Stylish Entertaining

by Mari Robeson

Everyday can be special, when you welcome friends and family around your table.
Mari Robeson—Interior Design expert and Contributor—helps us do so with style and function. Mari takes us inside the world of design, and helps us bring beauty and color to the places we call home.


I love entertaining. The way you set your table and present your entrees can be like a mini Interior Design project. First, let’s talk some dining room basics.

Jonathan Adler Dining Room

Dining Room Table

Here are some tips for selecting a dining room table for your family:

  • Round tables are great for flow and ease of conversation and usually seat 4 to 6 people.
  • If you entertain more than 4 people, a rectangular table may be a better selection for you.
  • The base of the table is important too. Keep in mind that a table with a trestle base will allow you to seat more people around it.

Good Lighting

Another important item when setting up your dining room is lighting. A chandelier centered above the table is traditional.

  • The bottom of the chandelier should hang approximately 36” above the top of the table.
  • The scale of the fixture is important too. If the room is 10’ x 10’ add them together for a 20” chandelier.
  • Sconces perform a secondary, ambient light and look beautiful in a dining room.
  • Also, most people forget these…dimmers! I highly suggest putting them on all your light fixtures, especially the ones in your dining room.
  • Here’s one last little tip about lighting. If you’re having candles on the table with your meal, I’d suggest unscented ones. The smell of your amazing homemade cooking should take center stage.

(Dining Room by Jonathan Adler.)

A Colorful Tablescape

Once you’ve selected the appropriate table and lighting for your needs, have fun creating your tabletop.

Last year Pantone picked Turquoise to be the color of the year but it looks like turquoise is here to stay throughout 2011 as well. I did notice that the color has gotten deeper and richer this year but as you can see from these examples Turquoise is still hot.

Turquoise Finds for Entertaining
Peacock Cups at Amazon. All other items from

I’m seeing a lot of Peacock-inspired designs too, which are so whimsical and fun. Let’s face it, our country has gone through some tough times lately and having these cheery colors around our home is a nice little pick-me-up.

More Turquoise Finds for Entertaining
Cake plates, mixer and dishes from Coasters and placemat from

I hope these little tips and colorful finds help you, and perhaps inspire you to have your own dinner party. There is nothing more special than sharing time with loved ones in a home that is warm and inviting!


Designer Mari RobesonMari Robeson — an Interior and Product Designer, and a published Illustrator — strives to bring beauty into the world whenever she can. Mari shares with us her Interior Design tips and advice, and makes learning design concepts fun. With her fresh, creative projects, Mari spreads her love of color and beautiful textiles.

Mari has designed everything from restaurants to children’s rooms. She recently launched her own line of home décor accessories and textiles. She and her husband own WM Design Consultants on the beautiful Central California Coast.

Most days you can find Mari working up her latest designs or teaching Interior Design Workshops in her colorful studio nestled in the countryside.

What colors, or special items help you create a stylish table?

February, Feng Shui & Valentine’s Day

by GraceAnn Simoni

Let’s give ourselves a sweet design treat, with Contributor GraceAnn Simoni. An Interior Redesign and Staging Specialist and Instructor from the Chicagoland area, GraceAnn shares with us budget tips and advice for decorating with your existing furniture and accessories.

Are you aware that you will spend 1/3 of your life on average sleeping? Your environment for sleeping should be of great concern.

We typically decorate and maintain the areas of our home that the ‘public’ sees. Why do we not take the time to create a beautiful space for ourselves?

Romantic Bedroom

February is the month for Romance so now is the time to focus on your Master Bedroom.

  • Colors,
  • Bedding,
  • Lighting,

…all play a part in how the space will make you feel.

A colleague of mine, Joyce Hammig, owner of Blue Heaven Interiors, who specializes in Feng Shui, has offered the following tips to perhaps create a ‘spark’ for Romance and maybe even a better night’s sleep!

1) One of the first things to consider in creating an intimate, romantic feeling in the bedroom is color. Soft, warm tones are best – such as yellows, warm off whites, tans and beiges, soft pinks and peaches. These colors are supportive and nurturing.

2) Who are you inviting into your bedroom? Do you have photos of your parents, family and friends prominently displayed? Find another spot for family and friends to hang out – remember – this is a special nest for you and your beloved!

3) Is the furniture in your bedroom something you bought together or is it inherited from your aunt? Is your mattress the one you slept on with an ex-husband or ex-wife?! For couples the bedroom is the place to have things that represent your relationship, not Aunt Midge and Uncle George’s!

Love Candles4) Experiment with where to place your bed so that you feel safe and snuggly. Ideally your bed should have a view to the door but not sit directly in front of it. If it must be close to the door or a busy hallway create a more private space by using a screen or plant or piece of furniture between your bed and the doorway.

5) Include photos of you and your beloved, artwork that you love, pairs of things such as candles are accessories that enhance the romance.

6) Computers, electronics, desks loaded with paper are not conducive to intimacy! Your bedroom is the oasis that allows you to be recharged so that you can plug into the hustle and bustle – elsewhere.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


GraceAnn Simoni of Yours Redesigned Naperville, IL, is a Redesign and Staging Specialist and Instructor, and a member of Interior Redesign Industry Specialists (I.R.I.S.).

If you need help getting the The Home You Want With the House You Have™ visit

Is your bedroom ready for romance?

DIY Decoupage Storage Pails

by Sherri Blum

Here’s a fun DIY for you and the kids, from our Nursery and Kids Room Design Expert and Contributor, Sherri Blum. A pioneer specialist for children’s-room interior design, Sherri designs for celebrities, and for the baby next door.


Let’s face it, most children’s rooms are small. And considering that these rooms usually hold more junk stuff than most, parents find ourselves dealing with organizational nightmares!

We have four children and it’s a constant battle trying to convince them to clean up their rooms and put things in their proper places. Truthfully speaking, I cringe every time I open the door to my 17 year old son’s room. Some cases are just hopeless- but in the hopes that some kids’ hygiene habits are salvageable, I frequently try to come up with ideas for helping them stay organized.

I love do-it-yourself projects and especially enjoy those that we can do with our children. I’ve found that when we include the kids’ in such projects, they will take pride in the end result and by some miracle of fate might actually enjoy using the item (at least for a while).

One of the least expensive and yet most appealing ways to keep clutter in its proper place is to purchase a set of either galvanized pails or storage boxes, and decoupage them to coordinate with the style of the room. Decoupage is a very easy process that really can’t go wrong. So even if you are “artistically challenged”, when finished with this project, you’ll come across like Monet.


Gather your supplies and protect your work surface – this is going to get a bit messy.
You will need:

  • The pails or storage boxes. (I purchased a galvanized pail at Home Depot for
    about $6.)
  • Mod Podge or simple white school glue
  • A sponge brush or small paint brush
  • Decorative papers and scissors



I spray painted the inside and outer rim of the pail a sweet pink color. It took several coats.

Party napkins, scrap book papers, wrapping paper and fabric scraps are perfect for decoupage projects. Select several coordinating patterns to keep it interesting. Choose a theme such as sports, transportation, princesses, flowers, or anything interesting to your child. I’ve chosen pretty pink and green scrapbook papers to coordinate with my studio colors.

You can either tear random patches with ragged edges or use decorative scissors to make a scalloped edge on the papers or fabric. No need to measure, as the key to this is keeping things somewhat random for a patchwork appeal.

Place some glue in an old bowl (you’ll want to dispose of the bowl when done) and add about 2/3 as much water and mix.


Using your sponge brush or paint brush, coat a small area of your surface and place a few papers on the wet glue, making sure to overlap the edges of the papers.


Once the papers have been placed, lightly spread more glue on top of the papers. Move on to another section of the pail until the surface is covered. Coat the entire surface several times with a thin layer of glue and allow drying time between layers.


You can then embellish the surface with crystals, ribbons, silk flowers, buttons, and more by using a hot glue gun.


I chose not to add it, but wouldn’t the pail be cute with this fun beaded fringe around the top? I chose to tie some sweet bows at the ends of the handle instead (see top photo).


I’m keeping this particular pail for myself and will eventually be making more of them, as my studio itself is in dire need of some organizing. Here, I’ve placed the fan decks from my favorite paint stores in the pail. A second one will be created to hold fabric swatches from my favorite bedding companies.

As for kids’ rooms, these pails or boxes can hold things like art supplies, photographs, medals/awards, school supplies, books, hair ribbons, CD’s and more.

Create a box for each collection you find lying around your child’s room and give each set a proper home. And while these items unfortunately won’t put themselves away, it might make it easier for your child to return the items to a properly labeled bin when available.

A mother can dream, right?


Designer Sherri BlumSherri Blum loves putting her talents to use designing beautiful rooms for her tiny clients. Sherri’s designs are popular among celebrities and have been featured in numerous TV shows and publications.

Sherri shares with us trends, designer projects and advice for creating beautiful, yet functional kids rooms and baby nurseries.

Sherri operates her design firm Jack and Jill Interiors and she creates her signature line of children’s wall art, clocks and hand-hooked, wool rugs — Sherri Blum Designs. Sherri writes the Jack and Jill blog, and resides with her family in rural Pennsylvania.

What’s your best trick to help keep the kids’ rooms organized?

Trend Alert — Rockin’ Decor

As studded-up shoes stomp down the fashion runways, watch for more ways to out
your inner rocker with your home accents.

Side-Studded Faux Suede Pillow at Overstock

Spot On Studded Leather Boxes

Studs and nailheads are leaping off edges, moving from trim to the featured decoration. And the pyramid stud—formerly punking only leather cuffs and collars—is going mainstream.

Pyramid Studded Mirror at Lamps Plus

Rory Nailhead Faux Suede Pillow at Overstock


Beyond studs, add a little ‘tude to your decor with a strum of chrome, leather, or some rockin’ hard lines.

Pilke 36 Pendant at Finnish DesignChrome Lamp with Embroidered Silk Shade at Terry's Fabrics

Faux Croc Studded Trays at Z Gallerie

Ceramic Chrome Stool at  Atom Designs

Studded Black Lacquer Nightstand


How are you rockin’ your decor? Do tell…

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