Comments : 31

Hello, hope you had a wonderful weekend. Ours was relaxing and quiet..with my son gone, its a new lull I am trying hard to adjust to. Driving by his school yesterday  with its pre school buzz of maintenance workers and painters on a day where weather wise it felt “pre fall” got me all teary eyed. I am such a nostalgic mush.

I get lots of emails from people wanting me to help them with projects big and small, how I wish I had time to work on every one of them! I  love what I do and few things excite me as much as getting to transform a space. Sometimes its very subtle and other times, the changes are big and can be really dramatic.

I also hear from people who sometimes say they live in a small apartment or small space and are looking for ways to update/beautify  the limited size involved. For me, who at 20 lived in a small 1 bedroom Manhattan apartment to now living in a very large home, there are principles that have always been important. Things I did in my tiny apartment that I modify and do in my large house.

Even if you didn’t move a single piece of furniture there are easy things that you can do today to enhance and give yourself a whole new found appreciation for your own home sweet home. Far from being any magic solution’s here are my must haves-






1 A stack or two of books. This is two fold, they are great accessories, tell people a little bit about who you are and what you love and lastly, can be interested conversation pieces. Best part, they are in inexpensive.

Try to focus on books that really interest you, I love history, design, architecture and horses so many of my books center around those subjects. They work everywhere from console tables, end tables, coffee tables, nightstands, kitchens and yes even bathrooms:) There is no where you cannot put a pile of great books…


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2. Small vase or bowl. Now the bigger the space the larger you can go and I am not one for super small pieces, I think every room (even small rooms) need one large object to ground them  but a mid sized bowl or vase where you can fill with fresh flower, branches, leaves, lemons, apples,etc….

I like having a vase that I put weekly flowers in, for bowls I love to add bright green apples, lemons or boxwood balls. The vase or bowl can be a porcelain, blue and  white, a colored bowl, or glass. I think something in blue and white or color offers the most impact


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3. Lamps. One or two depending on space, lamps offer beautiful soft lighting and are another “accessory” to add to a room. I am fond of crystal lamps, blue and white and solid colored porcelain lamps. I like soft wattage for a softer accent lighting. Lamps are like the jewelry for a room….they are a must have!

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4. Candles. Come into my own home and chances are a candle will be burning in the kitchen, family room, powder room adn breakfast room. When I have guests you can add the living room and the powder room.

Find a scent you love and stick with that as your signature house scent. Most always come with a coordinating room spray, I use both. I love when people come into my home and remark on how great and fresh it smells.


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5. Framed pictures. Once again an inexpensive but highly personal way to accessorize. I have pictures everywhere…..I love a shiny silver gleaming frame so that is what you will find in my home. Some like brass or wood, or colored frames…whatever it is, choose some favorite photographs and find a nice coordinated group of frames to display.

Once again you need not spend a fortune, if you are patient and resourceful, you can find very inexpensive frames from places like Overstock and Home Goods. The quality might not be the best, but they are a lot of look for the money.

There are many places you do this, on a chest, console, center table, coffee table, end table, on the walls, etc…Love seeing a photo collection and often it is  the first place a guest will gravitate towards.

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6. Mirrors. Yes mirrors add so much, they help to enlarge and enliven a space. Even a small mirror is amazingly effective. I love mirrors had have them almost in every room. Reflective surcease indeed add a lot to any room.

You don’t need to spend a lot, you can go to places like Overstock or Home Goods and snag a nice looking mirror or $100 or less…and its impact will be paid in spades. Love them in foyers, living rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms and though you dont’ see them in kitchens often….whose to say it can’t work!

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And a seventh should have been fresh flowers…as there is no room in the house that doesn’t look just a little bit prettier with a small bunch of fresh flowers. When I was young and living in the city, newly married I remember on my way home from my buying job at good ol’  B Altmans, every Friday like clockwork,  “treating” myself to a cluster of fresh flowers from my corner Korean shop.

It felt like such an indulgence…and boy was it worth it! I felt like I always sprinkled our apartment tn with magic fairy dust every time I arranged a fresh bunch of flowers! So these are “sure fire” ways to add just a little bit of charm and pretty into virtually any room. Do you have your own secret sauce? Do tell! Thank you for stopping in, wishing you a wonderful day. Until next time…..







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Carolyn on

#7 is most definitely at the top for me. I am constantly outside cutting and collecting (especially) hydrangeas when they are in bloom. I love to arrange them all around the house. They put a smile on my face when I enter a room!! Thank you for your fabulous list. I’m always inspired by you!

Deborah on

Thank you Tina! These are such helpful ideas to get a handle on some of my rooms that need to be freshened up a bit. I also like a (well pruned) live green plant in a room. My mom has a green thumb, and she gave me my love for greenery in a home.

Robin on

Tina, sometimes I will buy a few inexpensive mixed bouquets at the grocery store. I separate the flowers by color , tossing the greenery they come with, and place them in small vases throughout the house. I cut the stems short and bunch the flowers tight. They look great in the powder room, bedside, living room and kitchen-a lot of bang for the buck, and they can last up to two weeks!

Maude Ciardi on

Thanks for the inspiration. I too have scaled down and am living in a ” small cottage “that is what I call it. Makes it feel cozier. I try to use a lot of neutral colors have even painted some furniture gray I love gray! The things I have are pieces I love. I am more selective with a smaller space. Everything has a place. I also have a small yard and enjoy seeing the garden and the flowers from the house. Herbs are planted close by so they are easy to pick. Thanks for letting me share, my inspirations with you. I really enjoy your blog with such beauty inspired posts.

Shannon@Belle Bleu Interiors on

Such great tips and inspiration! I especially like the idea of fresh flowers. I agree nothing can liven up a room and make it seem more polished than beautiful fresh flowers or plants. I hope that you have a Happy Tuesday!!!

Celia becker on

Great post. Just love all your design tips. By the way, I’ve been welling up s lot too as my son returns to college. In fact, I’m with him now setting up his first apartment. It is bitter sweet.

Taste of france on

I think books and photos add such intimacy and character. The others are nice, and I have all of them, but no two people would have the same books and photos.

Patrice on

Wholly agree with everything and number 7 too. I also love live plants in my home…nothing crazy but I have a greenhouse window in my breakfast room that overlooks the roses…so I always have greenery in the house even in the winter. It just does something to me!! Yours is a great design aesthetic and I always look forward to your posts.

Tera on

Tina, Thank you for all the helpful ideas! My husband and I have recently moved and I’m still unpacking. These ideas should help as I find things! I also like to add a touch of animal print in every room and at least one black lampshade.
Looking forward to your posts as always!

Jan on

Regarding candles, please remember those of us with allergies and asthma ! I have to call ahead of time when staying at hotels, resorts, bed and breakfast inns, etc. to ensure that there are no scented candles, air fresheners, potpourri or the like in my room. My friends and family are very conscience about fragrance of any kind including scented lotions, perfume or cologne.

JuDy Yannello on

Great list! I guess I would add number eight which would be pillows as they always add color, texture & such charm!

lC on

Hi Tina,
This is such lovely advice. We all know that desire that can strike to make things better “right now”; each of these ideas are excellent for such times. Until recently my natural inclinations have always called for all but the candles. Lately I have found that scent motivates me far more than I had ever realized. The right scent can really lift my mood, and even invigorate my imagination! All are excellent “must haves”.

You have my sympathies with the empty nest. My own son started college this fall. It is wonderful to see them soaring, happy with their decisions and chasing life with youthful vigor, but from time to time I am indeed wistful for what once was. (Chin up; you did good, and his life is richer for having you as his mom.)

Jayne on

I read many years ago that every room should have one black or dark brown object or piece of furniture so the room doesn’t float. It gives the eye a place to rest and anchors room.

Katie Clooney on

Another fabulous post, Tina. I forwarded your link on to my girls who have recently moved into their new pads. Great pics. Have a great week.

Alison on

Wonderful tips! Would you mind to share some of your favorite candles/fragrances? Thank you! Your blog is a delight!

Sherry M. on

This is another beautiful post. Your ideas and advice are always appreciated. Your generosity and cheerful willingness to share your gift of decorating always amazes me, Tina. Thank you. Many of your suggestions are some of my favorite things.

franki on

Splendid!! franki

Belinda on

Would love to know what candles and room fragrances you recommend. Thank you.

leslie on

I agree Tina! Books, candles, fun objects, and ALWAYS flowers:) Hope you are enjoying your week!

bobbi duncan on

I agree 100%. I try to incorporate these seven throughout the house…gives it that homey, sit a while feel. Thanks for all your beautiful ideas…you are so talented, and your posts have given me some great inspiration for our own home.

KElley Taylor on

Personally, I would tweak your list just a smidge. I totally agree with you about books, photos and great lamps. When it comes to mirrrors, however, I have to say I dislike new mirrors. They just lack something for me. When I buy a mirror, I always buy a vintage or antique one. You’d be amazed how much ambiance an antique mirror can add to a room. Also in the fresh flower catagory, I would include plants, especially ferns and orchids. Repotted in inexpensive vintage or flea marjet containers (I buy mine on ebay), they lool fabulous for weeks and months for just a few dollars.

A couple of other tidbits – if you collect something, show it off in a formal way. Organize your collections and let people know who you are. And someone once remarked that all rooms need something black – whether it is a chair or lampshade or a vase.

Cynthia on

Great list and I am going to go through my house and see where I need to add/change things up. Any candle recommendations? Agree about flowers, they bring me so much happiness too. We are lucky to have a flower market 10 min from my house and I am there every Monday for my weekly splurge.
Love the idea of a framed picture collection. I think this will be my next project. Thank you Tina for the tips.

South Shore Decorating Blog on

What a spot on post – every room certainly would benefit from each of those. And maybe a plush throw and art you love too!

I’m a couple of years away from my first leaving for college, but I can sympathize. I’m sad about school starting in general. I know I’ll miss the chaos of summer. The days are long but the years are shot for sure!

Best, Stacy

Barnali guha on

lovely list.. I agree with them all and although i dont have mirrors in every room, usually the other items can be found in most of the rooms at home. Do you have any good candle recommendations that smell homely but are not seasonal.

Elizabeth@pineconesandacornsblog on

Tina I could not agree with you more! From your first apartment to your current home you/me/we should always find ways to make it work for you and each and every one of these seven things make a space. The books reflect your interest and add visual appeal, the mirrors reflect their surroundings and let in light, the candles offer a warm glow and fragrance. And the flowers make a room alive and happy!

Thanks for sharing!

I hope that you are having a good week. I am sure it must be tough to drive by the school that you spent many years taking your boys to and from. You a great mom Tina and I am quite sure that your kids have wonderful memories of those days.

Summer on

I am with you on all of these! Nice list ?

Annie on

First time here today. LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog! I want to live in every room on this page.

I envy your talents. I have no skill with decorating on my own. Thanks for the inspiration!

Dramadiva on

Such good ideas…and great concepts….?

Yolie Browne on

You have incredible taste! There is so much schlocky stuff out in the blogosphere. I think many have forgotten what good taste really looks like. I know, I know, it’s all subjective. But it’s really nice to see what you have done and reaffirm my own sense of style. I think your list of seven is spot on.
I have started adding plants that cleanse the air of toxins as well.

Debra on

In a word, Art. Even before I began creating my own paintings I collected art. During my lean college days I would see beautiful art in the museums and want to take them home. That’s when I discovered prints. Although not as large as the originals it still gave my place character. Matted and framed prints are a great economical way to give your home color.

Mo at Mocadeaux on

Your entire list is perfect and a great reminder that simple touches can have a big impact. For me, the most important are the framed photos. I admit to having to reign myself in to not go overboard, but I love having pictures of family and friends to bring a smile as I walk into each room.

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