November is the Roll out of the Holiday Season

November is the roll out of the holiday season, which is filled with the anticipation of get-togethers with family and friends.  I say this of course with Thanksgiving in mind, which always requires a little planning. Whether you are hosting the entire family or keeping it loose with a group of friends, early November is a great time to start getting organized.  This will help eliminate any excess stress closer to the holidays!

Many of my clients and friends have come to me over the years asking for various Holiday decorating advice.  There are some common challenges I have discovered.  First, a centerpiece is always nice, but can be tricky. You either need to keep it low enough so everyone can see over it, or commit to something on a pedestal, that brings it up, and out of the visual line of sight. If you have higher ceilings, a full blown candelabra can be fabulous, but then let it be the feature, and keep all your other details and color statements simple, acting as background.

I’m always fond of candlelight, so a wonderful way to decorate the table is with a variety of pillar candles.  These Cathedral Candles would be a wonderful addition to any holiday décor.  Garnish the table with some greenery, such as moss or pine leaves to give it a festive and elegant feel.

Spare seating is a must.  You’ll want to be able to accommodate any extra guests if needed.  Many of us have extra chairs that we can pull from other areas of our home, but if not, make sure that you select something that is the proper height for your table to help ensure your guests comfort. For a nice spare chair, I like these Verona Padded Chairs.  It’s simple yet sturdy and you can’t go wrong with the padded seat!

Lighting your dining area is also very important, and is a reflection of the mood you are creating. A central hanging pendant is a traditional solution with a variety of fabulous options.  I love these Salottino Mica Lights.  They cast a beautiful warm glow, creating the perfect dining ambiance.

Last but not least, your guests will usually inquire as to what they can bring, which can open the door to some odd menu conflicts.  Instead, invite them to bring a bottle of their favorite wine.  It’s a fun way to try new varieties or vintners and allows your guests to share something they love.

Wishing you a stylish, fun and stress-free holiday season!

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Cozy up…The weather is cooling down.

Fall in Northern California is one of the most spectacular times of year. The leaves start changing colors, the evenings cool down and the crisp breeze is a reminder winter will be coming soon. Come October we are bombarded with holiday promotions and reminders, accelerating us into hibernation mode and causing us to quickly forget the warm summer months we had just let go of so hesitantly. Although I always mourn the loss of warm weather, there is something comforting about cozying up in front of a fire or in bed with a new book. One essential I purchase each year is new bedding. Select something soft and rich like this Napa Velvet Bedding. It’s multi-toned, comes in 3 color choices and is made from luxurious cut velvet. I promise you won’t want to get out of bed in the mornings!

One challenge to surviving winter is creating warmth inside the home. Lighting is a wonderful, inexpensive and effective way to create a warm, relaxing atmosphere in any room. I absolutely love these Vintage Seltzer Bottle Pendant Lamps. They are made from vintage European bottles and date back up to 50 years with their original tone and pantina. Some even show the manufacturer markings, which is a fun little piece of history to have as part of your home.

Another way to cozy up a room is with candlelight. I always like to keep a variety of options around, mixing and matching to create the perfect ambiance. The key is to select candles in neutral colors that create a golden glow. Salt of the Earth Candle Holders are one of my favorites at this time of year. The pure salt crystals come from the Himalayas and are said to have therapeutic healing powers. Each holder is handmade and varies in shape and color, which is part of their charm and natural beauty.

In preparation for holiday get togethers, dinner parties and nights lying in front of the fire, a set of quality wine glasses are a must. The Bormioli glasses are some of the best I have found. They are lead-free, practically shatterproof and the bowls and stems transition seamlessly. Select the large or extra large for big bold reds, which tend to be a favorite for the Napa Valley in the cooler months.


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Goodbye summer…hello school year!

After a lazy and relaxing summer, the thought of preparing for a new school year can be daunting and even a little stressful.  It can be challenging to transition from warm days and beaches to schoolbooks, early mornings and car-pooling to soccer games and ballet practice.  I find that there are two important aspects to a smooth and successful adjustment back into the real world.  The first being usable storage and organization, providing a single place for books and supplies is a must.  I love this San Marcos Crate Sideboard.   It comes with removable drawers and multiple shelving options.  My favorite part is that it’s handmade with 90% reclaimed pine from old buildings!  It’s a beautiful rustic piece that will hold up even with pen marks or paint smudges from school and art projects.

One complaint I think any parent can relate to is the kids coming in at the end of the school day and turning the house into a tornado of back packs, jackets, sports gear and whatever else they may have brought home that day.  Again, having one central place for them to store their belongings is paramount.  This Silverado Trio Coatrack is a wonderful option.  These handcrafted coatracks are designed as a tripod, providing iron hooks, midway cross-bracing to hang umbrellas and a bottom shelf to catch any excess drips.  Put it right by the front door and make it a rule that coats and backpacks are hung up upon entering.  No more tripping over helmets and hockey sticks in the entryway!

Providing a proper desk and work area is also essential to a successful school year.   I suggest something with adequate workspace and a few drawers for books and school supplies, etc.  The Colonial Trunk Desk is a functional and attractive option.  The design was inspired by colonial travelers who would often hollow-out their wood steamer trunks and re-use the materials once they reached their overseas destination.

In addition to providing a proper and organized workspace, sufficient lighting is a must as well.  With the ubiquitous nature of technology, between iPads, laptops and video games, many children’s eyes are strained and their attention spans are compromised.  Arranging a quiet, comfortable and well-lit work area encourages learning and promotes a lifetime of healthy study habits.  Something like this Aviario Lamp is functional, stylish and will fit nicely on most any desktop.  I also love how the shade ads a pop of color!

”Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”  ~John Dewey

Happy learning!

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