Monthly archives: December, 2015

5 Ridiculously Simple Things For A Better 2016!

The new year is always filled with such promise.  We make resolutions to do or not do things to make our lives better in the new year.  We are always so well-intentioned when we set these lofty goals, only to feel defeated when we do not succeed.  We set the bar high each New Year’s Eve, vowing that the upcoming year is going to be the best year yet.  However, embarking on creating THE BEST year can be a little overwhelming.  Why can’t we strive for a year that is just better than the last?  If we look to make small improvements throughout the year, then creating a year that is better than the last becomes inevitable.  We can finally have a year where we successfully meet our goals and feel good about it instead of beating ourselves up for the goals we did not achieve.

I am proposing something a little different this year.  Since I truly believe that it is the environment in which one places oneself that determines one’s success, why not change our environment to foster some of the changes we are looking to make.  Here are 5 SIMPLE (key word) things we can do to improve our environment, thus allowing us to reach our goals in 2016.

  • CLEAN OUT ALL DRAWERS AND CABINETS IN YOUR KITCHEN.  This is the room we spend the most time in when we are home.  We spend countless hours here making breakfast and dinner for our loved ones, setting our kids up to do their homework and where we entertain our family and friends.  Pick one day (preferably the same day) for the next 4 weeks and choose a section of drawers and cabinets to tackle.  Predetermine and write down what section you will tackle each week.  Go to Container store or go online and buy drawer liners and dividers that will help you maintain your nice neat drawers and cabinets.  Pick something pretty and fun to get you excited about your project.  Here are some things I will be getting for my kitchen.

Below are shelf paper options from Chic Shelf Paper and Container Store:

If you don’t like these options, Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond sell other options as well.

Below are some drawer dividers from IKEA that I already own and love:

I love bamboo because It is not a porous wood; therefore, you do not need to worry about it warping or fading.

So, I know that you are thinking, “how is this going to help me have a better 2016?”  Well, if one of your goals is to spend more quality time with your family, or to eat more meals together, think of how much more relaxed you will be when you are making dinner and you can actually find everything you need.  With each drawer you open, everything is neatly organized with a bright, pretty drawer liner peaking out from underneath.  Cleaning out all of your drawers and cabinets helps create an environment that fosters stress free family meals.

  • BUY YOURSELF NEW BEDDING.  Throw out your worn sheets with the bleached out spots from whatever face cream you bought last New Year’s (that promised better, younger looking skin).  New sheets are such a luxury that makes one feel better and instantly make one’s bedroom look more put together.  This is a great time to score great prices on bedding just before the spring bedding rolls out.  Here are a few sets from Pottery Barn I just picked up for myself (Right now, Pottery Barn is having a 20% off white sale and free shipping!!…..hop on that, girl!):

If your resolution or goal for 2016 is to get more sleep, or to spend more time reconnecting with your spouse 🙂 create the environment that will increase the chances of your success.  An addendum to this tip: make your bed every morning before you leave the house!  Don’t underestimate the benefits of this simple act.  It is a great visual and mental cue that your day has started off right. It also allows you to accomplish at least one thing each and every day, thus paving the way for more accomplishments throughout the day.

  • CLEAN YOUR WINDOWS INSIDE AND OUT.  If money is tight, use the same strategy as with your kitchen drawers.  Sit down and set a 4 week schedule in the Spring to tackle this project.  Determine what windows you will clean and on what day (again, choose the same day each week).  Put it in your phone now, and when the time comes, just DO IT!  If you can afford to hire someone to come and clean all of your windows, put a reminder in your phone now to schedule it at the end of Winter.  Keep a look out in your mailers for coupons…..there are always a ton of coupons for this service.  If it has been a few years or even after just one winter, you will not believe how dirty your windows are!

If some of your resolutions are to keep up on house cleaning, delegate more duties to others or create more time for yourself, this is a great way to accomplish all of these goals.,

  • BUY YOURSELF FRESH FLOWERS, OFTEN.  This might sounds frivolous or silly, but to me, flowers are a metaphor for life.  They reminds us of a few very important things such as:  there is always beauty to be found even in the depths of winter (or sadness), their only meaning is the meaning in which we give it (we determine if they are a symbol of love, sympathy or celebration), and to take time to savor and appreciate them and their beauty, for their beauty and life are fleeting.  Choose a flower that is bright, happy or fragrant. Some of my favorites are peonies, tulips and orchids.

This practice would help in creating an environment that supports your resolution of doing more things for yourself, or in being more present to enjoy the blessings in your life.

  • ON NEW YEAR’S DAY, ONLY DO THINGS THAT BRING YOU CLOSER TO YOUR GOALS.  The last step I recommend in creating a better year ahead would be something I practice every New Year’s Day:  It is my belief that ANY and ALL actions and behaviors you partake in on this day sets the tone for the entire year.  Therefore, I make sure to spend some time with family, spend some time alone, time improving my health and wellness and spend some time in activities that will make my year more productive.  I try to plan a day that is as well balanced as possible.  I do not spend all of New Year’s Day loafing around or pampering myself.  Also, because I am fairly superstitious, I NEVER pay bills on New Year’s Day (this would symbolize a year of money going out).  So, my day tomorrow will consist of going to work out, going to the spa, making my family a nice Spaghetti and Meatball dinner and finishing watching a movie with my sons that we started the other day.

I wish that your year ahead is filled with love, beauty, health and happiness.  I truly appreciate your support, and I look forward to posting things that I hope help and inspire you!  I would love to hear some of your New Year’s Day rituals.

xo Laurie


Ring in the NEW YEAR with STYLE!

I believe that hosting is an art.  Everyone knows someone who throws really fun and memorable parties, making it all seem effortless.  In reality, it is anything but.  A hostess acts as a conductor of sorts, orchestrating all of the details necessary in ensuring that a great time is had by all of her guests.  An important element to any great party is a fun and festive atmosphere.  Your decor is a fun way to create atmosphere.  You don’t have to spend a fortune, however, you do need to be thoughtful and purposeful in the decor you choose.

If you are hosting a party on New Year’s Eve, why not ring in the new year with style!  I always view New Year’s Eve as a glamorous holiday filled with champagne and all things sparkly.  One of my favorite NYE themes is the old Hollywood Regency glam look.  Here are two looks (a gray, black, silver and white color scheme, and a black, gold and white color scheme) to serve as inspiration for your party.

gray, silver, black & white color scheme

gray, silver, black & white color scheme

This look is a modern interpretation of the Hollywood Regency look and very easy to achieve.  The main elements of this look are mirrored furniture, tufted upholstery, bold, graphic prints and gleaming metals.  I added pops of fuchsia to keep it bright and interesting. This look was achieved using elements from Z.Gallerie, Lulu & Georgia, PB Teen & All Modern.  Below are some more elements that could be added to achieve this look:

The next look is a black, gold and white color scheme.  This is a more authentic HR look.

black, gold & white color scheme

black, gold & white color scheme

This look was achieved using items from Z.Gallerie, Lulu & Georgia, Serena & Lily and All Modern.  Below are some more elements that could be added to achieve this look:

In this version of the HR look, I relied more on bold patterns to create atmosphere and impact.  The graphic rug serves as the back drop to this look and the pillows, art and accent chair serve as the pops that add interest.  Every element is very structured with strong shapes.  The gold adds the sparkle to this look.

Wishing all of you a happy, healthy & prosperous 2016.  Thank you for taking the time to read my posts.  I would love to hear what you think, or if you have any suggestions for future posts.

xo Laurie


Tackling Tween Boys!

Tween boys (and Men) are pretty superficial in the sense that there is not a lot of depth in their hobbies and interests.   Their needs are fairly easy to meet.  Most conversations vacillate between sports, food & the ability to burp the alphabet.  One usually does not need to wonder what subtext lies beneath their words. My husband insists that all of these reason are exactly why Men are happier than Women.  I disagree (this is for another post 🙂

When boys are young, the colors used are mostly pastel blue, yellow and green.  The palette I use for tween boys is muted and warm with lots of gray and black undertones.  Also, the hues are richer in color than the ones I use for tween girls.  Tween boys rooms can be just as much fun to create as girls rooms; however, the SAME themes keep emerging; sports, superheros (I amazed by this theme’s longevity) & sports again!! I love the rock & roll theme, the surfer theme and the campy man cave theme (what guy doesn’t love a gilded deer head hanging on his wall?)

Since sports themes are by far the most requested, I created a baseball theme for this post.  Ok, I would like to first state: For the love of all that is holy, PLEASE DO NOT PAINT YOUR SON’S WALLS IN HIS FAVORITE TEAM’S COLORS!!!! I know it sounds like a good idea, but it is not.  These colors might look good on a uniform, but they do not look good on walls.  It is very easy to incorporate team colors in a variety of ways that will let all those who enter know what team your son is a fan of.  The key is to use paint to establish the base, and then add colors and accessories to establish the theme.  Below, I listed my favorite color schemes for tween boys rooms.  I listed the main paint color, a coordinating accent wall color, ceiling and trim color and any other applicable accent colors (either used through paint or accessories).

Below, I created a baseball themed room.  The palette is gray, navy & white with brown and red accents.  Since the colors are muted in the room I added a lot of texture to add depth.  I added a chenille rug, faux fur throw pillow, distressed leather desk and accent chair, knit pouf and galvanized metal on the locker style desk and night table.  The brown is repeated on the vintage bats hung over the bed, the distressed leather chairs & the hardwood floors.  The red accents are picked up in the locker, pouf, pendant lights, throw pillow, art and bedding. The striped euro shams (I repeat stripes on the throw pillow) and zig zag drapes added much-needed pattern. I framed the Yankees and MLB logos to add some “art”, and I added the decal between the vintage bats. I am a huge fan of decals (any more than two is serious overkill).  This is such a fun and easy way to add team spirit without the commitment.  When you are done with it, just peel it off.

A REALLY, REALLY important element that I add to ALL sports themed room are vintage accessories.  This is the element that keeps this room looking stylish and well done!!!  I can not stress this enough. It is the juxtaposition of the new and old that makes this look successful.  The internet has a vast selection of vintage accessories.  Although I couldn’t fit it in this frame, I added gray wire cubby type shelving on the left for storage (they are from Land of Nod) to add to the vintage vibe.  As I stated in my last post, I really like to add visual tension in the rooms I design.  I did this here by adding the single red locker and the zigzag drapes (which is an unexpected pattern to use in this themed room).

Tween Boy's Room

Tween Boy’s Room

So here are a few tips on successfully creating a themed tween boys room:

  1. Keep colors muted.  You can create interest by painting accent walls or painting the ceiling (which looks amazing in boy’s rooms)
  2. Try not to match every piece of furniture.  I used the galvanized locker style on the desk and night table.  I would NOT also use a locker style dresser.  I would have used a painted gray dresser that coordinated with the bed.
  3. Play with texture.  Texture is more interesting to the eye than color.
  4. Add an unexpected pattern as I did with the zigzag drapes.
  5. Add cubby type storage.  Boys will shove things on or under anything they can.  Cubbies (hopefully) keep things off the floor.

The nice thing about this design is that should he decide he doesn’t want a sports theme anymore, you take the wall decor down and the bedding and this can easily be a skater ,ski, or man cave theme.  Also, your son can take the desk, night table & locker to college, and only the bedding and wall decor need to be swapped out to make this a great guest room.

Kids rooms are so fun to create!!  Let me know what themes you would like me to create, and I will post on it.  Message me if you would like to know where I got these pieces.

XO Laurie


Sugar & Spice: Transitioning From Little Girl’s Room To Tween (and beyond)!

Some of my favorite projects have been kid’s rooms.  It is so fun to let one’s imagination run wild while creating a fun and whimsical space for a child.  Sadly, the years go by and the stuffed animals are replaced with dolls, then out go the dolls to make room for the Barbies.  Eventually, it’s all about the texting, clothes & make up…..sniff, sniff!

Just as the transition from little girl to tween is a major transition, so is the transition from a little girl’s room to a tween’s room.  I wish I could tell you that it’s as easy as changing out the bedding and drapes; it is not.  This update will likely cost the most of any update you do to your daughter’s room.  However, this doesn’t mean that you have to spend a fortune.  There a few key updates that will help take your tween through teens and beyond. As with any space, this can also be achieved in stages.

After about 5-7 years most rooms need to be repainted.  When girls are young the colors we choose most are pastels with cool undertones.  Pink and purple are the most common.  Tweens require a bolder palette.  They speak louder, dress bolder and basically do whatever they can to exert their new found autonomy.  Therefore, the colors they lean towards are usually richer, more pigmented and warmer in tone.

Here are a few paint palettes I like:

As much as I love the use of bold colors such as this hot pink and turquoise, I like to be practical about design as well.  I think painting an accent wall, or the ceiling adds the perfect amount of color without having to paint the whole room (the same goes for a bold, fun wallpaper).

When I paint an accent wall a bold color like the ones above, I usually choose a neutral color for the rest of the walls.  I like gray, beige or white 3-4 shades (color value and intensity) lighter than the accent wall.  Some of my favorites are:

(**A huge caveat to viewing paint chips on a computer/phone/tablet is that based on the way your device is calibrated, these colors can and will look different.  I strongly suggest you get the paint chips of the colors you are looking to use, and bring them home to view in the space you will be using them.  I also suggest looking at the colors at night because they will look different under artificial light vs natural light**)

Another change that one should consider is upgrading from a twin bed to a full bed.  This is the bed she will likely have until she goes off to college. Why not make this a bed that she can be comfortable in and grow into?  One money saving tip is to choose a bed frame that has a platform; therefore, you can forego the box spring (which is usually what makes mattress sets so expensive).

Below, I created a bedroom using a hot pink, gray & white palette with pops of turquoise & navy.  I also used mirrored and gold accents to elevate the room from being too childish, into one fit for a girl who will use all of these reflective surfaces to check out her appearance.  The mirrored accents are repeated on the picture frames and night table drawer fronts.  The gold accents are repeated on the etagere, pouf, picture frame and accent bow pillow.  The turquoise on the lamp, mirror and vase add a bright pop of color to this palette.  I try to keep my designs very balanced visually so one side of the room doesn’t feel “heavier” than the other; however, I usually disrupt this balance just a bit by throwing an element or two to cause some visual tension.  I do this by placing a single lamp on the left night table, and by using the “XO” wall decor only on the right side of the mirror.

Tween Girl's Room

Tween Girl’s Room

When it comes time for your daughter to leave “the nest”, you can swap out the bedding, pops of turquoise and the fluffy chair to make this a beautiful guest room.

This post was based on numerous requests for help on this topic (I will be tackling tween boys next).  Please let me know what you would like to read about, and what other design questions or challenges you have. Also, always feel free to message me to inquire about where to shop for these pieces. It is so fun for me to create these posts.  I love being able to help those who struggle with a topic that is as natural and easy to me as breathing.

Thank you for reading!!

XO Laurie


The ART of Hanging Art!

Creating a unique and visually appealing gallery to display one’s art and photos can be a challenge.  The options are almost unlimited.  One can mix art with photos (this is a stunning look, although tough for a novice to pull off).  One can also mix frames to lend an eclectic, carefree vibe.  Another option is adding decorative elements to your gallery to add an interesting and layered look.

Here are a few guidelines I use when hanging art and photos:

  1. I use repetition and symmetry A LOT when creating galleries.  One’s eye searches for patterns, as well as matching elements.  If you look closely at the galleries I created below, I repeat images multiple times in most displays.
  2. Lay out your art on the floor and play with the arrangement.  Finalize the arrangement before you put even one nail in the wall.
  3. Art hung in odd numbers usually looks more appealing (there are a few galleries I created below that use even numbers of hangings.  However, when you are just starting out arranging and hanging art, I would stick with odd numbers.)
  4. Stay within the borders of the sofa or table which you are hanging the art over.  Although it is not wrong per say, to expand beyond the borders, it will look more refined and deliberate if you use the length of your sofa or table as your guide.
  5. While designing, I create horizontal and vertical grids in my head to ensure spaces are balanced.  I do the same while hanging photos and art.  Make sure that the space above, below and between each picture is the same distance apart (I use 4″ as a rule of thumb).  A lot of times I line up the top edges, bottom edges or both of the frames’ edges to create an border.
  6. USE THE LINES OF THE SOFA TO CREATE A GRID IN WHICH TO HANG YOUR ART!!!  The picture that lies in the center of the arrangement should either be centered over the center cushion of the sofa, or the center line of the sofa should bisect the photo that lies over it.
  7. I LOVE to layer and stack frames on top of each other.  This is the ultimate way to add dimension, interest and a truly custom look to your gallery.  This layout requires A LOT of patience and meticulous measuring……..basically, don’t drink and hang!
  8. Hang art lower than you think it should be hung! If you have to tilt your head up to look at the picture, it is hung too high! A good rule of thumb is to have the center of the photo at about 58-60″ above the floor.

Below, I showcase a few variations to give some inspiration on hanging your gallery.  As a tip, West Elm has great frames.  They are super stylish and are easy to work with.  The frames come with a paper template that you can tape to the wall to adjust and play around with.

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Building a gallery around a beautiful mirror is an easy and classic way to display art. Adding mirrored stars between art and photos adds a lot of visual interest to the second and fourth gallery.

The use of a grid in all three layouts makes these displays stand out. In the first and third display I lined up the edges of the tops and bottoms of each frame. In the second display I lined up the top of the frames to create structure. Because this layout is the most "organic" of the groupings, I relayed heavily on repetition of both the size of the frames and the images displayed.

The use of a grid in all three layouts makes these displays stand out. In the first and third displays,I lined up the edges of the tops and bottoms of each frame. In the second display, I lined up the top of the frames to create structure. Because this layout is the most “organic” of the groupings, I relied  heavily on repetition of both the size of the frames, and the images displayed.

Let me know what you think.  I would love to hear what tips you have for displaying your photos.

xo Laurie


REALLY Fab Gifts This Christmas!!!

There are 11 more shopping days until Christmas!!! Although it is supposed to be a joyous time, we often wind up feeling stressed and cranky.

I curated a collection of gifts for your co-worker or boss, girlfriend or hostess and your boyfriend or husband.  Also, since I know you have been VERY good this year, there are a few gifts from Santa just for you (the gold slippers from J Crew are amazing!!)

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What gifts are you giving this season? What gift are you hoping to get?

Happy Shopping!!

xo Laurie


Dress Your Door In Style This Christmas!!!

If there was one holiday decoration that I could easily change every year, it would be my wreath.  There are endless variations one could use; I am always so inspired by the unique elements that some use in creating a gorgeous wreath.  Kim from Tidbits & Twine decorated a gorgeous wreath using boxwood greenery, antlers and a BOA….It looks amazing, you should check it out!

Here are a few of my favorite wreaths:

christmas wreath 1

I love the use of hydrangeas in this wreath. The initial is a cute way to personalize your wreath.

christmas wreath 3

The burlap, glittery pine cones and flocked branches gives the perfect amount of texture to this wreath.

christmas wreath 2

I love the use of burlap, but it’s the shape of this wreath that creates major visual interest!

 

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The blue, green and silver combination is always an eye-catching combination. This is one of my favorite non-traditional Christmas color schemes.

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This is just all around gorgeous! The frosted pine cones create a beautiful back drop for the gilded walnuts and bells.

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The unique horse shoe shape and pink satin bow create an elegant wreath. I love the simplicity of it!

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The color of this bow looks fresh and bright against the bronze and gold elements used in this wreath.

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The red cardinals and ornaments add an eye catching pop to this flocked wreath. This would look beautiful against a dark door.

Let me know what you think of these, or if you have a wreath you love that you think would be an inspiration to others.  I would love to hear from you!

xo Laurie

 

 


Show off your Shelves….Shelf styling secrets!

Since bookcases and shelves serve as a focal point in a room, it is important to get the styling of them right.  They create an opportunity to show all those who enter your home about you, your hobbies, family life and travels.  These displays help to put the finishing touches on your home, just as jewelry does for your outfit.

I won’t bore you about the horizontal and vertical planes of one’s home, and the importance that bookcases play in this balance.  So, I will jump right into my tips:

  1. decide on a color scheme (which should coincide or complement the rest of the space).
  2. keep color scheme limited to 3-5 colors.
  3. Provide an eye catching backdrop to add some drama to your displays.  In the pictures from Houzz and Pinterest below, this is illustrated beautifully.  Paint adds a pop of color (robin’s egg blue is my favorite), and wallpaper adds instant texture and dimension to your display.
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Tidbits and Twine

Houzz- Erinn V Design Group

4.  If your shelves are adjustable, adjust the shelves to create different size openings to add accessories that you would like to showcase. The shelves can be set to different sizes like the first picture below, or can be set to different sizes in a more symmetrical pattern as shown in the second picture.

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Houzz-Jamie Keskin Design

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Houzz-Brooke Wagner Design

5.  Vary the height of the items you put in your display. Keep balance by keeping roughly the same number of tall items and shorter items used throughout.

6.  Add some texture to your display.  Add something shiny, bumpy, rough, spiky etc… The eye is drawn to texture as much, if not more, than color.

7.  Lastly, and most importantly, DO NOT CROWD your display.  Negative space is a beautiful concept in design!! It is the presence of negative space that allows your objects to shine!

I hope this helps when styling your bookcases! Let me know if you have any questions.  There are infinite possibilities in how you can style your shelves.  As with my post on patterns, I will post again to elaborate more on this topic!

xo Laurie

 


Mix Patterns like a Pro! You don’t want to miss this one!!

Patterns add interest to a room.  When patterns are used successfully, it forces the eyes to move around the room.   However, getting patterns right can be tricky.  One can use too few patterns (like using the same pattern for pillows, drapes and rug), which can be too overwhelming; and one can also use too many patterns (a different pattern with little to no repetition), which can look chaotic and cause a room to lack cohesion.  In my opinion, the latter is a worse offense.  A good (safe) rule of thumb is to incorporate 3-5 patterns in a room.  Really though, when done right, the combinations are almost limitless!!

Below is a pattern board to illustrate some of the guidelines.

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Here are some guidelines to follow:

  1. Choose a color scheme of at least 3 colors (one dominant and two accent)
  2. Play with the scale of each pattern.  Choose a pattern that is a large scale, medium scale, small scale and solid.
  3. Each pattern should have a color that connects each grouping.  If you look at my first grouping, navy is the common color in the first three pillows.  That group uses the navy to connect to pink, which connects the last two.  I take it up a notch in my middle grouping.  Pink connects the first two pillows in the group.  Then, the pink connects the minty blue to the next two pillows.  Finally, I use the minty blue in the herringbone pattern to connect a beigey gray to the last two pillows in the grouping.
  4. Have fun, don’t be afraid to make mistakes!  With the tips listed above, it will be very hard to get it wrong!

Getting patterns right takes practice.  However, once you master this concept, you will elevate your rooms to a whole new level.  I will definitely be expanding on this topic in future posts!!!

Let me know if you thought this post was helpful.  Also, I would love to hear what other topics you would like to see on my blog!!

xo Laurie

 


A no fail guide to mixing gold and silver!

People usually have an affinity for silver or gold.  Even when choosing jewelry, people usually favor one metal over the other.  In the past few years gold has made a major comeback!  Although, recently I have seen a lot of mixed metals used in home decor (rose gold is having a moment as well).

I love mixing silver and gold.  I think mixing metals adds depth, as well as versatility to a room. However, there are some basic guidelines to creating this look successfully.  In the rendering below, I started with a fairly neutral palette of cream, black, beige & gray.

Here are some basic guidelines:

  1. keep the finish of each of the metals the same.  If you are using a brushed gold, pair it will a brushed nickel.
  2. repeat the metals throughout the room.  In this rendering I repeated the silver on the cocktail table and light fixture, and the gold on the end tables, lamps, accent pillow and bar cart.
  3. choose one metal to play a more prominent role in the room (I chose gold for this rendering).

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This topic is one that I get asked about all the time.  It is also one that people say they feel most intimidated trying.  This will definitely be a reoccurring theme for posts in the future.  I will post using different color schemes that you can follow as you become more comfortable mixing metals.

I’d love to know what you think of this post, or what questions you have related to this topic (or any other).  Thanks for reading!

xo Laurie