Monday, July 30, 2012


Put The Lotion In The Basket

Hi everyone and thanks Charmaine for having me as a guest post today to tell one of my crazy Craigslist experiences.  I think everyone knows the movie the title of my post comes from but if not, it's from the cult classic Silence of the Lambs.  My Craigslist tale has a slight Hannibal Lecter vibe but you will see that it all turned out great and it makes for a good story. 

It all began when I saw this add on Craigslist:

"12 way hand solid wood frame tied neutral chenille sectional sofa with button tufted back made in the mid 1950's. I purchased this last summer from a record producer in Nashville. I have had it in storage till May. It is simply to large for my apartment. super comfortable. A twelve way hand tied sofa is the highest quality sofa that can be purchased and will last forever, as you can see from the pictures. firm cash price. delivery not available. This center section of the sectional will stand alone and the two end sections can be placed together"

Ok, I'll admit, not the best picture ever but I could tell it had potential and I had been looking for a mid-century style sectional for my den for months.  So, I make the call to schedule a viewing.  The bad news is I'm fourth in line to see it.  The more unusual news is the owner has recently slipped in a restaurant, broken his jaw and has it wired shut for the next month.  I can barely understand the guy and I'm not sure if his name is Keith or Steve.  At this point, I assume it's a lost cause with four people in front of me.  A few days go by and I check in with Keith/Steve.  One caller changed his mind and the others were no shows.  I schedule a time to see it and plan to bring Melissa, my BFF, with me for back-up.  As we are walking out the door to leave, my phone rings and it's Keith/Steve.  He proceeds to tell me that the apartment we are headed to is not his.  It is his younger brothers who is currently in rehab.  He lent the sofa to his bother to use after his last stint in rehab and just wanted me to be prepared for maybe a less than hygienic living situation.  At this point, I'm thinking "what am I getting myself into?"  So being the adventurers we are, we still go to meet Keith/Steve.  We get to the apartment, Keith/Steve is a very nice guy with a wired up jaw.  The sectional is even better than I had imagined and I'm happy to say no hypodermic needles or drug paraphernalia to be seen.

The moral of this story is don't let a guy with his mouth wired shut and an addict heading to rehab stop you from buying the perfect sofa.  Here is a current picture (ignore the carpet, it's going away soon :)

Brandy from Chateau À Gogo

That is a great sectional!  Thanks for sharing your find with us Brandy!  You are one brave lady.
Check out more awesome pics of Brandy's home here.

Happy Monday!

Friday, July 27, 2012


Hi friends! So nice of Charmaine to invite me to post while she is taking a break. I love her blog and she and I have forged a friendship that is an invaluable perk to blogging.  I want to talk to you about starting a design business.

My daughter Bethany and I started our blog, Powell Brower Home, in November of last year, looking for an outlet to express our decorating passion.  Through our journalling we ended up launching our design business, a long time dream of ours that was quickly realized.

I was in "the biz" before and worked at a very successful national design firm for 12 years while raising my daughter to love all things art and accessories. I represented the company exclusively and sold their line of art and custom furniture, wallpaper, rugs and accessories. There were no eBoards or blog and my first gen (for real first gen) Apple computer did not lend itself to hours of online browsing and sourcing.  Only typepad programs on a dynamic green and black screen.  My, how things have changed!

  I constantly redecorate my home.  My husband says he never knows where to sit; the furniture is rearranged so often.  Now that Bethany has her own home, we have been feverishly decorating and using it as a test lab for any project we can dream up.  And the fun doesn't end there.  We love sharing our journies and tribulations on the blog.

The blog has been a fantastic platform to allow people to follow your decor du jour.  Your peers and spheres of influence can visibly see your creations and talents and they build confidence in your abilities. 

We started out by offering a few free design boards and got some fantastic prospects from that (and invaluable experience).  Despite how well we knew each other already, we are constantly uncovering who's better at what. I found that Bethany is the bomb at eBoards (a generational aptitude for sure) and I am better at the artistic rendering of a client's room(s).  This symbiosis only builds our credibility and widens our scope.  

In my humble opinion, these are the best steps to take in starting your own design business:

  Create a Portfolio:

Decorate your own home as if you were going to be photographed for a major magazine! 
This is your very best advertising.  Your home will exude your decorating and design skills and this is the most effective way to reach your audience when starting out!   Tell your friends what you're doing and that you'd love their help in spreading the word.  'Word of mouth' is the best advertising and with such a visual product, word travels fast.
Offer a few of your  friends a free  design board or consultation and always ask for referrals in return. If you knock their socks off, they will tell their friends!

Your Brand:

Once you've decided on a name, you need to get a federal tax ID number (TIN).  This is necessary not only for your tax accounting, but also to get accounts with vendors and tap into the significant discounts and product lines available "to the trade".

Then of course there are business cards, letterhead, etc.  It is really important to attach a visual to your name, like a logo, that you can print on various items which strengthen and increase your brand. This is where the blog has helped us.  We are always working to hone our skills and try to appeal to the look that our clients gravitate towards.  Not all of our customer base is up on the latest trends and the bold statements of the glossies and blogland.  We try to keep a tailored approach in putting out our 'first impression' and peel back the onion as we go.  That said, we are well aware that our MS Word-made blog header isn't cuttin' it for us anymore.  It was great at first, but we're starting to take off and this would be a good thing to rebrand sooner versus later.  But, we continue to make blogging friends and get our 'brand' out there.  Repetition, repetition, repetition!

Legal matters:

The first thing to take care of once your business gets off the ground is the legal stuff.  We  listed our company under a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP).  This is where two people are partners, and it insures that our business entity is protected legally and does not attach itself to any personal assets or our individual social security numbers.

Register your business name with your city or county, make sure you follow the county codes for operating a business out of your home or office, and also check with your insurance agent so that you are covered when you work as a decorator in people's homes and offices.

 Price structure:

You may want to start with some introductory pricing.  This is based on your credentials and experience.  Once you get some takers you can start raising your prices, but what good are high prices if you have no clients?  You will find in doing the virtual eBoards that they take a lot of time, and you will soon get frustrated working for free! So start with something affordable and get the experience.  Do a board for each of your own rooms for practice.  Research other design professionals (many bloggers reveal their services and prices on their blogs) and find a structure that you are comfortable with.  We are always talking to other decorators we meet along the way on pricing and process.  It helps so much that many of the designers in the blogworld have an open door policy, especially if you forge a friendship first.

Live your Passion:

Do what you love and things will fall in place.  If you believe in what you're doing, and let others know, the wheels start turning. We redecorate our homes constantly and always post about our new arrangements and our mistakes. We love to shop for decorating items, both online and in stores.  This builds our knowledge of what's current and at varying price points.  Read about famous designers and eras in design.  Know your furniture styles and terms.  Get up to date on current vendors and know your products!  Also try to lend yourself to any decorating style so that you are marketable to different audiences. Dress the part of a top-notch designer and look like you know how to pull a room together by being fashionable and stylish yourself.  You know you're going to get a good haircut when your hairdresser has stylish hair.  Same principle applies here.

 Ask for Referrals:

People who like your taste and your style, and who are comfortable with your personality, will help promote you.  But you have to ASK!  You don't have to do anything outside of your comfort zone or smell super salesy, but you do have to put yourself out there to get noticed.


I did not go to school for interior design so I don't believe it's a necessity unless you're looking to work for a large firm right away.  If you are willing to put in some effort and work your way into the business through referrals and showcasing your own work, it's definitely possible to do what you love without the extra schooling.  I got my break when my artwork got picked up by a national firm to carry in their product line, and through the course of our interactions, I landed a job as a decorator where I thrived and excelled for years.  Erin Gates wrote a fantastic article about starting out in interior design and there are many schools of thought (pun intended) on the subject.  I personally don't believe you need to major or further your education in design in order to become a decorator.  But design school will teach you some invaluable skills such as furniture restoration, history and AutoCAD to name a few.
These are just a few tips on turning your love of decorating into a business.  We are busy trying to complete rooms in our homes and get them photographed.   Hopefully sharing our journey will inspire others to follow their passion! Hope you stay tuned and watch us grow!

Best of luck with your adventure in decorating!


Thank you so much Nancy!  These are some invaluable tips!

We are having a blast here in NY/NJ.  Heading to the Jersey Shore this weekend and we'll be ending this trip watching the Yankees play the Red Sox!

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Thursday, July 26, 2012


Hello everyone! My name is Vel. Like most of you I am a blogger too, my blog is called BUHAY AT BAHAY (Life & Home), and like most of you, I am a home decor/design "junkie". I am extremely honored and delighted that Charmaine has asked me to contribute an article for her wonderful blog - Thank you for the trust dear. And so let's get the ball rolling...

The first thing you see as you enter a lot of homes is an entry (naturally of course :-)).

And it is important that you try to make this space as welcoming as possible.

Think of it as a Book Cover - when you see a book, sometimes, you buy it just because the cover looks interesting right? Same thing with your home, the entry sort of pre-empts the anticipation of what's in store further inside. It gives your guests a glimpse of WHO lives thereWHAT they may be like and of course, tells them HOW welcome they are.

Here are a few examples of how you can create your own welcoming entry.

For small spaces - via Martha Stewart Living

Airy entry for a bigger home

Lastly, I cannot finish this article without mentioning our own entry.

Our eclectic entry - mix of old and new

up close and personal

So be playful, experiment and find out which look goes well for you and your family. I hope you are somehow inspired with these suggestions.

Happy Decorating!
P.S. If you want to read more about this post, hop on over to my blog and read it here. :-)

An entryway sets the tone for a home and these are all amazing!  Thank you so much for guest posting for me today, Vel!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Hi Everyone! Tiffany here from the blog Tiffany Leigh Interior Design, where I track my style inspirations and my journey into interior design school in the fall! I'm so excited to be here meeting all of Charmaine's amazing followers while she takes a well deserved break!
As part of my course work for interior design school, I will be expected to draw furniture and rooms, so I created a weekly Wednesday's Sketchbook series on my blog to practice!

This Wednesday, I'm sharing one of my works of art here with you.
I just love the mix of classic louis style chairs with modern panton chairs, the vintage chandelier, and especially that beautiful blue table.
Do you guys recognize this space? That's right, it's Charmaine's dining room!
I had so much fun rendering her gorgeous space into a pretty little custom doodle. Best of all, Charmaine ordered the original watercolor and it's being sent over to her!
If you have an idea for a custom doodle of your own, I'd love to chat with you about it.
And of course, I would love to have you over as a new blogging friend! Don't be shy!

Happy Wednesday xo

  I LOVE my custom dining room doodle!  You guys should order your own!  Her price is very reasonable and she's a dream to work with!
Thank you so much Tiffany!

Monday, July 23, 2012


Happy Monday all! I am Elizabeth from little black door and I'm happy to fill in for Charmaine for Craigslist Monday while she enjoys some time off. While I'm no Craigslist pro like Charmaine (the girl has mad skills that cannot be duplicated) I did find some good stuff to satisfy my latest obsession - Chinese Chippendale anything.

Jonathan Adler
Twin Headboard $75
$500 for the set
Full Headboard $75
$150 for the pair
Thanks Charmaine, this has been fun! Don't be a stranger everybody, come by and see me sometime.

Thank you so much Elizabeth!  These are some awesome finds!
Isn't it more fun to see other people's craigslist finds?!

I've decided that Craigslist Monday could use a little revamp.  I am going to ask YOU, my dear readers to share your craigslist finds!

If you want to participate in this series, email me here!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


After all the daybed posts(here, here, here and here),  you would think I had my heart set on one.

Well, I thought so too until I saw this...

Azure sofa in Wisteria from Crate and Barrel on SALE.  Floor sample sale! $697! Originally priced at $1800.

I actually didn't buy it right away because I wasn't sure if the scale would work in our family room.
Plus, I wanted a daybed.
A week later,  I stopped by C&B again and it was still there! 
 Nope, I still didn't purchase it but this time I actually talked to a salesman about it.  I got the dimensions and found out that it's a discontinued item.  
When I got home, I taped the dimensions on the floor(we have the space!) and talked to Mark about it.
He was okay with it.  By this time, the weekend has passed.  
I was certain it would be gone.
I called and not only was it there but they did another price cut!

Here it is now in our family room...

{Props to Mark for agreeing to a pinkish/purplish sofa!}

Does this happen to you?  Are you swayed in favor of a good bargain?

We are off to NY to visit family and friends and for a much needed vacation!  I'll try to check in as often as I can.  I also have some great guest posts lined up for you!

Stay Cool!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


I wanted to recreate this suspender curtain ever since I saw it on Apartment Therapy.

I modified mine a little bit.

Peel n Stick fabric fuse
overall buckles
1" canvas straps
(all from Jo-Ann's)
curtain rod

1. Hang your curtain rod to desired height and width.  I hung mine almost to the ceiling and a few inches wider than the window.
2.  Measure the height from the top curtain rod to 1"-2" below the window molding and the desired width.  Add 3"- 4" to width and about 6" to height and cut fabric to fit.
3.  Fold the sides and bottom in about 1".  I used Peel n Stick fabric fuse to hem.


and stick...

4.  Make rod pocket by folding top of curtain down about 5" and secure with fabric fuse.

5.  Hang your curtain to decide how high your shade  will be when drawn.  
Consider where you want to attach your suspender buttons and measure.

6.  Measure the desired length of  canvas strap and cut.  Thread your canvas strap through the overall buckle on one side

and attach the pin that came with the buckle on the other side.  Lay curtain flat on work surface and pin the strap to the back side of the fabric taking into consideration your measurement from  #5.  Repeat.

7.   Place the button on the front side of the fabric and attach to the pin by gently hammering it down.

Repeat on the other side.

8.  Hang your curtain and fold straps over to front and hang buckles to the buttons.

9.  Stand back and admire!


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