Powder Room Panache


The bathroom may not be the first room you think of when you consider design and décor, but it is one of the most often utilized places in your home – whether family, neighbor, or guest. Consider adding some personal touches to your bathroom and make a statement with it.


One of the first things to consider when decorating your bathroom is the color. From wall colors to decorative elements like curtains, linens, and wallpaper, you will have plenty of options to add your personal touch.

Because bathrooms are often small spaces, many homeowners choose to feature light colors in their bathroom decor, as these tend to expand a space, whereas darker colors can make a space feel cozier. White is a great choice because it keeps the look simple and clean. Light beiges, yellows and blues can all be great choices for a light and bright bathroom decor. Think about the atmosphere you want to create and choose colors that will achieve that goal.



Bathroom hardware is another big choice that will make a big difference. The styles of your sinks and faucets say something about you. There are so many types and styles to choose from but, like your outdoor hardware, don’t mix and match styles. Stick with one theme and make it work. The bathroom hardware also needs to be functional, so make sure to address safety considerations, especially if there are children or anyone with special needs in your home.

Keep it simple

A minimalist approach to decorating the bathroom is often wise, especially if the room is small. Decorating a bathroom can be challenging because the room is so small and its purpose so specific. A few items of decoration and a splash of color here and there can help make a room look bigger. It can also maintain the sense of tranquility that most people desire in their bathroom decor.

You may want to decorate the bathroom to reflect the same style as the rest of the home – making sure that your bathroom reflects your sense of style is important. Both house members and guests will notice and enjoy the bathroom more if it looks attractive and well thought out.

Lighten up

Lighting can go a long way towards creating the appearance of more space in a small bathroom. Decorative lighting can be strategically deployed to open up the bathroom, with the sink and shower areas illuminated specifically with task lights, and space over and below cabinets decoratively illuminated to create height and depth in the space.


Go green

Bring the outside in! Incorporating greenery into your bathroom design can be a great decorative option and serve as a natural air purifier. Plants can be featured on windowsills or shelving, and collections of rocks or driftwood can add to a natural decor theme.  If you don’t have a green thumb, don’t worry. Artificial plants create the same aesthetic feel.


It will take a bit of work and time, but decorating your bathroom is a worthwhile endeavor. Most importantly – make it your own!

What do you do to make your bathroom a decorative hit?

Beat the Winter Blues Before they Begin

Winter sad

As we turn the clocks back on summer and the days become shorter, darker, and colder, even the most cheerful among us can get a little down. The gloom caused by Mother Nature each winter is biologically felt to some degree by an estimated one in four of us -usually starting around October and ending by April with the spring thaw.

While those of us lucky enough to live in the Valley are enjoying 70 degree weather, winter is still on its way. Before we are in its throws, I thought I would share some scientifically-proven ways to prevent the winter blues before they begin!

winter happy

Make your environment brighter

When daylight is in short supply, just 30 minutes of light therapy per day can be as effective as antidepressant medication. Look for ‘light boxes’ or ‘winter’ light bulbs at any big box store or online. Open blinds and curtains, trim shrubs and tree branches, and sit closer to windows to get as much sunshine as possible.

Eat smarter

Certain foods, like chocolate, can help to enhance your mood and relieve anxiety. Though especially tempting in cold weather, foods like candy and carbohydrates provide temporary feelings of euphoria, but could ultimately increase feelings of anxiety and depression. 

Simulate dawn

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that usually begins in late fall or early winter and fades as the weather improves. Studies show that a dawn simulator, a device that causes the lights in your bedroom to gradually brighten over a set period of time, can serve as an antidepressant and make it easier to get out of bed.


We all know that regular exercise is good for bodies as well as our minds, but it is more important than ever during the winter months. Exercising under bright lights may be even better for seasonal depression: One recent study found that exercise under bright light improved general mental health, social functioning, depressive symptoms, and vitality, while exercise in ordinary light improved vitality only.

winter exercise

Crank up the cheerful tunes

In a 2013 study, researchers showed that listening to upbeat or cheery music significantly improved participant’s mood in both the short and long term.

Plan a vacation

Research shows that the simple act of planning a vacation causes a significant increase in overall happiness. It can be as elaborate or as simple as you like, just plan something that involves the outdoors and lots of sunlight.

Help others

Volunteer your time to help others. In addition to being a wonderful way to give back, it is also proven to improve mental health and overall life satisfaction.  A true win-win!

winter heart

Get outside

While not always easy or evening enticing with frigid temperatures and ice on the ground, getting outside and moving has big benefits – it can improve focus, reduce symptoms of SAD, and lower stress levels. 

How do you keep your spirits up during the winter months?

“Every morning I wake up…with a blank canvas and endless possibilities.”


Beyond being an amazing artist and public speaker, Erik Wahl is a renowned philanthropist and an encouraging example that though our lives don’t always stay the course we envision, we may just end up better off than we ever imagined.

“I spent a full decade in that traditional corporate job that never came close to fulfilling my passions,” said Wahl. “But through a series of life-changing events including losing my job, losing all my money, and losing my carefully manufactured ego, I realized I was now left with my final option: to dig deep and rediscover that exciting, innovative person I always knew lived inside me.”

After graduating from University of San Diego with a bachelor’s degree in business, Wahl became a partner at a corporate firm. When he lost his lucrative job of eight years in the dot.com bubble of the early 2000’s, Wahl took the opportunity to change his focus to art. He took what could have easily been a devastating career blow and used his talents to inspire untold numbers of people.

An acknowledged success, Wahl began working as a motivational speaker and graffiti artist rather than returning to the corporate world. After a few years of painting and selling his work to buyers, Wahl decided instead to donate his paintings to benefit charities. His art is done for public speaking conferences and charitable events where they are auctioned off.

In 2012, Wahl painted a portrait of Marilyn Monroe in three minutes at a graffiti art auction in front of an audience. His painting was bought by Pink and her husband Carey Hart for $10,000. The proceeds were donated to Linda’s Voice, a non-profit that raises awareness for ending domestic abuse globally.Similarly, Wahl presented at the Influence Affair event thrown by Ian Somerhalder in 2012 for environmental awareness.

In May 2013, he donated his painting of Lady Liberty in a live auction to benefit One Fund Boston, an organization founded by Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Tom Menino for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.

At the launch event of his book in West Hollywood in 2013, he created a painting of Albert Einstein in front of the audience. The painting was auctioned at Charitybuzz and the proceeds of the painting were donated to After-School All-Stars. In 2014, Wahl donated three paintings to the Miracle-Ear Foundation and raised $21,000.

As a public speaker, Wahl has performed his speed-art presentation called “The Art of Vision” for audiences including schools and universities, conferences, and large companies. He has consulted with many of America’s top corporations such as Fedex, Microsoft, and Disney, as well as guest lectured for the Department of Defense and London’s School of Business. His acclaimed and sought-after artwork has raised over a million dollars for charity and can be seen hanging prominently in executive offices all over the world.

What inspires you?

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A Little Prevention Can Go a Long Way this Fall


Fall is the perfect time to take care of the little things around your home that can make a big difference. Take advantage of the temperate weather to repair any damages before the first frost hits. Here are some tips that will keep your home in good running condition throughout the winter.


Check foundation for cracks and caulk around the areas where masonry meets siding, where pipes or wires enter the house, and around the windows and door frames to prevent heat from escaping. Openings in the structure can cause water to get in and freeze, resulting in cracks and mold build up. A careful check of the outside structure combined with inexpensive maintenance can save you money in the long run.


Inspect exterior walls to see if any paint is peeling or blistering on the house or outbuildings. Peeling or chipping paint is a sign that the existing paint film is no longer protecting the siding of the building. Left uncorrected, the siding itself will deteriorate, leading to expensive repairs in the future.


Make sure the roof is in good shape. Inspect for missing and loose shingles. Ice, rain, snow and wind combined with rapidly changing temperatures and humidity wreak havoc on roofs. Inspect your roof from top to bottom, using binoculars if necessary. Check ridge shingles for cracks and wind damage. Look for damage to metal flashing in valleys and around vents and chimneys. Scan the entire roof for missing, curled, or damaged shingles. Look in your gutters for large accumulations of granules, a sign that your roof is losing its coating; expect problems soon.


After leaves have fallen, clean out the gutters and downspouts, flush them with water, inspect joints, and tighten brackets if necessary. Replace old or damaged gutters with new ones that have built-in leaf guards. Clogged gutters can lead to damaged exterior surfaces and to water in your basement. They are also more prone to rust and corrosion.


Weather-strip your garage door. Make sure the seal between your garage door and the ground is tight to prevent drafts. Inspect your driveway for cracks. Clean out and repair any damage with driveway filler, then coat with a commercial sealer.



Heating and cooling amount to 47% of the energy costs in your home. Proper sealing and insulation can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs, or up to 10% on your total annual energy bill. Air leaks from windows and doors are easy to find by moving your hand around the frame. Applying weather-stripping and caulk to these areas will help cut down on drafts. Gaps in caulk and weather-stripping can account for a 10% of your heating bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Have your heating system checked by a licensed heating contractor. Heating systems will use fuel more efficiently, last longer, and have fewer problems if properly serviced. 

Check basement windows for drafts, loose frames or cracked panes.

Change the direction of your ceiling fan to create an upward draft that redistributes warm air from the ceiling.


A clogged chimney is a fire hazard. Get your woodstove and fireplace in working order. Clean and inspect the glass door for cracks and have the chimney cleaned by a licensed chimney sweep. Birds love to nest at the top of an unprotected flue; a chimney cap can prevent this from happening.

Test the batteries in your smoke and carbon dioxide detectors and keep extra household batteries on hand. Replace the batteries in each smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detector, then vacuum them with a soft brush attachment. Test the detectors by pressing the test button or holding a smoke source (like a blown-out candle) near the unit. If you haven’t already, install a smoke detector on every floor of your home, including the basement.


Vacuum internal parts of air conditioners. Remove units from windows or wrap outside box with an approved tarp or plastic air conditioner cover in order to prevent rusting of vital parts.  

Clean humidifiers regularly during the heating season. Bacteria and spores can develop in a dirty water tank resulting in unclean moisture misting out into your room.


Pile of fall leaves with fan rake on lawn

Clear leaves from lawn, reseed patchy areas, and plant spring flowering bulbs. If deer are a problem, start deer-proofing by covering plants with netting and chicken wire.  Fertilize your lawn with a high phosphorous mix to ensure healthy grass in the spring.

Prepare your yard equipment for storage. This includes draining fuel from all gas-operated equipment such as lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and chain saws. Drain garden hoses and store them inside.

Inspect and fill bird feeders. Keep in mind that once you start feeding birds you should continue on a regular basis throughout the winter months.


Check the supports, stairs, and railings on porches and decks. Make sure the handrails can support someone slipping on snow or ice. Cover and store outdoor furniture and barbecues in a protected area.

Make sure all soil is emptied from pots and planters. Dirt left in clay pots will freeze and cause the pots to crack if left outside

Please share your tips for winter preparation!

Staging Your Home for Success


Getting ready to sell your home? Appearance is everything. That’s where home staging comes in. Hiring a professional “stager” to prepare your home can cost anywhere from $50 to $150 per hour. Here are some tried and true trips to get your home ready to sell!

Always be ready to show.  Your house needs to be “show-ready” at all times – you never know when your buyer is going to walk through the door.  Don’t leave dishes in the sink, make the bed, keep the dishwasher cleaned out, the bathrooms sparkling, and make sure there are no dust bunnies in the corners.

Curb appeal is vital to attracting buyers. This first view of your home that a buyer has is the most important. Studies show that a majority of buyers will not get out their car if they do not find your home’s curb appeal visually attractive. Spruce up your home’s exterior with inexpensive shrubs and brightly colored flowers, update outside fixtures, and make sure the paint and siding are in tip-top shape. See my previous blog for curb appeal tips.

Stage rooms with one purpose so buyers will know what it is. Paint the walls a neutral tone and then furnish the room with a theme – spare bedroom, office, etc.

Bathrooms that sell. Bathrooms are one of the most important rooms in a home to prospective buyers.  A low-cost alternative to replacing dated tile is ceramic epoxy paint. Thoroughly clean the walls or, even better, repaint for a bright, fresh look. Pedestal sinks show off square footage in small bathrooms beautifully.

Fireplace facelift. Give your fireplace a thorough cleaning, scrubbing it with soap and water. Then, using a stone color enhancer, polish the bricks to make them shine. A centerpiece worthy fireplace is undeniably inviting.

Kitchen, kitchen, kitchen. Studies consistently show that the kitchen is the most important room in regards to selling your home AND the best return for your money in upgrades and updates. The fastest, most inexpensive kitchen updates include painting and new cabinet hardware. Use a neutral-color paint. Instead of replacing dated cabinets, stain them. Add new, complimentary hardware and you have an updated kitchen for a few hundred bucks.

Built-in bookshelves. Like a lot of the other tips here, you are going to have to take yourself out of the picture. Remove personal affects and replace with a sparse array of neutral objects.

Let the sun shine in. Maximize the light in your home. After location, good light is the one thing that every buyer cites that they want in a home. Take down the drapes, clean the windows, change the lampshades, increase the wattage of your light bulbs, add more interior lamps, and trim any outside greenery that may hinder sunlight from streaming in.

Less is more.  Cluttered rooms indicate to a buyer that your home lacks storage space. Pack up unnecessary items and furniture, and move items to your garage or a nearby storage facility. See my previous blog about how to de-clutter your home.

But more storage space is more! Ample storage space is a huge selling point for a home. Organize and clear out closets and your cabinets to visually enhance the storage you really have.

Incorporate some of these tips to get the most for your home. Taking the extra step to stage a home can make a difference in how a buyer values it and the price a seller might get for it, according to the National Association of Realtors® 2015 Profile of Home Staging.

Have some home staging tips of your own?

I look forward to hearing from you!

Simple Tips to Reduce Moving Day Stress

Moving Image

Moving day! It inspires hope, thoughts of new beginnings, new arrangements…and, to be perfectly honest, dread. No one enjoys moving (and even fewer enjoy helping someone else move), so here are a few tips to make your next move as pain and stress-free as possible.

Update your address – this seemingly obvious task is necessary to avoid future headaches and save time and money. In addition to the USPS update make sure to update all regular correspondence with your new address.

Set up utilities in advance – there are few things as frustrating as successfully schlepping your belongings to your new abode only to find you overlooked a basic necessity. Once you have your move date, arrange for water, cable, Wi-Fi, the works. There is no penalty for being ahead of the ball here.

Take a photo of how your electronics are connected so you can remember how and where all the wires go.

Sandwich bags and markers – bag and tag all of the removable parts of items such as screws and mounting parts, to make re-assembly a cinch. Tape to the corresponding box or the item itself.

Recruit help in advance – if you aren’t using professional movers, make sure to make the task of helping as appealing as possible. Order pizza and beverages to celebrate the completed job and reward those wonderful people! Give them first dibs on items you were going to toss or donate – this is a great perk that is a win-win!

Overnight kit – Imagine a long day of moving, wearily but proudly ready to call it a day and then desperately digging through boxes for that toothbrush or comb.  Assign (and clearly mark) a box or bag to store your basic necessities – toiletries, a towel, a change of clothes.

Pack the necessities in a clear container – I love this one! This includes things like a box cutter, paper towels, trash bags, eating utensils, select cookware, power strips, phone chargers, toilet paper, tools, etc. The clear bin allows you to see inside; it also separates itself from the myriad of cardboard boxes.

Pack your drawers like a box – you put your clothes in their respective drawers for a reason, right? Why pack, unpack, and refold when you can simply remove the drawers with the clothes intact and cover with Saran Wrap.

Save receipts – “In many cases, moving expenses are deductible from federal income taxes,” says Rachmany of Dumbo Moving + Storage. “If you’re moving because of a change in employment, you may be able to claim this deduction even if you do not itemize.” Try to keep track of all moving costs for your accountant.

Please share your moving tips!

Make the Most of Home Ownership Tax Breaks

Tax Pic

The simplest financial reason to buy a home is that it is a better investment, in the long run, than renting. You have to live somewhere, so why not pay your own mortgage and not your landlord’s? But don’t forget to reap the not insignificant financial benefits of home ownership along the way.

The tax benefits listed below apply to multiple types of residences, including town houses, single family homes, mobile homes, condominiums, and co-ops.

Mortgage deduction

This is the biggest cost saver. Homeowners are able to deduct their mortgage from their taxes. For many people this is a substantial deduction, since interest payments can be the largest component of your mortgage payment in the early years of owning a home.

Closing cost deductions

Regardless of whether closing costs were paid for by you or the seller, you are able to claim the points, or origination fees, on your loan.

Property tax is deductible

Real estate property taxes paid on your primary residence home are fully tax deductible. This also includes one vacation home.

Tax deductions on home equity lines

If you have taken out a home equity loan, the interest is tax deductible. This is also an opportunity to move high interest credit card debts to home equity loans, allowing for additional savings.  

Capital gains exclusions

If you have lived in your home for more than two years and decide to sell, up to $250,000 of the profits are excluded from capital gains taxes. This goes to up to $500,000 if you are married. Even if you need to move in three years, while you may not have much (if any equity) and you’re able to sell for what you paid for it, essentially break even, it’s like you rented from yourself!

Always be sure to consult with a tax professional.

Feel free to add your home-ownership financial tips!