift for teachers for Valentine's Day. (Having been a teacher, I always love to give just a little something to show how much I appreicate all they do for our children.) I plan on either filling mine with some tea bags, or maybe just Hershey's kisses and then putting them in a cute Valentine's Day treat bag! You could also just fill them with a few pretty pens or pencils and they could use it on their desk. Anyway, I am just already thinking ahead to Valentine's Day!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Grey is the "New" Beige

As you can see, grey is the hot new trend in home decor right now. They say that grey is the "new" beige. I have to say, I have fallen in love with the color. A good friend of mine recently painted the walls of her family room grey and it looks incredible. As you can see by the photo below, there are lots of ways to add color and make objects pop against the subtle grey tones. This particular photo was taken at a Willow House product demonstration so there are lots of Willow House products in this room. But, you can also just get a sense of how the designers transformed this room using grey and green. I am already trying to think of what room in my house that I can transform to look like this!

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Design Trend My Son Loves!

When my Willow House fall catalog came out, I was a bit unsure about these glass domes. But after several product demonstrations, as well as these domes plastered all over the newest Pottery Barn catalog, I realized they must be a hot design trend. I must say, I now love them! I have seen everything from books, cupcakes, plants, and cookies under the domes. But one of the neatest ways that I have seen these domes used was when I was doing a home tour in Newtown, PA and in one particularly beautiful home, the owner (and incredible decorator) showcased her son's latest Lego accomplishment! My son was very impressed by this and I found another unique way to use these domes!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Welcome to my blog, The Design Novice! Today is my very first post and I am really excited to share with all of you my love of design and home decor. I have always enjoyed flipping through pages of design magazines and I am an avid HGTV watcher. But , these habits unfortunately don't qualify me as an interior designer! (Just a slave driver to my husband who has graciously been willing to tackle all of my projects!)
After years of being a stay at home mom, I realized it was time to start making some money again so I thought long and hard about how I could still have time for my children (my top priority) yet also try to incorpoate something into a job that I was passionate about. Well, a friend invited me to a Southern Living at Home party and well...home decor, entertaining, and parties...this seemed right up my alley!
Begining in January of 2010, I became a consultant for Southern Living at Home which became Willow House in August. I now sell beautiful design and entertaining products and I have a great time doing it. (Check out my website .) Now, I don't want you to think this blog is all about Willow House and me trying to just sell products. Sure, there will be lots of pictures of Willow House products and ideas of ways that I have decorated using these products, but there will also be posts about my experiences in all other areas of design, espcially how to transform spaces without breaking the bank. (We recently did some upgrades on our kitchen without spending very much money at all!)
I think that your home should absolutely reflect your personality. Don't try to be someone you are not or let someone convince you to decorate in a style you don't feel comfortable living in. It's taken me a very long time to figure this out and I still am working on it -thus the title of this blog...The Design NOVICE. But, I am really becoming serious about this little passion of mine and if I do have readers out there, maybe you can help me on my journey of one day becoming a design EXPERT!