What are the essentials for making your house a comfortable and relaxing home. I've put together my list of the things you shouldn't live without. They are not listed in any order of importance - just how they flowed out of my head.
1. Lights on Dimmers - Essential for changing the feel and mood of a room. Most lights are too bright without a dimmer. They are especially important in the kitchen, dining room and living room. Good light makes everyone look better.
2. Down Throw (if you live in a cold climate) or Cashmere Throw (if you live in a warm climate)- No family room or media room should be without a blanket that you can curl up under. I've created duvets for my down throws so they can easily be washed. This has been a savior with my two boys. Twin sheets sewn together make a great inexpensive duvet.
3. Upholstered Ottoman - No family room or media room should be without a soft ottoman to rest your feet. I'm partial to tufted leather or a textured linen. It's durable and so much more comfortable than a regular coffee table.
4. Storage - Need I say more? Organized storage is a must. Whether its beautiful built-ins, a walk-in pantry/closet or just a space under your stairs or garage. Organized storage is the key to living a less complicated life. Carve out a little space, buy some metal rolling racks and start organizing. The day to day tasks will become easier - I promise.
5. Small Movable Tables - No living room should be without 2-3 small movable tables. When you have extra company at the holidays or for a party, these make it easy to make sure all your guests have somewhere to put their drinks. You can even move them into a bedroom as a bedside table. The options are endless.
6. Small Movable Chairs or Stools - Again, no house should be without at least 3-4 movable chairs or stools. You can move them around a dinner table, or add extra seating to the living room. When combined with the movable tables, you can add true seating to any entertaining situation.
7. Large Down-Filled 20x20 or 22x22 Pillows - These are a staple for any sofa, whether its in the living room or family room. Down-filled pillows allow you to relax into the sofa without springing off like you do with a poly-filled pillow. Plus, they look better over time as they add a relaxed, casual element. Go to your local craft store and buy the insert - find the fabric you love at your pricepoint- and have someone make you a custom pillow. It's worth the extra money as it will change the look of your sofa.
8. Great Wood Windows and French Doors - I know, wood isn't always the most practical, but they are the foundation of your house. They add instant architecture and character to any room. They can dramatically alter the appearance and value of your house. While they are more expensive and may entail more work down the road, they are worth it! Don't skimp on your windows and doors. I never meet a wood-mullioned window I didn't like.
9. Personal and Authentic Artwork - I think artwork that evokes a personal reaction or connection is essential to making your house, your home. Forget all those mass produced posters or prints. Take your time, buy authentic, and buy what you love. Shop antique stores and thrift shops. Shop your local arts and craft fair and support a local artist. It doesn't matter where you find it or how much it costs - it only matters that you love it every time you look at it.
10. Wainscoting - Whether it's bead board or the more traditional picture-frame molding, every house could use some wainscoting. It warms up the space, adds texture, and finishes the room. It can also help define the space for pictures or artwork in a hallway or staircase. Try it in a powder room - it will elevate the space immediately.
11. Real Plants and Flowers - Nothing beats the real thing. No fake flowers or plants allowed - ever. If you have a brown thumb like me, look for easy care plants like Ferns, Orchids, Boxwoods, Cypress, or Peace Lilys to name just a few.
12. Easy Care Dining Chairs - This is an essential ingredient for a house with small kids. I can't believe the great options available today in faux or real leather. It comes in all colors, metallics, textures, patterns and price-ranges. When your kids or guests spill, you just wipe them down. I have faux crocodile on my kitchen chairs and it's been a life saver. I don't have to worry about washing slipcovers or spot cleaning anymore. Its so elegant - no one will ever think you are being practical.
13. Great Books - Every house needs great books. Bookcases filled with novels and coffee tables stacked with coffee table books. You will never have an excuse to not sit down, curl up and read. Plus, books tell the story of the person who lives in the house. Without them, you might as well live in a hotel.
14. Serene Master bedroom - Everyone needs a room that is clutter-free and relaxing. A space they can call their own. A room where they can hear themselves think. For me, this is the hardest room in the house to keep uncluttered and serene. However, when I can get it to that point, it makes a difference about how I feel in my house. Remove the piles of magazines, pair-down the amount of pictures, organize your closet. Only have what you need in this room. Make sure you have great comfortable bedding and good lighting.
15. Wine and Cheese - For me, no house if complete without a good supply of wine and cheese. Life's little pleasure. With a supply on hand you're ready for anything or anyone.
What do you think? Did I miss something that you can't live without?
Hope you're having a good weekend.